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How cheaply can an oven be built? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



I'm Peter Reinhart! Ask Me Anything! Monday, February 15, 2016 7:00-8:00 pm EST

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

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How cheaply can an oven be built?

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  • How cheaply can an oven be built?

    HI All
    Doing the 2 kids paying off house 1 income thing, but really want a WFO in the back yard.
    How cheaply can something useable and respectable to look at be made for?
    I have been looking at cob ovens, precast kits etc and the full blown fire brick builds and unsure of which way to go.
    Any advice on the most suitable way to go?

  • #2
    Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

    Hi Robert,

    We have had forum members build very nice brick ovens very inexpensively. The trick is to look for used or low cost bricks and scrap materials; start scrounging. Refractory supply places might be willing to sell you broken or misshaped bricks at a steep discount. The homebrew mortar recipe documented in the plans is a fraction of the cost of premix and has received excellent reviews.

    Craigslist.com has a Brisbane section. I don't know how active it is but it's a great place to start. Find similar swap/free stuff websites in your area and start filling your garage with the stuff you need.

    Have fun with it and start scrounging!
    Ken H. - Kentucky
    42" Pompeii

    Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

    Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
    Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album


    • #3
      Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

      Read, read, read, and patience. I now realize that my 750 dollar budget was way too small. I could have trimmed it greatly. Size of the oven, making the base smaller than the hearth, 4" block w every other core filled instead of 8" block, and all cores filled. I used refractory cement (pricey) and bought the firebricks instead of getting free, dirty bricks which were a great distance.
      Take your time and plan it in great detail.


      • #4
        Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

        Thanks for the advice so far.
        I have done a bit of scrounging so far, I have 2 lenghts of 6 inch stainless steel tube and and old but nice top hat.
        I was thinking of going cast in place refractory concrete, not sure yet but might be the cheapest way to go and get good thermal mass,,,, maybe old red solid bricks ???
        I am sure I will need to buy fire bricks for the base, and am fine with that, just don't want to go too cheap and then need something bigger, better shortly after.
        Thanks Rob


        • #5
          Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

          Originally posted by robertjusher View Post
          just don't want to go too cheap and then need something bigger, better shortly after.
          Thanks Rob
          There ya go, you just answered your own question.
          The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

          My Build.



          • #6
            Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

            In these parts, refractory concrete is expensive, perhaps less so down under. I'd consider a scrounged red brick dome with homebrew mortar before I'd deal with that nasty stuff. Whatever your budget, don't forget insulation. A few big bags of vermiculite will pay and pay again in cooking success, and fuel savings.
            My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


            • #7
              Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

              Thanks dmun (and everyone else)
              I keep reading mixed reports on red brick. I don't want the bricks dropping bits of brick in the pies !
              While other have then going well. ???
              While googleing the subject I came across a plan for a clay dome , insulated and then covered in a brick and iron roof structure that resembled the house it was was built at. Built on heable blocks on a concrete base with clay pavers for the cooking surface. Seemed to be , good looking, cheap to built and from what I have read will do the job very well.
              The builder of this one claims 90 second pizza, heat the next day and if the roof of the structure keeps water out the clay should last a long time. Worth reading more about I think.
              Anyone have much experence with this.
              A local tv show called Better Homes and Gardens here in OZ made one a few years back..
              Lots more to read
              Last edited by robertjusher; 09-19-2011, 05:03 AM.


              • #8
                Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                I should be getting my little (60cm) cast dome all in (base, oven floor bricks, arch, vermiculite and render) for about 35,000 JY. I think casting is great. Initial cost seems high, but it's quick, strong, and easy to work. I wouldn't even think of doing a brick one now.
                I'm now thinking of designing something with a removable dome that sits on soldier bricks. I would like one at the mountain cabin that I can disassemble come winter snow time. Casting makes that possible.


