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Red Bricks and Mortar - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Red Bricks and Mortar

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  • Red Bricks and Mortar

    Hi all... I'll start by saying "Great Forum" it's given me some great ideas on how to start building my first wood oven. I have a few questions though... ???

    (1) I am thinking of building my first wood oven from reclaimed red brick (using fire bricks for the Hearth) I guess the question is will these types of red bricks be sufficient for an oven that will be fired no more that once a month (if that).... ?

    (2) Regarding the mortaring... (a) should the first row of bricks (the solders) be mortared down to the hearth... ? (b) should the bricks in the oven wall be mortared so as the mortar is showing on the inside of the dome wall (e.g like a traditional brick wall) or only mortar on the outside with the face of the bricks inside the dome just butted up against each other as closely as possible... ? hope that make sense.

    (3) Instead of the brick work be mortared into place on a angle to form the dome... could the brick work step up with the bricks meeting up at the top of the dome.... hope that one makes sense too.

  • #2
    Welcome aboard,
    We have other Australian members -- hey, spring is coming down under.

    Yes, you can use regular clay brick in the dome. It will not heat up as fast, hold heat as well, or hold high heat for pizza as well as firebrick, but it will definitely work. Many people have built Scott ovens with clay brick domes.

    Still, if you can find the budget money, a firebrick dome will cook better and last longer. You get to decide.

    You should mortar your first course in place (they are vertical), then try to match the facing sides of the bricks smoothly to each other with little mortar showing. Your mortar will not be as heat resistent as your bricks.

    You need to curve the dome inward by setting your bricks at a angle, which is what gives your dome structure integrity. If you staggered your bricks inward, but flat, the dome would fall in. But that's OK -- you can build the traditional dome.

    Enjoy the project and take photos.
    Last edited by james; 10-10-2006, 01:24 AM.
    Pizza Ovens
    Outdoor Fireplaces


    • #3
      Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

      I'm glad I found this post since I had the exact same questions. I'm just thinking of building one of these. I found a local supply of used solid brick and was thinking of building an oven with them.

      For the morter, should it be a mix of fireclay or heat resistant morter? Some designs I've seen put a layer of sand or morter on top of the bricks, I was thinking of sand, then vermiculite, then a concrete cladding. The sand and vermiculite would first offer more mass, then insulation; both offering some room for expansion. Then the concrete cladding for the finish Thoughts?

      One more question. Is a chimney necessary?


      • #4
        Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

        A chimney is not necessary but helps keep the face of your oven free of soot, may help with draw, and keeps smoke out your eyes when you are starting the fire.

        My feeling is adding extra mass for a home oven is unnecessary. Even 1/3 bricks are likely enough mass for a few batches of bread. Spend your efforts on insulation, which is a larger factor in keeping the oven at temperature. Extra cladding delays readiness of a home oven which is not kept at temperature (although is useful for commercial applications).


        • #5
          Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

          Hi marcussjn......great to see another Aussie on board.

          As James mentioned, red brick will have its drawbacks and its good to consider that in the plan of what you want to achieve. However its possible and fine.....and I'm happy to give plenty of detail on it. I have successfully built an oven with reclaimed red bricks - have a read here:

          I see it a bit like this.....mine is more the "agricultural" (or less refined) type of oven whereas there are some very "refined" units on here

          So by all means....study this forum until your eyes just about pop out .....then your plan of attack will start to come together.

          Build #1

          Build #2 (Current)


          • #6
            Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

            G?day Marcus and welcome ? good to have another Adelaidean with us. About seven of us now, with twelve or so Australia wide. You?ll find the local input useful, especially for details of local suppliers of materials.

            I was given Russell Jeavons? book a couple of years ago which stimulated my interest to construct one of these things. His ovens are built out of normal pressed red bricks with standard cement/lime mortar, and are used commercially two or three times a week without any problems.

            While initially I considered going down the same route, I changed to firebrick after considering James? points above ? mainly the reduced heat-up time appealed to me. And stories abound of ovens requiring long lead times to heat (which could be due to poor insulation, rather than brick composition) ? eg Coriole?s needs to be lit at 6:00am for lunch! I doubt I?d ever use an oven if I had to spend a long morning stoking it!

            One of our local members (nissanneill) managed to salvage some used firebricks at the old abattoirs at Gepps Cross, so it is possible to use firebricks and still minimise costs.

            As James points out, each ring of the dome must gradually lean in, so that a cross-section would look like a door arch ? see pic. I chose tapered firebricks ($4 ea though), so I will not have to worry about lifting the outside face to get the right angle on each course. The taper creates a natural arch of 1100mm (43?) diameter ? perfect!


            The other crucial element is top-notch insulation and plenty of it. It will reduce heat-up time significantly and retain heat more efficiently.

