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Rocko's Build Log

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  • Rocko's Build Log

    I have wanted to build a pizza oven as part of an outdoor kitchen here at this new house for upwards of three years now. There is a lot of open space here for something like this and a pad that I could extend to accomodate all of this. I had built a cob oven at my old house and posted on the forums here for one-off advice on how to manage it. I was terrified of working with firebrick back then, but having thrown one of these together before, I am feeling braver.

    The plan is to build an outdoor kitchen with:
    • Sink
    • 42" dome pizza oven with front door
    • Offset brick smoker
    • Some kind of surface cookers
    • Concrete countertops
    • Lighting and plumbing
    • Water heater with a hot water line extending out for a possible future outdoor shower
    • Undercabinet fridge

    I guess I'm going big AND going home.

    The first problem is that my wife sprung that she wanted me to get a permit for this when I wanted to do this last year. She said she told me before. I certainly did not remember. Her reasoning was that we are the corner house and this work is particularly visible. So we could get in some trouble for it. Fair enough. The problem was that I had just gotten a huge vacation from work: a 2-month sabbatical that would have been more than enough time otherwise to get the major parts finished.

    So I apply for the permit and the county freaks out over our undocumented septic. So then I had to talk about septic the whole time of my sabbatical and do absolutely nothing towards the outdoor kitchen. We knew we had to replace that unit when we bought the house, so this was no surprise to us. It just completely ruined my plans and made me into a whiny monster during what was supposed to be a vacation from hurrying up and waiting.

    So the new septic is in, and I have a permit to do all kinds of crazy crap on my property so I'm covered for this and beyond for the next four years. I'm picking this up again, although the going will initially be slow since I'm trying to restart everything.

    When I'm out when the sun is out, I'll try to post some pictures of the mess as it stands. I have run plumbing, am prepping for electrical, and have done the basics for making an indispensable tool. I need to vomit my thoughts somewhere, and since this is a general outdoor kitchen, I am trying this particular subforum.

  • #2
    Hey Rocko
    i built almost exactly what you are describing. Check out my thread and give me a shout about anything. We are here to help.
    Texman Kitchen


    • #3
      Yay! This forum still lives!


      • #4
        Before this, I demolished a concrete walkway leading from the house to the slab. It was blocking water flow during flash floods, pooling the water, and diverting it into the garage. Since we removed it, we have had best a little puddle in the side of the garage. Stay tuned.

        I set up the cold water line from the water main. I first tried to use one of those telescoping repair couplings to splice into the main, but it dropped every from the telescoping connecting--the one part of the whole mess that I had nothing to do with. I ended up getting a pair of repair couplings and that eventually worked. Well, I had to really ratchet it down; the water main wanted to drift. You're not going nuts looking at the picture. I'd like to add here that I think the guys at Ferguson's Plumbing Supply are dumb as bricks, but I think too many masons here would take offense at me speaking poorly of bricks. When I asked for the right stuff to use to join some PVC as well as CPVC pipe, they gave me something they said would do PVC and CPVC. It turns out it only did PVC, and no such thing really exists. I had to redo my hot water lines because of it.

        So here you can see me doing crazy stuff with pipes. I set up a drain and ran one of my A/C condensors into it while setting up a drain line for the shower and one floor drain for the outdoor kitchen. Then my wife became okay with having a drain near that little pool house to further alleviate the flooding. So it will be getting partially yanked out and more 3" is going in. I am quite happy with that, except that it was my original plan. I just sold it poorly; I wanted particularly to have a line for backwashing the pool and discharging it away from the house. I should have just gone with the drainage angle. This is a mild rant.

        I tried to do a gas pressure test using an air compressor for the water lines, but my evil plan failed. I tried to use bike air valves screwed into threaded PVC caps, but the air would gas right out of them afterwards. I think they might have been broken. I eventually just turned on the cold water and it was sealing just fine--except where water was coming out of the tire valves! I ended up cooking a temporary connection from the cold to hot lines--using a threaded connection to connect PVC to CPVC--just to test both lines. I have had no puddling over the past four days, so I think the lines are sealed.

