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Chip's 42 in Minnesota - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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Chip's 42 in Minnesota

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  • Chip's 42 in Minnesota

    I have been working on my oven stand and preparing for the build. I poured 2.5 inches of Vermiculite concrete (vermicrete) into my form this morning and it is already firming up.

    The FB insulating board, refractory mortar and insulating blankets are on their way. I ordered from one of the FB dealers and the shipping was quite a bit less than fro California. Check out this link High Quality Barbecue Grills and Accessories at Wholesale Patio Store - Manufacturer Products.

    I will be putting 2 inches of FB board on top of my Vermicrete.

    Here is what has happened so far,

    1. First I had to remove about 10 yards of dirt and clay to make room for the oven, there are still about 4 yards still remaining on my patio. I have been donating it to others via Craiglist and have had about 6 takers thus far. ne guy took about 5 trailer loads but all the others only a pickup load or two.

    It is fun running a Toro Dingo (mini walk behind skid steer). Rental with trailer, bucket and 8 inch auger bit $400

    2. Because I live in Minnesota the frost line is 48 inches and we need to have 52 inch footings to guarantee no frost heaving so I put down 5 Sonotube concrete forms under a 5.5 inch slab reinforced with rebar.

    Forms and rebar $100.

    3. The slab was poured using a local mix by the trailer load ready mix at Broadway Rental in Brooklyn Center. Easier than hand mixing a yard of concrete but quite a bit more expensive. $185

    4. Built up my block for the oven base using 8x8x16 standard block and filled each core also put in horizontal rebar to provide retaining wall support to hold back the hill. Lots of concrete and rebar.

    I did pour all of the blocks full. Now I have a place to go in a tornado.

    Block for oven and prep table, rebar, 1/2 inch concrete board and 45 sacks of concrete mix $250.

    5. I the process of the build I decided to put the brick veneer on before pouring the oven floor due to the cantilever at the oven entry.

    Veneer brick is St Paul Street brick 900 ea. purchased a year ago for $300.

    6. I supported the Concrete board with the blocks I will be using for the prep table with 2X4 and 4X4 sections with shims that were easy to remove. Lumber was salvage from a friend $0 (nice).

    6. Formed and Fitted the Aluminum sheeting to waterproof the oven level from the surrounding ground.

    7. Built the form for the insulating layer under the oven and poured the area on the outside with an additional 4 inches of concrete.

    8. That brings us up to today, I poured the Vermiculite concrete and began cutting the brick for my oven floor.

    I was able to pick up a 14 inch Norton Clipper block saw last year for $350 and got 3 - 14 inch diamond blades with it.

    Cutting the firebrick with that saw is like cutting cheese.

    Oh Buy the way the water pump on the saw was missing so I rigged up a standard sump pump inside a large trash bin and use that to recirculate the cooling water, I had to put a diverter valve on the pump because it pushes to much water so I needed to take some off before it got to the blade.

    I will be posting more photos as this thread develops.

    Last photo is of Today's vermiculite concrete holding up 6 bricks. I am sure it could have held more but why chip such nice bricks.


  • #2
    Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

    Some additional Photos

    1, Oven base fires pour with forms.
    2, Form for Insulating Layer
    3, Form in second layer of Concrete
    4, Cardboard Layout.


    • #3
      Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota


      Great start to your oven. The protected dual-layer of insulation and cantilever in a corner-installation look all too familiar! Keep the pics coming.



      • #4
        Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

        Originally posted by GianniFocaccia View Post

        Great start to your oven. The protected dual-layer of insulation and cantilever in a corner-installation look all too familiar! Keep the pics coming.

        Well, I thought I could borrow some ideas from the best that I have found on this site.

        As someone once said "Good artists copy, Great artists steal...." and I hope to be able to achieve "Good artist" status.

        These photos are of my dirt, rebar, arch and me actually working 2 weeks ago.



        • #5
          Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

          Had a week off to go to Canada fishing.

          My FB insulation board and mortar showed up on Friday and my daughter had to lug it into the garage because we were in Canada.

          We had a huge rainstorm here and the floor of my oven got wet but not too bad. I will be adding more protection to the sides as we had horizontal rain and 3+ inches of the stuff in less than 2 hours. Lost several branches of some of my trees but my temporary roof over the oven held in there like a champ.

          I was able to fit the insulation board into the cavity of the floor and I was able to lay the previously cut floor bricks. Also mixed up a small batch of the FB mortar and put down 1/2 of the first chain of bricks. I am going with three vertical half bricks instead of soldiers, I think it is stronger and achieves about the same height as vertical soldiers.

          I will be cutting all of my bricks to try and get a nice small joint on each chain.

          As mentioned previously I have a 14 inch brick saw so cutting through the 4 inch sides is no problem.

          First photo is of today's progress. Floor, and start of first chain. The above mentioned rain held me up for a good portion of the day.

