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Pdx 42" update

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  • The area near the arch is where you need to pay attention or you get what is called the dreaded droop. Make adjustments over several courses.
    Google Photo Album []


    • Mac, Maybe you're already doing this, but I found if I gently worked each brick left and right while it was fixed in the IT until I could feel/hear it rubbing the lower course I was able to stay level through the long as your bricks are uniform. This kept the joints on the inside of the dome tight course-to-course.
      My Build: 42" Corner Build in the Shadow of Mount Nittany


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ID:	455515 Hello All - It's been a while, and if it weren't for working full time and running a business on the side my excuse would simply be laziness. But last weekend my wife managed to get me back out by suddle suggesting that she needed some special tools to clean out the overgrown jungle of weeds around our oven project. And, I couldn't just let her work on that while I neglected the project so I got started again!

        Today I'm happy to anounce that I'm on course 6 of the dome and I closed the opening arch to boot. Removing the arch support was a challenge, luckly I decided to do that while the mortar was still a little pliable. The arch support was poorly built, and mortar sqeezed out inside the opening an obstructed removal of the form. I did have it propped up on 1/8" slats, and removing those dropped the form a bit but it was still stuck. I has to knock it out with a mallet, which caused some cracking and deformed the arch a little. But, mortar still a little wet so I was able to make some adjustments and reset the bricks.

        For the outside arch I plan to use a 1/8" plywood scrap to wrap the arch, and I'm going to prop it on 1/4" slats.

        Photos attached. I think I could be closing the dome with 2 to 3 more weekends!

        Cheers, Mac

        My build thread:


        • That's coming along nicely Mac. At this rate you'll be able to bake pizzas before the year is out!
          My 42" build:
          My oven drawings: My oven drawings - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


          • Hi Gang - I could use a little problem solving help with this post.

            The inner arch on my oven is about 1/2" (~13mm) out of plumb, leaning forward and roughly symetrical (keystone is furthest point forward). This happenes when I was removing the arch support.

            So a few lessons learned on that, first I propped the arch support on 1/8" lathe, and removed the lathe to drop the support. Right idea, but 1/8" was not enough to clear obstructions. Second, My arch support was open in the center, I just used som thing plastic binders to cover the gap but when I set my bricks the mortar pressed through the inner joint and that plastic just warped so the mortar hardened and bound between the inside and outside faces of my arch support. If I was thinking, I would have disassembed the arch support to remove it. But I was not thinking so I just horsed it out and that's that.

            So, I am trying to decide how best to correct this issue, inside the dome and out. I have a couple ideas and wanted to run them past the thread.

            Inside the dome, I was thinking of mortaring some excess brick material around the top inside arch to restore it to plumb before I continue with the dome. I feel like that is the right answer to prevent "the dreaded droop" form deforming my dome

            Outside, I have a couple thoughts. First, I could cast a door that fits flush against the out of plumb surface, and then build the outer arch plumb and fill the gap with ceramic fiber rope. Or, I could use mortar to bring it to plumb on the front face of the arch. Or I could use my angle cutter to cut it to plumb. On this I have seen too many storys of folks injurying themselves with the angle cutter to feel comfortable with this much cutting. But with caution and a lot of blades I think it would work. The mortar solution seems a little like something that would not stand the test of time. Welcome all input!

            Here are some photos of the plumb issue and outer arch prep. I paused the dome build, but there is still plenty to do!

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            Last edited by Macrinehart; 09-19-2023, 07:16 PM.
            My build thread:


            • While you can certainly cut it straight, considering how little it is attached to the dome, what's to stop you simply removing the arch and rebuilding it? (Making sure to keep the brick numbering and joins the same, but working over a better temporary former this time, with support wedges under, so that you can drop the former before pulling it out.)

              I'd think the vibration from the cutting will loosen the mortar joints anyway, so might as well dismantle it, clean the bricks and rebuild the arch in my view.
              My 42" build:
              My oven drawings: My oven drawings - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


              • Thanks MarkJerling! That didn't occur to me. I think the first 2 or 3 bricks are ok. Maybe just rebuild the top of the arch? Do I have to worry about the dome colapsing if I take the full arch out to rebuild it?
                Last edited by Macrinehart; 09-19-2023, 10:11 PM.
                My build thread:


                • I don't think the dome is high enough yet for you to worry about collapsing, but, of course, I'll deny all liability if it does! LOL.
                  No, I really don't think it should be a problem. I've seen many builds here where people get stuck into their domes before doing their door arch, while I've always considered it better to build the arch first, as you have done. Worse case scenario, a few of the closest dome bricks may loosen, but if the mortar is well set already, it should be fine.

                  Of course, if the first few courses are fine, then leave them be, but it is nice to have a good, straight door opening for a nice door seal, so review that as you go.
                  My 42" build:
                  My oven drawings: My oven drawings - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


                  • Today was a day of prep work for rebuilding the opening arch. I started with cleaning mortar off the arch bricks, using a hammer and cold chisel. I found the process worked best if bricks are soaked thoroughly before cleanup. It keeps the dust down and I think the mortar comes off more easily.

