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Greetings from darkest Africa

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  • Greetings from darkest Africa

    Hi there

    After many years of dreaming about building a pizza oven at home, I finally made a start a few months back by building a base for my pizza oven. I had no previous bricklaying experience, but I hear you can hide a lot under plaster

    I have battled a bit to get hold of materials, but after many hours on the phone I have tracked everything down that I need, and cast my insulating slab yesterday. I hope to start building the dome next weekend.

    I have been taking pics along the way and plan to put it all together with a list of suppliers and costs in case any other South Africans stumble in here.

    Thanks for the great instructions and informative posts on these forums. I feel much more confident having found this site.

    I do have one question about the insulating slab. I poured just over 4 inches of vermiculite/cement mix in a 5 to 1 ratio...but I think my vermiculite might be coarser than you guys are using and feel I might not have added enough cement. I'm a little concerned that the insulating layer might be too spongy to support the weight of the dome. I guess I will have to wait for it to cure fully to see if it hardens up...unless someone can set my mind at ease

    PS I am of Greek heritage which might explain my desire to have a clay oven. I plan to cook a whole lamb in there some day hehe

  • #2
    Re: Greetings from darkest Africa

    Hey there, welcome! Africa is something new on the forum... whereabouts are you (other than south)?

    I can put your mind at rest about the Vermiculite. Mine was coarser than usual, too - bout 1 cm big bobbles... but it worked out fine. It contunied hardening for about a week, so don't worry if its still softish after the first day or so.

    So tell us about your oven... how big do you plan on building it? And please don't hesitate to post pictures of any progress on the forum. We love looking at oven pictures!
    "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)


    • #3
      Re: Greetings from darkest Africa

      I'm in Johannesburg, South Africa. Most people picture bush and lions but it's actually a first world concrete jungle. The wild lions are a good hundred miles away

      Ah glad to hear theres hope. I would hate to have to redo that delightful task uggghh

      As I said I have always wanted an oven but kept thinking of excuses not to start. Finally one day I just decided to start building and see what happened. My neighbour had a stack of bricks lying around, so I grabbed them and started building a square structure. No plans. No levels. Just freeform building. It was only later that I found the Forno plans and realised that the base I built was exactly the right size for the 42" oven. Seems like fate to me.

      I have built a double walled base and laid lintels across to form the structural support under the insulating layer. I plan to plaster the base and probably stucco the dome. I think a nice Grecian white and Blue finish would be appropriate...maybe a few Grecian pillars rofl (My wife would kill me)

      I have been making pizza and bread for about a year now, ever since I discovered the joy of stone ground, non bleached flour. I really can't wait to tuck into my first wood fired pizza and ciabatta.


      • #4
        Re: Greetings from darkest Africa

        I'm in Jhb also. My oven took also many months to find the correct suppliers. It's working like a dream. If in needs of supplier address, you'r welcome to contact me.
        Good luck with your building experience.



        • #5
          Re: Greetings from darkest Africa

          Welcome Al!

          Nice to hear your oven build is going so well.... Please tell us more about it... with pictures if possible.

          And above all, do post your suppliers on the forum! That way any future builders in your area will know where to start looking.
          "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)


          • #6
            Re: Greetings from darkest Africa

            Hi Al's

            Good to hear I won't have the only WFO in JHB

            I got my bricks and mortar from Vereeniging Refractories and my Vermiculite from Mandoval. (I will post contact details and pricing with some pics soon)

            I would be interested to hear where you found your stuff...looks like I might be short a bag of mortar...and thats a rather long drive for one bag

            BTW How did you insulate your dome? I haven't managed to find a supplier for Insulfrax so I might just go with a really thick layer of vermiculite.