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Question about solid clay bricks - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Question about solid clay bricks

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  • Question about solid clay bricks

    Hi there,

    Yes, I am new here. I've spent quite a bit of time poring over many great-looking oven builds, and also searching for answers to my question. Now I'm hoping to get some more input. No, I have not started a build yet, but am just getting into the planning stage.
    I love the idea of recycling old bricks where possible. I know about firebricks, why they are used, and so forth. I understand that they are the best choice. That said, I am very curious about using old solid clay bricks to construct my oven.
    I have seen some references to people using pavers or other solid bricks instead of firebrick, but have not really seen any threads discussing or showing it in depth. Nor have I seen any threads about problems later, like spalling, etc.

    Here's the deal. I have a neighbor who brought me a couple of used bricks from a scrap pile at a nearby college. There are two different types of brick there, and from what he tells me, easily hundreds of each.

    One brick is red, one more of a brown color. They are both solid. The brown ones weigh slightly more than the red. The red ones are 7 15/16" long, 3 7/8" wide, and 2 3/16" thick (I don't know if these dimensions mean anything to anyone, but I am trying to be as detailed as possible). The sample I have weighs 5 lb. 8 oz., and has little "ribs" on it that I assume are there so as to gauge a mortar joint.

    I split the brick so that I, and you, could look at the inside:

    The red brick left a little dust behind when I split it, making me suspect that it is a bit softer than the other.

    The brown brick is slightly different in size: 8" long, 3 3/4" wide, and 2 3/16" thick. It weighs 2 ounces more, 5 lb. 10 oz. and has no "ribs".

    When broken, it did not leave any dust, and also seemed to break cleaner.

    So what are the chances that using some of these bricks (I think I like the brown ones) will work out for the dome of an oven? I am thinking that I would still use firebrick for the floor, if just because it is new and clean, though I am not even sure if that matters. And if these are not good, what about actual old pavers, such as might have been used on a road, walk or patio? I often find these locally as well, and again, I would love to both recycle and use a bit of history if I can.

    I thank any and all of you for taking the time to read this and look at the photos, and I will welcome any feedback.


  • #2
    Re: Question about solid clay bricks

    I personally would NOT use these for anything that comes in direct contact with the fire. For a chiminey chase or to surround the dome, fine...My entire outer structure is made of red pavers........allthough some do.. Alternative for Fire Bricks are the old red clay solid bricks. Firebrick substitute It would be a shame to have it built after all that work and have them start to pop and shred...I'm sure someone will come along and give their opinion soon...Question?....Look on this forum of really nice ovens, see any of the bricks you are talking about in the inside of the dome? P.S. the darker the brick, the higher its been fired, or so they tell me.
    " Life is art, live a masterpiece"


    • #3
      Re: Question about solid clay bricks

      The first is a clay paver, the second is a wire cut face brick. Both are high fired and dense; other than being prone to spalling they will work, although not as well as firebrick. I would pass if possible.


      • #4
        Re: Question about solid clay bricks

        In Australian firebricks are not that cheap and available, many ovens are built from commons or pavers. The two samples you have pics off both broke cleanly without crumbling into many parts so they should prove serviceable. Using firebrick for the hearth is a sensible idea as firebricks are harder and should give you better service with constant contact with logs and tools.
        Regards dave
        Measure twice
        Cut once
        Fit in position with largest hammer

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        • #5
          Re: Question about solid clay bricks

          With all the labor one has to put into building one of these ovens - firebricks are an odd place to try to cut corners. Probably less than $300 for new ones. If you want to recycle, check craigslist. Doesn't take long to come up with a source.

          I'd use the bricks you have there for a stand or an enclosure, and get fire bricks for the oven itself.
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          • #6
            Re: Question about solid clay bricks

            If there a hundreds of each, jump on them with both feet . Think also about the pavers for a patio, out door kitchen floor, or walks through your garden. It doesn't look like there was any mortar used for there past purpose. Usually, it is just sand swept down into the joints. Lots of possibilities, if you can get them for a great price . My first offer would be, "I can clean that mess up and dispose of it for you". I have actually been paid to "haul off" what I was really wanting to buy .
            Last edited by Gulf; 08-01-2013, 05:06 PM.
            joe watson

            "A year from now, you will wish that you had started today "

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