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Newbie needing information and support - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Newbie needing information and support

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  • Newbie needing information and support

    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you in advance for all of the information you have so generously shared on this forum. We are constructing an outdoor living area which is going to include a modular dome-type refractory WFO. I talked my husband and contractor into doing this rather than a fireplace. I love to cook and I am excited about the challenge of learning to cook in the wood oven. The problem I have is that this type of pizza oven is unusual in this area. My contractor has built ovens into fireplaces before, but has not completed a modular one in the igloo-style we are doing. My contractor and mason have done a lot of research and have consulted with the manufacturer, so I am confident in their knowledge and ability to build this for us, even if it is their first one. Everything that they have planned matches up to the information I am learning from this site. My concern is my lack of knowledge of what to do once I am alone with the oven. I am in the process of learning about curing. I think I understand about cracking. I plan to go slowly with the curing, to try to minimize cracking, but there seems to be conflicting information about how high to heat the oven, how many days of firing, and how long the oven should be held at temperature with each curing fire. I am also not clear on how big a fire is needed. I have seen the term "fires of hell" which frightens me a little bit. I also don't understand how to tell if a crack is insignificant or if it needs to be patched. It makes sense that if it has to be patched you would need to go through the curing process, but I am not clear on how to patch it or when to cure it. I did research prior to making the decision to put in the oven and felt fairly confident that we could manage it and would have a wonderful time. Now I feel a little panicked that I am going to unwittingly make mistakes that will cause us to end up with an expensive pile of useless masonry. Any recommended threads regarding the steps to follow from completion of the oven to the first pizza, or any encouraging advice would be greatly appreciated. I have read the Forno bravo information, which is probably what gave me the confidence to go forward with this project. It seems more positive than the posts I am reading. Thank you again for your support!

  • #2
    Re: Newbie needing information and support

    One piece of advice: watch your contractors like a hawk. We've herd of more than one build where the mason thought that insulation was a waste of time and money. Also make sure he's putting the oven sectors together with refractory mortar, which is more expensive and harder to get than the ordinary mason's mortar.

    As for curing and cooking, we'll hold your hand when the time comes.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Re: Newbie needing information and support

      Thank you for the reply. I have 6 bags of refractory mortar in my back yard, so I think we have that one covered. I am going to double check the level of insulation they are planning, but my contractor and mason see this as an opportunity to be among the first to provide this type of WFO to this area. I think they are invested in doing it correctly and they want us to be satisfied for future reference. The contractor is planning to do one of these on his own patio in the future, so he has a personal interest in learning about them. It is a relief to know that you will be willing to help me when the time comes to light this jewel. I am so excited and cannot wait to start cooking. I hope to use this oven as much as the one in my home.


      • #4
        Re: Newbie needing information and support

        Just because I am curious...it sounds like you've done the homework to educate yourself about this whole WFO oven deal and that you have an excellent working knowledge already, so why the decision to turn the construction over to someone else?

        Not that there is anything wrong with hiring someone, but one thing I've learned and am still constantly reminded of with all my crazy construction endeavours is that you'll never find anyone who has the best interests of your project in mind more than yourself.

        Ask your contractor the questions you've outlined above and see what he says. That should give you a good idea about whether he's done his homework as well as you have.

        I'm certainly no expert, and I'm just at the point in my WFO build where I am putting in my keystone and finishing my arch and flue, but I'm planning on following the 7 fires method outlined in one of the threads here on the forum...really small to big...method for curing after letting my finished oven air dry for a week or two. As far as cracking goes, it's a fact of any kind of masonry work that you are going to get cracks because mortar contains water and when water evaporates, things shrink. This from a girl who lives in a concrete house with a concrete roof and who has poured and built and finished all manner of concrete and masonry things indoors and and out. Don't let hairline cracks freak you out because they don't matter structurally. If you get cracks that are larger, I'm sure the forum will have excellent advice. Rarely does anything end up being un-fixable, and that's the beauty of hiring someone, I guess...that you'll be able to turn the responsbility for any contingencies over to whomever you paid in to do the work in the first place.