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Barrell vs Dome Design - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Barrell vs Dome Design

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  • Barrell vs Dome Design

    Hi everyone

    Bit of newbie question but are there any huge benefits from building a dome oven vs a barrell oven? I understand the heating will be more even on a dome oven however the barrell oven appears to be much easier to build.

    Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.



  • #2
    Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

    Hi Mark,

    Welcome aboard. There is a good posting on that topic here:


    You could say it was the problems I have with my barrel vault oven in California that caused me to develop the Pompeii Oven plans and create the Forno Bravo Forum. You will definitely enjoy the dome oven more.

    It will be good to hear input from other builders, but I have heard many folks say they think the dome oven is either the same, or even easier, to build than the barrel vault.

    Enjoy your project!
    Pizza Ovens
    Outdoor Fireplaces


    • #3
      Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

      I have really been going back and forth with this same question daily as I am preparing to build and oven and each day I decide to go back and forth between barrel and dome. What are some of the honest difficulties that arise during dome construction that one could be aware of. Are there any issues with the mortar shrinking a bit as it dries and the dome collapsing or what other things have you run accross. My preference is dome construction and have gone through the Pompeii plans, but have also been tryign to find a more detailed set of plans to assist.


      • #4
        Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

        I really don't think a barrel vault is easier to build than a round dome. I've done both, and both have their separate issues. My bread oven is a barrel vault design, but if I wanted to make a dedicated pizza oven, I'd definitely go for a round dome. You can bake bread in a pizza oven, and pizza in a bread oven, but there are some compromises going in either direction. I think you should decide what, primarily, you will be doing in your oven and make your choice from there.

        "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


        • #5
          Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

          thanks Jim. I think pizza and other "entertaining dishes" are what will primairily be the focus of what I cook which is why I am leaning towards the done.


          • #6
            Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

            I had the same debate (discussed here)

            I decided on the dome oven and have been very happy with it, including mulitple bakes (discussed here)

            Hope that helps!
            My Oven Thread:


            • #7
              Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

              Here's another of thinking about this.

              60 million Italians can't be wrong. I came up with a list of just how central pizza and wood-fired ovens are to Italian culinary heritage and culture, and how many people depend on wood-fired pizza and baking. As there are no barrel vault ovens here (other than a few at commercial bakeries), and all Italian pizza ovens are based on a common design, this at least says that you are in good company if you build the round, dome oven.

              Here's a short list:

              One million+ wood-fired ovens
              Mullions of wood-fired pizzas eaten every day
              Hundreds of thousands of Italian careers based on wood-fired pizza
              Scores of thousands of wood-fired pizzerias
              Over 5,000 authorized pizza oven dealers
              One thousand five hundred wood-fired pizzerias in Naples alone
              Thousands of olive oil producers
              Hundreds of pizza oven producers
              Hundreds of tomato and mozzarella producers
              Scores of pizza peel and oven tool producers
              Multiple pizza flour companies
              Multiple professional pizza magazines
              Multiple pizza trade shows
              Multiple pizza oven burner producers
              Multiple pizza oven fan producers
              Multiple pizza competitions
              Multiple professional pizza trade associations
              Multiple pizzaiolo training schools
              One feature-length movie dedicated to pizza

              Can they all be wrong? At least it's an interesting perspective.
              Pizza Ovens
              Outdoor Fireplaces


              • #8
                Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                Mark, telehort,

                I've not built a Barrel dome, but I recently built the Pompeii dome and didn't think the "dome" part caused great difficulty. Particularly with the angle iron approach to covering the door. I would think a Barrel dome wouldn't be less work, and everything I've read talks about the more even heating of a dome style.

                I just did a little spreadsheet to roughly track my time and cost... I spent about 20% of my time on the dome and floor, and a third of the total cost.

                telehort, you could go see some ovens in our area (Nor Cal) for reference.

                Mark you live 7000 miles away, dunno how many ovens you will find in Aus. Having said that I have a friend that built a barrel style oven near Nurioopta in the Barossa. Certainly you won't have a hard time finding bricks in Australia, unlike California it seems like masonry buildings and fireplaces are extremely common. No earthquakes!
                - JC


                • #9
                  Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                  Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond!

                  I have organised to go to company here in Perth that has demo nights on building their barrell pizza ovens that they sell in kit form, so it will be good to see the building process first hand... I haven't decided whether I will go the dome or barrell oven yet but at least it is a step in the right direction =)

                  Thanks again!


                  • #10
                    Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                    Originally posted by james View Post
                    Multiple pizza oven burner producers
                    Do you have any info on gas burners? I've seen the "gas supplementation" idea at Café Beaujolais (Bread Builders p207), and thought I'd install a 1" natural gas outlet beside the oven opening for just such a portable burner.

                    But is there a better way to plan for a (perhaps more permanent) gas burner in the oven before I pour the support slab? I'm not looking to cook solely by gas - just in the event I run out of wood, feel lazy, or (like Café Beaujolais) in lieu of re-lighting a wood fire for another bake if the oven has lost too much heat.

                    Originally posted by james View Post
                    One feature-length movie dedicated to pizza
                    I know of one dedicated to timpano, but don't know this one - what is its name?

                    Cheers, Paul.


                    • #11
                      Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                      Hi Paul,

                      I'm back in the saddle.

                      There are some real safety issues using gas in a small, enclosed space. Unlike a grill or fireplace, where a slow gas leak has somewhere to go, a leak in a pizza oven could ignite and the effect would be like a small bomb. So while you can add a gas burner, FB doesn't recommend it for home owners or offer any advice on how to do it. Sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud on this.

                      I know that builders have done it, so it might be a good idea to start a new thread on the topic and see what other builders have done.

                      For commercial use, the Modena ovens have a sophisticated burner that is made in Italy specifically for commercial pizza ovens. It's expensive, electronically controlled and has an automatic, rapid shut-off.

                      Sorry again I'm not more helpful on this one.
                      Pizza Ovens
                      Outdoor Fireplaces


                      • #12
                        Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                        Has any one have an airflow graph showing the cold air in and hot air out circulation in both barrel and dome shaped ovens?



                        • #13
                          Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                          There are some graphics on how a brick oven works here, but nothing specific to round/dome vs rectangle/barrel vault. I might take a stab at that -- it would be a good way of representing how the fire works. Nice idea.

                          Pizza Ovens
                          Outdoor Fireplaces


                          • #14
                            Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                            It would be interesting as I feel the flow of hot air is one of the main differences

                            I have been toying with an idea of an oven Barrel shaped and tapered at the end with a wide opening

                            That way you can use it as a bread oven and fire place

                            Now for the tricky bit, the front opening making a mould that fits in the opening and reduces the size of the opening but is also shaped to end up making the inside of the oven dome shape
                            I have made plenty of moulds of different things in the past so that’s not a problem
                            It would be made from refractory cement and filled with light weight insulation

                            I know it won’t hold the heat as well a pizza oven but it will be better than an ordinary oven and you also have a fireplace at the end
                            Food for thought anyway



                            • #15
                              Re: Barrell vs Dome Design

                              I'm far from an expert, but it seams that there is a fear of building a 'pizza oven', and it won't retain heat or even heat between dome and walls for baking. I've never been much of a baker, so this was not a concern of mine, but, for those concerned here is what I know:

                              I built a 36" pompei
                              Insulate, insulate, insulate.....24 hrs after reaching pizza temps (900 dome, 750+ hearth) and making several pizzas my hearth temp is still 250-260, walls 275-285, and the dome 300-310.
                              after the fires die down I leave the coals in the oven - pushed to one side or the rear and put my uninsulated steel door in place.
                              Even removing the coals entirely and leaving the door off still gives me these temps 10-12 hrs after the fire. I attribute this to the insulation - I used 2" of ceramic blanket then 3" of perlite concrete. virtually no heat transfers through my dome.
                              I'm considering making an insulated door, not so much because I need it - I just want to see how much heat I can retain under optimal conditions. I've sort of become obsessed with seeing just what I can do with this thing....whether I need it to or not...its my latest toy.

                              Not sure if this is helpfull