            Finally ? I agree with Damon?s sentiments concerning studying this forum. Frederick Winslow Taylor may have said that there is only ?one best way? to do anything, but he obviously wasn?t thinking about building a brick oven! I?ve spent a huge number of hours reading forum posts with great interest, but have come to realise that there simply isn?t one (best) way to achieve an oven that, at the end of the day, will cook great pizza!

            Good luck with your build.

            Cheers, Paul.


            • #7
              Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

              Damon is spot on. There is SO much information on this forum, you will get bug eyed. You just have to take bits and pieces and form it into what will work with your budget, space, time, comfort level (if constructing it all yourself). I've read of several successful red brick builds. For home use, I don't think the type of brick is the key, its building to the proper thermal mass for what you looing to cook (pizza or baking) and or course - insulation, insulation, and more insulation.



              • #8
                Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                Hi Paul & Others. I agree with you, if you can afford it buy tappered fire bricks. I used tappered fire bricks I purchased in Victoria, Darley Refractory, the guys are great help. It makes constructing much easier and the dome stays in place as you build it. the bed joints remain tight. The bricks are 230mm long, but what I did was cut each 4 times to create a wedge shape thus once put together end to end they create a circle. I have some pics that might help anyone. as yet I cant post them because the files ar too large and unsure how to compress, Im a bricklayer not a pc whiz




                • #9
                  Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                  Hi Phill and welcome too. Must have missed your first posts. Where the bloody hell are ya?

                  Re posting photo's, send me a private message with your email details, and I'll send you an instruction sheet on how I manage to compress jpg files down to an acceptable size. It's probably not the ideal way to do it, but it works for me!

                  So you tapered tapered bricks? While I've got some tapered ones I plan to halve, I am still undecided whether to cut once or four times per brick. Was it worth the trouble? I like the idea but ....

                  Cheers, Paul.


                  • #10
                    Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                    There's a free online resizer that I use which is very easy and will get your pics to the size you need. PM me and I'll provide the link if you like.
                    "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

                    "Success isn't permanent and failure isn't fatal." -Mike Ditka


                    • #11
                      Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                      Hi Phil,
                      I was thinking of doing similar cuts for my bricks too so I'd be keen to see those pictures. I haven't sourced my bricks yet but the Victorian Darley bricks are one of the options. I haven't looked that hard for them in Sydney yet.

                      This IS a great forum. I've tried reading everything but it made my head spin. So I've found that having a general overview of where I'm going and concentrate on the specifics of where I'm up to on the construction helps me not get too overwhelmed. It probably helps if you have some building background but I've found that I've been able to find really helpful answers from previous posts and answers to my own questions. Although I still have problems converting the North American terminology with Australian (particularly as I'm a Kiwi married to a Canadian). My local hardware store looked at me oddly when I asked for rebar - they call it reo or Y12.


                      • #12
                        Re: Firebricks in Sydney


                        The brick company I got my red clay bricks from here in Adelaide (Salisbury Brick Company 08 8280 8060) was re-lining one of their brick kilns at the time and recommended a mob in Sydney called Thermal Ceramics for firebricks. There are a couple of companies which go by this name though, so I don't know which one they're referring to.

                        Just noticed a previous post where you queried alumina content vs low, medium or high duty firebrick nomenclature - my supplier sold me some imported firebricks with a 40% alumina content, which he called medium duty. In his experience, high duty firebricks are up around 80% alumina content, so it's all a bit rubbery. I don't expect any problems with the extra 10% alumina. I think Darley apply the terms low, medium and high purely to distinguish bricks in their own range - most confusing to the uninitiated!

                        Cheers, Paul.


                        • #13
                          Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                          Great info Paul, I'll check it out. thks


                          • #14
                            Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                            Thanks James and FornoBravo: delightful site/people.

                            Flamin Aussies eh - there's no escaping 'em!!
                            Any of you blokes belong to Exploroz? I'm in Bundaberg, and have the materials for a little Pompeii oven out the back: just waiting for a skin graft to set before the oven gets revisited.
                            Crikey - talk about a feast of info: thanks fellers.


                            • #15
                              Re: Red Bricks and Mortar

                              Thanks James; (n' all those flamin Aussies).
                              So while I think the thread I'm responding to is maybe 6 months old, may I say g'day to, (random sequence),Hendo, Bacterium, Marcusjn,Maver and Phill: basically mexicans I guess,but hey, you may draw a passport in the club raffle one day.[ says the canetoad, Bundabergish.].
                              Hendo, I fluked Russell J's book at the library last week. HE threw the 63% rule out the window, along with a few other cautions.
                              So while I'll stay with the 63% ratio, I'll certainly relax re firebricks and more.Hope to be building within the week, but looking more at a New Year firing than Chrissy. Such is life.
                              Hey All,
                              Is it too early to wish you mob Good Cooking over Christmas? Hope not.