The Brick Oven Saga…

This feat of construction started when I was given some refractory blocks:

These were from an old electric storage heater and were about 200mm square by 50mm thick (and EXTREMELY heavy!). These hung around for a while until I found a use for them.

For some time Ihad fancied an Italian bread/ pizza oven so set about looking at others builds. There seems to be two basic types, the proper dome type (like an igloo) and the barrel vaulted type ( like a barrel cut in half lengthways and with the cut side down).

The best type was the dome but the barrel are easier to make, so that’s what I made.

These ovens work by making a wood fire inside until a good heat is achieved and then scraping it to one side or removing it to cook.

At the top, near the front is a chimney. There is an opening at the front for adding the wood or food.

The air from the opening is drawn inside by the heat, across the fire to the back of the oven then up and back along the roof and out of the chimney. This is the reason that the chimney is at the front. A door for the opening is optional but lots of people use a push in wooden door. The door can be soaked in cold water when cooking bread, this boils off as steam and improves the crust.

I found out from looking at LOTS of information that the only important dimension is the ratio between the roof inside height and the height of the door opening. The door height should be 82% of the inner roof height.

The base needed to be at a good working height so I built a concrete block stand with a concrete working top. Onto this I cemented the refractory blocks as the fire / cooking surface. The size of the top was determined by the refractory block size. The base was built against a stone wall so this provided the back of the oven and wood storage underneath.

At this point I will digress and say that my present oven is my second one. My first one was made about twice the size I needed and the front face was not thick enough or secured to the rest of it well enough, so when it started falling apart I demolished it and rebuilt my current one.

This one is about600mm square inside and about 400mm high inside, this again was determined by the blocks I had. I used blocks 300mm x 150mm x 75mm.

The back inside the oven was faced with crushed up refractory and cement.

The side walls were built about 300 mm high and left to dry for a while.

While they were drying I made an arch support that just fit inside the walls and gave me the required height. This was made from old plywood for the ends joined by 40mm x 20mm wood laths.

With this in place I cemented a layer of refractory over the arch support. These were cut into smaller pieces to make building easier and held in place with the same type of cement as the back face.

I placed a layer of heavy mesh over the arch blocks and then built up the top to about 150mm thickness, not forgetting to leave a 100 x 75 opening near the front.

NOTE: If you want a long lasting heat use plenty of mass in the oven construction, it just takes longer to get up to temperature ( about 2 hours for my current oven). For a quicker to temperature oven where the heat dies quicker as well use less mass. My walls were 75 thick and seem OK.

As the building progressed I added the front blocks and a suitable stone lintel for the front. The oven front and back walls were taken to a peak (45 degree slope) so that I could add a roof.

The roof was a wooden frame made to fit the walls onto which slate tiles were added. This was done to match our house roof. The roof was secured to the walls and then cemented into place. Slate was cut and used to make the chimney walls, these stuck up  about 100mm above the roof

The slates were cut and screwed to the roof construction and then any gaps cemented up.

The door was made from a couple of old bits of oak glued together and shaped to fit. A simple wooden handle was added and that was the oven essentially finished.

Because the new oven finished up lots smaller I cemented four half pieces of block in place on each corner of the other side of the base. On this I placed a steel grid as a barbecue area.

Author: trebor

I am a retired engineer who likes to keep busy with various projects. I am married with two grown up children and live in Yorkshire the north of England and have lived in my present house since 1978.

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