        Electricians will be coming out to set up lighting and sources for electrical boxes for the outdoor kitchen. We're also putting a step around the pool entrance with lighting. That will be grounded because apparently very few pool people know about electricity very well and very few electricians know about pools very well. Apparently if you have lighting like this, and you have one foot in the pool and one on a step with an embedded, ungrounded light in it, you're eventually going to blow yourself up. And by "eventually," I mean "probably immediately."


        • #5
          FornoBravo needs to fix the error popup when posting things. It got mad about the original post length and then mad that I wanted to include 5 images instead of 4. Sure, whatever. It just did it by slapping a pop-up dialog whose text appeared under the post so I really had to squint to figure it out.


          • #6
            ...and then I got hit with the posting throttle.

            The pizza oven will be a 42" of the pompeii variety. I wanted to do 48" but I just couldn't realistically fit it in the space. At that point, I'm making something like a 6' space just for the dome. I understand that would be overly ambitious but what you don't know from my previous 36" oven was:
            1. We would cram that thing full with baking stuff for the week. It would be like a kid trying to figure out how many Pop Rocks they can stuff in their mouth.
            2. Charging such a large oven was not so much an issue because my wife managed to set my previous pizza oven on fire. Let that sink in for a moment. She could set ice on fire. And then set the ensuing fire on fire.

            So the compromise with physical reality <spit> is the 42" oven. I already have a beautiful door courtesy of Teton Iron Company--or whatever they call themselves now. It is insulated and hinged. It is a flush mount. I asked for that so I could open it nice and wide. However, I have just exchanged one problem for another. How do I mount that? For that matter, what are the cool kids doing for their entrances? I'm seeing a lot of firebrick right in the front. Is that working out for you? Any burnt hair and eyebrows? I don't get all the obsession with insulation and then having naked firebricks right at the mouth.

            My current plan is to use some stone to cap the front, mortar with high-temperature mortar like the rest of the dome, and just grind a recession into them to shove the door in. I have an impact hammer that could nibble on the rock so I can drive in the anchors for the door. Speaking of that, what kind of bolts should I be using for this? Also, somebody remind me to make those holes BEFORE I mortar it in. The hammer isn't fitting once I've built it up.

            Finally, I intend to have a second entrance past the flue that I can stuff a plug into for keeping the chamber moist for general baking and specifically for bread. My plan though is to not need it. This front door seals very well. I am assuming I can put something in the flue to shut it tight. If I have that, then I should be able to close that puppy up. Right? Riiight? Is this a thing?

            For brick laying, I am working on my jigs. I have finished most of my indispensible tool and will share that in my next post. Then I need a jig for cutting the bricks. I intend to do the crazy cut angles because I feel like fawning over that will be quicker than trying to get cute with the mortar.

            I will be doing the cuts using... an old Harbor Freight chop saw (not a wet saw lalalala weeee!) with a brick cutting blade, soaked bricks, and a contraption TBD to help keep things cold and wet without killing me much. The saw will fully appreciate this, I am sure. I fully expect to throw it off a cliff after my project is done. It will possibly happen during the project. I learned after getting that saw that you don't buy anything that costs more than $50 from Harbor Freight unless it has no moving parts, and unfortunately this both has a motor and was over $50.

            The smoker is something I am cobbling together and hoping upon God's Green Earth will be successful. Apparently nobody builds smokers out of bricks. When they do, they build them out of regular old exterior bricks rated for a hot summer day, or cinder blocks. Instead, people stick to the metal drums and the like made popular by Houston oil workers. I think it's because you have to baby the damn things so it gives you an excuse to get away from your spouse. Me? I made some gripes in this post, but I'd rather be watching horror movies with my wife on the couch than babying a bunch of scorching metal every two hours. My old pizza oven could smoke meat overnight from residual heat, and having fresh pulled pork for breakfast at a normal breakfast hour is heaven.