                • #9
                  Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                  I ended up buying a primavera 60 from forno bravo recently. I don't have a lot of time so it just ended up being easier. That said even the primavera oven has to sit on a level surface (ideally a slab of concrete) and we ended up putting it under an outdoor roof and putting a full chimney up to allow us to do pizza in the rain. Not an inexpensive endeavor in total. I had been planning to build a cob oven using Kiko Denzer's book on the subject. He favors using recycled materials found around your home to build the entire oven. There is a lot of info out there on this process. My take is the entire oven can be built out of mud for very minimal investment. It requires a roof (since it is made out of mud and will decay when exposed to moisture) and a foundation to get it off the ground and insulate the floor. You will need firebrick for the floor. I would estimate if you are patient and good at hunting down materials this option can be made for under $300 (biggest cost being firebrick for the floor). You may be able to lower it if you can find recycled firebrick. This type of oven can be built in a weekend and there are many stories online about it. Hope this helps and good luck.


                  • #10
                    Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                    You can make a great door from the remains of a cast off aluminum barbecue shell. Check your local dump. (Even comes with a built in thermometer).

                    Other things you can find at the dump:
                    - Angle iron from old bed frames.
                    - Bits of chicken wire
                    - Insulation from old electric ranges

                    Reduce, recycle, reuse.


                    • #11
                      Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                      I have built a firebrick 1 mtr firebrick and ceramic insulated forno type oven for $1200 in brisbane. Now thats all up ...render, paint, slab in front, table, tools etc as well Biggest cost was the bricks 175 at $3.30 and the insulation at $160. If you go the common brick with firebrick hearth and pearlite insulation path you would be saving heaps. splading bricks ? there are a few out there that have made there ovens that way. Not many advertise that fact and no one has reported splading. I would go that path rather than a clay shell. Seems you can't waterproof a clay shell without putting overhead cover which is more expense in time and materials.
                      You can save money a number of ways, first of course is recycling. My stand was mostly recyled....swaped 200 non matching house bricks ( which I'dd been given) for 30 hebel block. Made my own concrete in a borrowed mixer. didn't buy a bricksaw...cut the bricks with bulster and angle grinder. Saves on the amount of bricks required if you don't cut every angle too 160 instead of 200 for a 1 mtr dome. All the bricks on the outside of the oven dome are not firebrick. Check out Dinmore bricks at Ipswich they oftern have bricks on special they also sell fireclay and firebrick.
                      The main thing was I only did things as got them..some recylced some brought so the cost was spread out over at least 6 to 8 months so it doesn't seem so bad. My build in the aust section by the way

                      Good luck in whichever path you follow the important thing is that you enjoy the journey......Dave
                      Measure twice
                      Cut once
                      Fit in position with largest hammer

                      My Build
                      My Door


                      • #12
                        Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                        Thanks for the advice guy's
                        I can see the base being as expensive as the oven to do nicely.
                        I want this to be a feature of the yard so cost is becoming less important and function and looks is getting higher.
                        Looking at clay makes it seem a little too cheap . cast kit , easy but $$, .
                        If a brick oven can be done with out making a milion accurate cuts then thats the way to go. I have been thinking of casting the base in concrete and steel?
                        Maybe cheaper and I plan on rendering the base ..
                        Lots to take in.
                        Last edited by robertjusher; 09-22-2011, 01:55 AM.


                        • #13
                          Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                          Quote "splading bricks ?"

                          What are splading bricks?
                          I thought a splade was a cross between a spoon and a blade.
                          Last edited by david s; 09-22-2011, 02:52 AM.
                          Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


                          • #14
                            Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                            My understanding of splading bricks is where the bricks have bits chip off due to the heat.
                            Not really sure how this would happen in a pizza oven where the temps should never get as high as the fireing temp when the bricks were made, but I am no expert...


                            • #15
                              Re: How cheaply can an oven be built?

                              No, that is called "spalling". It can occur from thermal shock at high temps or through water intrusion, freezing and expansion stress.Bricks for external use must be made to have a low porosity to prevent this. Firebricks however, are quite porous and presumably could suffer from water freezing spalling even though they can handle the high temps. As our lowest temp. is in the region of 8 C we never get close to freezing. Has anyone had problems with their fire bricks being exposed to the weather in cold climates?
                              Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.