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Hello from Ames, Iowa, US - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Hello from Ames, Iowa, US

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  • Hello from Ames, Iowa, US

    Hi! I usually spell my name without the underscore on the end, but alas, the forum doesn't allow two-character usernames, so Ed_ it is.

    I've been a periodic victim of the obsession you all know so well for several years, but until last summer I never had a yard. We finally bought our first house last summer, though, and the back yard is a blank slate for us to work on. We may not be in the house for many many years, but how could an oven in the back yard not make the house more appealing to anyone who might buy it?

    Honestly, I'd been thinking of building a half-barrel dome until I started reading these forums. Having now considered both possibilities, I think you may have won me over. My baking interests include both pizza and bread, but I've seen plenty of people say here that they make more bread on a single firing than they and their neighbors can eat.

    As for exterior style, I had pictured something very similar to the one lfrances posted an image of (can't link due to low post count) but we will probably allow ourselves to be guided somewhat by what we can find for reclaimed materials (especially exterior brick).

    Unlike many of you who seem to have had to overcome spousal resistance, I receive only encouragement and assurances of assistance--so this is really a two-person project.

    EDIT: I'm interested in feedback on all these ideas, but I'd be especially interested to hear from people who have built in a similar climate (our coldest overnight temperature this year was about -20F/-29C) on how they built the foundation. A local builder told me that 2" extruded polystyrene under the slab, extending two feet, would in fact prevent frost heave. I'm curious what others have done.

    Last edited by Ed_; 04-15-2008, 08:12 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Hello from Ames, Iowa, US


    Welcome! My brother in law lives in Duque.

    I'm in Cin. Ohio and our frostn line is ~30". I actually dug down past that and built a footer. I have heard about an insulation pad but don't know much about it.

    Net, I think you definitely need to plan/account for frost heave when building...

    I would search the forum as there are some good posts.



    • #3
      Re: Hello from Ames, Iowa, US

      Local code here for poured footings is 48" below grade. I had thought of doing post-hole footings at the corners of the slab. The builder I talked to seemed to think that the foam, with good drainage beneath it, would actually do a better job of preventing heave.

      I guess the other question is the one that should come first: How serious a concern is frost heave? I have nightmare images of a cracked slab, with the cracks going right on up the oven, but maybe that's just an overactive imagination.



      • #4
        Re: Hello from Ames, Iowa, US


        It seems there are two separate camps on these cold climate ovens. Several members, however, have taken the effort to dig down below the frost line and start the footing there. Look at posts from "TheBadger" and "dbhansen" for some nice photographs. I will likely do the same.

        The other option suggested is to do "floating slab" of thick reinforced concrete on top of a bed of crushed rock for drainage. The usual advice should apply here: speak to your local builders/contractors to determine the best plan for your given soil and climate. I'd solicit several opinions.

        Good Luck.
        Mike - Saginaw, MI

        Picasa Web Album
        My oven build thread


        • #5
          Re: Hello from Ames, Iowa, US

          My standard reference on Frost Heave (Via Wikipedia) is from Canada:

          CBD-26. Ground Freezing and Frost Heaving - NRC-IRC

          They call for slabs on well drained rock fill, and the Canadians should know something about frost.

          I've heard about the use of insulation under the slab, no one here has tried it to my knowledge.

          I wouldn't recommend a floating slab if you were building a tall masonry chimney, that might be top-heavy, otherwise, if the fill is well drained, I think it's a good technique.

          I think the worst of both worlds is to put a sonotube under each corner of the slab. I think this just gives the ice lenses something to grab on to.
          My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


          • #6
            Re: Hello from Ames, Iowa, US

            Thanks for the responses, especially dmun for the link. We're still considering possibilities, and this one has really caught our eye:

            Monterey Masonry: Bake Oven Journal

            I suppose there's no reason that kind of a base couldn't be built on the same sort of slab as the usual block wall. One might argue that as inexperienced (meaning zero experience) masons, we're insane to consider such a structure, and one might in fact be right.

            In any case, it's interesting to see such different construction. It's kind of neat how the structural masonry and the finish are all one--no veneer.



            • #7
              Re: Hello from Ames, Iowa, US

              I love that oven. It is a beauty.
              My Oven Thread: