We are setting up a Swedish ceramic stove!


(We think it's fun!)


by Valter Pettersson Isander, Rönninge, Sweden


(We build a "kakelugn")

Follow us when we are setting up an old Swedish ceramic stove!
In Stjärnhov in Sweden David has a nice house from the early 1900:th,
and there is room for a ceramic stove in a corner.

Well - in February 2000 the work has begun- you can see how it's progressing in text and pictures.
Join us in mailing and encouraging us, and ask us and give us feedback!
Remember ... we don't know yet how to do it... maybe afterwards...

Visit us in Rönninge (Stockholm) to see and learn about Kakelugnar! - (follow this link)

Send an E-mail to Valter!

1 - We are preparing

We buy a ceramic stove in pieces, transports it, carries heavy things.
Checking that the chimney is OK, that it will accept firing with wood, that the floor is strong enough for 1000 kg, etc.
This stove is white, round, a common type from the beginning of the 20'th century, i.e. it is about 100 years old.
It was originally raised in Uppland, north of Stockholm, now it goes south, to Södermanland, south of Stockholm.



- Material -


Sw crowns SEK
incl VAT

1 piece

Ceramic oven, used, warm white, circular form, early 1900, ceramic plates in good form, i.e. just a few cracks and discolouring, all plates are there. Packed in paper boxes, including a photograph. Was fetched at the salesman. Including "smith-work", i.e. doors (outer doors in brass and the inner doors in iron plate), the door frame, 3 small sweep openings in brass and the damper. No connection pipe to the chimney, knobs, bricks, clay or sand.
The price is typical for a white, round oven in medium quality.

Ca 7000:-

Ca 7000:-

100 pieces

"Big bricks - 300 mm long" 3" full thickness, i.e. an old dimension for bricks (300 mm length).
The bricks are ordinary quality, compact, well burned, with no holes.
Modern size is also OK - 240 mm length.



66 pieces

Big bricks 2" (2/3 thickness) for internal walls between channels, damper-roof etc.



4 pieces

Fire safe bricks for fireplace (you may use ordinary bricks as an alternative). Length 240 mm Höganäs (Swedish) in our case.



3 sacks

Dry clay in powder form in sacks, 20 kg each sack



1 carrier

Natural sand from a local place, with no stones or humus in it



2 pieces

Draw knobs and a cord for the damper







3 sacks

Mortar B (concrete and calcium) for the rooms internal walls behind the stove, 25 kg/sack (not for the oven!)



4 sacks

Course mortar for the floor fundament under the stove, 25 kg/sack (not for the oven!)




Travels, tools, "stos", rails under the stove, pressure proofing by the sweeper etc.




Total sum so far (it should be enough!)

Total 10,268:- SEK
(about 1000 US Dollars)


Bricks and clay powder was bought in a craftsman shop in Gnesta. All shops do not have big bricks or clay powder at home.... the clay powder is from Bältarbo in Sweden.

You have to raise it yourself...






A photograph was included, good.
Inner-/outer doors, door frame, sweep doors, and the damper mechanism was with it. Missing "stos" and the knobs by brass for the cord.
Bricks, clay and sand was bought by us.

The tiles had been marked at disassembly, very important... the tiles are originally cut to fit each other by the man who raised the oven.
"A1" is low left,
"B.." is next level up etc.

Home transport, carried inside.
Most tiles were "empty", i.e. the bricks in them where removed - good ... so we had not to do that our self (but more bricks had to be bought...)



Fire doors and frame by iron and brass.
Don't forget the frame for the inner doors!

Sweep opening doors by brass and with a pipe by iron plate - 3 pcs.

David, he builds the stove, will fire and enjoy (we are more of it)!
In his hand you see the damper with its frame.
Jenny is also building.

The old iron cook stove was removed...
Tiles in stead of bananas - good-er!



Sometimes the tiles are marked by the manufacturer, "F" is probably the type (here a common, round, front tile).
"33" is the outer white dimension (diameter) of the tiles in Swedish "verktum" (1 verktum=24,74 mm).

