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  • Macrinehart
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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

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  • Giovanni Rossi
    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.

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  • UtahBeehiver
    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.

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  • Macrinehart
    Hi Pizza Oven Officianados! It's been a minute but I haven't entirely passed this time idlly. Here in Portland, OR we've transitioned from a lingering, cold, wet winter to a record-breaking heat wave! Since my last update a month ago I've put in some work at both extremes of the temperature guage. Currently I am working on the 4th course of bricks in my dome. Things seem to be going pretty well.

    I was joined in my build by my friend Gus yesterday, and we laid most of the latest course, knocking off in the afternoon as the temp soared past 90-F. I told Guy there's a policy against having his likeness in photos until the second day of help. He has the link to this thread, so hopefully Gus, I'll see you again!

    The only Issue I have at this point is that I am starting to get slightly out of level on one side were the dome connects to the opening arch. The bubble is still between the lines on my level, but is touching a line on one side. So I figure the answere is a little estra mortar on the next course to bring it back into level.

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  • Giovanni Rossi
    Mac , Looks like you're working through it but UtahBeehiver always says, "The last brick of the day, place one on back center of the new course so it can set and gives you an anchor to work from." It was one of the quotes that made it into my research notes!

    It certainly made my life easier.

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  • Macrinehart
    Today I could only get in a half day, as the morning was spent supervising my son's driving practice. His driver's test is coming up on Tuesday, so we spent a couple hours cruising around town. No accidents, but I did get an elevated heart rate a couple times. It's amazing how much energy it takes for new drivers to stay focused on the road. After two hours of driving we got home and my son was ready for a nap.

    As for the oven, I finished cutting all the bricks for the second course. Then I had to refresh myself on the home brew formula. I doubled my batch to have extrat mortar for the tilt, but only had enough for 2/3rds of the course. It was fine though, as my morter was getting a little difficult to work in the end.

    I was a little intimidated with the mortar work to start, but things went pretty smoothly. I think setting the first 2 - 3 bricks in the course is the most challenging bit as they all want to move a little. But after I had 3 bricks down the course was pretty stable. From that point I just started alternating between each end - place a brick, tap it in place, and the let it stabilize while I worked on the other side.

    I finished the day by covering all the work in process with wet terricloth towels and a tarp. Here's the latest pics. You can see that I'm about ready to do some 1/2 width bricks to get my joints staggered.

    One thing that started to become clear today - this oven is going to be really tall! I think I can do 2 - 3 more courses from the ground. I'm also starting to think that maybe a 36" diameter would have been fine. I image that I could be making more progress at this stage if I didn't have so many brick to lay for each course. But no regrets - This oven is going to be great for back yard parties!

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  • Macrinehart
    Good tip. I manage to do the first side cut by setting saw once and then processing all bricks. The second side-cut I couldn't just setup once for a couple reasons:
    1. Minor variations in brick width requires adjusting the miter gauge. This is where having the bricks marked on the second side is pretty helpful.
    2. The tilt angle is only 1.5 degrees, which is pretty hard to visually oberve, which increases risk of setting the brick upsidedown on the second cut.
    One weird thing I haven't explained, I ended up with three bricks where the first cut appears to be on the opposite side from all the other bricks. I don't know how that happens when the blade and miter guage were in the same position for all the bricks on the first cut. The only theory I have is maybe I didn't get those bricks set correctly, or maybe they moved while being cut.

    In any event, measure twice, cut once, and measure again!

    Another shortcut, I have my hose with a garden sprayer on it a little loose so water is constantly dripping into my bucked with the water pump. The rate of flow is about the same in and out so I don't have to pause to refill the bucket.

    Between each cut I also clean the debris off the wet saw table.

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  • JRPizza
    I had similar experience trying to use the spread sheet. I ended up just setting up each row by eye and when I was dialed in cut all the bricks the same. I picked up a cheap sliding Tee bevel that came in very handy. Similar to your protractor but I think maybe more handy in transferring angles, marking bricks and using it to set your saw.
    Another thing I learned, albeit a little late, addresses staggered joints. If you are planing on placing your bricks to minimize joint alignment, start in the back/rear of the oven and work towards the arch on either side. This way any bricks you have to cut to less than full width are out of sight and it's easy to stagger the joints. When you start the next row just place the first brick so it straddles a joint in the rear and repeat the process. I used a few partial bricks early on near the rear and it kind of screwed me in that I had to do custom cuts most of the way up to keep the joints from aligning. I thought this would help prevent cracking, but I had some cracks that went right through the center of a brick, but it does make for a nice clean look on the oven interior. .

