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32" Oven Big enough? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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32" Oven Big enough?

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  • 32" Oven Big enough?

    When I first joined this forum the other week I was planning on building a barrel vault oven and I had already poured the slab to accommodate it's size. After some reading from this website and advice from others, I've decided to build a pompeii oven instead. The area I have to work with will only let me build up to a 32" round oven. From reading other threads, it seems that a 36" oven is considered small.
    What I'm wondering is, will 32" of interior floor space be enough room, and will it still be able to stay hot for long enough to do all my cooking?

  • #2
    Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

    I would not consider 36" small, more like perfectly adequate for most home use. Mine is 36", I do 2 pizzas at a time (any more than 2 and you need to be a professional juggler with a peel) and they are done in about 90 seconds, so there is not much waiting if you are cooking for a large group. As for roasting, I have had an 18 lb turkey in a large roasting pan and 3 other small baking pans in the oven at the same time.

    32" would be a bit tight, but I think 2 pizzas at a time is still possible. You will be a bit limited on roasting, your entry height needs scaled down, so you would be limited to items about 10" tall (a 20+ lb turkey might not fit).

    Heat is not an issue as long as you follow our mantra - INSULATE,INSULATE, INSULATE.
    In actuality, a 32" should heat up faster and use less wood - the bigger you go, the bigger the fire needed to heat up, and more wood is used.

    What are the dimensions of your hearth slab? You may have space to work with and just don't know it. Couple of ideas: 1) consider using 1/3 bricks instead of 1/2 bricks (that would get you really close to a 36". 2) ONLY use ceramic fiber blanket insulation (minimum of 2", preferably 3". Perlite/vermiculite requires at least 4", so this will get you another 2-4").



    • #3
      Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

      Hi King,
      I posted on your other thread too. I think you can squeeze the exterior insulation to 2" of blanket on the sides of your oven (instead of your proposed 3.5 inches). This would give you an extra 3 inches and allow a 35" oven. I think this would be more usable...
      My Oven Thread:


      • #4
        Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

        Hi King!

        I seriously considered a barrel vault oven and ordered plans from Scott. They are usually a LOT thicker so as stated elsewhere you may not be as far off as you think! Unless you are planning three loads of bread the Pompeii should be able to compete well. As I have stated in other posts, I seem to need about 15 pounds of dough in my 39 inch oven to make great crust. A 32 would probably load well with 8 pounds which would be much more workable. Biggest issue is you will have to keep the fire compact on the side. I currently let the fire and coals have 1/3 of the oven. You will have to keep your logs tight to the wall. I have never worked with an oven that small. I hope to at the February FornoFest! My guess is moving down would be challenging, but if it was what you learned on it would be "normal".

        Good Luck!


        • #5
          Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

          I don't think I'll be cooking more than 1 pizza at a time, specially since they'll be cooked so quickly. I was planning on 3" of insulating blankets, but I see there are still more options. The slab is 47" wide. Drake, if 2" of insulation blanket is enough, I think I will go this route. 2"+2"(insulation)+35"(interior floor)+9"(firebrick)= 48". This will let my insulation overhang 1/2" over each edge of the slab. If the overhanging insulation is not a problem, then I could go with the 3" of insulation and let it overhang 1.5" on each side.
          Thanks so much for your time and quick responses! I just got to the stopping point where the next step is to begin with the hearth.
          And thanks for your input Jay, I was composing my reply when yours posted first. If possible, I would like to get the interior closer to 35". I don't like this small fire business, I've been making big fires since I was a tot...
          Attached Files
          Last edited by KINGRIUS; 09-01-2009, 07:03 PM.


          • #6
            Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?


            I built a 36" oven on a 48" slab. You can take a look at my thread to see the adjustments I made. I have only been using my oven for about six weeks now and haven't even graduated to making two pizzas at a time, but I can tell you that I'm glad I didn't make my oven any smaller. I would love to get to where I can make two pizzas at a time. They cool off so quickly, that the 1st one is well past it's prime by the time we sit down to dinner.