A couple of NEW tiles were included! They have rounded edges, meaning they are never cut - they are never used.
It's difficult to cut the edges to a certain dimension by hand. Used tiles are already cut to correct measures - but remember, they are individuals, so they must be marked up, before dismounting them from the old stove!!

This round sweep door is still in the tile, with the clay mud. We disassemble it by dropping it into water, poking the clay out, cleans it. We do that with all used tiles that have used filling in them. Later we put clay with sand and a brick and small brick pieces in them ("svick"). Air pockets will delay the heat from reaching the room. These pockets can be heard as a "boom", when knocking on the white surface.








Why is the stove tilting out into the room in the old house?

Here we take a pause in both building
the stove and firewood collecting.
We fetched the firewood at
"Sten Bergmans Berg" in Rönninge
(Sten Bergman is known for his research travels
in Kamchatka and New Guinea, he lived in Rönninge).



I'm splitting wood with my
small hydraulic splitter.










Well, because the wood floor probably was humid at the setting up time a 100 years ago - the back part of the stove stands on solid ground, but the front stands on wood floor that shrinks
(more % on thickness).




2 - We build the floor level

A couple of fire safe bricks and common “big bricks (300 mm) and  2/3 bricks.
"2/3 thickness" are for the walls between the side channels on each side.

Floor plane seems ready!
David made it with a couple of enforcing iron in it. Ordinary mortar with lime-works and concrete, no clay. Notice the old kitchen valve in the roof!

Clay powder was bought.
It usually comes from Bältarbo in Bergslagen.

Sand in for a “hundring”.
We mix it dry with the clay (about 1 part of clay with
2-3 parts of sand).
You can also take it from the field – quite a lot of job with that …

Question: Why does the smoke come indoor, when we lit the oven?


Maybe the channels in the oven should be swept by the sweeper
in to the chimney and in the “curve” in the chimney pipe.
A cold oven when it’s warm outside – try to lit some paper in the upper sweep hole.

Question: What should I fill in between the tiles (seen from the room)?


Answer: Mix some chalk powder (not lime, it hardens and expands) with egg and water to a soft paste, with some lime safe pigment in it. Fill in between some tiles with a rubber blade. Dry with a cloth!! Continue.  

3 – We build the base



They used to cut them with a tile knife.

Clay from the field will also do.




David cut the height with a machine.
Then he used a grating-iron.

Mix 1 part of clay
with 2-3 parts of sand, I use 3 parts. Add water – not too much.



“The sprida trefnad och hygglighet”

No hollowness, no “boom”. Heavy sound.

We build upwards. From outside to inside.

"Put the stove (kakelugnen) down” - about a pregnant woman: give birth to a child.





In my heart




3 – We build the fireplace, the 24’th of March 2000

From “eledh, ildh, aidlida” -


Sw: “Tegel, tigel, tighl”, tile (eng.), tuile (fr.):
lat. "tegere"- cover (a roof)

Base is filled with bricks, stones and clay.
In this case we used thin bricks to adjust the level of the fire floor.

Birch, pine, spruce, rowan (ash), sallow.
Wood, wood, wood – sawed, chopped wood, laid in a stack!
Quick laid, it was free wood.
My little chopper is nice, it’s hydraulic.
March 2000.

Fire safe bricks, maybe from Höganäs.
But they were not planned

(loved children are never!)
Rather expensive.
Heavy, compact.


Sw: “Kakel”, Germ. “Kachel”
Greec. kakabos (cooking container)

Porcelain stoves under a woodhouse -
better than in the Botkyrkatippen
(where a great part of the old city of Stockholm was dumped in the 1960’th,
hrmm…. Hjalmar Mehr politician…).

Pause picture from an evening in
the manor of Svaneholms.

I - Valter am resting in my brother Leif’s kitchen.
We are wood firemen
all of us, all of us, all of us.



Water-level on a tile surface?
The surface is a little uneven, but it will do good anyway.

We do not use clips to assemble the tiles to each other.
But please – do as you like!


Observe how you SEE your oven when you raise it,
important is how it looks, it should look vertical and stable.


It may be okay if it leans in or out a little
to the middle of the room (from where it is seen).

But the side edges vertical line is critical –
it is seen clearly when one looks on the oven!

