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Ravensdale Oven

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  • Ravensdale Oven

    I'm starting the floor for my 42" oven tomorrow. I have a question regarding the fire clay/sand mixture that goes under the firebrick. Am I correct in assuming that it is put down and let dry before installing the bricks? My first thought was that the bricks would put on to the wet mud so you could level them as you went. But after some thought it appears that the dried mixture would be soft (crumbly) enough to let some gentle persuasion with a rubber hammer and maybe a 2x4 for stability to move the bricks into position.

    I'm really enjoying looking at the various ovens in progress now! Especially Drake's because he's a month or so ahead. Maybe I'll go to school on his oven. I really like those pictures of the herringbone floor. That's my immediate focus.

    I'll try to have some pictures of the floor process soon. Most of you have already seen yours and quite a few others so I'll try to come up with a new wrinkle at least in the photography.

    Thanks guys,

    "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."

  • #2

    it's usually put down wet, and trowled with a notched trowel. The ridges in the mud let you tap the bricks gently to level them.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Got it. The thing that confused me was the Pompei instructions that showed a chalk line stripe across the notch marks to center the blocks. It seems like wetter would be easier to level. I'm the proud new owner of a notch trowel. Gathering up tools that I'll never use again.
      "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


      • #4
        Ravensdale Oven

        I'm right in the middle of the floor building process and finding out how to do more things that I couldn't have imagined when I decided to embark on this mission. It's a good thing the IT Manager (AKA Mrs. Baby) has a better eye for herringbone than I do. I could have been at the layout a lot longer. I had trouble finishing the bookends that we built in woodshop in Jr. High School. IT Manager says that between us we're a whole person.

        Question: Do I want to soak the bricks before I plant them on the fire clay mixture? I know it's the thing to do when building the dome but can't remember if I ever saw anything about during this part of the process.

        Slowly working our way along.

        "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


        • #5
          Only wet with the Mortars

          I don't think you you need to wet your floor bricks when you set them on the wet sand/fireclay mixture. The soaking is used to keep your bricks from sucking the moisture out of your mortars, to where they dry too fast and crack.

          Gently tap, tap, tap to get the floor as flat and smooth as you can -- and if you get something out of line, you can always hit it with a sander. You want to get it to where your pizza peel won't hit and stick on a high brick.
          Last edited by james; 07-01-2006, 08:08 PM.
          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces


          • #6
            Starting the Dome

            I'm slowly progressing again. The floor is installed now and I've toyed with the basic dome shape. I need to pick more firebrick now and get to the dome. A couple of questions regarding the dome construction:
            1. Any tricks with regard to making shims that I should know about?
            2. I'm inclined to lay the first chain on the soldiers flat and then start angling at that point. I see that Drake had some questions in the beginning, went another chain higher before he started to angle the bricks and as it turns out his dome is looking great.

            Every time I think of dmun's approach I am re-amazed! That's real inovation. I am waiting for more pictures.

            I can almost taste my first pizza now....

            "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


            • #7
              I actually went straight up for 3 courses before I started angling in. My dome is still in progress...

              My Oven Thread:


              • #8
                making shims

                I had a sheet of insulation foam (1.5 inches thick - the pink stuff). I originally cut circles to make supports as I built the dome, I pretty much abandon that because I wanted to clean off the inside of the dome of excess mortar as I went and before it set up.

                Anyway, I instead cut shims from the insulation, it was real easy, I just measured them out then cut the foam with a jig saw blade. I made a bunch, enough to go completely around the dome twice. I'd do two courses. By the time I got around the second time, I'd go back to the first course and pull out the shims and fill the void with mortar, then I'd do the same thing on the second course. I suppose I could have done more courses per day, but I was mosting doing this in the evening after work and by the time I got the second course done I was ready to knock off for the day - This is suppose to be a hobby not a prison work farm.

                good luck



                • #9
                  Dome Layout

                  I am attaching some photos of my layout progress for the dome construction phase. There are two versions of the dome section. I like the second one (the one where there is only one horizontal layer on the soldier) because the angle seems so acute when I tried the first (with the second course also laying flat). I realize this will make the walls a bit "slopie" and I would like the extra vertical on the sides but I do like the look of the nicely rounded dome on the preferred style.

                  From what I've read it looks like I should put the soldiers down on a thin layer of mortar and probably also mortar between the soldier and the first course. Any ideas? I'm also thinking that I should mortar the entrance bricks in first before starting the dome so that I can have the front as nicely square as possible. Maybe I should remember what my friend Tom said when were building my barn "We ain't building a piano here boys".