                    After that I started improvements on the arch support. My brother brought over a custom tool for bending wood, and we cut some thin mahogany plywood down to size and bent it befor attaching to the arch support. I also used some scrap wood to add a faceplate to the front of the arch support, ensuring all bricks are plumb. Borrowed this idea from one od the pros on the forum, can't remember who but I'm sure you'll recognize it - thank you!

                    The inside arch now ihas an extra 1/8" radius, so after dryfitting and checking measurements I went to work on the dome removing mortar and a few filler bricks to expand my opening a bit. The arch will be a little forward of it's planned position, but much better than the out of true build I had on the first pass.

                    As dinnertime approached, I decided rather than starting to build the arch I'd do some cleanup instead. Got out the shop vac, removed Ll the spilled mortar and dust from inside the oven, and then took out my floor protector and cleaned up around the edges. Things are looking pretty tidy and I'm ready to rebuild the arch tomorrow.

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                    My build thread:


                    • Before you start the rebuild, check how much release you have under the form, one of the pic show small wood shims (1/4"??) this "may" not enough release to drop the form after the arch is completed. In my build I started like this but soon found out 1/4" was not enough and redid form and had a release of about a 1/2".
                      Google Photo Album []


                      • Today I rebuilt the opening arch. While I usually with I would have followed UtahBeehiver's advice, today I decided not to adjust the height of the arch form as that task seemed like a fairly unsafe use of the tablesaw, and I figured safety first. I also measured the height of my lath strips and they are 3/8" total with 2 strips. Hopefully it is enough.

                        I built the entire arch in one go with slightly higher hydration on the mortar to make minor adjustments easier. The entire process was smooth, but I'm leaving the arch support in place to allow the mortar to setup some more. I used a level to check things throughout and the front face is now smooth and perpendicular. (The picture is crooked, not the arch. )

                        I did have to pull it forward a little, and there is now about 5/8" gap to the inside radius of the dome. I imagine that means I'll have a little offset between the back face of the arch and dome bricks. I'm not too concerned about it.

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                        Last edited by Macrinehart; 09-25-2023, 06:21 AM.
                        My build thread:


                        • I got back to work this weekend after taking a break to visit family and also to get some fall chores done. It was a beautiful day yesterday but by the time I finished my chores most of the day was gone so I spent the evening washing mortar stains off my bricks with undiluted distilled vinager. Today I put in a few more bricks between the dome and opening arch. I also cut bricks for the next course.

                          It's been over 1.5 years since I started my build, and one thing I learned along the way is that cutting bricks is actually a lot easier than I originally expected. When I started I spent a lot of time planning each cut and designing and building jigs to help with alignment. But after wasting a lot of time with this side projects, and a fair amount of money, I landed on my techique which is simple and low cost. I'm sure it's not original, but it can be hard to find things on this site so I thought I'd share my process in the hopes that it demystifies things for other aspiring builders. This is my technique for cutting dome bricks. Due to the limit of # of photos per post I'll spread this over several posts.
                          Last edited by Macrinehart; 10-08-2023, 06:25 PM.
                          My build thread:


                          • First, I mark each brick with the lines I want to cut. For this job I have two adjustable T-Bevels, a woodworking protractor and digital calapers, all borrowed tools. I also printed the dome calculator spreadsheet, found elsewhere on this site, which has all of the required angles and brick dimensions for each course.
                            Following the guidance on that worksheet, I set one T-Bevel for side angle and the other for side tilt. The digital calapers are set to the brick width at the bottom back side, the longest dimension.

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                            The dome caluculator file is very helpful but I recall someone saying it's not perfect, without going into the details. What I found is that my mortar joints are a little thicker than planned, which has a nominal impact on the number of bricks for each course. Furthermore, it seems like the calculator over estimated the # bof bricks required starting around course 4 or 5. Since then I've been estimating the number of bricks with each course, which is the handwritten notation on the worksheet.

                            The other observation, marking bricks is not like fine woodworking, the dome calculator reports angles in 1/10 of a degree, but I just get as close as I can with the protractor. There is mortar that covers any error in precision.
                            My build thread:


                            • The marking of the lines will come in a couple posts since the upload limit is 6 files.

                              First I pick a starting point, which will be the bottom outside edge, and mark my side tilt link for the back of the brick (line 1). Then I measure the width of the bottom back with the calapers, after which I I mark the other side tilt (Line 2). There are no parallel lines in the process. The first two lines should be approaching each other up the back face of the brick. If you have parallel lines at any point, then the T-bevel angle needs to be flipped.

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                              Measuring the width of the bottom outside edge.

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                              First to lines illustrated with the T-Bevel set for side tilt.
                              My build thread:


                              • See, that's why your oven is so much tidier than mine! I just 'eyed' it all and marked my cut lines with school board chalk. But, mortar hides a multitude of sins, so all good! LOL
                                My 42" build:
                                My oven drawings: My oven drawings - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community