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Dome has big gaps and mortar showing

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  • Dome has big gaps and mortar showing

    I just finished my dome and did not do the best job in the last few chains and have some bricks sticking out and a lot of mortar showing and some gaps. The mortar I used is sand, calcium aluminate, and fireclay 10:3:1.5. I am scared I am going to start fires and its going to collapse. I know others have dealt with the same problem so I was wondering what I should do. Here are the questions I have and would appreciate any advice.
    1. Before I put on the insulation blanket, stucco, and finish arch should I start the curing?
    2. Should I try to clean up the excess mortar before starting the fires?
    3. Should I tear down the last few chains and try again ?

    I would like to thank all the post and responses to the forum for getting me this far. I have no construction skills or mason skills at all (the pictures show) and I got this far. So thank you!

  • #2
    JPowers72, Congratulations on finishing the dome! Don't worry that it's not perfect in form, everyone will be thrilled at being invited to a pizza party or getting a loaf of fresh bread you baked in it.

    As to your questions:

    1) I'd start my curing process at least before the stucco went on. If you cure with just the insulation blanket on, it will work just fine...but I liked being able to watch the steam decrease and the dome cracks form (or not) so I could attend to any serious build problems that might be exposed during the curing.. If you live in a rainy or humid climate, the insulation may absorb a lot more moisture than you'd think. Many people have cured ovens after the stucco was in's just something that takes a longer, slower cure process and you need to make sure the moisture has some venting route through the stucco. Most of us leave some path/vent in place for moisture to escape the completed dome over time.

    2) Cleaning up the extra mortar is a personal choice (IMHO). If you've got a big hanging glop of mortar...yeah, you should knock it off. But really, as long as the mortar is solidly in's just storage mass. Again, people will look at the pizza not the inside of the dome.

    3) Several folks on the forum have taken down some portion or all of their builds to improve or correct them in some manner. Some have just called it V1.0, used it for several years and then knocked it down for V2.0 using that experience to build a better oven ...I think as long as YOU are happy with it and it allows you to bake whatever you started out hoping for...then (for now) it's good and just part of the journey! Relax & enjoy (and take notes on things you might like to improve).

    I attached some pics of a old oven in Sorrento, Italy that I got to use last summer ... note the brick gaps. The build was in the side of the hill and had no insulation other that the dirt of the hill. Your oven will be far superior!
    Last edited by SableSprings; 11-21-2015, 06:25 PM.
    Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
    Roseburg, Oregon

    FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
    Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile


    • #3
      1. I'd say yes insulated before curing gives the least curing cracks it seems. Prevents uneven expansion, as much as possible.
      2. Clean of any mortar. Again a yes. On your back slide in and chip any bits that hang and could possibly drop off in the food.
      3. Rebuild that top section. If you really feel you must. And to be honest it's your oven, if you only feel happy that it's rebuilt, do it. It's a dome so it's strength comes from gravity. If you going to bust out a brick break it out with hammer blows from the inside. Not the outside as you'll crack the whole structure before you'll get one dislodged.
      Leave it and it will still be strong it's a dome and owes it strength to gravity rather than your brick laying skills.
      I'm " masonary impaired" and my oven has gaps and daggy bits but still still cooks well 5 years now.
      Regards dave
      Measure twice
      Cut once
      Fit in position with largest hammer

      My Build
      My Door


      • #4
        Cobbler Dave and Sable Springs thanks for your advice and I decided not to rebuild the last few chains (lessons learned if I ever build another one). I needed the encouragement to move forward. After I finish my coffee and I am going to get on my back and clean the excess mortar. I am going to make another post but have 1 more question for both of you. Xmas is coming a little early for me this year. For Thanksgiving I am going to be close to enough to go to Forno Bravo. I am picking up my chimney pipe and accessories to build my vent. What other cooking accessories would you advise me to get? I have been so occupied building the oven and I just realized as I am close to be done that I have no idea how to make pizza, bread, or use an outdoor oven. If I do not use this oven after all the time and money I have spent I think she might finally come to her senses and divorce me! Thanks again for your advice!


        • #5
          Hello again jpowers72. Your question on cooking accessories started me thinking about the tools I use most while using the WFO. I came up with a list of 12 things I use every time I fire up to bake. Ended up being a three page document, so I made it into a pdf and with a short post note, attached it to an existing thread about "your favorite tool" - thread link below.

          Follow the link and it's post 45, towards the bottom of the page...hope the pdf attachment and my explanations/descriptions help.
          Last edited by SableSprings; 12-03-2015, 07:57 PM.
          Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
          Roseburg, Oregon

          FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
          Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile