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My brick cutting tool. - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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My brick cutting tool.

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  • My brick cutting tool.

    This is edited re-published condensed version of what I did to get my brick cuts. I've been asked about the tool and wanted to make it easier to understand how it works.

    The idea of the tool is to remove the guesswork and calculation out of cutting the sides, making the cheek cuts, of the dome bricks. Since 14” compound miter brick saws aren’t available to most of us, and I don’t find a practical way to take the saw to the dome to make in place cuts, a cutting jig is what I decided was the best choice for cutting my dome bricks. Using 2 measurements, the course radius and brick angle, the proper side cuts of these dome bricks can be made. In the photos below you’ll notice that I built a more formal tool. I think most of what this accomplishes could be done with plywood and wood blocks, in a disposable form.

    I'm quick to say that not everyone addresses the brick cutting the same way that I have and not to the same degree of obsession. These brick ovens seem to work just as well with half bricks and massive amounts of mortar or custom cut bricks with only a little mortar. More important in my mind is how solid the oven is, keeping it dry once it finished and how much insulation is used to retain the heat.

    On my 43 inch diameter oven, I cut a half inch bevel on each brick to allow for the different circumferences of the inside and outside surfaces of the dome. This brick beveling was done by clamping two brick stops a bit over 2.5 inches apart just enough to allow the brick, being cut to be tilted to accommodate the “pie shaped” cut.

    When I cut the bricks for length, I cut 2 to 3 standard sizes to be used in the course. These different sized bricks allowed me to bridge over the previous course brick joints, sometimes 2 joints. I tried to guess on how many bricks would be needed in the course and allow a few odd lengths bricks for this bridging of joints then add a few spares so that all of the cutting was done before moving to the oven to set these bricks. I then washed and soaked the bricks in a large plastic mixing trough before setting the bricks. I now know that soaking the bricks is not best practice for getting the best bond. General wisdom is that overly wet bricks do not support a quality mortar bond, so get them clean but not overly wet when you mortar them in.

    I nearly always had to trim the final brick in the course to fit and the transition from dome to entry is challenging, time consuming work, no matter how you approach it. Maybe James will sell a prefab inner entry and door combo at some point, but even if he did we’d still have to accommodate the dome entry transition.

    I have included photos of the jig, cutting tool, that took the guess work out of the compound nature of the brick cheek cuts, at least for me. As I said above, I think a disposable version could be done with wood blocks and plywood.

    The beauty of the tool shown is that when I record the course angle using the small level and indispensable tool, and then recreate this angle on the brick cutting cradle by setting the cradle brace, and also set the radius of the course on the jig's swing arm, My brick cheek course cuts are good.. It’s been said that mortar is your friend. It’s true and I’ll easily cover any minor mistakes. Mortar also allows bricks cut for the previous course to be used in the current course, so brick waste is minimized.

    I used the shown tool to cut the bricks for all but soldier and second course and I’m very happy with the accuracy of the cuts and how my oven went together. The 11th course had bricks from 2.25" to about 3.25" outside, max, width and the course had a radius of about 4.25" with a slope of about 82 degrees, the tool worked great! The 10" brick saw, that most of us use, can only cut 3.5" deep, so the higher course brick cuts need more attention. I had to break the cut waste off and clean up the remaining cut with the saw.

    This, cleaning up, is not as hard as it might seem, but it's up close and freehand cutting. This freehand work is why I think it's important to mention safety first and that a wider, stronger jig would be better and safer as would 14" saw. The flex in my jig could at times lead to the bricks binding the blade. This binding isn’t great for the life of the saw blade. I used 3 10” HF blades for the project A used 14" brick saw might be found through craigslist, if not, a 10" works but it's just more cutting time.

    This tool allowed me to make near perfect cuts on each course ring of bricks.

    Last edited by SCChris; 05-09-2010, 11:12 AM. Reason: Revised.

  • #2
    Re: My brick cutting tool.

    SCChris, do you have any photos of the brick being cut? Just trying to work out which face of the brick is cut off. I think it is the first photo that is confusing me. Is it angled on two plans?


    • #3
      Re: My brick cutting tool.

      In the first photo, the face being cut is the one in shadow. Then the other side would be cut by swinging the arm toward us. The cradle angle is the angle that the brick will be set on the oven. I hope this is clear.



      • #4
        Re: My brick cutting tool.


        Have been away for quite a while so missed this post. I am contemplating a new build in California. This is a tool that could have saved me hours on my last effort (and first). How steep can you go before you run into the saw arbor?

        Great stuff!!!



        • #5
          Re: My brick cutting tool.

          Jim, the arbor comes into play somewhere around the 8th course, but to tell you the truth I just can’t recall. I worked around this by making the cut, popping the waste off, laying the cut against the side of the blade and finishing up the cut. Not hard work, just up close work. If I ever get to build another oven, I’d look hard for a 14” to rent for a day. I’d rip, bevel cut, the bricks that are contained in the dome and arches down by ?” to set the differences in the inside and outside brick height and then start cutting the rings. With a 14 I think this initial bevel work, before the ring cuts, could easily be done in a couple of hours. I think with 3 sets of hands, 2 cutting jigs and a Hendo I. tool, a custom cut dome could be done in a weekend. One person to run the Saw, one to place the bricks, and one to grease the process by cleaning and running the bricks around. It would be a hell of a show.

          Jim, you’re now in the SF bay area right?


          PS Jim, your bevel chart worked spot on for me.. Thanks again for that one!
          Last edited by SCChris; 05-09-2010, 09:09 AM.


          • #6
            Re: My brick cutting tool.


            I’m not quite certain that the dome couldn’t really be built in a day, but for the inner arch, arch transition and time for the mortar to tighten up. I think with concentrated effort and careful calculations the ring bricks could be pre-fabricated and be very close. Some additional cuts would have to be made to avoid inter-ring vertical joints, entry transitions and the pretty but unwelcome flower at the top of the dome. If I were to prefab the rings I’d cut various ratios of different sized bricks for the rings. When I built I found that 2 to 3 different sized bricks really helped me move around the ring and keep the joints staggered, the excess bricks from that ring were used in the next without re-cutting, and mortar filled the slightly larger gaps and slightly is the correct term here. In the next to the last ring, not the cork, I did make some under brick cuts to get these bricks to marry with the previous ring’s bricks. Things get a bit “V” like up at the top. Jim most of the explanation is meant to keep those who haven’t been here fully informed.




            • #7
              Re: My brick cutting tool.

              Jim & Chris,

              Chris, you make reference to Jim's "bevel chart" where can i find this?

              thank you both!


              • #8
                Re: My brick cutting tool.

                Here you go, it's post 68 on this page.


                Enjoy the journey of the build!



                • #9
                  Re: My brick cutting tool.

                  Thank you so very much, this forum is the greatest but with my A.D.D. it's hard to stay focused on one post/thread. I think I'm going to have to double up on my meds b4 each time I'm going to explore this site more..

                  thanks again!
                  ciao for now