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Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

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  • Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

    After lurking on the site for the last few years I finally decided it was time to put together a budget steel/brick wood oven. Building at the weekend retreat meant that I don't have the time to build a pompeii oven. I also didn't want to spend a few thousand dollars on an oven out there. I liked the last two Aussie drum ovens that were posted on this site so I decided to head down that route as my economical alternative. I found a local drum supplier on Kiiji that was selling food grade drums for $20. I was informed that it had been used for Omega 3 oil for vitamins with an orange flavouring. I didn't put two and two together that orange flavour does not translate to orange scent. After cutting into the barrel with my angle grinder I found out that fish oil and hot steel leave a distinct odour. Thinking even less about fish oil I decided that burning off the last bit of oil in the barrel was the best way to go. I'm not sure if you've read about whaling ships but black smoke and their distinctive odour are noted quite extensively in the history books. I learned first hand why fish oil was used for lamps.....it burns a long time with a little amount of oil. All I can say was luckily I live in Canada and the vacation homes were mostly vacant at this time of year. I then realized the barrel was lined with an epoxy paint to make it "food grade". A few hours of paint remover, grinding with a wire brush and burning it off with a high temp weed torch and I finally had a usable barrel on which to start my oven. This job took a lot longer than expected.

    The standard 55 gallon barrel had a 23" diameter and I cut it at the 21" width below centerline using an angle grinder. This will leave me with a 15.5" dome height and I'll cut a semicircle door opening width of about 19" with a height of 9.5". This will give me my golden door ratio of roughly 62%.

    I had some leftover Allen Blocks from the patio so I buried 8 of them 90 degree to usual placement and used the fronts as my "concrete base". I fully realize they will settle at different rates but a few shims here and there will solve that issue. I purchased 4X4 posts and cut them in half. I then lag bolted on 2X4's and ran two 4X4's down the middle. I then laid 3/4" plywood on top of all this. My quick and dirty foundation took 3 hours to this point.

    For my insulation layer I ran 2X6's around the perimeter and filled with my 5:1 perlcrete mix.

    I've attached a few pictures to show progress so far. Next weekend hopefully that popcorn cement has set and I can start on laying the firebrick and putting the bricks over the dome.

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  • #2
    Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

    Well as with all things at the lake they take twice as long as expected. My wife and daughter had a fun run last weekend. With all the other things going on it looks like we won't get out there again until the May long weekend. However, I spent my spare time finishing up my pizza/patio cart that I started over the winter. I won't have any counter space with the oven so I decided to build this cart which will give me some basic space to put the cooked pizza, bread, and meat on. I also added a couple of handles which will double as tool holders. The project started with me wanting to play around with cement countertops next to the oven. I quickly realized that starting small was my best bet and I could do this in my home workshop over the winter. The cement didn't turn out quite as expected but I'm fairly happy with the finished cart.
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    • #3
      Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

      Love the table.
      The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

      My Build.

      Books.

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      • #4
        Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

        I only managed to knock off a few hours of work on the oven over the weekend in between the rain showers and r&r. I picked up some insulating firebricks with a plan to put them at the entrance of the oven. I was initially going to put the insulating firebricks straight on top of the edge of the wood and thought these bricks wouldn't pose a danger regarding the heat. However I quickly realized after playing with them that they abrade way to easily. I modified the front of the stand to put the insulating firebricks on top of the wood but with a layer of regular firebricks on top of them. I forgot my jigsaw at home so I couldn't put together a jig for the front arch. The next time out I should be able to complete the outer layer of bricks and the front arch. Last weekend the family popped down to the US for a quick shopping trip. I managed to get a stop into Harbour Freight and grabbed their 10" sliding compound saw and the IR thermometer. I'm usually a tool snob but I must say the saw is so far the best tool deal I've managed. I can't come close to the $100 I paid for it at any of the stores in Canada. I popped in a masonry blade and it worked great on the few bricks I had to cut. I plan on using a steel blade in it for the studs I'm going to use to frame the oven.
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        • #5
          Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

          Well another weekend of staying in town. I'm hoping to get the front arch jig built over the weekend and will post a quick picture if I get it done. In the meantime I received a few pictures of an old pizza oven I thought I would post. My mom just returned from a hiking trip in Italy and spotted the oven at one of the lunch stops.
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          • #6
            Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

