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  • how big?

    So I guess size really does matter.

    I built a small "practice" oven last year (12" ID). Came out really cool, and evolved to be quite permanent at this point. We have a large family though, so now I'm designing my "real" WFO. Gotta love having 2.

    A typical firing for our family is to cook 8-10 personal size pizzas, then 2 loaves of bread, followed by something like a pan of banana/zuchini bread.

    So, how big? 24"? 28"? 36" seems REALLY big, but maybe not.
    What size do most folks have?

    TIA.

  • #2
    Re: how big?

    Well well Johnny, we seem to be kindred spirits. I find myself in almost the exact same situation, both in process and geogrography.
    Seems to me it comes down to not just how many pizzas the oven can hold but how many you can reasonably manage at one time. I think the guys that can cook more than two at once must have additional prehensile apendiges. Not to mention the pie prep. How many can a person prepare at one time? Of course there are those who put their entire thanksgiving dinner i there so...
    For what it's worth I'm going with a 32" on a roughly 4x4 base. As we know real estate is at a premium in these parts. And that seems plenty big.
    And the 'brewmiester' does this mean you brew your own? Could be yet another point of commonality.
    Oh yea, pictures, lots of pictures.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: how big?

      To answer another Question about sourcing materials. RCP block and brick has pretty much everything you may need. they have firebrick refractory cement and fireclay in addition to a lot of decorative stone and brick. I've used them before and I like them. There maybe other sources and if you get other hits on that I'll be pleased to find out where else I can look.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: how big?

        I've got pics of my practice oven, but haven't looked into what is needed to post here.
        I sourced the materials for it from my back yard (except the sand, got that from HomerDepot).

        Are you building a brick oven? I'm building a clay one (a bit unorthodox I guess for this forum) so won't have the same structural integrity of a brick dome. That is why I worry about going "too big".

        I've gotten firebricks from RPC before, but they didn't have fireclay. I found a clay store in National City that sells it (but would prefer RPC).

        P.S. homebrew, yep!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: how big?

          johnnybrewmeister
          whatever you do, don't make it too small. Check out the comments from members who responded to the thread as to what would you do different if you were to build a new oven.
          I appreciate that space is a very real concern, and big is not always best, but look carefully into where you see the oven being used, what you plan to use it for, how much wood will be required to heat economically etc before you decide on a size. Mine is a 40" (or really a metre diameter) and would not build one smaller. Remember that you need a fire in tour oven when cooking a reasonable quantity of pizzas and that takes up a reasonable amount, inhibiting your remaining useable floor. Also remember that you can't place your pizzas very close to the coals as the edges will burn.


          PsychDoc

          how many you can reasonably manage at one time.
          It is very easy for a person to cook 4 pizzas at once, bearing in mind tht you put them in one at a time, continually turn them and as my first pizzas are cooked in 1 minute, as soon as you put in 3, turn the first, put in the remaining one and pull out you first. I often take the pizzas off the assembly trays once they harden up a little and cook their remaining time on the hearth.

          I think the guys that can cook more than two at once must have additional prehensile apendiges. Not to mention the pie prep.
          How many can a person prepare at one time?
          Who wants to prepare other peoples pizzas? All my guests and family make their own to their preferences and cook them. I show them initially and then it is up to them, great experiences and never, never had a disaster, only the occasional one with over cooked edge

          Cheers.
          Neill
          Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

          The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know


          Neillís Pompeiii #1
          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/n...-1-a-2005.html
          Neillís kitchen underway
          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f35/...rway-4591.html

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: how big?

            Thanks for the info Neill, nice setup you got there, by the way.
            I'll search for the "what would you do different" thread, sounds like a good thing to think about now. Learn from others...smart.

            I suppose if I submit a pic of my "practice" oven to the FB pictures collection, then I should be able to paste a link to it here. I don't have them anywhere with a URL pointing to them, just local to my laptop.

            Great forum, btw, tons of good info.

            John.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: how big?

              Thanks for the compliment, yes it works well but I don't use it as much as I should. It does come in very handy though when we entertain large groups of up to 50-70 people but luckily that is not very often, the inlaw's 60th anniversary and 90th birthday etc.
              Why not add your pictures here on your thread????
              Just go up to the paper clip and follow the prompts, easy mate!

              Cheers.

              Neill
              Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

              The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know


              Neillís Pompeiii #1
              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/n...-1-a-2005.html
              Neillís kitchen underway
              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f35/...rway-4591.html

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: how big?

                If your oven is small you tend to use it more often, because it uses less fuel. No problem to cook three pizzas or a few loaves of bread.
                Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: how big?

                  I built a 42" oven...and (like most everyone), thinks it is the perfect size for me.

