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She just said I can build it! - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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She just said I can build it!

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  • She just said I can build it!

    Ok, so I have been thinking about this for a while. I am a high school shop teacher with a variety of interests. The last few years my students and I have been building choppers.(Long extended motorcycles, see OCC.) This year we are building a 1965 AC Cobra replica. But my passion is cooking. So here goes. I want a brick oven for having students over to plan and dream of the future. Nothing fuels discussion like food. Unique food. So to begin with I have a few questions:
    Like Size? I have a large back yard and can do my own work. So what is an ideal size. Say about 10 hungry teenagers = about 5 large pizzas?
    Location for prevailing winds? In the panhandle of Texas we have south winds all summer.
    Any help here would be a great place to start. Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: She just said I can build it!

    Hey Cliff,

    Welcome to this group! We will be glad to help as we can on your project...

    The Pompeii oven plan that is available (free) on this web site is a fantastic project for your situation! If you can get the students involved in the build, it can be a ton of fun, and a great learning experience. And, when complete, we have found the oven a great attraction for 'foodies' - 'pizza lovers' and most everyone else as a draw to get together and share some giggles.

    The Pompeii oven plans give directions for either a 36" or 42" oven (inside diameter of the oven floor). We installed the 36". (and it would be simple to adjust the plan larger or smaller if a guy wanted...) Typically we cook 8" to 10" pizza's and can be cooking two at a time pretty easy. The oven runs hot enough that any one pizza won't spend any more than two or three minutes in the oven, so it doesn't take very long to get the pizza's cooked for the size of crowd you are talking about. (and then the oven is hot and can be cooking meals for the next couple days!).

    I would advise to begin construction as soon as possible (get the heavy work complete before summer heat gets here...)...

    Wind is an issue.. and maybe some of the other guys and gals will weigh in on this issue, but if you have a choice on direction I would suggest having the oven face quartering away from the prevailing wind... the wind from the south, have the oven face north east or north west...?? Mostly I think the fire will function best if you don't have the wind blowing directly into the mouth of the oven...

    Good luck with your project. I found that it was great fun building the oven, and we really enjoy having the oven in the back yard. It is great learning how to use the oven and the food that comes from the oven is out of this world kind of good!

    Keep us posted on your project plans.



    • #3
      Re: She just said I can build it!

      Way to go Cliff -- I've been there on the approval front.

      Building from scratch, I would go at least 39" and possibly 42". My experience that there are just times with a 35/36" oven where you wished you had that little bit of additional space. Scaling up isn't a big deal.

      I will second the "get started now" idea. Having your oven to use this summer, rather than doing masonry work in the summer heat would be a lot better.

      Enjoy and welcome!
      Pizza Ovens
      Outdoor Fireplaces


      • #4
        Re: She just said I can build it!

        Cliff - you are going to have a great time building your oven and this forum is full of nothing but great people who will help with any question.
        I would second what James said about at least a 39" to maybe a 42". I ended up about 39.5" and have had many parties moving 40-50 pizzas through the oven with no problem.

        Good luck, have fun building it, and post pictures so we all can see.


        • #5
          Re: She just said I can build it!

          Originally posted by Jed View Post
          (snip) I would suggest having the oven face quartering away from the prevailing wind... the wind from the south, have the oven face north east or north west...??
          Good thinking, mate! Our often strong prevailing winds come from due south, and I instinctively put the oven mouth at 45 degrees NE - and it works a treat.


          Last edited by carioca; 03-22-2009, 05:04 PM. Reason: giving precise angle (just measured with feng shui compass)
          "I started out with nothing, and I've still got most of it"


          • #6
            Re: She just said I can build it!

            Hi Cliff!

            Congratulations and welcome to the world of WFOs, crazy construction, and fabulous pizzas!

            I am in San Antonio and, while we don't have wind like you do, I would agree on placing the mouth at an angle of nominally 30 degrees to the prevailing wind. I would also suggest thinking about chimney height to make sure you don't have smoke problems in your guest area. (My chimney is a bit short and when the winds are wrong the smoke ends up being a minor problem. In my case, in part because my lot is very NOT flat. In flatland up there in West Texas you won't have that problem but...think about where your smoke will go and I would suggest making the chimney top a bit taller than normal if the smoke may blow at your house or other guest areas.)

            Get started. Pizza season is HERE!


            • #7
              Re: She just said I can build it!

              Could someone tell me about doors? Do you shut them to cook, or get the heat up? Or to keep the critters out after the party is over? All of the above? Now I know this is out there but I have an opportunity to buy an old building on the major highway in town.... And this picture of a brick oven in the corner... and bread everywhere.... Kind of a bistro West Texas style... Ok so back to reality: 42" seems a good place to start. Anyone tell me how much fire brick for the dome? I have a supply of old brick already cleaned and stacked on pallets in the back yard. I sort of think inner fire brick, and outer antique brick (matches the house) dome with insulation layered in between. Back to the doors: What material is best? The welding program has a cad computer hooked up to a plasma torch. 1/4" steel with barrel hinges on a steel frame? How much heat are we talking about at the doors? And thanks for the welcome.... Birds of a feather.....