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our (free) imperfect smoking behemoth - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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our (free) imperfect smoking behemoth

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  • our (free) imperfect smoking behemoth

    Hi...I just thought I'd share a picture of a newly completed oven that we fired up for the first time last weekend. It is not a standard build and is therefore in this section, but I was (and therefore we were) determined to build an oven for as near enough to nothing as possible, using stuff I already had (Portland stone from a friend) and stuff from freecycle etc. I wish I had consulted this site first though as I last visited about 2 years ago and we went ahead and built this without remembering the need for insulation in the floor.

    The oven sits direct on the ground on top of a layer of recycled herringbone bricks which sits on recycled flat paving slabs direct on the ground. We also put a slab of Portland stone in as a base for the oven which was constructed from recycled clay housebricks and clay dug direct from the ground by someone who was building a conservatory and needed to excavate. The good news therefore is that everything was absolutely free and my sole outlay was for 1.50 worth of stone cutting discs from ebay for my angle grinder. to cut bricks for the dome so that they cannot fall in. Everything is plastered and cemented with ungrogged clay which explains the cracking, but I have relied on cutting shaped bricks which will have less of a propensity to collapse. At the risk of spending cash (aargh) I am considering plastering the dome with some insulatory mix (although I do have a large bag of vermiculite that was destined for insulating my woodstove chimney).

    The crude carvings were some I did years ago from the stone removed when we had our windowsills replaced and the chimney is built around a short piece of ventilation pipe I nabbed from a skip at the last place I worked. For good or for worse, I left the arch former in that was made from scrap dexion that I flattened on an anvil- and blame for doing my back in. This might not be such a bad idea as I'm sure we noticed some movement in the arch on its first firing

    And to my mind, the end result speaks for itself...It looks quite good in the garden- It absolutely isn't perfect and might even collapse, but on its first outing we made pizza, naan bread and tandoori chicken and it was pretty damned good. When the fire really got going the flames shoot out of the chimney along with atypical black woodsmoke that reminded me of the smoke from a wood fired kiln I helped build years ago. If it does collapse it will be the arch...and I will know better how to cut the bricks for that now.

    We have also invested about 30 quid in an infrared thermometer. I need to allow more than the 30 minutes of fire to get it up to a good temperature (I was misled by the fact that the thermometer went off scale above 500C, but of course that was just a surface temperature). So next phase is a door (most likely cut from a giant beech wood log with my chainsaw. I will allow a good thickness and hope that charred wood will act as a good insulator. And I hope to make some tools to manage the fire etc. What you see in the photo is an old shovel I had that I hammered flat on the anvil to act as a peel.

    There you go- I hope you like it. If it falls down, I'll send those photo's in too. Good luck to all of you!


  • #2
    Re: our (free) imperfect smoking behemoth

    Personally I think it looks fab! - I love the rough and ready look, goes really well with the carving. ?1.50 extremely well spent !

    Where's the chimney - is it in the middle of the oven chamber or in a vent at the front?


    • #3
      Re: our (free) imperfect smoking behemoth

      David- Thanks for the vote of confidence!. We fired it up for the second time this weekend for more naan breads and pizza- and goulash kept on the simmer in front of the oven door (it got that hot!) then later tea (I put a kettle onto the hearth!) and scones ( 3 batches!) as it got a bit cold here on Saturday. We definitely need an insulating coat on it, but will wait until a free solution offers itself.

      Ahaa...the chimney. This was a right royal pain to integrate as we were not building from plans and so eventually it was constructed on the fly, trying to cut bricks so that they would not (could not! slip) and using a bit of flattened steel dexion (cheat) as a former (we left the dexion in but we think it might be redundant now). It's actually in the proper place near enough for a pizza oven. In front of (and lower than) the top of the dome and behind the arch of the door. You can see the beginnings of it in the photograph. The wedges sawn from the bricks were reused to fill gaps etc (don't worry about the associated brickwork- we eventually got round to tidying it up a bit). And at the end, we put a carving front and back and plastered it all up with clay. Next step is to build the tiled/ slated roof and the oven door and tools . I already have some recycled oak fence posts for the roof support, but need to think about how to build it so that it looks the part and blends into he garden. To be honest, we much prefer the rustic look hence I tend to favour the adobe type ovens (next time maybe!). cheers...p