The Fresh Loaf

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On the wood fire oven fence- help

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janij's picture
janij

On the wood fire oven fence- help

I am having troubles deciding about building a wood fire oven.  We have a large 4 inch thick slab behind our house that was supposed to be used for a porch, but the porch never got built.  Is 4 in thick reinfoced concrete thick enough?  The Bread Builders book said 5 1/2 inches.  We do live in Texas so I am not worried about freezing.  My other problem is I am not sure I can actually build it.  Should I consult a mason?  Where do I find one?  My other concern is what if we move.  It is not in the plans for the next 5 yrs or so.  But would it be better to build it on its own slab so I could pick it up and move it?  I just would really love one, but I am not sure.  I have been checking out all the websites listed on the other threads, have the Bread Builders book and Building a Wood Fire Oven book.  If I take the plunge I will buy a set of plans from OVen Crafters.  Just wondered if anyone else here was turning this decision over as well.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

janij-  I had all the same questions.  I have no mason experience but was given a boost of confidence with www.brickytool.com .  Alan Scott designed at least one oven that was moved and there are ovens on trailers. That said I decided that I would build a permanent oven.  I do not live in a fancy schmancy house or development.  I just love baking bread and want to bake it in a brick oven.  I have heard stories of houses that had a brick oven that sold quickly in a depressed market just because the oven set them ahead of the rest.
    There is a wealth of information on the Internet and now people who built ovens on this site.  Check out www.traditionaloven.com  for ideas and a building cd.  I believe this site is invaluable regardless of the oven design you eventually decide on.  As mentioned in other threads Forno Bravo will teach you a great deal about how to use your oven beyond bread and pizza.
    If you move, the second oven you build will go faster and incorporate all the changes you wish you had made in the first. 
    I am not sure about the 4" foundation but suspect that without freeze danger it should support your oven.  But check locally to be sure.


ccm


  

janij's picture
janij

Yes, I have checked out all those sites.  My husband thinks the 4" wil be fine.  There is a mason supply store very close to our house and I will go see what they say.  The money is not really the issue.  I think I would get the money's worth of enjoyment out of it no matter what.  That and when we move I think we will keep this house and rent it out not sell it.  I guess I should just work on convincing my husband since I will need his help to build it.


Did you get the cd from traditionaloven.com?  I was thinking of getting a set of plans from oven crafters.  But the traditionaloven.com site is very nice.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

janji-  I have not yet purchased the CD yet but its next on my to do list.  I am breaking ground April 1st.  I will add the Masterly Tail option and plan on sending $30 for that.  I agree that Alan Scott has a great design but I chose the traditional oven plan for a variety of reasons.  I am not willing at this point to spend $250 for a set of plans to get a bigger oven when Rado suggests that adding brick counts is all that is necessary to building a larger version.  I am not saying anything adverse about Alan or his plans other than they are out of my price range.  Alan is responsible for sparking my desire in WFO's and I know him to have been a kind and gentle soul.  The whole WFO movement owes a great deal to his tireless passion.


ccm

janij's picture
janij

The CD may be the way I go.  The plan in the Bread Builders book is for the same size oven that Alan Scott has.  I really like the traditional oven guy.  He has really good info and his ovens look really nice.  I am not looking for a huge one.  So maybe I will paypal him a donation and get he CD.  My husband can build things pretty well, but I am not sure he is going to want to do all this.  So I need something that will help.  The CD seems to offer more detail pictures and I am all about visuals.

scott lynch's picture
scott lynch

Give some thought to a mud oven.  It's a great way to test-drive the concept of a wood-fired oven and it is cheaper, faster, and easier.  Buy fire brick for the hearth--if you decide that you want to change the oven or replace it with a full-on brick model, you can knock down the mud part and re-use the fire brick.


You can be baking in a mud oven in under a week--it takes only a day or two to build, then some time to dry to the point where you can build a decent fire in it (should happen quickly in TX).


Give it some thought.  Also, a mud oven is a fun community/neighborhood project that even a 2-3 year old child can help with.  Not much for kids to help with in a brick and mortar job.


I built my mud oven 2 years ago.  I made a very sturdy wood base for it and designed it so that it could be picked up with a forklift if needed.  It is doubtful that the dome would survive this--I think it would crack--but the capability is designed in anyway.


And once your husband gets a taste of the bread, pizza, roasts, kababs, and other delicacies you can turn out, he will beg you to start the project, or maybe even hire a mason to make it for you as a birthday present.

