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The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

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  • The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

    Okay so I have lurked on this site for long enough and there are some beautiful brick wonders that deliver some of the best kind of foods one can make at home. Having watched a friend build his lovely big-domed oven using the graciously provided plans for the Pompei oven I had a serious think.
    I was really inspired to build a wood fired brick oven to make the kind of food my grandmother would have made in the old country but there are were a few things working against me.
    -I am at a rental property, and
    -I am rather budget stretched.
    Seeing as the budget of my friend's was over my limit (significantly more than $1000AUD) and the agents might not appreciate a 2 ton brick monster in the back-yard I set myself the challenge of building a brick oven for under $100AUD. This was to cover ALL costs.

    The conditions above necessitated the following guidelines.
    -It must be easily demountable, therefore either no mortar or a very high sand:cement ratio must be used to dismantle it.
    -The materials must be readily and cheaply available to those willing to put in a bit of time looking.

    I set myself this challenge to see if I can achieve the same quality of pizza and breads (among many other foods) that are produced with large in-situ ovens, and make it easy for any other people who are dismayed and daunted at the cost, materials/equipment, scale and work required to replicate such ovens.

    Therefore I settled on using a 44 gallon drum (205L in real measurements) as the form for the bricks, a base made of hard fired clay pavers with a very low ratio of red clay laid over an asbestos tile base to insulate the floor, and a piece of galvanised gutter-pipe for the flue. The dome brick will rest against the 44 gal drum and as they are not being exposed directly to the fire/cooking area I don't need to worry if they will crack of flake, and the mortar doesn't have to be high heat.

    So far the major expenses have been:
    -$14 for the floor bricks
    -$60 for an insulating blanket
    -$10 for cutting blades for a grinder

    No money was paid for:
    -Dome bricks (local building site- surplus to requirements)
    -44gal drum (given by a local mechanic- originally contained coolant)
    -Gutter-pipe for the flue (Found in the shed)
    -Asbestos tiles to insulate the floor

    Here are some pictures of my progress to date.

    Cutting off centre to gain height without drastically affecting the cooking floor area. And retaining a "lip" on the oven for strength and to push a door up against

    Laying the pavers.

    Lining it all up for next stage of dome bricks.

    Riveting the flue down down.

    More to come... Stay tuned...
    Last edited by julian; 02-24-2009, 11:40 PM.

  • #2
    Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD


    This is a fun looking project! Should work fine, and on the cheap is great.

    Keep the pictures coming!



    • #3
      Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

      Julian, I like your project and your goal: an inexpensive WFO that works.

      I have a suggestion (although this is perhaps a bit late): Most of the books on oven construction have the suggestion/admonition/rule to build with a height of door opening to height of ceiling/dome/barrel etc. ratio of close on 63%. The reason as I understand it concerns air/exhaust gas flow (basically in across the floor and up the back and across the ceiling toward the entrance). The chimney being added to vent hot gasses up and out without exiting out the front (I wonder how many times someone burnt off their eyebrows and set fire to their hair before figuring out the chimney idea?). I have two neighbors with cob ovens that exit out the front rather than having a chimney. Both have the 63% ratio or close on it and both draw well. Since you have removed almost all of the entrance end adding back a portion to the top of the entrance would be a bit of a problem, but not unsurmountable. So the suggestion: save the end you cut out as you might need it to restore a bit of the top portion of the entrance in case the oven does not draw like it should. This re-addition may not be necessary and your oven will be a good test if keeping that ratio is as important as it's made out to be.



      • #4
        Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

        Awesome idea Julian,
        You could always baffle the inside with cut bricks to get the opening ratio right.

        I'll be watching this thread!
        good luck.

        My 2nd Build:
        Is here


        • #5
          Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

          Hi Folks,
          Thanks for the support everyone, I will post more pictures as I progress.
          'Wiley' your words got me interested so I lit a fire. There is a bit of a leak out the front but that is only with the short flu section attached, I intended on putting around 1 more metre on there to get smoke a bit further from the courtyard, so hopefully it will draw a bit faster and suck more smoke. However I do have the end cut waiting for a trim and a MIG weld.

          Several people have contacted me by PM on this site with questions that could benefit more than just themselves such as material used/sources and dimensions. Please post them here unless they are personal.



          • #6
            Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

            Somewhere in FB are the pics of avery low cost oven in in use the same day it was built....a few blocks stacked up but it cooked pizza as I recall.

            Can't wait to see a fire in your's

            sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


            • #7
              Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

              Aborigines in Arnem land use ant hills to cook in. They tunnel out a space in the base of the ant hill, light a fire inside, then cook in it, blocking the door up with whatever is to hand. These ovens cost $0
              Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


              • #8
                More photos

                Here is some rough brickwork finally finished:

                And the insulation blanket being enmeshed in a wire cage to aide easy removal if need be:

                I modified an old commercial hot water heater to make a weather proof enclosure:

                A nice burn:


                • #9
                  Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD


                  Your oven is looking very nice! Have you cooked anything in it yet?

                  Did you get any insulation under the floor brick?

                  And how about a door,, do you have a plan for the door? If you do plan on 'baking' in this oven you will probably want to figure out a way to close off the chimney to help retain heat. If your plan is to cook foods that use the 'fire in the oven', this set-up should work great!

                  I like the straight line of your design. And the fact you are in a 'cooking way' with just a bit of money invested!

                  Good job.



                  • #10

                    Thanks Jed.
                    No I haven't cooked anything yet, that will come this Friday to celebrate the opening of the Adelaide Fringe Festival!
                    Under the base bricks and mortar is a layer of asbestos tiles as you can see HERE.
                    They are not anywhere near the food, and a word of caution to anyone who wants to use asbestos- although it may be a peerless insulation, any abrasive contact can seriously jeopardise your health in the long term.
                    The flue will be easy to close off as I have made it in two loose-fit sections as you can see in the photos in my opening post. To make a door I plan to fit a hardwood backing to the section of the drum that I initially removed and make it fit perfectly against the lip of steel left on the larger part of the drum.


                    • #11
                      Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

                      Great Job!

                      fun to watch

                      Can't wait to see you cook in it!

                      My thread:
                      My costs:
                      My pics:


                      • #12
                        Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

                        Here is a picture of the FIRST pizza I cooked in the oven. The first of many.

                        Last edited by julian; 03-11-2009, 12:29 AM.


                        • #13
                          Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

                          Dear Julian,
                          Firstly I have never been a member of any sites etc, so here goes, My husband has just retired & busy painting our house. But has been collecting for quite a while to do your plan for your great solution to the expensive pizza ovens. Do you have a finished photo.
                          thanking you, Vinetta.


                          • #14
                            Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

                            Julian, you are my idol. Strong work. That oven looks like it makes a fine pie.

                            I'm up to the challenge. All my brick, rebar, wire mesh, sand, gravel, vermiculite, and insulating blanket were free. I got six truckloads of 100 year old pressed reds and 50 firebricks free. I think I only need to spring for the concrete and mortar I use along with another 15 firebricks. I'm hitting up my concrete contractor buddies for some free mix.

                            My foundation will be massive boulders below the frostline with rebar drilled into them and tied into a pad. I did buy a HF 10" saw brand new for $100 off craigslist and plan to sell it when the project is done. So not counting labor, I'm into it for $100 US that I should recoup at the end. If I play my cards right, I might break even on this oven.

                            I'm planning on breaking ground in 3 weeks. I'll start a new thread with pics then. Right now I have several piles of raw materials all over my lot, not much to look at.



                            • #15
                              Re: The challenge: a WFO for under $100 AUD

                              The easiest way to address the ratio being out of whack would be to extend the flue down into the oven. Simple and effective, I've seen it done on a few commercial bread ovens including this one:

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