            So I'm coming up with this offset design based on stuff I read in "Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design" written by a lot of Polish guys with the last name Marianski. They're mostly obsessed with cold smoking for sausages, but they have some stuff on warm smoking meat. They also have a lot of stuff on making smokehouses out of everything you can imagine: wood, cardboard, stone, holes in the ground, metal drums, cars... not really. I think. Actually... they do have old appliances as well as giant concrete pipes in there. These people are the MacGuyvers of smoking. There was some crazy stuff in that book, and they can both be very blaisť while being extremely passionate. If they don't care, I shouldn't care. If they care, I damn well better read that section twelve times. One tip I learned from that book is when brining meat, don't measure by volume, but rather use a salinometer and get an actual number based on time, temperature, and USDA tables that have been around forever.

            The things I learned from that is if I'm using wood, I want to offset the smoker with the firebox to the side. Wood burns too hot normally that close to the meat, so I need to get some distance. Also, I need two air inlets: one above and one below the fire. The one below the fire in the firebox generally runs the burning of the wood. The one above the fire manages the burning of the gas. This creates a more efficient flame that eliminates a lot of the creosote I would otherwise risk encasing around my wood. This should help me get a nice, blue smoke.

            I presume that I would charge such a smoker in the vertical chamber first, which would get the vertical chamber warm, and then run it off the firebox. I have seen some crazy pans that zig-zag wood to drag out the burn for longer. I hope between this and possibly a fully anal-retentive rig with a temperature controller and some motors on the inlets and flue that I can walk away from this thing.
            As a plus, I expect to be able to grill in it on multiple layers if necessary to make lots of Huli Huli Chicken, which is the best style of grilled chicken in the world.

            My issues in design are how to do such a rigid, vertical structure without it all crashing down. I was killing myself over this until I realized that people make these things called "fireplaces" attached to these strange "chimney" things and maybe I should just see what the standard is. I assume I am framing it with angle irons, insulating that from the bricks with some insulating board, and then stacking up fire bricks. I figured some courses would just be put out on their side to make holders for racks. Is this stupid?


            • #7
              Welcome back to the forum Rocko,

              I wasn't aware of the post length issue. But then, those are some long posts LOL. You may be able to get more pics per post by using the camera icon, which will upload and attach them as thumbnails. Either way, keep posting this is an interesting thread.
              Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build


              • #8
                For what it's worth, I had prepped all that text offline and then dropped it in when I was ready to make a ruckus. Getting hit with problems in itself wasn't a major issue. The problem is that the alert dialog for it pops under the text. So there's my post preview, its text, and underneath it there is this little window trying to tell me something, but I can't figure it out with the post preview and everything being on top. I'm assuming it's a stylesheet issue, if that helps.

                Anyways, I wanted to share that I have the initial prototype of my own indispensible tool:

                Click image for larger version

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                I think I have the idea right. The center square dowel can slide freely, and then I ratchet down on it with those wing nuts. There are notches in the spanning wood so the bolts can run through them; the whole thing can slide right out if I wanted. I also got this magnetic angle level that sticks to the steel used in those roofing brackets, so I should be able to dump it on top of the IT.

                I haven't put a tip on the IT yet, and I expect that one hole will wreck everything and I'll have to drill another square dowel.

                Nothing big is going to really happen here for a few weeks. The concrete guy is coming back out next week, and then they're two weeks out from that before doing any work. I will be trenching for electrical and to mark off my walkway and extra concrete slabs, and doing a lot of digging.


