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Mark CH's build finally starts...

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  • Mark CH's build finally starts...

    Well, Iíve been lurking in the Forums for a long time and Iím now at the point where I can start to detail my build! We have a very small backyard and so I was limited in regards to the size of oven I could build. There are only three of us (me, my wife and our 12 year old daughter) so I figured a 36 inch was going to be more than enough for us. The first step was to build my stand. I had a pile of unused house bricks courtesy of my wifeís uncle and so I used them to create a stand with 2 areas for wood storage, under the front of the stand and at the back. I build this shape to try and maximise the storage area I would have. I decided I would use Hebel floor panels for my Ďslabí after speaking with a friend who used them for his oven. The panels need to be supported at 600mm intervals hence the curtain wall you can see in the photo. The Hebel was incredibly easy to cut and put in place. My brickwork is very Ďrusticí. Others may have other words to describe it Eventually I will render the stand to cover up the sloppy brickwork.

    Once I had bought all my ingredients, I laid out my floor and hired a brick saw to make the majority of my cuts. Iíve never used a brick saw before and was surprised at how easy it was, although as you can see from the photoís some of the cuts did end up a bit off! I was rushing a bit because I had hired the saw and didnít want to have to take out a second day unnecessarily. My friend who I mentioned before indicated that I shouldnít worry too much about some small (and not so small!) gaps as they will fill us with ash after a couple of uses and hold everything very steady. I also bought a cheap diamond blade for my circular saw to use for any extra cuts that I need to make once the rental saw went back. This came in handy for cutting some of the wedges and pieces that went into some of the larger gaps higher up on the dome. I did break the cardinal rule and have a couple of small wedges at the front of the oven but Iím not too worried about them as they should be held in place once the entrance is completed. Iíll be using an off-cut of granite that you will see more of later.

    Once I had my stand finished, including the Hebel in place, I centred my insulation boards. I decided to use 2 layers of 20mm insulating boards instead of pouring a slab of vermiculite. The 2 layers were simply for more insulation. The Hebel also has some good insulating characteristics. It was really easy to cut, although was a bit crumbly and caused an issue later on. More on that later.

    Next I laid my floor and the soldier course. I saw a few people using half bricks for their soldier course and decided to go that route. No real reason, I just thought it looked good! Floor brick number 14 (2.00 am in the photo) caused some headaches for me. It was about 2mm higher that the surrounding bricks so I decided to rip the floor out and start again. Big mistake! I had used the dry dust left over from the cutting because the insulating board sucked all the moisture out of the wet mix as detailed in the plans. Anyway, long story short, I had to redo the floor a couple of times (plus lots of swearing Ė sorry neighbours) to get it right. There are still a few ups and downs but Iíll be able to grind them out later on. Iíve slid my peel across the floor and I think it will be OK once Iíve had a go at it with the grinder. A few gaps between bricks (1-2mm) due to the nature of the bricks, but they are pretty snug and donít move and as mentioned above, ash will soon help to tuck them together tightly.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

    Next I built my inner arch. I was surprised at how easy this was. I simply made a form and laid the bricks over it! It is a bit messy and the mortar joints are certainly a lot larger than those Iíve seen with other builds but Iím reasonably happy with the way it ended up. It was a good opportunity to practice for the outer arch an as this is the inner arch and so wonít be very visible from the outside.

    First two real chains of bricks forming the dome are down! Overall I was pretty happy with the result at this stage. One thing Iíve found is that although the bricks are supposed to be the same size there are some that are thicker than others. In the long run this wonít be any cause for worry but itís interesting to note. I did buy B class bricks to save some money so that may explain it. Iíd be interested to hear if others had the same experience. If I had my time again (and a bit more cash) I would have made a lot more cuts to get all my bricks to fit a bit tighter. As it stands Iíll have some rather big mortar joints, particularly where I will backfill after the bricks are set in place with shims. Iím figuring that it will all add to the thermal mass of the oven so wonít cause me any issues.

    I ended up making vanes out of a heap of heavy cardboard that I had sitting in the garage. One of the issues I had was that the inner arch was slightly higher than I had anticipated. I had cut the form exactly but then I placed some cardboard between the form and the bricks for the bricks to rest against meaning that the actual arch increased in height slightly! Rookie mistake!!! Anyway I then had to work out how to increase the height of the dome. I was going to make a variation of the Indispensable Tool but I realised that this would now mean that the door/dome ratio would be out so I decided to go down the cardboard vane route. This was relatively easy provided youíve got enough cardboard. A new fridge and outdoor furniture over the past year or so meant that I had plenty! In these photos you can see that I had built without any forms up until the chains that have been back-filled. Gravity then took over so it was a case of install the vanes then use shims to hold the rest of the bricks in place. The photos are a bit deceiving, whilst there are some big gaps because I didnít shape the bricks like others have done, they are not quite as big as the photoís suggest. I ran out of mortar for the back fill so the next stage had to wait a day or so until I can pick up another bag. Before this stage I ground down some of the edges on the floor and it is pretty smooth now. My peel runs over it smoothly without catching.

