Since its original publication in 1969 by Yankee, Inc.,Vrest OrtonÂs classic book on fireplace design has gone through numerous printings and has brought about a revival of the Rumford fireplace. The basic principles that Count Rumford set forth in 1795 describe the construction of a large shallow fireplace which does not smoke and which throws out much more heat than many of todayÂs fireplaces which send too much of the heat up the chimney. This new edition contains some practical notes by Wally Leeds, a mason in Tunbridge,Vermont who builds Rumford fireplaces today. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (6)
A nice book, but flawed data was used.
A Rumford fireplace is a design artifact of functional beauty:maximizing radiant heat, while minimizing smoke.
The Rumford achieves the first, with a tall, wide, shallow firebox with widely splayed covings.
The second by laminar flow through the throat.Laminar flow is a non-turbulent, streamlined flow.In the Rumford fireplace the front flow layer is cool air, the rear flow layer is hot. The two key features of Rumford's design which produce laminar flow are 1) the rounded breast (the "breast" is the front of the throat.The "throat" is where the firebox meets the chimney.) and 2) the flat back.
Somehow, Vrest Orton misunderstood Rumford's original design, and propagated this misunderstanding. One can look at the original Rumford text from THE COLLECTED WORKS OF COUNT RUMFORD, Harvard Press, vol 2,for clarification.
Maybe Vrest had a modified Rumford (with a flat breast and angled back).In any case, his book would be improved by correcting this (significant) error.
Additional reference:[...]A comprehensive accumulation of knowledge with respect to Rumford fireplaces.
Wally Leeds adds insight and clarification
As the new owner of a smoky fireplace, I look to this book for inspiration and help. Wally Leeds, a Vermont mason offers clarification that enhances what is already *the* classic book on the art (and history) of Rumford fireplaces.
Building a Rumford fireplace
When I was building my first home in 1972, I stumbled upon Orton's little book in the Library.I had never built a fireplace before, although I did have a little bit of experience laying block and brick. But Orton inspired me.I knew that I couldn't afford to have a fireplace of my own unless I built it myself. Long story short: I built my Rumford fireplace all by myself, from footer to top of the chimney, using this book as my only guide.And it worked wonderfully.It was unbelievably efficient and smoke free.My kids and I spent many winter evenings "camping out" there in our family room, with the electric baseboard heat turned off.I once built a fire on the front-most edge of the brick hearth (with several fire extinguishers at my side), just to see if this design could really "draw" as well as Orton claimed.It DID! And without any smoke in the room!
This book "clicked" with me for 2 reasons:first he laid out the history behind this invention, the biography of Count Rumford, and WHY this design was so revolutionary.Then he carefully laid out the principles of WHY IT WORKS, the theory and proportions.It was not a heady treatise for engineers, nor did it insult my intelligence with details on "inserting tab A into slot A" as most do-it-yourself books do.
I'm now building my second home -- this one with TWO Rumford fireplaces.And I decided that its high time that I had my own personal copy of this book!
If you are building a firplace this is the book about the man of all men. This simple how to works. This isn't like a Sunset book that has pictures of all steps but it is kept simple. If you supplement this with the Rumford and get their step by step instructions off of their website then this will be simple for most fairly talented home do it your selfers. The end result works and makes since. The products from the web site are hard to get and are costly but they make it so simple to build that you will be surprised and happy. This book is tiny and about a one hour read. A lot of this book is on the history and how the science of Rumford is applied. The shallow boxis the way to build a fireplace right . Good Luck
Leeds' Contribution Significant
Having seen and admired Leeds' work over the course of two decades, I consider him a master among master masons.I have also enjoyed his wit and wisdom as an author.
Orton was wise to include Leeds in this book.
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