                  We typically cook 1-2 pies at a time for 4-6 people....On occassion, we have entertained upwards of 50 people with it (over 100 pies in one day) ....And I like to cook entire holiday meals in it (turkey + multple cassaroles, pies, bread, etc.)

                  Thinking back I probably would have been just as happy with a 36...but wouldnt go any smaller and I dont think any bigger for me would be any benefit.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: how big?

                    I can appreciate the space of a large oven but I think one does need to balance the space with heat up time and fuel consumption.
                    David said that he can feed ? 30 - 50 people (correct me if I'm wrong) with a relatively small oven 21" if I remember correctly.
                    How often will you feed a group that large? Will you use it if it takes an extended heat up?
                    Another thought... When you have a gathering do you want to all sit and eat at once or do you "graze" and talk and snack and share etc?
                    Just some random thoughts.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: how big?

                      Actually the heat up time for a small oven is about the same as a big one, because small oven means small fire. It is the wall tand floor thickness that determines heat up time. The big advantage of a small oven is its fuel economy, because that is determined by the volume of the chamber which increases by cubed ( 4/3 phi x r x r x r )
                      Last edited by david s; 02-01-2013, 12:22 PM.
                      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: how big?

                        OK, so I think I found out how to post pics, here's my "practice" oven:

                        PhotoPlog - Finished Ovens

                        I found 2 previous surveys about oven-size and that helped alot. But you folks sure do love your big ovens - oh my! We're a big family but don't entertain 50-100 people like many of you, and I'm thinking 28" will be plenty big. Especially since it seems like most only cook 1-2 pies at a time.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: how big?

                          Gudday Johnny
                          Love you mini oven its a real classic!
                          Ovens are like owning a dog....some like em big and some like them small. We love and feed them regardless of size whether its a 40 kg bag of food or a 100 gm tin. And we all pick up poop!
                          Recon your probably a mid size dog man.
                          Regards Dave
                          Ps I have a 42 in oven and a small dog ....figure?
                          Measure twice
                          Cut once
                          Fit in position with largest hammer

                          My Build
                          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f51/...ild-14444.html
                          My Door
                          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f28/...ock-17190.html

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: how big?

                            Originally posted by cobblerdave View Post
                            Gudday Johnny
                            Love you mini oven its a real classic!
                            Ovens are like owning a dog....some like em big and some like them small. We love and feed them regardless of size whether its a 40 kg bag of food or a 100 gm tin. And we all pick up poop!
                            Recon your probably a mid size dog man.
                            Regards Dave
                            Ps I have a 42 in oven and a small dog ....figure?
                            G'day Dave - love your humor.
                            FYI: 2 of my dogs are probably considered "medium" (50-60 pounds), but the 3rd is definitely "practice" sized (maybe 5-6 lbs).

                            All the "bigger is better" posts I've read is having me think about changing my mind...28 -> 32 maybe. Going up to 36 would still just seem huge. I guess I really need to see one in-person to get a better idea. Most people still seem to cook only one pie at at time.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: how big?

                              Like pretty much everyone, I'm happy with the size I built. Mine is a barrel vault style. The hearth is 36 inches across...40 inches deep.












                              As others have said, it's all about what you have planned for your oven. I like the space my relatively large oven provides. Plenty of room for multiple pizzas (I typically cook three at a time if we are feeding a bunch of people.). Plenty of room for bread. I've cooked a couple of turkeys now, racks of ribs, etc.,

                              As far as economy and heating times....As noted, the difference between a big oven and small is the amount of wood burned rather than time to heat IMO. But even the claims about the amount of wood being burned are overstated IMO. It is certainly true that you can fit a bigger fire in a larger oven, but I'm not so sure that a huge fire heats the oven to a higher temp, or more quickly, than a moderate fire which burns for the same length of time. I say this because almost any fire produces far more heat over any given time period than can be absorbed by the bricks of the oven. Said another way, most of the heat energy is going out the chminey no matter what size fire. Huge fires just dump a bunch more heat out the top. I'm sure there is some increase in energy absorbed in a given period with a larger fire, but I'd guess the relationship is not anything close to linear.

                              When I fire my oven I typically start the fire near the flue with four split pieces of wood which are approx eighteen inches long by about four inches across. The logs are stacked over a bit of small kindling/wood shavings. Once it's going good I push it to the back of the oven and throw two more logs of the same size on. That is more than enough wood to heat the roof to clearing. Once I'm there, I push the coals to the side and throw a small piece or two on in order to maintain active flame over the pizza.

                              For me, I have a tough time building a good fire without stacking four logs. I'm not sure how much less wood I could use no matter how small the oven. I assume I'm burning more wood than David, but I certainly don't find it necessary to burn a wheelbarrel full.

                              Bill
                              Last edited by WJW; 02-21-2013, 02:26 PM.

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