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1st oven build

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  • 1st oven build

    I'd like to start by thanking Forno Bravo for hosting this site. There's a wealth of knowledge to be had here and it's possible because a company was willing to allow DIY's to post their knowledge.

    Next I'm going to thank everyone for what I've read so far on this site. Good info.

    Allow me to explain why I'm on this quest: Several years ago I was at Cherry Valley Vineyards. They had a wood fired oven in the restaurant. The chef showed me the making of a pizza in 90 seconds and it was one of the best pies I've ever had. I knew then that the day would come that I had one of them. The $$$ he paid for his was staggering. I believe it may have been 60", I'm not sure. Perhaps it was only 32" and my sense of awe made it look like 100". IDK>>>>

    So, here I go on my quest to build an oven in my yard. 1st item was the fire bricks. I found a deal (well, I think it looks like a good deal) on Craigslist. I got 250 medium density bricks for $400.00 I plan to cut them in 1/2 for the dome. So, from my calculations this s/b plenty for a 38" ID oven. The mouth of the oven will be a 26" arch. I'm planning on a full arch, no initial horizontal bricks before the arch. If this does not seem like enough bricks, someone please tell me. As the lady has more to sell me if needed and if I need more I'd like to get them before she sells them off.

    I'm here seeking knowledge, coupled with what I want the end result to look like. So, fire away with advice and tips, as well as the obligatory "good luck doing it that way".

    I will be attempting to taper cut all of the bricks so that my use of refractory cement is minimized and the bricks themselves are supporting the structure. I plan on renting a wet saw for this work.

    I don't want to cover the entire structure and make it look like a "house" . That way does look like the easiest way. And backfilling with perlite would yield excellent insulation. For aesthetics, I simply want it to remain as a dome when completed. My plan is to cover the dome with 1" of Kaowool. Then 3 inches of perlite/portland cement mixture. (someone explain if that is/won't be enough) Can I just use 5" of mix and not use the Kaowool??? And then cover that. As of typing, I believe that I'll be using stucco as the final covering. I'd like to cover it with a mosaic if possible. So, I'm looking for ideas how to cover the dome section and leave it in the "dome" shape.

    Where is the cheapest source for Perlite?

    For the dome I'm torn between using staves or foam insulation. I ruled out the pilates ball as inferior. Sorry, if I've already offended anyone. But, that really looks like the wrong way to go about this. Having never made one, the staves joined at the epicenter look easier to lay the blocks onto.

    Originally, my plan was an 8" slab for the base of the oven. My dad is a retired Union Carpenter (I'm chicken s... scared of heights, so I went to college instead), and I asked for his input for the slab/form design. He advocated that instead of doing that, I go deep underneath the footprint of the block and use rebar instead of mesh. He wanted me to 36", put in 4" of 2A modified and tamper it down 1st. I love the man, but I had to explain that this wasn't going to be an occupied dwelling. So, I've excavated 26" + were my wall will sit. The remainder of the slab will be 8".

    I plan on 32" of laid block on top of the slab w/vertical rebar and filled in every other block for the walls of the base. 5' x 5' square.

    On top of that I'm doing a 4" slab. Thus, my working surface will be 36" from ground level. Does anyone think that height is too much? Should my working surface be 32" above grade?

    In the middle of my slab I'm planing 40" circle of Perlite/portland cement mixture for the heat sink. Then the rest of the slab will be normal Sakrete.

    My chimney will be a double wall 6" ID 36" SS pipe. I already have that, so, I'm hoping it drafts properly and I don't need to go and buy an 8" ID section. Thoughts/opinions????

    I'm planning on paying $$$ for a custom built door. I want 2 part steel door with 1" of Kaowool "sandwiched" between the plates.

    Pics will be coming from my phone as the project materializes.
    What comes easy won't last long, and what lasts long won't be easy.

  • #2
    I suggest you draw a rough plan and elevation detailing materials and thicknesses. Unsure from your description how thick your dome walls are intended, likewise the floor bricks and the underfloor insulation.
    While vermicrete is a cheaper form of insulation than blanket it requires a lot more work laying it up and also has the problem of having to eliminate large amounts of water. Your choice, but most builders opt for a blanket layer or two or three followed by a vermicrete layer to provide a firmer substrate to stucco against.
    Last edited by david s; 07-24-2020, 04:18 PM.
    Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Chris inPA View Post
      He advocated that instead of doing that, I go deep underneath the footprint of the block and use rebar instead of mesh. He wanted me to 36", put in 4" of 2A modified and tamper it down 1st. I love the man, but I had to explain that this wasn't going to be an occupied dwelling.
      ...yeah, I pretty much followed your dad's advice, but 8x18 footer, no gravel under it

      I guess it depends what the whole thing is attached to....if its just a free standing oven a slab or slap with the thicker ledge is probably fine, if its attached to a house or anything equally immobile then a footer is probably what you want. Mine is attached to retaining walls and an island which were all built on footers, so oven got a footer.

      Where in PA? I'm in elverson, about 45min west of philly my build is in this thread :

      I bought the vermiculite at homedepot.

      I would need to double check height of the oven floor I think its 42 or 45" want it to be comfortable to look in and work the peel and such