                • #9
                  So there's my post preview, its text, and underneath it there is this little window trying to tell me something, but I can't figure it out with the post preview and everything being on top.
                  It is the text in the reply box bleeding through the post preview. For smaller posts you should be able to drag the preview box upward. You will then be able to view the post preview clearly. For larger posts you may want to switch to the "Default vB5 Style" view. The normal setting is "Forno", located in the lower left hand corner below the reply box. There is a drop down box that will allow you to change it to Default vB5 Style". There will be some features that you wont be able to see while in this view. Like where a member is from. SableSprings reported this problem and at least the temporary work around for it here in Issues with the New Forum. I'm not sure if they are working on it yet, but I hope this helps for now.
                  Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build


                  • #10
                    have you posted some or your plan drawings/renderings yet? that would help us get an idea of what all you are planning.
                    Texman Kitchen


                    • #11
                      I'll dabble in the forum software and post doodles later, but I have a birthday party to attend. Sadly, it is not my own.

                      Let's complain about my attempts at trenching. Before I can pour concrete, I need to run the electrical, and I want to run that underground. So I have to trench. I rented a trencher yesterday, and the start chord handle popped right off midway through the first pull. I called up the place and they said somebody would be by, so I waited. Nobody ever came. So I used the rest of the day--which I had taken off to trench--to verify markings and shuffle some stuff around. Today, somebody finally reached my before noon telling me they didn't have the parts, and then were flabbergasted when I told them the thing has been sitting on the trailer this whole time. I should have just brought it back.

                      Oh well, at least I got this through to Monday, but I kind of lost a lot of today too. The trencher I got is pretty funny though. And by "funny" I mean "the dead man switch is broken and it just runs and runs and runs. I actually set it up on a line and let it just slowly munch on it for about 10 feet while gawked at it with my wife.

                      I had to stop due to the birthday party, and I was stuck trying to rip out an old fence post. It's the worst one I've ever dealt with. It's wrapped in old tree roots on three sides, and the third side is next to my exposed cold water line. So I can play a game of chicken digging out the post on that side, or I can watch my shovel get firmly refused entry anywhere else around the post. I have to get the concrete out of the way because it's kind of in the way of me running this line.

                      Oh well, I will be up early tomorrow and trenching. And then trenching some more. I'll probably rain at noon.


                      • #12
                        Who has two thumbs and a trencher stuck in their back yard? This guy!

                        Only the left tread would go when I put it in reverse, so I'd steer left to make sure it went straight. Regardless, I was progressively working a line because I had to knock out some roots on the way, and the right tread ran up on to the existing pad and the left tread was running alone in reverse and lodged itself in the trench. Yay!


                        • #13
                          we really need a pic of that!
                          Texman Kitchen


                          • #14

                            Yeah I blew that. My neighbor tried to take a picture in the dark but it came out like trash. I know the tool rental guys took a picture before hauling it out with a 4WD pickup. I actually called the place this morning to ask if they still had those pictures. They're looking into it for me.

                            Worst comes to worst, I'll just take a picture and MS-Paint the trencher into it.

                            Hey I need to also do a bunch of digging for a footing for a CMU wall and a driveway. I was thinking of renting a mini excavator but my wife is not too keen after these recent shenanigans. I was wondering if any of you would recommend that for some dirt that is likely to have tree roots running through it. I am trying to figure out what will work the best. The trencher couldn't handle tree roots at all. I have to dig down to about 18 inches for a good 80 feet for a ~16+" wide footing.

                            Doing the trenching myself took a few grand off the electrician's bid so it was worth it even with all the crap. I still have to clean out the trenches to do the last-mile stuff. Still worth it. If it takes a lot off the block wall then that will probably answer that for me.


                            • #15
                              i would rent a mini excavator. It may not make it through large tree roots, but the normal for sure. you will have to saw the big ones. sawzall works good for those. remember that you will have 6 yards of dirt to deal with based on your ditch dimensions.(that is a lot in a back yard) if you cant use it, it has to be moved and you want to do that when you have the machine and you will need a trailer, pickup, etc. If you have all that or want the dirt, i would get the excavator. if not, that electrician may be the best bet. excavators are handy, but be careful with the swing and the height. Power above, houses and kids and dogs and wives around and who knows below. Be careful!
                              Last edited by texman; 03-01-2017, 04:01 PM. Reason: edit. what about permits?
                              Texman Kitchen