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Newbie List of Questions

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  • Newbie List of Questions

    Hello all,

    I hope you will have the patience for a list of newbie questions. I have been working with making a decent pizza in a weber grill. (including bolting fire brick to the top of the lid) and I'm not happy with the results.

    Therefore I'm contemplating turning it up a notch and have some fundamental questions.

    1) Budget-how much should one expect to spend in building a brick oven themselves?

    2) Is there a reason you shouldn't use charcoal in addiition to or instead of wood?

    3) Mobility-We don't plan on living in this house for more than a few more years and I'm contemplating how one would make their brick oven somewhat mobile.

    Is this even possible?

    My naive plan would have a "table" constructed with legs out of 4x4s with inflatable tires, the table top would be made of concrete depending more on insulating concrete and less on heat mass. Likewise the dome would be less mass more insulating concrete. e.g. use split face refractive brick, backed by insulating concrete, or use some massing concrete in only key areas such as under the floor of the oven and on the top of the dome.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.


  • #2
    Re: Newbie List of Questions

    Material costs are so variable that it's difficult to give you even a round figure on costs. Much of it depends on the finish of your oven. The material lists on the pompeii instructions is a good place to start.

    Charcoal is expensive, and doesn't burn with the hot flame that firewood does.

    Wood bases are strongly discouraged. Wood is flexible: Masonry is rigid. Bad combination, we fight cracking even with rigid masonry bases. You can make a structural steel base, and place your oven where riggers can get at it, or build a fully mobile oven on a substantial trailer.

    The balance of solid refractory materials and the insulation surrounding it is important for cooking success. Anything much less than two inches of firebrick just isn't going to hold enough heat to cook successfully, particularly with retained heat cooking. The other problem with building a dome from splits is that you would have a lack of structural support for your dome: Insulating materials don't have much if any strength.

    Good luck with your project.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Re: Newbie List of Questions

      Thanks for the feed back.

      It would appear that the brick alone is a $500 commitment.

      I get your point on the issues around the flexible nature of the wood.

      After I posted a quick calculation of 250 bricks at 8 pounds each suggests a weight of 2000 pounds. (thats more than my MG)


      Looks like its going to have to be a leave behind.


      • #4
        Re: Newbie List of Questions

        It's true. Brick ovens are heavy. Maybe you get to build two this way. :-)

        Pizza Ovens
        Outdoor Fireplaces


        • #5
          Re: Newbie List of Questions

          I stopped calculating my oven weight about 3/4s through construction....somewhere in the 4400-4500 lb range (all inclusive - foundation slab, block stand, support slab, dome). I'm guessing with the finish materials installed, I'm at about 5000 lbs. I don't think that I would move it or attempt to, even if I had built it to. A heavy duty trailer version seems to be the only viable option if you ever want portability.


          • #6
            Re: Newbie List of Questions

            Originally posted by james View Post
            Maybe you get to build two this way. :-)
            Here's my plan: I'm building the first one. If there is ever a need for a second, it'll be a kit from FornoBravo!
            Ken H. - Kentucky
            42" Pompeii

            Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

            Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
            Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album


            • #7
              Re: Newbie List of Questions

              If you are looking at a couple years max for the home, then to a more perminant location, do the serious oven at the next home.. For now, yes, get some bricks and build a temporary oven, much smaller than the perminant ones, bigger though than the one hour version. Look into the thread that talked about the one hour oven, and make it bigger. This way you won't have to invest a lot of time and money into a perminant one that you will miss so soon...
              An excellent pizza is shared with the ones you love!

              Acoma's Tuscan:


              • #8
                Re: Newbie List of Questions

                Acoma has a great idea:

                For now, yes, get some bricks and build a temporary oven
                Stack up a block base on patio block footings, put a slip plane on top, and cast your support slab on top. Then you can build your dome using the fireclay only mortar that Frances used:


                When it comes time to move, the only thing you'll have to sacrifice is the concrete support slab, and if it's forklift accessable, you might even be able to take that.
                My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


                • #9
                  Re: Newbie List of Questions

                  Oddly enough I have heard of the possibility of moving a brick would have to construct it with something to weaken the bond between the hearth slab and concrete block...would need a grad-all or forklift to lift it and a big flatbed truck to move it and reverse the process...most likely more costly than constructing another oven...and quite risky as it may crack anyway...think of what it will do for your property value...or at least the sellibiblty of it(is sellibility a word?)...anyway
                  Good luck!
                  "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
                  "Build at least two brick to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch


                  • #10
                    Re: Newbie List of Questions

                    Another option is an earthen/adobe oven. The material costs are negligible compared to a brick wfo. Clay, staw, water, a few fire bricks for the floor.
                    Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.



                    • #11
                      Re: Newbie List of Questions

                      Tysen...........there are a lot of options for building a low cost oven (especially if it is only intended to last a couple of years). Have a look around site. The answers are here. CarlUK is building a great low cost oven and John Fahle and his Texas crew are making an adobe one.


                      • #12
                        Re: Newbie List of Questions

                        ?f you build a temporary oven now it means you'll get a lot of practice, so the definite oven will turn out all the better. And If you plan it all carefully, you'll just be able to re-use the same materials...

                        As a builder who has fnished the only oven I'm ever likely to build, the idea of being able to do everything all oven again in a couple of years time has a distinct fascination...
                        "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)



                        • #13
                          Re: Newbie List of Questions

                          Rather than a block stand, it might be worth looking into making a five-leg metal stand with the slab poured within it. This could be picked up by fork lift and moved--very carefully.

                          "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


                          • #14
                            Re: Newbie List of Questions

                            Keep the cost down with recycled materials and consider this as a good practice. It will give you experience in both building and cooking with a WFO. Then when you move you will be ready to build a top notch oven from what you have learned. You will be ready to make the investment in time and money to create an oven that is ideal for how you use it.
                            Build one now, and when you are ready for the big time.....order one from Forno Bravo. ( shameless plug for a great host )
                            Sharpei Diem.....Seize the wrinkle dog


                            • #15
                              Re: Newbie List of Questions

                              Wow, what a welcoming forum. Thanks very much for all your suggestions and ideas.

                              I'll keep you posted on what I come up with.