    I did find that the bricks did not always line up perfectly, presumably because of my less than expert bricklaying skills. Some edges sat forward of the next brink in line by a few millimetres but I expect that once all the backfill mortar is in place this will hold true. I hope thatís the case! Also, because I didnít cut each brick at an angle on their vertical axis triangles developed that I couldnít fill with the fine mortar and so the backfill mortar was used to plug the gaps. In larger gaps I used some brick off cuts wedged in with mortar.
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

      A couple more photo's but still no comments from anyone...

      Finally finished backfilling. I had to pick up another bag of mortar. Iíve come to the conclusion that it probably would have been cheaper to just buy extra bricks and cut them so they fit together closer. Live and learn, maybe on the next build! Iím still happy with progress so far. I've started on the outer arch and vent. My father-in-law has a friend who is a very handy welder and heís offered to weld a curved plate for the vent and sleeve for the flue.

      Mortar in place and all the holes and gaps are filled! I crawled into the dome and rubbed away excess mortar with a wet sponge. As you can see from the photoís the last couple of Ďchainsí of bricks are a bit ragged and I ended up having to wedge bits and pieces to get a really tight fit. I'll give it until next weekedn and then see if I can get my daughter to climb in and do a bit more cleaning!

      I've included a photo of the dome from above as well as my (almost finished) outer arch. Once Iíve got my vent in place and plugged up the gaps with mortar Iíll use any left over to cover up the dome, adding some thermal mass, particularly on top. One thing I have noticed is that the thin, paste-like mortar that I used to bed the bricks in place before backfilling takes ages to dry. In some places it has been almost 2 weeks and it is still slightly soft. This could be in part due to the weather in Australia at the moment (heading into autumn/winter) but Iíd be interested to hear about others experience. Do need to wait until this mortar is completely dry before I start my curing or will that process help to drive out any residual moisture? Thatís still a little while down the track, as I have to get my blanket and vermiculite in place. I do some work at a sports stadium here and with the football season in full swing it doesnít give me as much time on weekends as I have had over spring and summer! So thatís where Iím at so far, Iíll keep the updates coming as my work progresses.
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

        Well, next stage of work done. As you can see in the photo, I've put a layer of insulating blanket over the top and got some chicken wire over that for the vermiculite to hold on to. I've tightened the wire up so it sits snuggly up against the blanket. I'm waiting on my vent which should come this week and if so I'll be able to mortar it in place, cover it with the left over blanket and then vermiculite the lot.
        I did a trial mix with a cement:vermiculite ratio of 1:12. Initially I was really worried that there wasn't enought cement but was pleasantly surprised that it's hardened up nicely so I think that ratio will be fine. With a bit of luck I'll get all the insulation on this weekend, leave it for a week then start my curing fires.
        Cheerio,
        Mark
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

          Originally posted by Mark CH View Post
          A couple more photo's but still no comments from anyone...
          Well, I was going to make comment on your earlier dome photo having a bad hair day (just kidding) but after seeing the nice, clean interior of your dome it's good that I did not make that comment.

          Seriously, your oven is shaping up very nicely and you'll be enjoying pizza in no time.

          George
          George

          My 34" WFO build

          Weber 22-OTG / Ugly Drum Smoker / 34" WFO

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          • #6
            Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

            Thanks George! Wow, when I look at your brickwork I feel a bit embarrased that I didn't take more time in cutting my bricks!
            Yes, my daughter likened it to a hedgehog before I took all the shims out but a bad hair day says it all. I was surprised at how well the mortar held the bricks in place after only an hour or so. Due to weatehr here at the moment I've been covering the oven up with a tarp each night and would often knock 1 or 2 shims without any issues!
            Cheerio,
            Mark

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            • #7
              Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

              Fast work. I wish mine could pick up some speed. I like the simple entryway. You'll be making mouthwateringly delicious pizza in no time.
              WCD

              My slow journey to pizza.
              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...ing-12769.html

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              • #8
                Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                G'day WCD,
                It's actually taken a lot longer than it looks! First step was to buy a house...
                Because we've only got a very small yard I wanted something that would not be too large and imposing (and was easy for me to build!!!).
                I see the whole build process of a series of hurdles that you need to get over. Hopefully I'm on the home stretch and will be cooking within a month or so. If only work did not constantly get in the way (or I could convince my boss that building an oven will have a HUGE impact on productivity for our team).
                Cheerio,
                Mark CH