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

If the slab is stable (i.e., no frost heaving or seasonal movement), you should be good -- especially with a Scott-style oven. The critical consideration for any oven is that the fire box be stable so it doesn't crack. On a Scott oven, the firebox is "floating", i.e., it hangs off the reinforcing steel web of the hearth instead of resting directly on the foundation. So, even if there is some small amount of movement, you should be fine. (As noted in another post, these ovens can even be transported.)


These are not very hard to build. The hardest part is making the transition between the arch and the door lintel. That may take you a while to puzzle out, but it's not impossible. The only "special" tool you may want to pick up is an angle grinder with a diamond wheel to cut the brick -- maybe $150. Everything else is standard brick laying.


I'd say the plans are worth the cost. While you can probably squeeze enough info from the book, it's set out a bit clearer and more concisely in the plans. And they're only $100 for the size you'll likely want to build. (There are a few typos/conflicting specs in the plans, tho'.)


If you do decide to go for it, feel free to give me a shout if you get stuck at any point.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA


PS: IMHO, generally, it wouldn't be worth trying to move an oven, since it would likely be cheaper, net, to just build another one in your new location.

janij's picture
janij

So I called a stone guy we know.  He builds outdoor stuff, patios, kitchens etc.  I think I will order the plans from Oven Crafters.  The stone guy said if he looked at the plans he could get with a concrete guy and see of the slab will work.  My husband is leaning toward mounting it on a trailer.  But I am just not sure I want to do that.  I agree that moving it is not the best cot effective idea.  Plus I think if you built it the second time you would fix and things you didn't like in the first version.  I will probably have to conract out most of the work though.  We own an A/C company and it keeps my husband really busy and I don't know how much I can get done with a 4yr old and an 18 month old.  I will keep you guys posted on how things shake out.

toyman's picture
toyman

Check out some of the ovens at the Forno Bravo site.  The have pre-fabbed refractory ovens and also a portable.  Just another option.

janij's picture
janij

But I think those are kind of pricey.  And I guess I just would really like the real deal.

cdnDough's picture
cdnDough

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "the real deal" as the Forno ovens look great to me.  You could cast your own pieces out of refractory concrete but it would be very time consuming.  In general, brick ovens are built to retain heat by storing it in the mass of the structure.  Thus, most are permanent and not well suited to trailer-travel.  For what it is worth, here is a page of Forno oven's on trailers that are used for catering.  I've seen a local community oven in use, which was built using brick and mortar based on one of Alan Scott's plans.  I cannot imagine it being moved by anything other than an Earthquake or a jack-hammer. That being said, Ovencrafter's also lists some 'trailerable' plans online but I've not seen a photo of one.

toyman's picture
toyman

They do seem pricey.  But, if you consider your constants:  The structure to hold the oven, whether your oven is a pre-fab or mason constructed, will be the same as will the enclosure.  So you're starting out with a fixed, albeit unknown, cost for those two items.  The comparison comes from what will the labor & materials cost for a mason to build a vault or dome oven from scratch, as opposed to installing the pre-fab.  If you are doing it yourself, it's a no brainer, as the most expensive part of the build will be the labor.  If you have a mason friend that will 'take care of you', again it's an easy decision, but if you're paying mason's wages, I think the costs are going to be closesr than you'd imagine.  Especially if the mason is not well versed in building ovens.  He will have a learning curve and you also have to ensure that he is using the appropriate materials for the build. (Med/Low duty full firebricks, refractory mortar with very little exposed joints, proper amounts/types of insulation under the hearth and on top of the dome/vault for heat retention, etc)   Also on the plus side of the prefab, is that you only have 4 seams, as opposed to all the brick joints filled with refractory mortar.  Either way you will have a wonderful cooking vessel for more than just breads & pizza.  I built mine from scratch, spent very little money, but did many hours of research to try to do it right.  That being said, from what I've learned throughout the build, there are a few things I would do differently on the next one, or the additional one!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I would love to have a wood fired oven, so I've been reading the recent posts with interest.  It sounds like most of you have built your oven or had someone else build it for you.  I have been looking at a few options, including the Forno Bravo Primivera, which has the advantages of coming ready to use and being completely portable.  It's on the small size (24 inch baking area), but I just bake for my family of 4, so I think that would be OK.  Peter Reinhart said on his blog that he has one but hasn't had a chance to use it yet.


The other option I've thought about is a wood cook stove, like this one offered by Lehman's Hardware in Kidron, Ohio.  The advantage to this one would be that I have been wanting to get a wood stove or fireplace installed in my house, and you can cook on the stove-top, too.  I wonder that the oven would get hot enough to make really good bread.  It seems like if it hit 700 degrees, your house would get too hot.


