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Brick orientation for the first course of bricks

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  • Brick orientation for the first course of bricks

    I noticed that the Pompeii instructions, on page 32, give three examples of how the first course of bricks can be oriented. But it doesn't mention the advantages/disadvantages of the different choices. I'm wanting to build the 42" Pompeii Tuscan oven from the plans. I plan to have my first course of bricks directly on the FB. I'm not understanding what brick position is best for the first course though. LOL, I've read there's soldier, sailor, half-brick on the wide (flat) side of the brick.

  • #2
    You might want to do a forum search - you will get plenty of information - enough to really confuse you I "googled" "first course fornobravo site:fornobravo.com", and it resulted in 1370 hits.
    You are building a hemispherical oven, so the first course just defines the shape of the lower portion. If you stand the bricks up 9" tall, you will have straight sides at the bottom then a more pronounced transition to the hemisphere.
    I also chose to put my first course directly on my floor, and just laid them flat like the courses above. It just seemed simpler for me and after reading all the pro's and con's it was the way I was most comfortable with. I think it made mortaring easier, but you should read the differing opinions to get an idea of what others were thinking.
    My build thread
    http://www.fornobravo.com/community/...h-corner-build

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    • #3
      JABF99,
      I have nothing against the military . But, you can quickly get the same amount of vertical rise before starting the curve of the dome with half brick laid as stretchers with the IT tool. And, they have a stronger bond. If you are building one of the wider domes, the vertical rise is not that important. And, keeping the dome walls in a perfect sphere will make it even stronger.

      Just my opinion .
      Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build

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      • #4
        Plus one with Gulf since your are looking at a dome.. Here is a pic the various brick orientations.
        Russell
        Google Photo Album [https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...JneXVXc3hVNHd3/]

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        • #5
          If laying the first course on their ends (either soldiers or sailors), if the floor is inside the dome then you won't have a horizontal mortar course being worn away by metal peels. Disadvantage is that a long vertical joint at the base is at the weakest point of the dome. An advantage of laying the first course vertical for ovens built on top of the floor is that you get more height at the perimeter of the oven. This means slightly more Space in the oven if pushing taller pans to the outside.
          Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Gulf View Post
            JABF99,
            I have nothing against the military . But, you can quickly get the same amount of vertical rise before starting the curve of the dome with half brick laid as stretchers with the IT tool. And, they have a stronger bond. If you are building one of the wider domes, the vertical rise is not that important. And, keeping the dome walls in a perfect sphere will make it even stronger.

            Just my opinion .

            Thanks. I am going to do what you suggested and do the half bricks laid as stretchers. On a side note, I read your build thread. That is an amazing oven you built. Incredible.

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            • #7
              If it's okay, I'm just going to use this one thread for all of my pre-build questions rather than start a new thread for each topic. I am trying to search this site before asking questions, but sometimes there is so much information (an overwhelming amount in some cases) that I am confused, so that is why I am running it by people in this thread. I'm not being lazy. I just don't understand - and I am trying to understand everything I can, before I actually begin trying to build the oven. I am building the 42" Pompeii Tuscan oven from the free plans.

              1. I've found that I can rent a 14" brick wet saw locally. Here is the saw. Does this look like it would work well to cut all of the brick?
              http://www.edcoinc.com/wp-content/up...4/09/HSS14.jpg

              2. I read in this thread about cutting the oven bricks (for the dome) so that they fit better. It seems reasonable to me to do this. Is it realistic to think I can rent the saw and pre-cut all of the bricks this way? Here is the thread.....at post #68 it talks about the cutting:
              http://www.fornobravo.com/community/...l/page5?t=3124

              3. I read about a brick cutting tool in this thread. Does this look reasonable to try and use?
              http://www.fornobravo.com/community/...g-tool?t=12478

              4. If all of the above looks reasonable, then roughly how long would I need that 14" wet saw to cut all of the bricks? It's pretty reasonable to rent for a half-day. Beyond that it is pretty pricey.
              Last edited by JABF99; 02-20-2016, 07:24 AM.

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              • #8
                I bought a wet saw from Harbor Freight and did the cut as you go method, starting with my floor and going up. If you really plan/study you might be able to cut the majority of your bricks all at once, but you would certainly need to make some custom cuts around the arch etc as you go. You might be able to cut extra bricks and then use a grinder to fine tune. If I started another oven, even knowing what I know, I would want to have a saw at my disposal for several days at least.
                You also need to decide how much effort you want to put into gap and or mortar minimization. You can just cut your bricks in half (maximum mortar and interior gaps), cut in half and bevel (eliminates most of the interior gaps but still uses lots of mortar - this is what I did), or cut in half, bevel and taper (could build a dry fit oven if that is what you wanted to do).
                Ovens on this forum have been built all of these ways, using saw, hammer and chisel or just a grinder, so it will be interesting to see what others have to say.
                Last edited by JRPizza; 02-20-2016, 12:00 PM.
                My build thread
                http://www.fornobravo.com/community/...h-corner-build

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                • #9
                  I also used a harbor freight 10 " saw. If you are a math and angle guru then you might be able to pre cut most of the bricks but you can not do all of the cuts. I also did the square bricks that were tapered for minimum mortar gap. That is what I would recommend as it is easyist to get a good result. Also you will need to make some smaller bricks to fill in parts of a row or move joints so they do not line up. I think you would be best to buy a cheep saw and sell when you are done.

