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Make my own, or buy?

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  • Make my own, or buy?

    Hi all,

    For some time now I have been wanting to make my own Neaploitan type pizza oven in my garden, and I have been researching all the technical details, and planning what I need to do. Then I see a site like this and wonder if I should just go out and buy it!

    This is my problem:

    1. I want to eat pizzas once a week, for me and my family. Up to four pizzas in total (one at a time). I fear that the construction using fire bricks and all the mortar and insulation will mean I will have to create a large monster for what I really need. It would be great if it could heat up quickly, because I only need it for a short time. I dont have legs of meat to go in and slow cook or anything. So do I need a brick monster for such a low use oven, when I could just get one of these: wood fired ovens Domestic WOOD FIRED authentic wood fired ovens

    2. I would like a low dome type. But if I try and build a low dome, brick, maybe half brick, I am thinking of putting the bricks on their side so that they have less mass away from the fire. What I mean is, can I place the bricks side on to the fire, rather than end on, and can I still construct a low dome oven? (thats very difficult for me to explain)

    3. The oven is to be kept outdoors, and needs to be small and will get wet in the open. So buying one will mean I dont have to worry about all the cracking, and maybe caving in of the dome, etc.

    4. Basically, can I construct a brick oven, but smaller and thinner that the ones you are all building, but still use brick and get the same characteristics from it that I need?

    5. Oh, and I wanted to use pure lime mortar, no Portland...

    Getting one of the premade ones just seems the right choice for what I want. Imagine all the work I need to do, just for four pizzas a week! It is important to me to have really good Napoli pizzas, type 00 flour, and bake in under two minutes, nice burned edges...

    Ugh... Any advice will be gratefully received.


    John M

  • #2
    Re: Make my own, or buy?

    can I place the bricks side on to the fire, rather than end on, and can I still construct a low dome oven?
    I built a dome two and a quarter inches thick, as you describe. I used a geodesic layout to get this to work. The geodesic layout is inherently spherical, so I can't speak to how it would work in a low dome. I'm not sure it's worth it. I don't get a big advantage in heat up time or fuel use compared to half brick domes. In addition, thicker walls are stronger because they more closely approach the catenary shape, which is the strongest form of arch.

    As far as the low dome layout, It's more difficult to build, and may need to be braced or buttressed on the sides to succeed. We're talking about a lot of weight, and what doesn't push down, pushes out.

    Lime mortar? We had a discussion of it years ago, but I don't know if it's been used successfully in high heat situations.

    Any outdoor oven needs to be kept dry. If your insulation gets soaked, it takes forever to heat up your oven. Any oven, brick built or modular, needs insulation above, below, and around the oven, and this needs to be enclosed by either a roofed structure, or waterproof stucco (render) which may be less effective in really wet climates.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Re: Make my own, or buy?

      I found my favorite "stability of domes" site which had changed location:

      Auroville Earth Institute, training courses, workshops on Vaults, Arches, Domes(VAD), stabilized rammed earth walls, compressed earth blocks, vaulted structures, compressed stabilised earth blocks, rammed earth.
      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


      • #4
        Re: Make my own, or buy?

        John, other than your desire for a low dome, you seem to be the perfect candidate for a Forno Bravo Primavara oven. Not sure if James still has a dealer in the UK, you may want to look into it - or an equivelent available in your area.

        In all honesty, building your own is a wonderful a point. I'm not shy to hard work and I literally do every home project myself. I have to say, my oven build kicked my butt (working in the hot sun every day and foolishly mixing all concrete and mortar by hand). Halfway through I was ready to be done and I'm certain I would have finished it up on a more "Grande" scale if I had not petered out...just wanting to be done.
        I say, by a premade oven (if your budget allows) and REALLY do something special on the finish or surrounding area that would be your custom/personal touch.



        • #5
          Re: Make my own, or buy?

          Thanks for all the help and advice, I appreciate it. I understand more now as to what I should not do, and what I would like to do. I think that I am inclined to have a go and build something, but I see that a brick is too much for me now, and for my use.

          Buying is a good option, but I find that quite expensive, but I have not ruled it out.

          What I am considering is adobe/ clay. I think I can do that and make a small oven, and a low dome. I can also render it waterproof. I have read up on lime mortar, and I will post on the older topic and see if I get a response. I understand that it can be waterproof, and it has qualities that are good for ovens - flexible or less prone to cracking. I understand it is fine for ovens - but maybe not in the hearth.

          I will post what I decide...