So, any thoughts on which way to go?  As much as I'd like to have a WFO, building a brick oven isn't in the cards for me at the moment.

fornobravo's picture
fornobravo

Hi guys,


I would like to add that the Forno Bravo oven plans are free and you can download the eBook from our site at http://www.fornobravo.com/store/eBooks-CD-ROMs-p-1-c-260.html. It is detailed and has lots of photos. There are also free eBooks on wood-fired bread, wood-fired cooking, and wood-fired pizza.


I don't want to take up space on your excellent forum, but I thought this was useful.


Enjoy!


FB

janij's picture
janij

I have been having a hard time finding stuff within their website, so thanks for the link!!

janij's picture
janij

So I ordered the plan package 1 from Oven Crafters.  I really don't want to put the oven on a trailer.  When I said I wanted the real deal- I should have said I wanted a real wood fire oven, on a slab, made of bricks the whole thing.  I think they are very beautiful as well as extremely useful.  So I asked the lady at Oven Crafters about my slab and I will see what she says.  I think we can do most of the labor ourselves.  I am just concered about building the dome.  We may have to get some help on that.  Thank you to everyone here for their excellent input.  I will keep you posted on how the building goes.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

gaaarp...it's only my opinion..but I think it's way to small for the cost!  24" cooking interior...Im sure it works...but when they say cooks 2 pizza's...I would think they are talking about 8" pizzas...small pizzas...how many people have these that you have been able to read how they rate them!!  And then you are paying a very high cost for the convenience of premade/delivery...again you are paying a lot for that!!  The wood cook stove...I think thats a total waste of money...unless you live in a cabin where it gets very cold and you have no power!!  For a little more money you could build or have a pizza oven built....a lot of people are out of work right now...especially construction....my opinion only...but I would get several appraisals from some good fireplace/ brick /builders....you oversee and find out how a pizza oven is built and tell them what you want and get a good price for it....and build your own if you are not a do it yourselfer...this way you will get your monies worth and be happy with your oven!  Isn't this also what the majority of people do that have the ovens!!  I think that has a lot to say in it's self!  I was very surprised that PR had ordered that little oven....Im sure he had his reason!!  This is only my opinion...but there are friends here that have WF ovens and I know they would agree with me...one of my neighbors also has a WF fired oven he built and now he wishes he would have made it larger! All my advice is really think about your money...what you are paying for...what are you getting for your investment!!  Your going to hate this...but make your pizzas/bread indoors...until you can build!!  If you don't have an oven that heats up to 550...invest your money there and get a great indoor oven/range!


Sylvia


 


 

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Have any of you considered building a mud oven?  I did, two summers ago and it's great and inexpensive.  I probably spent less than $150 on all the materials.  The most expensive part was the firebricks, and I bought way too many.  Kiko Denzer has a great book on it:


http://www.intabas.com/kikodenzer.html#ovenbook


it was a fun family project.  My only complaint is I don't get to use it enough. It takes about 1-2 hours to heat to make pizza, but hold the heat for hours.  I've baked pizzas and breads in it.  Some folks make casseroles and roast meat also.  Here's a picture of it;


gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Al, this looks like just the ticket for me.  Cheap (like me), easy to build (for those of us who enjoy home projects but were blessed with 10 thumbs), something that can involve the whole family (my 11 and 5 year old girls would love it, especially since it involves "playing in the mud").  I added the book to my Amazon cart; I'll buy it the next time I place an order.


Tell me more about yours:  the building process, how you use it, how hot it gets, what inspired you to build it, etc., etc.


Thanks!


Phyl

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi Phyl - I hope to build a mud oven myself this Spring (been saying that for 2 years, hopefully it will happen for real this time). Kiko Denzer's book is great, in addition, you can find a brief article he wrote on the technique at the Mother Earth News archives here.


Also, Susan at Wild Yeast has built a beauitiful one that you can see here.


If you search TFL for mud oven, cob oven, or earth oven you will see that there are a few mud oven enthusiasts like alconnell above who have some great photos of the process posted, like breadnerd and pumpkinpapa.


alconnnell, beautiful mud oven!


I would love an Allan Scott-type brick oven someday, but I think it would be a good idea for me to practice on something that requires minimal investment first, and see how it goes. The mud oven, although requiring time and labor, is something I can handle myself and I am fortunate to have all the raw materials I need on my land.


