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Selecting the Best Oven Type - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Selecting the Best Oven Type

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  • Selecting the Best Oven Type

    I have been cooking pizzas on a stone in my kitchen oven for several years. This year I decided to make the jump into the high temp outdoor oven scene.

    I've read every book and blog on the topic and learned quite a bit.

    One thing I've learned is -- I really don't know if I have the time available to build a brick oven. In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't. I can barely get my kitchen painted, let alone pour an 8-foot square cement slab.

    My questions to those who've been in my position before is:

    What is the best compromise, oven design-wise, for cooking great pizzas, breads and related foods? I have seen wood-fired white oven designs (Fontana Fori, Quintissential, etc) that seem nice, but I don't know if they give truly great results...and I don't want to spend a couple thousand dollars on an oven that can't do better than my in-house range w/baking stone.

    If the above mentioned "white type" isn't capable of outstanding pizza and bread, is there a complete, reliable "kit" that can be assembled in only a couple weekends? Many of the kits I've seen (pre-made domes, etc) still seem to take a lot of time. And I may will need to deal with my local govt's architectural review board, which is a big deterrent.

    There is no way I can built the sweet-looking all brick showpiece I'd prefer. I've seen the blogs, and even the most dutiful builders seem to take 6-18 months.

    I can spend a couple thousand dollars...but not $10,000.

    Any feedback on great ovens, at a reasonable price, that can be assembled with minimal pain (anywhere from 1 hour to a couple weekends) is greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

    Consider a cob oven. They go up relatively quickly and do not cost much to build. They will not last as long as a brick oven.


    • #3
      Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

      Hello PF,

      You might be able to get a Forno Bravo Primavera 70 oven with metal stand for around $3000.

      If you make a block base to suit then maybe look into a kit from Superior Clay Corporation. I bought one of their 36" models and am happy with it. Click on the link below. View as "slide show".



      Here is the link to my oven number 1 construction photos!

      Here is the link to my oven number 2 construction photos!


      • #4
        Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

        Thanks to both of you above for the reply. I appreciate it.

        I actually drove to Urichsville and visited Superior Clay a few months ago. Their product seems nice. Good people too.

        How long did it take to assemble the 36" oven "kit?" It still seems like at least 6 months of work, depending upon how fancy you'd want to get with the final covering. Is 36" a good size? How wide a slab base did you use? And -- how did you insulate the area underneath the oven? That really seems to be the part I'm most hung up on when considering a domed oven.

        The dome models on this site, on the metal stands, probably cook awesome pizzas, but they don't have the look I'm hoping to achieve.


        • #5
          Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

          I was once told that in this life one either has time or one has money, it is rare to have both at the same time.

          Sounds like you have sufficient funds to purchase a Forno's Primavera. It has alot going for it especially it's portability. Want to change the location on the patio... little problem, relocate to another residence... definitely possible. And if you ever decide to sell it, one would expect it to have a reasonable resale value because it can be moved.

          IMHO it has alot going for it, especially for someone who wants a WFO now.

          Hope this helps,


          • #6
            Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

            Hi P F,

            Go to the Superior website and look at the oven installation instructions. You will see how the hearth insulation is placed. I did most of the work myself but had help with the concrete slabs. My son lifted the oven parts to the top slab for me. Afterwards, it was easy going. It took about 20 minutes to adjust the panels to the 36" circle line and then mortaring the joints. Next day I put on the top dome and pointed in mortar along the previous days joints and went on to other aspects of the project such as mixing and applying the Kaolite. I made a gauge to assure I was getting adequate thickness of insulation around the dome.

            You can be fussy and make the project complicated if you want to. I spent considerable time adjusting the hearth bricks then replaced them with some that were more symmetrical and flat. Even so, I spent more time smoothing those too. Not all fire bricks are the same size and shape and you will find that the best you can do is avoid big gaps by fitting and replacing those bricks that are really out of sync with the others. Thankfully I had lots of extra bricks and was happy with the results.

            Things went fairly fast with the actual oven construction, maybe four days. Of course, I didn't have to put in eight hour days either. Most of that was waiting for mortar and insulation to set up so I could go on to adding more layers of insulation. You can see I added vermicrete over the kaolite. The whole process took a week with the extras added. After that it took three days to frame the enclosure and place stucco on it. I waited two weeks before painting but began curing fires during the interim.

            I am happy with the 36" diameter of my oven. It cooks everything I want just fine. I have a cast iron Tuscan grill that fits without a problem. Two 12" pizzas can go in, side by side. Beer can chickens on stands, a pan of veggies, Dutch oven with stew, racks of pork ribs, etc. All that stuff fits fine, (but not all at the same time). Just plan your meals around the declining heat cycle and you'll be fine. Heat-up time to clear dome is roughly 45 minutes. We cooked seven 12" pizzas, one after the other, and could have done more.

            You don't need to do anything additional to the oven during construction. Looking back however, I should have placed a sheet of ceramic fiber board on top of the insulation to provide a flatter, smoother, surface on which to place the fire brick hearth. That would have saved me some time and frustration. A local insulation contractor stocks 1/2" ceramic board and that is what I used under the hearth bricks in my 36" Pompeii oven. There are options to getting a flat hearth such as putting down a 1/4" thick paste of 50/50 mix silica sand and fire clay to bed the bricks. The 1/2" ceramic board method seemed fast and easy at the time.

            I am lucky to be retired and have lots of time to do projects. I think sticking to a schedule and setting time limits to have things done is more for people who are in the construction business and need to do such things. Oven building is highly personal and provides unique challenges to each builder. Although I set benchmark goals for each phase of my oven construction projects I found them to be very satisfying and enjoyable.


            Here is the link to my oven number 1 construction photos!

            Here is the link to my oven number 2 construction photos!


            • #7
              Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

              Thanks to all of you for your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

              I'd never considered the Primavera 70 series before. I think it is a legit option for me. If you can cook 15 pizzas per hour, that's plenty. And baking 2-3 bread loaves at a time...that's plenty too.

              I think I've ruled-out the white oven styles. I just have too many concerns that the constant, even heat won't work as well as the hot dome type.

              Azpizzanut has made me think about the kits a little harder. I like the milestone concept of viewing the project. It's less daunting.

              I'll probably pull the trigger in a day or so...it's already June. Time to move.


              • #8
                Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

                I wanted to bring this thread back to the top for a second and thank you all for your help and advice. Here is the end result of the advice, and an insanely busy July...with some finishing left to do:


                • #9
                  Re: Selecting the Best Oven Type

                  Nice neat job. I hope you are enjoying it.