                  Randy

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                  • #10
                    The more brick cutting you do, the more labour is required. In addition because you've cut away some of the brick you will require more bricks. It is much faster, safer and cheaper to halve the bricks with a bolster and hammer and then use more home brew mortar (very cheap) it will not look as pretty on the outside of the dome because that is where the rough cuts will be, but if you parge the surface with home brew it all gets covered and back to a spherical form anyway.
                    Last edited by david s; 02-20-2016, 10:07 PM. Reason: Added safer.
                    Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by david s View Post
                      The more brick cutting you do, the more labour is required. In addition because you've cut away some of the brick you will require more bricks. It is much faster and cheaper to halve the bricks with a bolster and hammer and then use more home brew mortar (very cheap) it will not look as pretty on the outside of the dome because that is where the rough cuts will be, but if you parge the surface with home brew it all gets covered and back to a spherical form anyway.
                      Contrary to popular belief that tight joints will create a stronger oven, actually the reverse is true. According to Daniel Rhodes in his book "Kilns design construction and operation" , widely considered the kiln builders bible, he states

                      "In kiln building it is much better to have a loose structure than a tight one. For this reason the amateur may have a slight advantage over the professional mason, because his bricklaying is apt to be somewhat loose and not tightly locked together. I have seen kilns made by professional bricklayers which in use suffered severe cracking and swelling due to the overly tight and precise workmanship and the lack of expansion joints."

                      Now, we're not building kilns which sustain double the temperature of our ovens, but the same principles apply. In fact the problem with rapid oven heat up and expansion is more of a problem for the refractory with an oven than a kiln. Due to the extremely rapid heat rise from ambient temperature, because most oven owners want to get that heat into the oven as quickly as possible, the refractory actually heats up and expands far more unevenly than a kiln which is loaded with wares and fired to increases far slower, allowing a far more even expansion throughout the kiln.
                      Last edited by david s; 02-20-2016, 06:26 PM.
                      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JRPizza View Post
                        I bought a wet saw from Harbor Freight and did the cut as you go method, starting with my floor and going up. If you really plan/study you might be able to cut the majority of your bricks all at once, but you would certainly need to make some custom cuts around the arch etc as you go. You might be able to cut extra bricks and then use a grinder to fine tune. If I started another oven, even knowing what I know, I would want to have a saw at my disposal for several days at least.
                        Thanks, that makes more sense than trying to rent a saw. I'll buy one and do the cut as you go method. That way I'm not rushing anything.

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                        • #13
                          I think you will be much happier in the long run, especially after you see how many times you use your saw. I want to eventually sell mine, but plan to use it for the decorative brick work after I render my oven, so it might be worn out by the time I'm done At least by then it will have paid for itself in rental fees.
                          My build thread
                          http://www.fornobravo.com/community/...h-corner-build

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                          • #14
                            I second that. I used mine on my stone work on the outside of my enclosure. I was great to have it to make minor adjustments and get the pices to fit together properly.

                            Randy

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                            • #15
                              Okay, I'm "good" on what I am going to do with the bricks. Next, I have to decide on a mortar to use. In the Pompeii plans, in appendix 6, it talks about "High Heat Mortar" and gives 3 options:

                              Option-1: Refmix

                              Option-2: Portland cement Fireclay Mortar Formula
                              1 part Portland cement
                              3 parts sand
                              1 part lime
                              1 part fireclay


                              Option-3: Calcium Aluminate Fireclay Mortar Formula
                              1 part Calcium Aluminate
                              3 parts sand
                              1 part lime
                              1 part fire clay

                              I tend to like that option-3, the aluminate mortar. I'm curious if anyone here has used this and can pass on their experience - good or bad. Here is what they say in the plans:

                              "First, a word of caution. Working with calcium aluminate
                              can be challenging. If you get the mix, or water wrong, it
                              won't set correctly. It partially sets very quickly, and you
                              cannot re-hydrate it, so you have to mix it and use it in
                              small batches. Still, if you are trying to save money and
                              want or need the heat resilience, heat conductivity and
                              longevity of a true aluminate mortar, it works."

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