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Newbies chomping at the bit! - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Newbies chomping at the bit!

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  • Newbies chomping at the bit!

    Wow! What a forum! Congrats to you all for your open, generous and knowledgeable postings - an invaluable resource for all. I have spent hours and hours over the last few days reading as many posts as I can. I even feel I know some of you!

    My husband (masonry contractor) and I (ex-restauranteur) recently sold our last business and have moved to Vancouver Island (BC) from the mainland. We have always wanted to build a wood-fired oven and plan to do so this spring at our new home. However, we are also looking for a new venture and are intrigued with the idea of making and marketing pizzas/bread, either as a small cottage industry (we have 1.6 acres, with a workshop in a great area) or as a portable business as depicted by The Fire Within team. The former idea is something we would like to operate as a small business only, say, 3 days a week and the catering would be at sporadic events and functions of course.

    I would love to hear from anyone who has some direct experience with either of these scenarios so that we could continue to fine-tune our thoughts. My husband is highly experienced with the construction materials required (particularly the bricks, mortars, concrete, etc) so we're leaning towards building our own rather than buying a pre-fab in both cases. Suggestions?

    And thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Re: Newbies chomping at the bit!

    Hello Karen,

    Put "The Bread Builders" by Allen Scott and Daniel Wing on your list of books to read.

    One component of the book is descriptions of several "bread businesses" similar to what you describe. Those stories might help you define what you want to do with your baking idea.

    The "Allen Scott" oven style is a widely used oven. It is designed for a different application than the oven design here on Forno Bravo. It will server you well to read many of the posts on this site to understand the differences.

    (Oven efficiency, and amount of retained heat...)

    Good luck with your business idea and your oven build.



    • #3
      Re: Newbies chomping at the bit!

      Thanks, Jed!
      We DO have the Bread Builders Book and I even emailed Allan Scott; he recommends purchasing his plans from his site but we've more research to do first. I will continue wading through the site to make sure I understand the differences well.
      This morning, we're leaning towards the portable oven scenario so I will continue getting the facts on these. Obviously, the major question seems to be how one builds something strong enough to withstand movement and maintain heat retention while being easily transportable (another factor in our favour for this route is that we own an HD truck and trailer so could maybe build/adapt more easily).

      Thank-you again.


      • #4
        Re: Newbies chomping at the bit!

        Welcome Karen. I have to second Jed regarding the Allen Scott book so far as the case studies of small businesses that are set up around wood fired ovens.

        Regarding this forum, you are unlikely to find any better resource to bounce any idea you have regarding any planned oven or even business idea. It is simply amazing the amount of knowledge available here!

        And lastly, and just for my own curiosity, is Vancouver on of those few places on this planet that is actually in a "half hour" time zone? I did not believe those places even existed, until I actually met somebody that I believe was from (I think) Vancouver Island, but not sure that is where it was!

        Welcome to the Forno Bravo Forum!

        Travis n'Texas


        • #5
          Re: Newbies chomping at the bit!

          Thanks for the input, Travis. I am reading away!! One concern I have is the burning of alot of wood; here in BC, they are resticting the burning of wood more and more (cannot burn for 6 months of the year on our private acreage even). I may have to also research a propane-fueled masonry unit......

          Not sure what a 'half-hour' time zone is - we're on Pacific coast time, the same as WA for example. We spent 7 years in San Diego and 2 in Medford, Oregon too. I get down to Cleburne, just outside Dallas every couple of years, to visit ex-San Diegan neighbors. Small world.



          • #6
            Re: Newbies chomping at the bit!

            Sorry Karen, I was on the wrong coast of Canada with the time zone question! Oh THAT Vacouver Island!

            If you are going to run a business baking, you need more mass than is generally recommended here. I know for home use, I was leaning towards a rectangular barrel vaulted oven, based on what I knew at the time, then found this place and decided that a dome with much less mass was way more practical (though harder to build) for me.

            You can certainly plan and build a round oven that you can bake in for a business, and get wonderful performance from it. Same can be said for a rectangular barrel vault.

            As far as I understand it, the real difference is how much thermal mass you want to put in your oven. If you plan on doing multiple, full ovens, full of bread, you will need more thermal mass than is generally recommended for the home use folks like myself.

            The more mass you have, the longer and more fuel it takes to heat it all up, but also the longer you can bake in it once you have done so.

            I will let the others correct, or add other considerations, since I am new at this myself, and am only just learning.

            If you are going to be operating under burning restrictions, then you may well want to go with a gas fired oven. I have never run across anything so far that has said you cannot build an oven that has a gas capability that cannot also use wood as an alternative, so maybe you can plan for both, and keep a year round business and live with the restrictions when you need.



            • #7
              Re: Newbies chomping at the bit!

              Check into the specifics of the burn bans. In most places, there are exceptions for cooking devices and primary heating devices. So while you wouldn't be able to have a fire for aesthetic reasons, it would still be possible to use your WFO. Everywhere is different, of course, but it's worth investigating.