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                • #9
                  Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                  Mark, the oven has come up a treat, well done mate. You should be able to start drying it out fairly soon.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                    Thanks John,
                    It's been very handy having you around the corner when I (or my wife!) need to pick up an extra bag of mortar or two! Hoping the get my vent installed and the vermiculite on this weekend.
                    cheerio,
                    Mark

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                      Howdy All,
                      It's been a while since my last post and I've done a bit of work since then. I've finished most of the insulation with vermiculite and cement fondue. No photos yet as it's generally pretty dark when I get home form work at the moment but I'll take some this coming weekend and post them.
                      I had an 'interesting' time with the vermiculite. Even though the plans and advice said not to I tried to mix a small batch in my cement mixer just to see what would happen! Sure enough all the cement went to the bottom of the mixer and did not coat the vermiculite at all. Experiment successful, I poured the dry ingredients into a small tub and mixed by hand, which was much more successful. I found it was a real challenge to get the right amoutn of wate rin. Too little or too much meant that the vermiculite didn't 'stick' to the chicken wire and the slightest bump would find a pile of insulation fall off onto my base! When it was exactly right, though, it went on like a dream. Lots of trial and error.
                      I've got a 1 inch blanket and about 3 inches of vermiculite over the top of that. In some palces its still a bit crumbly butI've got another bag of ingredients so I'll mix that up with a slightly higher ratio of cement to firm it up.
                      I couldn't wait to get a few small fires into the oven so after a few days I set my first paper one and I've followed up each night with a slightly larger one. The one in the photo was last night and was around the 400 degree mark. No cracks visible inside the dome and absolutely no heat through the insulation. I've read that with the drying process, moisture escapes and the insulation gets quite hot. Is the fact that mine isn't an issue or does that not occur until larger fires? I'll continue to light small fires this week, put the last layer of vermiculite on on Saturday and then ramp up some larger fires a few days after that.
                      Oh, by the way, I picked up a 30 year old flue kit (from my parents in laws wood stove) and with a bit of rust inhibiting paint it should come up a treat. I'm bleeding that I forgot to take a photo of my vent but it's basically some curved sheet metal that sits nicely on the front and rear arches with a short sleeve for the flue to slot into.
                      On the home stretch (hopefully) and very excited!!!
                      Cheerio,
                      Mark
                      Attached Files

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                        Hi again all,
                        Well, we're almost finished! I went to get the piece of granite for the entry cut and when the guy said it would cost between $30-40 I decided to try myself with my diamond balde on my circular saw. 20 minutes later I had an almost perfectly cut piece of granite! Couldn't have been easier. Sure you couldn't use the granite for any type of bench top but it fits like a glove in the entry.
                        Had a couple of large fires which seems to have really dried the oven out. The first one cleared about 40% of the dome and the second one did the whole dome.
                        Today we cooked in the oven for the first time. Basic pizzas to start off with; garlic and parsley; tomato, olives and mozzarella; tomato, olives, anchovies, ham and mozzarella and finally Snickers bars wrapped in very thin pizza dough (like a calzone). My daughter liked the last one best! Some photos attached.
                        I'll be rendering the oven over the rest of the weekend so I can finally get rid of the tarp and then we'll think about mosaicing!
                        Finally, grazie milie to everyone who has posted in these forums. I've looked at so many builds and had so much inspiration. Although my meager skills don't go anywhere near achieving the results that many others have, I am really happy with my oven and know that we will have many years of happy cooking. Now I look forward to looking and posting on the cooking forums!
                        I'll keep updating with my rendering, mosaicing etc.
                        Cheerio,
                        Mark
                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                          OK, we had our first cook a couple of Saturday's ago and all went well. I then rendered the oven to protect it from the weather before we decide how we mosaic it (pictures attached).
                          Last weekend was a real pizza fest! Sunday we had friends over for lunch, pizzas all round, Sunday night we had leftovers so invited another group of friends over for more pizza, then on Monday my 12 year old had a friend over (school hols here in Melbourne) and she stayed for dinner, you guessed it, pizza! Last night, more pizzas!
                          I downloaded the general cooking and bread baking ebooks from the website and over the next few weeks will start to cook other thigns in the oven while still doing the finishing touches to the oven (rendering the base, tiling the Hebel and mosaicing the dome).
                          Cheerio,
                          Mark
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Mark CH; 07-01-2010, 04:32 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                            Well done Mark - that's looking great!

                            Cheers,
                            Mick
                            My Clay Oven build:
                            http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f43/...dah-12821.html

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Mark CH's build finally starts...

                              Thanks Mick,
                              I'm pretty happy with the way it's turned out. I have only had one small crack so far and it's just in the render in front of the flue! I'm not sure what I did right but no other cracks so far!
                              Cheerio,
                              mark

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