Great info pouring into this forum from wood-fired oven people that is giving me great ideas for the future, thanks all!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Mountaindog, maybe this could be the year for both of us to build an oven!  I think I'll have a much easier time convincing my wife to let me invest a few hundred bucks and some sweat equity in a mud oven than dropping a couple grand on a prefab or WFO.  Besides, my father-in-law is a retired engineer and he loves doing stuff like this.


Thanks for the links.   I printed the KD article to read and looked at Susan's blog.  Both make it seem quite doable.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Phyl - perhaps a mud-oven 101 thread like your sourdough one is in order come April! :-)

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

What, you mean me?  There's a big difference -- based on previous experience, I was reasonably certain that my sourdough starter would work out!


Actually, that could be kind of fun, especially if we end up building them about the same time. 


I cleared the first hurdle tonight -- my wife said I could build a mud oven.  Our backyard is kind of crowded, so I'm going to build it in the side yard, close to the kitchen and right by a sliding glass door.  It will actually be more convenient than out back.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Way back I read a Sunset magazine article about an adobe oven that was "temporary" and if you didn't like it you could sledge hammer it apart. An idea was born. 
    I have been hanging around a yahoo brick oven group and ovencrafters and traditional oven now for over two years.  Now that the discussion is taking off here like "wild fire" it has been fun to watch and listen.  I "knew" the exact oven I wanted when I started two years ago fresh from reading Alan Scott and Daniel Wings' book The Bread Builders.  I was passionate and opinionated.  I still know the exact oven I want, its just different than the one I started wanting. For financial reasons I have always known I would have to build my own.  That put me with the majority of builder owners, many of whom started with zero masonry experience like me. That fact was cemented so to speak by finding the www.brickytool.com  on whose video I learned 80% of the cost of the oven will be the mason's labor, if you contract it.  If you buy all new material instead of recycling perfectly good and attractive stone or brick that will drive the price up as well.  Can you say, craigslist?
  I figured this was something that I wanted to add value to the property that I own and was worth all the time and effort to plan it  and build it right.  I wanted a bread oven the would make pizza.  Meaning I would sacrifice a little in a quick start for a longer burn/bake time.
    The best possible oven is the one that gets built and I have put the word out numerous times as my motivation that groundbreaking starts April 1st.
    I love watching the sparks fly upward.


ccm


 

janij's picture
janij

On the brickytool.com, which one did you order?

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Dear Janj  I am only aware of one bricky tool.  my bookmarked site still shows one for 59 dollars.  You might be able to find them cheaper on ebay.\


ccm

janij's picture
janij

They had some other package deal or something for like $90.  Thanks.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

janj-- just the tool not the DVD's.  $59.99 or ebay


ccm

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

I appreciate the wisdom the brickoven folks are sharing, even if I don't get to build a brick oven until we retire to our permanent location. I look forward to seeing your oven building progress in April too.

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Phyl & mountaindog,


I'll see if I can find my pics of building the oven.  I followed Kiko's book mostly.  You need a base that holds heat, sand, clay subsoil, water and straw basically.  I built mine big enough to hold a 16" pizza, I think it's 36" diameter inside.  The design really works and once the fire is going, it really burns well.  I haven't measured temp, but it must be 750 or 800 F at full bore.  A pizza cooks in 3-4 min. tops.  My inspiration came from my never ending desire to cook and eat pizza!  I wanted a hotter oven.  I also wanted to teach my then 7 yr. old daughter that life existed before microwaves, satellite tv, and computers.  When you read up on these mud ovens, you discover they were used in many parts of the world and were frequently community property.  In Quebec, lots of villagers gathered and did their weekly baking in mud ovens. 


Even though I live in Maine, I did fire it up last month to cook a few pizzas for some friends.  I look at a mud oven as a great stepping "stone" (bad pun I know) to building an outdoor brick oven someday.  I figured I could inexpensively see how much we liked it, used it, etc. 


If I find my pics, I'll let you all know.  But I would encourage anyone who's halfway handy to consider a mud oven especially given the cost of the alternatives. 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Let me encourage you to try and build one yourself.  I made my backyard brick oven from mostly second hand materials.  I have some pictures on flickr that gives you the idea of how I went about it.  There's lots of variations you can try.  I decided on a dome design as I wanted to use it for general baking not just pizzas.  We've had great times with friends and family.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/27771627@N07/


Cheers,


Gavin

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Dear Gavin,
     That's what I am talking about! Great looking oven, adds value to the property is built and working.  Thank you for the pictures Gavin.


ccm


   

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Gavin, thank you for sharing your photos, very inspiring - that is a most beautiful oven, I love the tilework and the whole setting! I can see how that must have become a popular gathering place for friends and family.

