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  • #31
    Marcel wrote:
    Dear Tarik and his wife,

    I don't know what you are moaning about. Your oven work is
    terrifico !

    I would be immensely proud if mine came out even 60% as well. What you need to do is go to the following Web Site which I believe is hosted by professional Italian masons. I can extrapolate the text from what little French I remember. I believe it says, (James Bairey, forgive the rough and possibly incorrect translation) that the cope of this site-page is to advise how to build an oven of refractory material in order to prepare pizza, bread, sweets?, and Foccacio.

    Lo scopo di questo sito:
    Lo scopo di queste pagine ? quello di cercare di fornire notizie dettagliate su come costruire un forno a legna in mattoni refrattari per fare la pizza, ma anche il pane, i dolci e le focacce senza essere esperti muratori.
    I tried to capture a few thumnails of their work from

    but when I tried to paste them here, they were not visible [img]mailbox:///C%7C/Documents%20and%20Settings/Marcel/Application%20Data/Thunderbird/Profiles/0t366dbo.default/Mail/ ilename=moz-screenshot-59.jpg[/img]

    [img]mailbox:///C%7C/Documents%20and%20Settings/Marcel/Application%20Data/Thunderbird/Profiles/0t366dbo.default/Mail/ ilename=moz-screenshot-60.jpg[/img]

    [img]mailbox:///C%7C/Documents%20and%20Settings/Marcel/Application%20Data/Thunderbird/Profiles/0t366dbo.default/Mail/ ilename=moz-screenshot-61.jpg[/img]

    (M) Now, let's look at the work of a well known pair of masons living in Santa Cruz. Which oven would you prefer?

    (M) Well, everyone can go to:

    and you'll see the superb craftspersonship of the Santa Cruz masons:[img]mailbox:///C%7C/Documents%20and%20Settings/Marcel/Application%20Data/Thunderbird/Profiles/0t366dbo.default/Mail/ ilename=moz-screenshot-58.jpg[/img]

    ================================================== ===

    I'm writing this post on my Firefox email and hope that I can simply paste the entire page into this Forum, with images.

    I'm Copy-Pasting a few of Tarik's comments so I can respond:

    (T) 1) I tried to use the angles I got from Marcel's calculations. They kind of worked,

    (M) I suspect that your grout lines were somewhat greater than the 1/16th" the program specified, but hey, this is one tight oven!

    (T) it's isn't the polished interior I wanted, but I'm perfectly happy with it for now.

    (M) Gimme a break, Tarik. That is beautiful work!

    (T) We got such good adhesion by soaking our bricks that we didn't need them for anything other than guides. Lesson learned.. more forms, and follow them

    (M) I wasn't there but I suspect that your wedge shaped cuts did more to keep your bricks from falling than the soaking. I soak mine too and they slide without balloons or bubble-wrap as support.

    (M) This post should be about according accolades to Tarik and his wife, but in case others are reading who credited me for the balloon idea, please note that it offered only limited help. The balloons lose air over night and are quite fragile. Bubble wrap, particularly the larger pods, are far stronger, don't lose air, and if one pod breaks you can usually pull up on the others.

    (T) What I did worked, but the cosmetics aren't as great as I'd hoped.

    (M) Boy, you're starting to sound like Paul, another meticulous builder who groundlessly negates his own excellent work. Be Happy, both of you. Even if you did this for a living you should be proud of your ovens. If I wore a hat I'd take it off in your honor!



    "Everything should be made as simple as possible, ...
    but no simpler!" (Albert Einstein)


    • #32

      senza essere esperti muratori. Without being an expert bricklayer.

      Nice find -- that's a fun web site. It's such a small world. I've alway thought that our objective was to bring the Italian oven market to the states (and Italian ovens to the English speaking world). It's great seeing photos on this site that look so much like the photos of the Italian enthusiasts doing the same basic thing.

      Pizza Ovens
      Outdoor Fireplaces


      • #33
        That's a great site.. I remember "reading" it a few months ago, when I was beginning my search that led me here.. even have pics from it that I used during my planning phases.... It does make me feel better, but my gaps are definitely bigger.. on the inside. On the outside, they are really tight.

        Thanks for the encouragement, Marcel. My next oven will be even better.


        • #34
          Originally posted by Marcel
          (M) I wasn't there but I suspect that your wedge shaped cuts did more to keep your bricks from falling than the soaking. I soak mine too and they slide without balloons or bubble-wrap as support.
          Perhaps, but I also pounded *ahem*... tapped each brick into the wet mortar with a rubber mallet, squeezing out the excess mortar and increasing adhesion. There were only a few bricks that felt precarious, and they were always the first 2 or 3 of the course.

          I know that the main gapping issue I have is more with the wedges that we hand cut (eyeballed) instead of the angles you gave me. Those were much closer together.