When David is mounting a tile, he puts the lower edge
to the floor or the tile under it. At the same time he
turns the upper edge a little away from the back.


Then he turns it in/up to a vertical position,
pushes it down in the clay that he has put on
the lower tile (not on the white edge…
this must always be clean).


Use a rag to hold the edge clean!


Use good light.

Work with clean edges.

We have a brick-hammer
to cut bricks to fit.
Put the brick on a wood piece
on the floor, make a groove
with the hammer, then
hit it on the opposite side
to cut it to a wanted measure.

Protect your eyes!

The base level (A…) should touch the rooms side walls.
Upper levels (B…and up) should leave some
 centimetres (one inch) to the walls – fire safe and good for
the air flow, and you can see a smoke leakage.
And maybe you can repair a leakage later when it is
becoming old and beautiful!


The edges of the tiles (white) should be placed
as close to each other as possible, it’s considered
beautiful with only small distances between them.
But one can hide it with
a paste in the same colour as the tiles.


Do not hesitate
to rework…!

The 3’rd of April 2000

An aeruginous brass door -
how can it be polished??

The back wall. Common bricks. Ordinary clay&sand

We found the steel hose
between the oven and chimney
at “Lasse I Ulan” for a ten-crown.

It will lead the gases into the
chimney channel, even if the oven moves in-out/up-down. (The flange has to be removed).

What shall we call her?
Help us to dub her!
Small becomes big.
Without socks and shoes -
We will walk close to her.


Titta in i min lilla håla!
Här är svart som i sotig säck.
Snart skall strupen av hetta vråla!
Varje köldknäpp darra av skräck.


Tänder vassa varma,
Spröd kropp spräcker,
Men med rum av brunnen papp,
Blir det fint och lagom glapp.


The 16’th of April

Bricks are adjusted with a hammer.
Hit with the edge with an other brick
under it, as in figure.
First make a groove, then hit harder and harder
until it goes into two parts.
Protect your eyes and ears. And the thumb.

Ser ni kursen?
Kakelugn står högt i kurs,
Utan ugn är usch,
Öppna din börs,
Var med och törs!

Checking that it fits in the tiles back pocket.
Pocket is filled with clay, “svick” (brick pieces),
push the brick down in the clay, fill in small pieces,
top with clay.

Why use a brick stone in the tile pocket?
Well, we have to protect the tile from
the hat gases and flames.
And the heavier the stove is -
the more heat can it accumulate.

Carefully fill in the clay,
no air pockets – it prevents the heat flow
into the room to you and your sweetheart!

Straight is beautiful.

Here is seen a used tile.
The man who cut it in 1910 did not manage
quite well, the bulb-formed edge is still there (sticks out),
of course it is clearly seen on the oven.

But done is done – it would be too much job to
cut all tiles in that level to the same height, wouldn’t it?



Down we look,
what to find?

A rusty bike, a cracked can?

No – I see light and fire!

Quiet and hot
and we all know
that we will gather together here.


Smoke channels may not be too wide,
it gives reduced flow and
not full heat transport into the bricks.

At his hand the first channel begins
to narrow, a half stone (2/3)
will do best here.
The “hat” behind is fixating stones -
they are so ruffian like…



Hello, my name is Svick!

Please, have some svick,
it’s good to have as fill up into  the clay
(when the clay and bricks have been put in there places)

If you have too little svick, i.e. a great part of clay,
then the clay will shrink a lot when the water evaporates.
Use as little water as possible.

Much shrinkage = an ugly oven  = a boring evening



4 – We build the body up to the damper

Now we think this way:

Follow the labels from the disassembly of the oven. It’s nice if it will remain as it was before, when it was old, fine or ugly…

In summer it is too hot to work.

Then you should make



Scrubby, green, brass door.
Hard work to clean it. Must be cheap.


A tile can differ from square ness, and if you want an even surface and narrow grooves – then you should have squared tiles (90 degrees) – less than 2 mm difference between the diagonal measures.


Oh!! Now we’ve got 4 mm … you can use a file to make it 90 degrees. A hand held grinding  machine will also do (paper 60-80). Be careful to the edges! Motion into the tile.

Bigger measurements, 1-5 mm, may be grinded with a rotating “disk grinding” machine. And a file after it.