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Makes me want to get out and play in the mud and rocks!

shimpiphany's picture
shimpiphany

you really should try a mud oven - i spent less than 200 bucks on mine, using mostly reclaimed materials - and it works great.  here's a link to my posts about building it and cooking in it.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/shimpiphany


 


tangled's picture
tangled

That sort of structure would look at home in my garden. It's inspired me to look into this for myself. Thanks.

shericyng's picture
shericyng

where do you live? I wonder here in Utah if the mud would make it through the harsh weather changes? Whats you thoughts....I love the look of your oven

shimpiphany's picture
shimpiphany

but in researching this, there's plenty of these ovens in less hospitable environments, you would probably need to add a lime weather layer, or a mix of sand, clay and portland cement (i know kiko says no to this, but a friend seems to have pulled it off), or build a shelter for it. 


i keep mine in its "oven cozy," two tarps with a rope tied around the bottom.  an eyesore, but it works fine.

noyeast's picture
noyeast

Janij,  sorry did no get time to read all posts here.  Im am replying to your original question as to whether the 4 " slab would be sufficient.


The answer has to be sufficient for what ?


 


It depends on the weight of your intended oven and also whats underneath your slab ie how firm is the ground.


My own oven wieghs 600 kilos ( 1250 lbs) plus the weight of concrete blocks for the "stand" on which the oven sits.  I guess another 300-500 kilos as well as the oven.   I needed a course of concrete blocks below ground, then a 4" slab on top to ensure a safe foundation.


 


I'm sure you will do a great job, and good luck with the project. I have not looked back after ours was installed 2 years ago.  They are the best ever outdoor entertainment idea since God invented warm summer evenings.

janij's picture
janij

We actually poured a 12" reinforced slab for the oven.  All the concrete guys and builders in our area said no go for 4 in.  The project is actually complete now.  We are on the 9th day of curing and are going to do a real firing on Sat and cook our first pizzas and I am going to try and bake 4 loaves of Hamelmen's Vermont Sourdough.  If you look at the thread Project begins you can see the finished ove.  What does your look like?


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11410/project-begins

Edouard's picture
Edouard

A wood fired oven is not sensible, when you can turn a dial on an indoor oven and line it with firebrick or pizza stone and get quality control at your fingertips. 


A WFO is about passion. That delicious sense of adventure. And once I learn how my oven really works .. I'm sure I'll be turning out a product as good as or superior to quality baking ovens. But it's the learning curve that's the adventure!


Build it for the right reasons ... passion and adventure. 

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

I have the greatest respect for the late Alan Scott.  However, it's been pointed out that the transition from the oven to the chimney vent is difficult to figure out because the AS plans are quite sketchy in this area.  They should be updated with much better illustrations/photographs.


My experience is that most masons, even those who build fireplaces, really are not familiar with the high heat mortars, etc., required for these ovens.  So do make sure that any mason does not take any "tried and true" shortcuts.


One real mistake is using angle iron to span the top of the oven mouth in an AS oven.  Metal and firebrick expand at much different rates, and the combination usually leads to cracking because of it.  At the very least, I would put a very thin strip of high heat, ceramic insulation batting between the iron and the brick to allow for expansion.  A much better solution is to cast the lintel (basically a giant firebrick) out of a high heat castable material like Kastite.  Have a look the Chicago Fire Brick site to see what's out there.


CJ

carvanitis's picture
carvanitis

I ordered what was supposed to be a set of oven plans to construct a wood burning bread/pizza oven. I ordered it online via PayPal.  After 3 weeks, no communication from ovencrafters, no plans received!  Attempted to contact ovencrafters for a status, Phone number was different from website, left numerous messages, emailed them repeatedly, NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER! I finally had to report fraud to PayPal and later even had to open a claim against them.  Only after filing a claim with PayPal did they acknowledge that they finally shipped the plans to me.  However, what I received was a joke!  All these "plans" were was just a bunch of old notes on how someone built ovens.  No details, not construction drawings, nothing useful and definitely not submitable to my local jurisdiction, they would have laughed me out of the building if I tried to submit those "plans"  Attempted to contact them again and again requesting a retun and refund, as before, NO CONTACT!  Finally had to file a new claim with PayPal as the item shipped was significantly different from what was advertised.  payPal has been great and very helpful.  They finally got ovencrafters to refund my money after I shipped back the "plans"  If you are considering doing business with ovencrafters, DON'T!!!!  They have none existent customer service and will send you these ridiculous plans only after you do battle with them to send them.  AVOID at all costs!!!!!