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Ope-dog's 36" Oven .. (fingers crossed!)

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Ope-dog View Post
    mongota , I went back to revisit your amazing build. Seems you skipped the obnoxious p-crete step all together and went right to the stucco. I'm wondering if I should have attempted that, given I have extra blanket from my build. I'm mostly bummed that I lost my perfectly nice little "dome" shape. Hopefully my final render layer I can get it back in to a somewhat round shape.. I also noted that it seems your curing fires were a bit spread out as well?
    I wish I could offer you advice on p-crete, but as you know, I chose the easy way out...four inches of blanket insulation!
    Curing fires are best in my opinion after the dome is insulated. The insulation can mellow out the temperature as the dome heats and cools. Longer curing fires will ensure that any latent moisture is not just driven out of the brick some, but through the insulation and into the atmosphere as well.

    When I don't use my dome for a while, my first cooking fire is typically a low temp long fire, then I add fuel to get to cooking temps. The low and slow fire helps drive out any moisture before getting it to flatbread type temperatures.

    If my dome has absorbed moisture? It might not be through the shell, from the outside-in. It can be through the interior cooking space. Humid atmospheric air in the dome can result in some of that moisture being absorbed by the dome structure. But if my dome has absorbed moisture, when I fire it, the exterior stone veneer can feel warm. Once all the moisture has been driven out, the exterior stone veneer is essentially the same as the outside air temperature, even with a 900 degree brick temperature inside.

    And to answer directly, yes, curing fires can be spread out.


    My Build:


    • #47
      Well, curing fires have commenced and progress has been made! It's been a busy week.. took 4 days and spent it at the property working on the WFO. Figured I could start my curing fires and work in parallel on some of the "cosmetics" to go along with the oven. Of course, I picked the hottest days of the year (literally!) to do this. 110 here in Portland, OR today. How the heck does that happen??? When I left central WA state earlier it was 109. Just doesn't make sense. But.. so it goes.

      Day 1:

      Started a "small curing fire last Thurs. I was cognoscente to not let it get much above 300F. Well, at the 5 min mark my little IR thermometer was reading 446 for the dome top vs 181 for the rear wall and 134 for the floor. Yikes! I quickly spread out the small pile so the flames were licking up so high. After 10 minutes, the dome top was down to 366, rear wall was 239 and floor center was 177. At 20 min, dome top was 251, rear 210, and floor 176. I pretty much let that fire die down from there and took readings again at the 1 hr mark just to see how things were looking. Top was down to 104.

      (What's interesting is on day 1, I started @ 12 noon, outside temp was 73. Inside dome pre-firing was 51 degrees. (nice and cool!) On day 2, I started at 8:15am.. outside temp was 64 degrees. Inside temp was 70s. So definitely got warmed up from the previous day.. )

      While the fire died down I continued to work on the chimney build. Even with just the "stub" on top of the vent, it drew marvelously. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised that NO smoke came out the front, except a few puffs when I was blowing into the chamber to give the coals some encouragement.

      Day 2:

      Tried to be a bit more mindful of the flames, however the dome top still spiked at 524 after 5 min of firing. I came to the conclusion that even with small sticks, if the flame is allowed to be high it will heat up those bricks quite quick. (Day 3 consisted of charcoal briquettes after this realization..) I continued to monitor 3 points inside, 3 points outside, as well as the chimney during an hour of firing/heat. (Flames only for the first 20 min or so..) all looked good.

      Chimney build-out cont'd..


      • #48
        So day 2 marked the completion of the vent/chimney, along with another curing fire, of course. I opted to attach the anchor plate directly to the fire brick underneath it. I then built a "box" around the anchor plate and double-wall chimney, leaving a few inches all the way around. I tried to ensure no mortar from the bricks got on top of the anchor plate itself. Once this was set up and the chimney leveled, I mixed a batch of 8:1 p/v-crete and packed it in around the chimney. My thought with this process is that it would help insulate and also allow for the anchor plate to "breath" (ie, move..) and not take any mortar with it. I have no idea if this is correct, tbh. I guess time will tell. The very top of this cavity I did place a skim coat of mortar over the p/v crete mis. I left a 1/2" gap between the mortar and the metal of the chimney for the same expansion reason. The next morning I did notice some cracks in the mortar, but I'm attributing this to the fact that the mortar got put down when the hot afternoon sun was in full force and, well.. just the way it goes. This was well after the curing fire had gone out and the vent section was quite cool.
        Last edited by Ope-dog; 06-28-2021, 05:32 PM.


        • #49
          Curing fires and work progressed Sat, Sun, and into Monday morning. Sunday night I "attempted" to cook dinner in the oven as they curing fire was "supposed" to be in the 500-600F range. Well, a few issues. 1.) Looks can be deceiving. The biscuits and cornbread looked pretty amazing when they came out. But.. the undersides didn't get enough cook time. So. I'll definitely need to get familiar with the heat zones of the oven. 2.) My little Tractor Supply IR thermometer apparently reads "HI" when it gets somewhere above 600. I wasn't able to take readings at one point, and soon after I saw the dome clearing. Uhf!!! I won't lie.. I felt proud and nervous at the same time. LOL.

          After the curing fire and cooking experiments, I put on my wooden arch form and shoved the smoker thermometer in there. It held overnight from 325 @ 8pm to 275 at 9am the next morning. Figured that was a wooden door with lots of gaps, so I'm excited to see what it will do when the actual door is built. Used the last few days to get the tile put on the island, despite the obnoxious heat. (Could only work in the morning time.. it's like Phoenix, right now!)

          ** Question to the forum.. when the walls are reading a certain temp, how do you know what the "air" temp is, or does it matter? For example, when the dome clears you're no doubt around 700F+. But the "air" in the oven is going to be less, at least for a while. So does the air need to be 700+ for pizza or do you just go off the wall/floor temps? I have some research to do and some time yet as I need get another curing fire or two. (Although with the heat these days it may not be needed!!!) For the last 2 days I just placed a brick at the rear of the arch and stuck a turkey thermometer in there to try and get an idea what was happening..

          I was very impressed with the temps outside the dome. At no point was anything anywhere near too hot to touch. Except for the keystone, which was a piece of shale I brought from the Cliffs of Moher over in Ireland. That got a bit toasty. :-)

          Looking forward to getting the outer shell on and a roof over the entire area. That was a last minute design change which is why I opted for a dw chimney as opposed to an all-brick build out as initially planned.
          Last edited by Ope-dog; 06-28-2021, 05:35 PM.


          • #50
            So after some busy weekends post-curing-fires I have finally reached a point where I can say the pizza oven is "practically" complete. Seeing as how the project morphed over time and the area is now on its way to becoming an outdoor kitchen, there is still plenty to tinker with, however the oven itself is built, operational, and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. My adjoining smoker/BBQ island has been neglected this past year and my focus will now get turned back to that. (I will tile to match the WFO and then build a bridging counter between the two units.. among other little bits and bobs..) I've used the oven a handful of times for pizza firings and, upon completion of the door, also baked some bread once it cooled into the 400 degree range.

            My door is a bit on the "rustic" side, being I have zero welding skills, let alone welding equip. and I wanted the door to be metal. I picked up some metal stock and then paid the neighbor kid who likes to tinker with these kinds of things a fair sum to cut, weld, and fashion the door for me based off some sketches we discussed. While the welds are a tad messy and the handles aren't aligned perpendicularly, it's still a fine door and will do the job nicely. I had him pack the cavity (depth) with leftover dome insulation and then painted the entire assembly with a high-temp paint to match the smoker doors. Biggest issue is when I was picking up the stock, I had a brain-fart about the dimension and got the steel an inch too short. Uhf! So I have to prop the door up on a 1x piece of wood to get it to seal at the top of the arch. I will think on how to counter this.. I'm thinking of a design that will incorporate a metal block that the door can sit on but I'd also like to have some louvers of some sort to allow ventilation/heat escape as desired. A good project for this winter, I reckon.

            My next hurdle is going to brainstorm a waterproof cover for the entire pergola. I love having the filtered light and the shade, but I'm worried that putting a metal roof on the structure is going to close it off too much. With the shedding of the nearby trees and the massive rain in this part of the country, not having a cover will be detrimental over the winter for sure. (Not to mention I want to attempt Thanksgiving in this set-up and not be wet doing it!!) So I'll have to peruse some other designs on here and see what people have come up with.

            So next weekend is the big pizza party!!! It's been in the planning for a while and I'm relieved to know that the oven and area is ready! It was pretty much 1 year exactly that it took me from deciding to build a WFO to having it completed. When I first started researching the builds on this site, I was kinda surprised that it took so long for people to complete theirs. Well, now I know why! Sure, with no other "life duties" to get in the way someone could probably bust one out in a week or two. But WFOs are certainly not a weekend project, but more like a seasonal project. And every bit of aggravation was worth it. What a fun project. I'm already trying to convince my friends to build one so I can help.


            • #51
              Great job on your build...yes projects in the PNW have been challenging with our unusually hot weather. Glad to hear that you've looking at a rain cover for the pergola... it will certainly make winter pizza & bread more enjoyable. With our extreme fire level & a bunch of major house cleanouts my oven has been idle for a couple of months. We had a grass field fire very near us this summer & I haven't felt it would be good to have folks in the neighborhood smelling smoke from my firing the oven.

              You might consider putting up some clear or translucent polycarbonate on top of the pergola. I'm sure your upcoming pizza party will be a great success!
              Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
              Roseburg, Oregon

              FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
              Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile


              • #52

                Indeed, the fire issues have been a concern this season and unfortunately it seems to be the "norm" now-a-days. Not quite what you'd expect being this far north, but so it goes. I recall your outdoor kitchen build and you had quite a lot of work and planning go into it. I also recall bread being your forte and maybe someday I can get down for a class. (Wish I had known you were there when I had my property in Glide!) A quick question for you.. should WFO bread have a smoky flavor to it? I'm reading a book by Richard Miscovich called "From the Wood Fired Oven." I suspect you've seen this book, if not own it, and it referenced a smoky flavor was desirable. But mine was borderline TOO smoky. I'm wondering if it's because I put the bread in while there were still smoldering ashes in the oven? Is it good practice to scoop out the ashes and coals after a pizza burn to prep for baking?

                And yes, the polycarbonite is a leading option at the moment, although I have read other people say that you should expect to be viewing the underside of bird poop and pine needles continuously. In time, I'd LOVE to have a few grape vines to provide a summer arbor. However during the winter they will be of little use, so if there's any design out there that allows me to put the "roof" up after labor day and remove at memorial day, I feel that could be a win-win. (Thinking of perhaps a strong canvas material that I can grommet down maybe?)

                (Fairly unrelated... One of the most magical places I've ever visited was a small little family "restaurant" atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus. It's called Viklari's Castle, and they have an outdoor grill. No menu.. they simply ask if you want chicken, pork, or both. Comes with a side salad and chips. (French Fries) Fresh off the grill, with a frosty beverage, and a MASSIVE canopy of grape leaves covering the entire patio area. You can snack on the grapes while waiting for your food. Give me a WFO and an acre in Cyprus and I could stay there forever. )

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                • #53
                  Well done! Looks fantastic!
                  My 42" build:
                  My oven drawings: My oven drawings - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


                  • #54
                    Regarding the smoky bread...I always clean out the oven before baking. I have done some bread with smoldering wood/coals off to the side & really didn't like the smoke flavors that the bread picked up. I pull out my ash before the bake and use a blowpipe to clear my oven floor. After cleaning, I close up the oven for an hour to make sure the chamber & floor have equalized before loading in my dough. I've read several authors that mention the taste of bread from the WFO but my taste buds register the variation of the crust bake (light brown to very dark...over caramelized ) giving me the best taste experience. I like Miscovich's book & agree with the enhanced flavor imparted to most foods cooked with a live fire...just not loaf breads (IMHO).

                    I have used polycarbonate roofing over my front deck. The translucent definitely shows accumulations of stuff but I can pretty easily clear it with my hose if needed...really depends on if some darker spots showing are more distracting than having a lot more light come in during the short winter days. I ran a light rope around the inside perimeter of the den & it makes a huge difference during late summer evenings as well.. Not too bright, just enough to see the difference between a little, hot pepper & a sweet grape tomato . A tarp or canvas would certainly work & give you a much extended time outside enjoying your very successful & great looking WFO entertainment area.

                    Glide got hit pretty hard last year & it looks like that barren acreage kept this year's fire from coming towards them again. Did your ex-property get burned last year? We take our house & irrigation water from the North Umpqua & it's way too low for this time of year...I'm a little concerned with 2-3 months of drought still on the calendar... guess I'll have to make sure to stock up on my favorite beers .
                    Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
                    Roseburg, Oregon

                    FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
                    Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile


                    • #55
                      We wanted to go with a transparent/translucent cover but ended up with metal roof over stained plywood. Closed off the South and West walls with Twinwall poly which lets in lots of light and looked better (to us) than corrugated fiberglass. We also like the way the lights reflect off the walls at night. Most of our rain, at least in the winter, comes in riding on the wind at about a 45 degree angle from the SW, so before the walls went up everything pretty much got soaked even with the roof.
                      Last edited by JRPizza; 08-09-2021, 12:12 PM.
                      My build thread


                      • #56
                        JRPizza , your pizza room looks great, and I see what you mean with the light bouncing off the walls. I bet one could spend hours just chilling and cooking in that spot. That twinwall poly does look pretty stellar. I'm not too familiar with that material but do you think it would hold up as a roof as well or is it not robust enough to take the occasional hail storm and/or falling branch? (Frankly, it probably depends on the size branch for ANY material. )

                        SableSprings - Mike, I'm with you! I don't care for the smoky flavors on my bread. Perhaps it's ok on certain foods, but your method of cleaning and resting the oven seems to sound better in my mind. I will try that on my next bread bake, which will be Saturday. I'll start with a few bare dough blanks lightly dusted with EVOO and salt to let the guests be wowed at the process and nibble on pita snacks. Then onto pizza for lunch.

                        The smoker will have a brisket going in it all day, so a few hours after lunch I aim to throw in a crock of baked beans and then a cornbread to follow once the temps are down in the 350s. Still debating if I want to roast sausages in the WFO or fire up the grill and get a tri-fuego BBQ underway. Regardless, I'm very excited to put the oven through its paces and see what it can do.

                        There are some great threads in the forum that you gentlemen, among others, have lent amazing insight when it comes to cooking, cooking for the masses, oven cleaning and all around helpful hits. Forno Bravo really did a wonderful thing by hosting this platform for sure!


                        • #57
                          They use twinwall for green house construction both sidewalls and roofs. With proper framing and purlins you could make a great roof but need to deal with the chimney. We thought about a transparent roof but could not figure out a good way to do the roof penetration for the chimney, both in terms of sealing and dealing with any heat. As far as branches go I had one pop through the corrugated fiberglass roof of out green house and one through the membrane roof on our carport. As you say, a big enough branch will penetrate just about anything, especially with enough speed and proper angle.
                          My build thread