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  • Macrinehart
    And, back again! Folks, that was a long, wet, cold winter! But Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, trees are budding and the oven is building! Today while getting setup I had a eurika moment with the final brick in my first course that was sticking up. I got the angle grinder out and ground the brick down until it was flush with the rest of the bricks. Problem solved!

    Today I started on the second course of bricks, and found after playing around with jig 2.0 that it's easier to cut the bricks just using the miter guage and tilt blade on my saw.

    Also found after another miscut that I cannot just "set it and forget it" when it comes to cutting those angled, beveled cuts. I'm using the metal protractor pictured below to mark my cuts, which is pretty slow. But at least I can verify that Everything looks right before cutting and I have a nice visual reference for each brick. I also use a digital angle gauge to set the angle on the saw blade.

    Hoping to finish the second course tomorrow.

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  • Macrinehart
    Well - I got back to the build today but didn't make much progress.

    Started by inspecting the grout following our winter storm a few hairline cracks observed in the mortar, but mostly it looks good except for my final brick in the first course where mortar got under the brick. There I can see daylight through the crack, but I do not think the gap is wide enough to fill unless someone has a tip. I don't think I could get a trowel blade in the gap, so I suppose I can just live with it, unless some wise builder tells me it cannot be ignored. If I do anything, now is the time since I haven't started course 2.

    Otherwise I started work on using jig to cut bevels and angles on course 2. Figuring out how to stabilize the jig so it doesn't slip while cutting, and also thinking about compound angles, which direction is "back" and how, after cutting a compound angle on 1 side, I was going to achieve the mirror cut on the uncut side. A lot of brain cells lost their life on this mission, and in the end I decided it was too cold and wet to continue.

    Here's where I'm at on the cutting - first all of my bricks for tge second course are alread cut in half. (In the future I will try doing the 3-cut approach mentioned on the forum). Since the bricks are cut, provided I can stabilize my jig so it doesn't slip, I'll start by cutting one side of every brick with the jig slope and fence set for the correct angles per the oven dome calculator.

    Once side 1 is complete, I will move the jig to the opposite side of the table and position the jig fence parallel to the blade to cut the second side. But this is where my brain starts to melt. Should I position the fence parallel to the blade? Or should I be doubling the side angle to account for the existing cut on side 1? Or maybe I don't change the fence to the opposite side, in which case I flip the brick and come up with a different answer on the fence angle?

    Or I could ask the pros. And that's where I left it. Advice welcome!

    Thank you!


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  • MarkJerling
    Ah, the joys of winter building. I used a big gazebo to keep the worst of the weather off.

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  • Macrinehart
    Well the weather forecast was wrong and was projected to be 1"-2" of snow became 7". On the plus side, my space heater is kicking out the heat and keeping the hearth warm. With 4 layers of tarp plus a layer of snow I'm hoping that the mortar stays insulated while curing.

    Lowest temp is projected to be 20 over the next few days.

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  • Macrinehart
    Well, I decided based on the duration and eposidic severity of this storm to put the space heater in. The dome is covered with four layers of tarp secured with straps and the space heater is under the hearth, which ia also fully enclosed by the outermost tarp.

    I imagine it's pretty toasty warm below the hearth, although I doubt that has a huge effect through 4" of concrete, two inches of calsil and the oven floor. But the most extreme temps are a couple days ahead, when it gets into the teens at night and I imagine over the course of that time I'll be glad I turned on the heater.

    Here's the latest, about 2" of accumulation but the wind is causing some drifts to build up.

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  • Gulf
    That fixed point for the marker on the offset for the IT should work just fine imo.

    Yes, the early curing will generate a little heat. If the temps are just a little below freezing I usually place a tarp over the project. Below 27, I will place something to give a little space between the tarp and the fresh laid brick. Anything nearing the low twenties I will just place an incandescent light underneath and separated from the coverings. If the teens are expected, your call.

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  • Macrinehart
    Snowing! Looks like the weather report calls for a wintery mix of snow and rain for the next week with lows near or a little below freezing and highs a little over freezing. Should I get the space heater going under my hearth to try and maintain above freezing for my mortar, or just let it ride?

    I've heard that the chemical reaction process generates a little heat that can help maintain the temp above freezing but not sure if that is adequate to prevent freezing and cracks in the mortar joints...


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