Setting the tile 1, then 2, then 3 and so on.





Do as YOU want.


Adjusting and setting one level of tiles:

1.Tpick all tiles for one level.
Put them on the floor in order.
2. Set n:o 1 (from the left we did) + a “darling” (a wood board for fixing the  tile during work). Mark with a pencil where n:o 1 has its right edge (meets 2).
3.Check horizontally and vertically. If wrong: do some filing on edges.
4. Set n:o 2 and fix it as in item 3.
5. Continue with all tiles in this level.

Fill the (six) tiles with bricks, clay and “swick”

6. Set the tiles in clay, 1….6. Check vertically and
horizontally. Put “swick” in between the tiles in the clay.
A small wood stick may fixate under the tile, on the outside.
Select next tile, set it so it will be most beautiful – vertical impression seems to be more important!

Alt 1: Put clay on the tile sides, then put it together with the former tile (already mounted). Put swick in.
Alt 2: No clay on sides. Put the tile in its position. Drop clay/mud between the two tiles vertically. Put it down with a stick.

Do you follow me???



Up to the middle so far

5 channels seen inside

A little stick prevents my sick

Wet walls (we set them after having set the outer tiles)

Rear, left, side channel

Rear blind channel (no smoking here)

1,2,3…order for setting the tiles – our order…

Edges are finished with a file,
they become straight and nice

AK - ihavenoideaatalL.
30 inch O.D., make a plywood MASTER!


Site Toreberg, here lives Jenny and David.
And their White Lady, a round beauty.
Becoming hot – you will be fine,
being cold, something went wrong.

Stjärnhov in Soedermanland the19’th of August y 2000

Annika, David, Berth considers like that,
THERE the “rörspis” should stand,
And the cottage will be warm and nice
and Björn creeps up in someone’s knee,
seeing a beautiful night sky from the widow-frame.

Kakelugns-growth on Toreberg the19’th of August 2000

Wood is worth,
it warms very,
wood-shed full
falls over?
Winter, come!
We conquer it – with a mighty woody armful!
Ström’s shed.


Some pictures from work the 19’th August 2000
Putting a stone on its place

Mixing dry clay-powder (1 part) with dry sand (2-3 parts). Then add water. Mix it.

The clay-mix should be rather stiff. It gives little shrinkage when drying. Shrinkage may lead to deformation, leakage and an ugly oven.

Wet the brick with water before putting clay on it or putting it into its position. Else it will steel the water in the clay and the clay will be too hard to be pressed to a narrow distance between the bricks.

We put clay on surfaces facing channels and brick-surfaces facing the living-room.

With the help of a little water on the tool we make the clay smooth and tight.

Before the brick is put into its place, we put some soft clay on the lower brick. Do not use too little!!

I put a brick in it’s position against two surfaces, tilt it a little, push it (not too hard) down (hold the neighbour-brick steady  with your other hand!). The clay swells out on the sides. Wait for a while (before you make the sides plane), so the water is absorbed by the bricks – then the clay becomes harder – the stones/bricks will remain in their right places.

Removing the extra clay.
Don’t forget backside!
The “blind rear channel” needs no coating clay (clean surface in picture).

Now this stone/brick is put in its place.
(still some smoothing has to be done, as you can see…)



You can easily remove and reposition some bricks after days or weeks. Only pour a little water on the dry clay, and remove the brick. This clay you can re-use, just mix it with the clay in the pot.


That would have been impossible if you used concrete or lime-mortar. Advise: get rid of that kind of stuff … it might be good for coating a chimney or making a house ground with. Or a bridge or an industrial monument.


It is fun to dig in the sand-box, dig in a clay-pot, build with blocks and play with fire.


We use massive bricks (300 mm length), with no holes in them, well hard-burnt in the factory.


Very old bricks from the old days have the right measurements, but they may be too old, too soft, burnt in a low temperature – do not use!

For the channels we use bricks with 2/3 of the thickness of the normal bricks.

This kind of bricks are made in Sweden today, and you can order them from the local shop (in Sweden). For us it was not more expensive (per volume) compared with modern, standard bricks (240 mm length).


