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Wood-Fired Brick Oven build in Canton, MI

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  • Wood-Fired Brick Oven build in Canton, MI

    Hi all!

    My wife and I are currently building a 36" diameter pizza oven in my backyard patio and wanted to share some progress pics with you. I'll probably be posting more as I finish up the oven. I live in Canton, MI.

    I've been working on this since late May/early June. I spent a couple months before that gathering all the materials and planning every step so that when I started the build, I had everything I needed readily available to me. I've been researching this project for years before that.

    I've posted pictures here of my progress so far (sorry if they're out of order, I'm not sure how to fix that). I've skipped the pictures for the countertop/foundation since this is a pizza oven forum after all and I'm only allowed 6 photos per post. But I'll let you know what I've done so far with this build

    Foundation: 3 inches of 21aa limestone aggregate below 5 inches of concrete with 3/8" rebar in it

    Stand: Besser Blocks with concrete filled in every other hole, again with 3/8" rebar in them

    Countertop: 3.5" thick countertop, with 3/8" rebar. I put a 3.5" lip in the front of the countertop as well

    Oven Floor:

    3 layers of 1" low-density ceramic fiber insulation board. This stuff was a huge pain to find and I ended up driving an hour to Toledo, OH to pick up since I found a place that sells it relatively cheap there. Most builds I see use 2" thick insulation board, but this place was selling the 1" thick boards for roughly 1/3 the price of the 2" thick boards so I ended up spending the same money that I expected to and got an extra inch out of it. I figured the extra inch wouldn't hurt anything.

    We also mortared the edges of the insulation board and the outside edges of the floor in place on the countertop (We are using Heat Stop 50 as the mortar, very expensive, but seems to be working amazingly). We figured this would help us keep the floor in place and it covers up the edges of the insulation board while we work on the oven.

    We used corrugated cardboard for all of our forms for the oven. We cut out a 36" diameter piece of cardboard and just laid that on the floor to place the first row of bricks.

    Oven Arch:

    The arch and chimney was the thing I was most worried about before starting. But with corrugated cardboard as our form, it actually turned out really good in my opinion. I'm really happy with it at least. We made two arches. There is a .5" lip between the inner and outer arches so we can put a door in there in the future. The keystone is about 1 inch in front of the rest of the arch, which we think looks really nice and it opens up the chimney opening a bit, which is 6" x 5". I'm feeling really good about attaching the chimney in the future.

    Oven Dome;

    Again using corrugated cardboard as a form, the dome is going really well so far. The dome is planned to be 19" tall, about 11 layers of bricks, and we are currently on layer 5. We try to do one layer every other day, so we are hoping to finish the brickwork in about 2 weeks or so. We then cover the dome with wet towels and spray it down with water every day to help the mortar cure.

    Future: After the dome, we'll attach the chimney, surround the dome with insulation blankets, cover that in wire mesh, and then we will either apply stucco or surface bonding cement to that (and the countertop stand), then use food-safe concrete sealer on the countertop, then take our time curing the oven. We will cook our first pizza on August 20 (our wedding anniversary coincidentally) if everything goes to plan.

    I'd love to hear what you think and if you have any feedback so far!


  • #2
    Hi Jake,

    Welcome to the forum. It's looking good. Feel free to go back and add any and all pics of the early stages of your build that you would like. I would like to see the cardboard forms. Heatstop (calcium aluminate) doesn't require the wet curing as do portland cement based mortars.

    Also,.................. if I may ask ..................nate.and.mimsy.................. .Jake?
    Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build


    • #3
      Hi Gulf!

      Thanks for replying. The wet curing doesn't hurt the Heatstop does it? We don't really know what we are doing with the mortar, and I had read somewhere that it's a good idea to keep mortar kinda wet while it cures. So far all of our mortar seems to be holding really well though.

      I've uploaded some photos of our cardboard forms. I was initially worried about how they would hold up, but corrugated cardboard is strong. We bought a set of 36" x 42" corrugated cardboard (5 pieces) from Staples for $13 and that was enough to form our floor, both arches, and the dome so far.

      The Floor: Just a simple 36" diameter circle, with little notches cut out from it where the first bricks for the arch go. We just laid that on the floor and put up the first row of bricks around that.

      The Arches: We used 3 pieces of cardboard for the inner arch and 5 pieces for the outer arch (inner arch is half bricks, outer arch is full bricks). We just cut them to size and placed them and then built the bricks up around them. As long as you can keep them in place, they will hold a lot of weight. Then, once you get the keystone in place, we waited about 30 minutes or so and easily removed the cardboard and the arches held up. We also put little notches on the cardboard with sharpie to show where the bricks should be, which helped a lot.

      The Dome: For this we duct taped 3 or 4 pieces of cardboard together to give it some extra strength. I actually don't think that was necessary. We just use some bricks to hold the cardboard upright. We mostly just eyeball it when placing the bricks, but then use the form to double check our work. We will spend a lot of time on the first brick of each row, and then make sure each subsequent brick after the first matches the previous brick, again just using the form to double check our work. The cardboard is working really well here so far since we can move it around so easily, and it gives us a lot of room to work with inside the oven. We originally cut it to be the exact size of the dome (diameter-wise, 36"), but then realized that we were only using one side of it, so we cut it in half to make it half the size of the dome (so it's a quarter-circle basically) to make it even easier to work with.

      I'm still a little worried about how the cardboard form will work for the last couple layers of the dome. Right now I'm only on layer 5.

      Side note: Headlamps are a life-saver when working on the oven at night.
      Last edited by nate.and.mimsy; 07-19-2019, 06:45 AM.


      • #4

        You are correct about the wet curing for Calcium Aluminate Cement. It does benefit from wet curing. But, only for 24 hours as opposed to 7 to 28 days for Potland based products. Just make sure that it is only a fine mist with no runoff.
        Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build


        • #5
          Ahh ok perfect. yeah we use the mist setting on the hose and then drape the damp towels over it and let it sit overnight. We have been misting it every night pretty much, but it's good to know that we don't need to do it every night. We'll just mist it the first day from now on. We have been noticing that the mortar is rock solid the next day after working with it.