            • #7
              Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

              Whatever you decide, Kingrius, that's an awesome-looking stand!
              Picasa web album
              Oven-building thread


              • #8
                Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                DBHANSEN- I'm blushing! Thanks man. One thing I do like about the barrel vault design I was going by was the eye appeal. But this is my first time laying brick so its been a learning process. After 15 courses of brick, I'm finally starting to get in a groove.

                Gromet- I've just been through your "Smaug: A 36" x 16" build" thread and have been educated. I may not use the soldier course as you did, although the visual appeal is awesome. I may have to shave the bricks down at the edge of my slab.

                I have been making pizza in my electric oven for the past 6 years using my dad's dough recipe, and have something of a following of friendly "customers". I am hoping to start the pizza in a 16" pan and pop it out onto the brick after about a minute or so, just enough to firm it up and get it onto the brick without losing it's shape. A lot of pics I've seen of wfo pizza always seem to be kind of bent out of shape. Is my idea of starting pizza out on a pan feasible?



                • #9
                  Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                  No pan, please. You will loose much of what is SO good about brick oven pizza - the dough really needs that high heat "slap in the face" direct contact to get the texture right.
                  All it takes is practice (nothing wrong with making lots of pizza) and a floured (Semolina of rice flour are the slickest) peel; and don't spend ten minutes building each pizza. It should slide off the peel like Bambi on ice.



                  • #10
                    Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                    I guess it's something that will be learnt by experience. I look forward to experimenting.
                    I am sorting through my used firebricks today and may start cutting the good ones in half. Next week I will purchase the insulating board and some additional new firebrick for the floor and I guess I will start an oven building thread showing progress. Thanks for all your help!


                    • #11
                      Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                      HI Darius!

                      First, one inch is less than critical to oven performance or ability so the diff between a 36 inch oven and a 35 is nonexistent. It is easily lost in the roundoff.

                      It appears your hearthslab is elevated which I interpret to mean you COULD use some rock to overhang the vertical a bit and create a larger support area for the dome. The bulk of the weight will be inside the blanket and outer shell so it would still be over your base. Does that make sense!

                      Another trick is the shell does not have to be uniformly thick. You could have minimal insulation (say 2 inches) only at the BOTTOM of the shell and get thicker as you go higher!!!

                      Be creative!


                      • #12
                        Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                        It's interesting that you mention a nonuniform shell. I have been considering the very same idea. I was wondering if, for an igloo design, one could make the exterior shell hemispherical, which by design would be considerably thicker at the apex than the horizon relative to the oven dome.

                        One thing I liked about the idea of a hemispherical outer shell is that it could be done with a very stylish looking geodesic structure...I'm giving away my ideas here.

                        Website: http://keithwiley.com
                        WFO Webpage: http://keithwiley.com/brickPizzaOven.shtml
                        Thread: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...ttle-7878.html


                        • #13
                          Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                          I was space constrained too - and have built a 90cm (about 35") dome - it easily does 2 pizzas at a time and holds enough heat for roasting and bread baking.



                          • #14
                            Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                            Another way to get LOTS of insulation is to build an exterior frame shell "house and simply pack the area around the blankets with good insulation like perlite! But you lose the funky igloo!


                            • #15
                              Re: 32&quot; Oven Big enough?

                              I was reading another thread where shaving the edges was used to make the oven fit in a constrained area. I am just stealing an idea.

                              I understand what you mean by using the extra space I have on edges between brick to create additional hearth slab area. the barrel vault design called for that 2" area (on each side) be filled with vermiculite/portland mix to insulate and keep outer brick veneer from cracking. Now that I've switched plans to pompeii style I won't have to worry about filling that area up. I could always mix up some simple concrete w/aggregate and fill up all around and this would strengthen the outer bricks and create more hearth slab area. Or I could just form up the unused space on each side just where the oven will be and pour additional concrete. It wouldn't be a whole lot needed.

                              I am not sure yet, but I am probably going to enclose the igloo hearth in brick. But since I am using mid to late fall as a goal for being done with this project, I'm thinking I'll just use the 3" of insulating blankets and say it's enough insulation to avoid more head scratching time with additional methods of insulating. Thanks for the input! the old wheels upstairs are starting to turn a little bit thanks to you guys...