First thing is to decide on site for oven,
and dig out a foundation. The ovens are extremely
heavy when finished and you don't want to see any
cracks. I suggest at least 4 or five inches of
concrete. The perimeter where the walls are to be built
should be at least six inches and put some iron bar into
that part of the foundation. Just like you would for a
decent shed. I was lucky that I was building where there had
been a small shed and the foundation came in handy. I still
put in several inches of concrete and reinforced with iron bar.
Level, Trowel, Set-square, Shovel, Wheelbarrow, Hammer,
Chisel, Nails, Gloves, Measuring-tape
This photo shows the basics of the
build. I recommend 60 inches wide (1524mm) even
though my support area was somewhat short of that. I used cavity-blocks which are available at all
builders merchants. They measure approx 45 x 23
cm. Easy to handle (with gloves) and after the first few you'll be
building like a pro. One of the most important tools
in your arsenal will be a spirit level. I use two
- a long one and a short one. Sometimes the short
one is handier. After I laid the floor with reinforced
perimeter for the walls, I let it dry for at least 24 hours
before starting with the blocks. I mixed mortar for
blocks at 5
parts sand to 1 part cement.
Please remember that you must break
the joints. In other words, be prepared to cut
ocasional blocks with a chisel so that a block on top of a
block starts half way along. My blockwork is dismal but
strong and straight! There is always the option to
plaster it at a later stage. This is only four blocks
high, but the base of the oven (which goes on top of this
structure) will be many centimetres higher. Use gloves and
old boots - preferably steel toe-capped boots - when working
with blocks and cement.
Now you must put in a really
strong base for the oven. Several sites show how the experts
do it with 'shuttering' and props, and sheets of plywood
onto which you pour concrete and iron bars. I took the
easy way out (if a bit more expensive. I went to a
local concrete products place and bought reinforced
lintels. These are pre-stressed and contain an iron bar
core. I created the entire base out of these and can
relax knowing they will not crack.
I hate using grinders. I
have used them in the past and I have also seen accidents to
other people. If you are unsure, get the concrete
place to cut them to the exact size you want. If you
cut them yourself, you must cut the cement through and this
falls off to reveal the core of iron sticking out.
Change the concrete cutting disc to a metal cutting disc and
cut these off. Are you sure you want to use a grinder?
This untidy photo shows the
lintels have been cemented into place, and the bricks
purchased for the front of base. I just used a couple
of 4 inch blocks and some stones to create a narrower
opening. I used the wooden lintel to hold the bricks
just because I had the wooden piece! A metal bar or another
lintel will also work.
You'll have to learn how to lay the bricks
by trial and error. Use a small trowel and the small
level. The longer level is handy for holding against
the bricks to see if they are flat across. Note the
overlap of the top outermost lintel and the bricks.
This is to allow some cement-plaster later on the blocks. Keep the
stones proud as well so that they look like a feature.
I was lucky to have some rounded river cobbles. The
void underneath the support structure is wasted on my oven
but could have been used to keep tools and firewood.
At present I just have firewood at front of opening as an
This image shows how to install the top
bricks. Obvious to those who have done it before but
not obvious to those who have not used cement before.
Again I used a 5:1 mix and tried to keep everything as
straight as possible. The last row of bricks on top
will have to be 'buttered' on top with mortar before inserting
them. Try not to have the mortar too wet and keep it
off the front of the bricks. Used a piece of curved
pipe to get a nice finish between the brick.
My poor car! I have seventy or
eighty firebricks in there and two bags of Cement
Fondu. Cement Fondu is more heat resistant that
ordinary cement and this oven is all about heat. The
tub is 25kg of Refractory Cement. This product has
extraordinary properties and is far superior than ordinary
fire-cement. It is used to lay firebricks but the gaps
cannot be more than 5mm. Less is better! I also used three
large bags of vermiculite and twenty
or thirty ordinary bricks for front. Regular cement and sand
will suffice for front and for
Nine prestressed concrete
Oven Dome with Door!
|This is the step
where you feel you are actually starting to build the
oven. I spent a lot of time planning the setting of
the bricks etc. It's at this stage that you need to be
aware of what you are aiming for, so you can leave enough
room for the various bricks and insulation cavities. I
should have made a bigger base but managed to build with
what I had. You will be glad you kept everything square and
level. Of course the firebricks cannot be laid firectly onto
the concrete base. You need
insulation!! Otherwise all that valuable heat would
pass straight through the bricks. Read on!!