More pictures the 19’th of August year 2000

Five tiles arranged for the next level.
Now we are going to check and adjust them.

Neatest to look at is a vertical oven and the joints in a vertical line under each other.
Important to me:
It should LOOK neat.

Old sins are unveiled. We are going to adjust that.
Narrow joints is most beautiful.

With the grinder one can fix tiles
that are already mounted.
Please, grind 45 degrees into the tile edge.
Paper “80-100”.

Rest in woodpeace!.
A full house is best.
Best rest.

Some tiles had to be shortened.
The purpose is tiles with equal height.
Edges may splinter. A sin.

Here we are! Come winter!

Five tiles at one level are mounted in clay. Use svick, check verticality.

More fun!
Other tile types now, changes make more fun for us!
We set all the ceramic tiles in a level first, then we build the channels in the same level (as long as it is possible, othervise we do it in reverse order).


5 – We build the damper level and the damper roof in September 2000


Closest to the observer (you) the hot smoke will turn up-down.
Then it comes up through two channels at the rear part, it joins, and flowes through the damper (not seen here, see pic below), then it goes out horizontally into the chimney channel and up.

The bricks for the damper-roof are laid out for testing – look at the cut-out  middle brick, there the smoke will go out through the damper!

Fine edges where smoke turns

The middle channel in the picture is for the hot smoke up from the fire.
Smoke then divides into two sides, goes down through the two front channels.
Nice, smooth edges – smoke has a smooth life, gives good draught!

Clay is put on inside channel walls, for tightening and for smooth surfaces, which will give a better draught and is easier to clean.

6 – We build the channel in to the chimney

A “hose-stos” made by metal (the flange is cut away!)

A junction made by sheet metal.

It’s purpose is to prevent smoke leakage – because the oven moves a little up/down and in/out, and the sheet channel will be perfect in sliding along the clay and bricks surrounding it. N.B! The flange shall be taken away, we found a ordinary air channel at Lasses Loppis.

The final channel into the chimney channel.
Size is ½ brick (about150x150 mm), Inside is a metal “hose-stos”


7 - Consecration. Putting on fire. Heat. Joy. Communion. Rest.

A real Christmas Eve!

Jenny is lightening the very first fire.
The stove is finished, it has dried during a couple of months with open doors and open damper.
All seems to be all right, good draught (there is 5 metres up to the top of the chimney in open air).
The outer surface becomes warm after 1-1½ hour,
then rather hot. 75% wood loaded the first times, we check the slits and movements.

David and his ceramic stove.

Valter at his latest love.


Take on me, think of me, I am your friend, your quiet flame.
Trust me, feed me, keep me clean, I am your child.
Glittering, waiting, longing to give to you my shining eyes.
Come, let us just sit here a little, look into the ember, feeling flying evening minutes.


The very first fire put on fire. A resinous stick in the middle.

The fire burns steady and quiet, damper is closed to half. 
Half an hour of eternity has past away.


... with all its attributes, its cool body, hot mouth -
- it’s a part of the eternal (click on me!).


Från sol är jag kommen ... here comes the sun…

…and transferres into coal and ashes... till kol och aska skall jag bliva






Visit us!
Old Swedish 'Kakelugnar'
Ecomomic woodfireplaces
Visit an old Swedish house from 1911 in private,
and also have an old fashion Swedish meal.
Mr Valter Isander shows and describes
how to heat a house with Ceramic Tiled Stoves - Kachelöfen -
the history, construction, how to raise it, and make a fire in it!
Lunch & Coffée included
(old fashioned Swedish food will be served to lunch)

Visit Rönninge (30 km south-west of Stockholm)
All in English

June - September 2007:
5'th June 2007
Kl 10:00 - 15:00
600 SEK incl. lunch and coffée

Email: Valter Pettersson Isander
(30 km by E4, south-west of Stockholm City,
"pendeltåg SL" to Rönninge Station + 10 minutes walk)

+46 70 572 47 40
+46 8 532 552 28



© Copyright 2008      Valter Pettersson Isander

See also: Ceramic/porcelain stoves – warm and nice (general information in Swedish by Valter)

Send an E-mail to Valter by clicking here!

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