            I managed to get in about 3 hours worth of work this morning. I took a few pictures about half way through. The first 5 rows on each side are now complete. I couldn't go any higher on the front arch as I need to move the back jig forward as the last few rows will only be half length so I can get the stove pipe/chimney in. Next weekend I'm hoping to get the rest of the brick work in. I want to be able to bake bread and cook a brisket in the oven so I decided to lay the bricks horizontally in order to maximize the thermal mass. A lot of brick efflorescence came out on the insulating firebricks. I'll have to clean it off in the finish process.
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            • #7
              Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

              No Insulation?
              Our Facebook Page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stoneh...60738907277443

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              • #8
                Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                I'm going to put the insulation layer on top of the brick. I'm going with Roxul (rock wool) as they have a manufacturing facility a few hundred km away from me so it's nice and cheap. Basically I'm utilizing the steel drum as a quick non removable form. It allows me to build the dome quickly and I can use cheap regular bricks as they can't breakdown and fall into the oven. I'm taking some of my inspiration from this build.

                http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f9/c...-aud-6094.html

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                • #9
                  Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                  I've got to say, until now I have been less than impressed with most of the inexpensive attempts at oven building. I've seen several other steel barrel and various grill conversions and none of them seemed worth the time, effort, and little money people have put into them. THIS ONE, I like. You have insulation, a proper arch and entry that looks properly sized, flue and chimney, its going to look great.......and I'm guessing that you are meeting your time and finance budgets. I see no reason why you wouldn't have years of cooking enjoyment at your weekend getaway.
                  If I ever get that cabin in the mountains that my wife and I want, this looks like a viable option for what would be our weekend getaway.

                  RT

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                  • #10
                    Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                    And that cart/table really kicks ass
                    I'm a woodworker at heart and really appreciate attention to detail in any furniture build.

                    RT

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                    • #11
                      Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                      Thanks for the kind words. I'm hoping all works out as planned. So far so good, but that's mainly due to hours of surfing this site and gleaning as much knowledge as I can from other successful projects. Once I complete the project and if all goes well I'll post my parts and cost list. Accountant by profession, I can't help myself from tracking these things.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                        Well the brick work is done (other than the last of the bricks around the chimney). Brick work is definitely a skill that I would need to practice a lot more to consider myself even mildly proficient. I realized after finishing the arch that while my keystone is cut correctly the two bricks on either side have the angles reversed to what they should be. Ah well it doesn't look terrible and the refractory mortar I used on the arch should definitely hold as the fire won't be anywhere near it. The other lesson i learned is that while the sliding compound saw with a masonry blade works well I wouldn't want to cut anymore bricks with it than I did in this project. It just creates too much dust which goes everywhere. I brought the chimney home and will build a cap during the week. I also brought home the steel cutout from the door opening as a piece to build the door. I haven't fully figured out how I'm going to build the door yet, a good Forno Bravo research project for the week.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                          I knocked off the chimney cap and started on a rake. I had some leftover aluminum from a previous project so I was able to make use of it for a quick and easy cap. I just cut a 9 inch diameter circle and bent two uprights and attached it all with rivets. I still need to slap a coat of barbecue paint on it but then it will be good to go.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                            Down to the final stages. Popped in the chimney with the few last bricks, well actually my 11 year old son did as he was looking to help out today. I picked up a metal blade for the HF saw and cut all the studs with it. I've never worked with metal studs before so I kind of muddled my way through. They ended up stable and square so that's all I was looking for. Four sheets of cement board later and I'm done for the day. I cut the cement board with the masonry blade on my angle grinder. Next weekend will be the roof and the Hardieplank I picked up at the local Home Depot. I think we'll be firing it up before it's finished for Canada Day (July 1st) as a test run.... I'll post some picks if we actually cook anything in it.
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                            • #15
                              Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage

                              Happy Canada Day!

                              I managed to track down an apple wood supplier near where I live. I plan on doing some live fire cooking and the pine and fir that grow around here definitely don't produce a smoke that leaves anything close to a desirable taste on food. I also got the first fire going in the oven. I went a little overboard as it took a while to get it started but then the wood went up like the fish oil did...less the black smoke. The drum quickly got up to a uniform 800F. The floor maxed out at about 400F before the wood ran out. Tomorrow I'm going for a full burn with a few mini test pizzas. I forgot to knock off a quick pizza peel so mini pizzas on my oversize bbq spatula it is. Worst case it should be good for a laugh. We're have a party so if I don't at least make an effort there will be a lot of ribbing about the new dog house on stilts. I was checking to make sure everything has stayed level after construction and with all the weight now on the base. That's why the level in the picture. You can't tell in the picture but it has stayed level so far. I expect some settling over the winter though.
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