          Originally posted by Marcel
          (T) What I did worked, but the cosmetics aren't as great as I'd hoped.

          (M) Boy, you're starting to sound like Paul, another meticulous builder who groundlessly negates his own excellent work. Be Happy, both of you. Even if you did this for a living you should be proud of your ovens. If I wore a hat I'd take it off in your honor!
          It is a good reminder. I am quite proud of the work we have accomplished, but I always seek ways to learn and improve anything and everything I do.. even if it may be a long time (or never) before I do it again.

          But I will say this.. anyone who wants to put down our oven better be a stone mason! Just kidding really.. it is always good to be able to take honest critique and learn from it.

          I did accomplish one thing that was really important to me (I don't know why). I managed to build the archway opening and dome with no metal supports at all. It's pure masonry. I know it would have been easier to use an angle iron, and I even asked myself several times why I wasn't doing that (as I did on the oven support), but it was something I really wanted to accomplish, almost in honor of all the Roman, Greek, and Arab buildings I used to wander around and play in when I was a kid. I turned away from becoming an architect, but this was one thing I wanted to accomplish even so.
          Last edited by aikitarik; 10-05-2005, 01:17 PM.


          • #35
            To any who care. I added some story notes to my pics... most are silly, but there are some about my decisions and design process in terms of laying out the arch/dome intersection.

            I had a little trouble there and would do it a little differently if I could start over. First, I'd build the doorway arch entirely, and THEN I'd build and tie in the dome. The end effect isn't necessarily stronger, but it is better looking to not have some of the small bits showing that I have because of doing it the other way around.

            All this is if you choose to not use an angle iron of course. I have no comments about the order of doing that.

            Really, no-one should let this kind of project intimidate them, even if they haven't done this before. This was my first masonry project and it was just like playing with building blocks and you get to cut them to fit without getting into trouble!


            • #36
              Ok.. a few more pics

              Our first fire...

              We've allowed our oven to cure for an 7-8 days, the last 3 with a heater in it. Turned out to not be enough, we still cracked.. even with a fairly small fire... enough that I will have to fix the arch (it moved enough that the keystone brick will lift right out) and want to patch the cracks (later).

              Reminder.. THOROUGH CURING!!!

              We're still in love.


              • #37
                Hi, Tarik:

                I agree with the opinion of our friends above and compliment you by your great work.

                However, there is something in the pictures that, IMHO, you would better to think about.
                Is the slab mass (size) as big as the photos appear to show?
                Mine is 2 inches isolated island under the hearth - trying to follow the same composition as the dome walls - and it is the major consumer of calories when firing the oven.
                Looking at pictures seems to me that yours is at least 5 inches (the side of the firebrick is, normally, 2 inches) and the slab is no isolated.
                This could be a lot of mass to warm, needing more btu?s to reach the necessary bricks temperature. Do not forget that the heat will equalizes into the complete mass (hearth bricks plus slab mass), meaning: the slab mass will draw off gradually the hearth temperature.
                Even when the temperature of the hearth stabilizes, it will transfer the accumulated temperature to the pizza dough faster than the dome will, probably burning the dough bottom. Or, when cooking bread, the floor will be hottest than the irradiated dome temperature.
                If I am right (and I hope not) your could try to solve this by cutting a two inches perimeter hole in the slab around the hearth firebricks and fill it with vermiculite/Portland mixture.
                I am sending pictures showing the slab island and the temperature curves just trying to explain better my worries. (Blue and yellow lines = hearth floor temperatures in C degrees)
                Again, I expect be wrong with this and will be looking forward to your first pizza/bread.
                I wait this helps.



                • #38

                  I followed the island method, wherin I poured 2-3 inches of perlite concrete, then an island in the center of the bricks of about 3-4 inches of regular concrete surrounded by perlite concrete. In the front, since I had an overhang, I used pure concrete, bonding it to the perlite mix with rebar (and pouring while both were still wet).

                  I think this should take care of it, but it's also true that my perlite insulation layer is sitting on concrete itself, since I poured a slab right into the hillside to act as my base. So that might be an issue. Only time will tell.



                  • #39

                    I am happy to know, I was worried about the slab mass. Not more now.
                    When I begun to build the slab I poured a lot of concrete (near of 8 inches!) and surrounded by the slab walls too. This was a big, big mistake. I did not know too much about ovens and I was guided by my emotion. Not a good thing, in this case. ;-)
                    I spent a lot of time searching and studying, trying to figure how to solve this, and, of course I were with the easiest decision, that was concreting again, over the old slab.
                    A couple of fiberglass blankets were extended over the old slab, then a new vermiculite/Portland isolation (2 ? inches) and, over it, the new slab with an isolated island, as you saw in the last mail.
                    The temperatures were showed in the last mail too, and the results were/are good, almost without warm drain.
                    I hope that it will be your situation.

                    Happy pizza!