The image above shows a
frame made from 50mm wooden offcuts. This frame was levelled
and filled with Vermiculute concrete. I now realise I
could have gone even thicker with the vermiculite
base. Vermiculite is readily available from builders
suppliers. It is an extrordinary product and is used
for soundproofing and insulation. It is also used in
building where weight is a consideration as vermiculite
concrete, while not having the load-bearing qualities of
regular concrete is extremely light.
This is V.I.P.
The firebrick base that you are going to put on top of the
vermiculite base needs to be dead level, so take your
time. Vermiculite is mixed with water. It drinks
water! (I mixed in a wheelbarrow) Make sure it is wet before you fill the frame
and and draw a baton across the top - then trowel level.
The function of Firebricks is to absorb and hold extreme
heat!! The function of the Vermiculite is to STOP the
extreme heat from escaping from the firebricks.
You will eventually need
to heat the firebricks to extreme temperature and keep the
heat in them! Your oven will also be enveloped in
insulation for the same reason. The construction of your
oven has two major tasks. Provide great heat and retain
heat. Ciment Fondu (readily available) has far greater
properties than ordinary cement when it comes to working
with high temperatures.
I used a Cement Fondu mix to raise and to level my
vermiculite base. The bricks are laid on a this spread of
Refractory Cement (from the tup in the boot of car in
earlier photo). I also put a thin spread of refractory
cement between the firebricks.
made this look complicated to impress people, but it's not
at all complicated. From the left: 100mm Concrete block,
piece of wood/brick to represent the gap for later
insulation. The pencilled line is from the oven dome which I
put up for a dry run after the bricks had set. Remember the
bricks are on a thin spread of the refractory cement.
I should have had a larger base but made do. 100mm
either side would have made things easier. I had to put a
firebrick on each side to carry the dome. But, it
worked!! The red bricks and firewood are there to hold the
dome while measureing.
It was a bit alarming to
see that the dome I had bought for €300 didn't have a
straight edge to it. A bit worrying since I had been advised
not to have large gaps for the Refractory Cement I was
planning to use. I ended up cutting firebrick wedges with a
small grinder. The wedges were put in place where
needed with a thin spread of Refractory Cement on either
side. I wondered if I should have built a firebrick tunnel
shaped oven! But the end result was fantastic and the
view of the gaps in the dome I had purchased. You can
see why I was worried. I spent time with camera and sent emails
sections made no difference as they were all the same. Be
sure to check the dome before driving away with it.
been made with attention to detail so it was annoying having
to cut wedges and make do.
|Before fitting the
dome in place, it is important to put in more vermiculite
cement around the brick base. This will have to be done with
a frame that surrounds the
firebricks. You need to keep that heat in. Believe me, the pizzas
will taste great! You can see the extra brick I used on
either side to accomodate the dome base.
This is page 1 of the Pizza Ovens Ireland site. (Use
the links below to navigate.)
|Spend some time
looking at this. You are planning the landing area of the
oven. Have a look at later stage photos to see what I mean.
The Vermiculite surround has set and you can see that I have
barely enough room to build the outer walls (L&R) which
will contain the oven and the the insulation.
|Cutting the wedges
of firebrick before starting the final installation of oven
dome. The dome is made of material similar to the
firebrick and with the same qualities. Remember, It has to
retain fantastic heat and the insulation will keep it in
there! If you don't like using a grinder get a friend who is used
to this work. They are extremely dangerous in
Here for Page 2 of
Pizza Ovens Ireland with lots more
photos of Pizza Oven D.I.Y
Ovens Ireland Page 3
Ovens Ireland Page 4
Using your oven & making dough