First off the pancakes:
Yes, use the baking soda not the baking powder. It makes them lighter and fluffier. I haven't achieved perfect fluff yet but I'm working on it. BTW for those of you not believing in sourdough's ability to escape confinement...
I barely caught mine before it made a break for it this week. I also learned from this that it will shrink down a bit if you put it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Having served it's time in "Zee cooler" (Ok, you try typing Schultzy's bad German accent from Hogan's Heroes!!!) I think I'm attempting some hamburger or hotdog buns tomorrow.
Second the rocket stove: I got one burn test in this week. I and my impatient self overloaded it with fuel before I started so it never got the right air flow. In the process of demanding that it concede to my will I moved the half block chimney over the other hole. This did not improve the air flow at all but did lead to an interesting discovery...
Apparently if you burn the right fuel load in the high chamber instead of the low chamber (go back a couple posts to see what I mean) you get not a rocket stove but a pretty fair imitation of a Japanese charcoal making oven! This one is not really big enough to be a 'production' model charcoal oven but I can do the charcoal making process with it (which if you're an old school metal worker or back yard chief is kinda neat).
A couple posts are waiting for their projects to be done because I'm working on a new portable work bench (which will get it's own post when it's finished). My main work bench isn't really clamp friendly and my shed bench is an old metal desk which is just about as bad so the project is to make a version of a jeweler's bench that is clamp friendly, can easily be broken down to move (to take to shows, farmers markets and so on) and is still solid enough to work/pound/do what I do on. The thing is giving me fits, but it's getting there and sadly I can't say all the problems have been the bench's fault!
That's it for now. Remember if you got it all right the first time you wouldn't learn anything on the way.