                  Hopefully I will have some partial dome photos by this weekend. Any advice is always appreciated.
                  "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


                  • #10
                    Either laying down or verticle is fine. Quoting from the Pompeii instructions with some slight edits -
                    There are two basic styles of Italian wood-fired pizza oven: the Neapolitan oven, which has a more aggressive curve and a lower dome height, and the Tuscan (Pompeii) oven, which has less aggressive curve and a higher dome. While both oven styles performance well with all types of cooking, it is said that the Naples-style oven is more tuned to pizza, where the lower dome heats up a little faster and gets hotter for cooking Pizza Napoletana. The higher dome of the Pompoeii oven is said to be more efficient at absorbing heat and use less wood, and better for cooking bread and roasting. It is also true that the higher dome is somewhat easier to build, as the inward curve is less pronounced, and the risk of a chain of bricks falling in before they are locked in place with a keystone in less.

                    Regardless of which style you choose, the parabolic oven vault shape serves to evenly reflect heat down on the cooking surface. <<Snipped some stuff>> Build a model on a flat space to get your exact measurement for the bricks you are using. Do not allow space for a mortar joint, as you will be setting the edges of the bricks facing inside the oven flush with each other.

                    From a much older posting -
                    The floor size definitely has an effect on the dome height. There's a "golden triangle" of measurements in play with a chimneyless brick oven (where the chimney is outside the cooking/burning space). The Pompeii design suggests a dome height that is 50% the inside floor diameter and a door height 65% of the dome height. This is a rule of thumb though and good results can be had with a fairly wide variation on either side as folks here have seen. Thus for sizing your oven you can use the following

                    Inside Floor Diameter / 2 = Dome Height
                    Dome Height X 0.65 = Door Height

                    In practice there's some fudge room here and the oven will still work fine. This dome heights is a good balance between a bread & pizza oven. Pizza only ovens are squatter with dome heights closer to 30-40% of the floor diameter measurements. The door height can (and has) ranged from 55% to 70%. The ends of these ratios, for door height, are fussy though and the sweet spot tends to be in the 62-67% range with more tolerance on the bottom side of the range (e.g. a 60% ratio is better than a 70% one).

                    As you can see the design is rather forgiving and it comes up to almost personal taste.

                    Comments on your first photo - You may want to include a reveal or a stop for a door - a door is placed in front to the chimney and is used for cooking breads and roasting foods after the firew has been removed. I have included photos from other members that have this feature.


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the quick response. My layout is almost exactly 21" high in either scenario. It looks like 5 of the 2 1/2" firebricks layed on their sides will give me entrance height of 12 1/2", add some for mortar and I should hit the 13+" range which is in the 62% area. I'm probably good there. I like the door stop idea. I'll have to scoot bricks around for a while until I find an idea for making that work.

                      Please tell me a little about your oven. Thanks again.
                      "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


                      • #12
                        LOL - my oven is currently firmly planted in the middle of the kitchen. Unfortunately it is fired by natural gas and peaks out at about 550 F.

                        Unfortunately my Pompeii is currently only "vapor ware" Right now it is about number 9 on the list just below,
                        new roof - hey it only leaks when it rains
                        put in a storm screen door right now the screen door is vapor ware too
                        new fence to keep our vapor ware dogs in
                        provide proper drainage (right now all water drain toward the house, less than average)
                        make a tricycle run for the street dragger (will combine with the drainage project)
                        replace the 50 year old windows and 15 year old screens, a mere 14 of them
                        rescue two greyhounds
                        sand and paint the eves
                        hey honey you may now build that pizza oven

                        Oh and visit as many real pizza ovens in the meantime to try to get it pushed up higher in the list!


                        • #13
                          Oh yeah, do I ever know what you're talking about. I slipped some early construction in and now my wife is tired of looking at the partial project. She's actually helping when I need the 3rd and 4th hand. I'm supposed be building fence now too, but it's now taking a backseat to getting this oven project finished. Getting some help from the rescued Border Collie too.
                          "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


                          • #14
                            Door Stop

                            Thanks again to jengineer for the tips the other day. I revised the entry area to include a "reveal" or "door stop". I'm sure I'll have a better time sealing the oven off during the bread making evolutions. The Forum idea works! In addition it just looks better.
                            "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."


                            • #15
                              Oven Entrance

                              I'm in the process of building the dome now. I have the first 3 courses of brick done and am now in the middle of trying to figure how I want to develop the oven entrance. I've read the Pompei directions and as I remember there have been several variations of this done by other builders. I'm inclined to not use the angle iron approach and try to build an arch out of firebrick. Is there any consensus that updates the original thinking on this? I'm going to use the Casa vent assembly and need to layout my oven entrance so I can position the vent. Any ideas?
                              "The road of excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom."