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Adhoc 36" Oven in Lake District, UK

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  • Adhoc 36" Oven in Lake District, UK

    HI everyone. Ive been reading and poring over these posts a while now and holding off posting. But I'm getting to the stage where experienced advice would come in useful. Let me introduce myself. Im Micky and I live in the UK in the Lake District and have been making pizzas nearly 15 years. Many said I should do 'MickyPizza' as a business and moving here, the opportunity presented itself. I got the council on the phone and they instantly signed me off with a 5 Star hygiene rating. Arghhhh....!!! Reality HITS! This had become REAL!
    I want to go mobile and do outdoor catering etc, but first I wanted to build my OWN oven in the back garden. Bit like the old Remington advert/commercial - "I liked these razors so much, I bought the company" ....ME :- "I like my pizzas so much, I built my own oven" etc etc.. Another plan was, once built, I would then commission myself to build them for others. Yeahhh... that plan was a bit screwed eh!
    Once this oven is built, I'll be providing them locally and build a name and reputation for myself. Plus its good practice for using and managing a wood fired oven when I go out there properly.
    But, enough caffuffle - onto the BUILD >>>

  • #2
    As per the title - Adhoc - Although I'm not a big Frankie Sinatra fan, Ive done this my MY way. The guy who's house I live at suggested I use the outline and foundations of an old outbuilding of sorts, which seemed a good idea to me.
    I have actually done a bit of building before. I landscaped my back garden in Scotland about 10 years ago, so I know enough shall we say. Using the Forno Bravo plans as a guide I instantly dismissed the concrete foundations, including rebar etc etc. I'm not building a skyscraper here, I only need enough to support my walls. So I dug deep enough a concrete trench for my walls and lobbed in a load of stone and bricks etc for extra strength.
    For my project I wanted to make this oven 'Lake District style' and use local slate. Honister Slate mine do a thing called 'Fill your Boot' Whereby you rock up, pay 20 and literally take what offcuts you need. I had a Berlingo van..they never asked, I never said! I had orginally thought that it would all the crap stuff, and I would use blocks for the base and 'dress' the outside with slate, either rendered to the blocks or otherwise. When I got there I saw there was some really really top pieces of slate there...and HEAVY too! So I decided to make the front and both sides entirely of slate - drystone wall style - and the rear, blocks as it wouldn't be seen.
    Last edited by MickyPizza; 01-08-2019, 04:12 AM.


    • #3
      Here's the early pics...

      Figured out the byte size error on photos as being combined pixel size being too high (image size was fine)


      • #4
        Well hello again Micky!

        Just browsing the forum and i see 'Lake district' in the title and i knew instantly who it would be! Looking great man get the more recent pics up to show it off!

        Im loving the use of slate mind!


        • #5
          Hi there Brad.
          I was gonna text you tomorrow and let you know I'd opted to finally post up.on the forum. Getting to the stage where advice for stuff now.
          Today SHOULD have been a full on day. Such good weather..which is why I only posted some pics up cos of time. But today was an example because my arch was up then down again. Trying to rush it too much. Not enough time to to take my time and give it the patient approach it deserves!

          Originally posted by brad mole View Post
          Well hello again Micky!

          Just browsing the forum and i see 'Lake district' in the title and i knew instantly who it would be! Looking great man get the more recent pics up to show it off!

          Im loving the use of slate mind!


          • #6
            Lovely stuff this Honister Slate. Looks greeny-blue and shines with such a lustre in either sunlight or when wet
            (who else thinks this bit here looks like K-9 off Dr. Who ? )


            • #7
              First blocks going in. Deviating once again, Ive went for breeze blocks for the back wall. First Slate blocks in. Imcluding a fine piece that looks great as a cornerstone piece. And bloody heavy too!
              Dry (wet) stone walling is slow SLOW work though. Especially last years hot hot summer when I baked and was getting attacked constantly by hungry horse flies!! Plus, I was at the mercy of whatever stone I had at my disposal. No option to pick any better bits other than what was there. But... I got the first side wall complete...

              And then - Mistake number 1 !! I had not measured ANYTHING. Foundations 'within the existing old structure' were are a great idea. But this ISN'T a rectangular structure now is it!! So I had to redig out foundation down the middle to make the second sidewall. No harm done as the extension will now serve as a prep area and stone workbench for dough/toppings etc.

              And then we see the second wall and front taking shape. Lovely seeing it all come together (this was about last June)


              • #8
                Finally got the base all done. Looks amazing. Very rewarding work but presenting three issues.
                1 - the thin 'lintel' towards the front
                2 - the thinness of some sections of the side walls.
                3 - the jaggedness of the inside edges for placing the plywood boards in for the concrete hearth pour
                But this thing is SOLID, It ain't moving anywhere anytime soon


                • #9
                  Next stage - the wooden timber frame for the concrete hearth. I pored over the problems mentioned above for literally MONTHS. Plus after our amazing hot and dry summer, come July, usual British summer kicked in. Rain... persistent and rarely a stretch of extended dry periods. The Lake District where I live doesn't have lots of lakes for nothing!!
                  How to cut the slate to make it square so concrete wouldn't slip through the gap got remedied when the Stihl saw I borrowed, needed returning to its owner BEFORE I ever used it. Then a pal who's a builder said "You could just use the old method of scrunched up newspaper in the gaps - nothing will get through and it will just rot away with no ill effects"
                  Coupled with a visit from my 18 yr old nephew (a joiner!) I made leaps and bounds in two days. Opted to just crawl under and pencil mark the plywood around the slate jaggeness and just cut the board to fit, fill with paper and booom!

                  I choose to add a central pillar of breeze blocks for an extra 'third leg' as it were, owing to the thinness of the slde walls - gives me a little piece of mind on strength and rigidity of the hearth.

                  I leveled up the top block with 4 house bricks, and added two metal bars, supports by wood across the lintel so that no direct weight is pressing on it. But in thinking about it, ALL of the concrete weight is not pressing on that front edge, its spread across the whole plinth, so Im not worrying.

                  The rebar I used isn't rebar but in fact thick wire mesh which I purchased from a local farming supplier. Its used for cattle to feed hay through when pressed against some bails etc. Its thick enough and rigid but with much smaller squares, so to my mind will be a much better reinforcing method.

                  Lastly, the wooden frame is made up of offcuts of panelling used for building Arctic Cabins at my workplace over the road. They tongue and grooved together but I bolted/screwed them together so they never seperated. A little deeper than I needed concrete wise, but using up materials available and cutting down on waste seemed a good idea


                  • #10
                    Next step...the concrete Hearth. A couple of builder pals of mine had suggested a hire of a cement mixer 'At around 12 a day' - I questioned such cheapness, but unbelievably it was true. Went out lunchtime (Mon 12th Nov) picked one up, got home, sat down with a cuppa. It started to rain. Then a bit heavier, then an absolute DOWNPOUR, Which went on and on, into the night. Great!
                    My other job - Sports Massage - meant driving over to Newcastle the next day for a 5.30 appointment and this thing needed taken back by 2pm!!

                    Mercifully next day was clear. I started from 8.30 and worked solid til 1pm. I got through 14 bags of sand and about 3 or 4 cement. Missed the hire shops cut off by an hour but they took pity on me and never charged the extra day!

                    As you can see from the pic, I had the mixer upside down to start!!! THIS is no easier I thought!!! Had to look at a youtube video as to how use one! haha

                    I worked with what time I had and covered up and left. In order to get the depth I wanted I later added 6 or 8 full barrow fulls to the drying hearth and left to cure/dry.

                    Boards removed and a not quite level in places hearth is done!

                    Final pics show some seep holes which I will fill at the very very end and the way I look at it, as long as the actual pizza oven floor is as level and straight as can be then the rest is not important. If it LOOKS ok to the eye (which it does) then no sense in worrying about it.

           was at this stage, with boards removed I realised my biggest mistake to date. MEASUREMENTS!!! In prepping the foundations etc 'using the existing structure' I hadn't planned forwards on what actual DEPTH I needed for the base to be in order to sit a 42" oven on top! D'oh!!!!

                    So onwards I a new 36 Inch oven project....


                    • #11
                      INTERLUDE :

                      At this point I want to showcase an oven I seen in Crete. My dad lives over there and this trip over for his 70th birthday was pivotal to my project! Two reasons
                      1 - all the good weather we'd had diasappeared literally the day we got off the plane at the end of July! Waaahhhh!!!
                      2 - I seen this oven

                      If you look at the build of it and workmanship, it is so so shoddy. It makes even the worst EVER builds using Forno Bravo's plans, look Pro!!

                      Its off centre, the bricks inside are all higgedly-piggedly and look like they have been THROWN at a dome time shape by a 4 year old and splatter with mortar and hope it holds.

                      But it got me thinking...
                      I BET that the actual pizzas that come out of it are still bloody awesome!! And it also made me think - stop striving for perfection. Get it as best as I can get, remember the Cretan oven and focus on what this oven is FOR...its so I can make pizzas. You can have the best looking coffin in town, best wood etc, but its getting buried and will never be seen again. Similarly with brick work - they will be blacked by soot within hours of it 'going live'
                      so I stopped worrying from this point.


                      • #12
                        Finally after months of doing the base etc, I got round to actually ordering all the supplies. 700 delivery plonked on the roadside.
                        Calsil board laid on a bed of mortar to get it as level as possible. Put a plastic sheet underneath the calsil to help prevent the moisture ingress. Then read on the plans that a fireclay bed for the floor bricks was optimal. What a horrible sticky old mess fireclay is!!! urgghh.
                        But, at last - an oven Floor!


                        • #13
                          In keeping with my slate theme, I wanted the opening part of the floor to be of honsiter slate. Took ages to get level and the transition to firebrick floor bang on, but once cleaned up, its gonna look lush.

                          Keen eyed folk might recognise the IT .... it belonged to Brad Mole. I met him (and his fine oven) and he helped me out with some offcuts of calsil (I'd underordered!) and gifted me his IT tool. I had to cut it down to 36" and hacksaw through his welds then drill and bolt together to get the smalller size.

                          Its at this stage, I can see an error, a big one... I should have started on the arch EARLY!!

                          The very front arch will be made of slate in keeping with the appearance of the outside look of the oven


                          • #14
                            Early courses. No fancy cutting methods at my disposal so just using a lump hammer and brick bolster


                            • #15
                              Onto the 6th and 7th courses now. Decided it was about time I cleaned up the inside of the oven at this stage and did some pointing of any mortar gaps etc. The overall look isn't all THAT shabby I dont think, save for the odd brick or two.