          Just prior to departing for Canada I poured the top of my prep table and I think I have a very interesting storage location for my peels and other long tools. The prep table (photos 2 and 3) is 4 blocks high with a 3.5 inch slab poured on top. The last front block is a series of 4 inch hollow concrete blocks. On top of the 3rd block layer and below the 4th block is a piece of 1/8 inch aluminum sheet metal. This allows me to have a 66 inch deep X 15-1/2 inch wide X 7.5 inch tall storage tray just under the top of my layout table. This would be dead space anyway and I believe will be a great place to store my tools.

          In the 2nd photo you see my mixing bowl for my mortar in the opening of the tool storage area. I will put a wood or other door on this opening once the brick work is done.

          The 3rd photo is of the working side of the prep table

          I mixed up 24 oz (volume - I used a cottage cheese container to measure) of Forno Bravo mortar with 8 oz water and it seems to give a good consistency. I may add 8.5 oz next time just to see if it a little stickier at that ratio. I was able to set 20 bricks with the 24 oz of mortar - i am cutting my bricks and as this was only the first course I only had mortar on the sides.

          I had a little left over mortar that started to set up so I had to toss it. I could have done about 4 more bricks with the leftover material if I had worked faster. I probably dropped (wasted) material enough to set another 5 or 6 bricks.

          I am using a stainless mixing bowl and a silicone spatula to mix the mortar and butter the bricks. I also have one stiff and one flex margin trowels that I rely on also.

          Last edited by mrchipster; 08-01-2011, 08:42 PM. Reason: typos


          • #6
            Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

            I finished my first chain today and cut the right side arch brick for the first two chains. Also cut and set my floor cover (Plastic sheet) and indispensable tool mount (see my postings on my tool - search for "variation on a FB theme")

            I put a single layer of corrugated cardboard between the outside of my floor and the first chain of bricks to provide an expansion joint. As has been mentioned on other posts this will burn out and fill with ash after the first few fires.

            Set 8 bricks on the second chain and found that I will be using quite a bit more FB mortar than expected. As others have said the FB mortar is a little grainy and it is difficult to get a small joint. I will be working to improve my brick setting skills. I may need to reduce my batch size to lower my wasted mortar as this stuff is expensive.

            For the second chain I used 4.6 oz per brick and at that rate I will only be able to set about 180 bricks per sack of FB mortar.

            I mixed 24 oz (Volume) this ends up being about 40 oz weight of FB mortar with 8.5 oz water and this seems to be about the right consistency. I mixed up a batch with 9 oz water and it was to runny. I only set 8 second layer bricks with the 24 oz batch but I could have set another 2-3 bricks if I was faster and the remaining mortar did not set on me. I am not retempering (adding water) to stretch the batch at this point, I am trying to get the hang of setting the bricks more quickly.

            No photos today because I ran out of light and my camera battery needs a recharge.

            Rained here again and that allowed me to work on my multi head Indispensable tool, I think it will come in very handy when I want to set a couple of bricks at a time.



            • #7
              Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

              More progress today.

              Used My Indispensable tool for the first time today to set bricks.

              I got up to chain 4 without working on the Arch bricks. I will be taking the advice of Octoforno - GianniFocaccia and building the arch as I go.

              The Ball bearing center allows me to have two or more ID tools going at once but at this stage I am just using 2 at a time.

              This adaptation on the tool really works nice as I can set one brick and let it firm up while I work on the second brick. Once I am done wit the second the first is ready to go.

              I was able to put on 3 complete chains today (minus the arch)

              I did find that my oven floor was not perfectly round and I had to compensate chains 2 and 3 of brick to get the dome back into round.

              Now that I am on my 4th chain I believe I have achieved a true circle. I will just grind down the rough edges later with a 4 inch grinder. I had some overlap on chains 2 and 3. but I want the FB mortar to achieve a better set before hitting the bricks with the diamond blade.

              I used a single sheet of heavy weight plastic to cover my floor and mounted my ID tool ball bearing to the plastic with small bolts - that way I can remove the ball for cleaning should it be needed. The plastic was cut most of the way thru at 2 locations and then all the way thru like a dashed line. That way I can take a razor knife to the partial cut sections when it is time to remove the protective sheet. I covered the open areas with tape to protect the slits.

              That is it for today I will post photos of the 4th chain tomorrow as I covered the oven before taking photos of todays progress.

              Last edited by mrchipster; 08-03-2011, 09:49 PM. Reason: typo fixes


              • #8
                Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                Yesterday was better, but still too hot for me. I don't remember hating the humidity so much when I was younger. If you need wood or scrap plywood for something, let me know.... I'm sure I'd have something you could have. There i a granite place out by me that might have some scrap pieces for cheap if you're flexible on color.
                Looking good.
                My oven (for now):


                • #9
                  Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                  I made additional progress today. I started to join my chains into my arch.

                  I am following the guidance of Ocotforno - GianniFocaccia

                  I like the idea of being able to have an Isolated dome and arch and I believe his method of incorporating the inner arch into the dome is the best I have seen. There are other examples of this style but his seems to be the best documented version.

                  I am building the chains and arch as I go so the inner arch will not be completed until I reach a chain in the 8 - 10 range. I am using recycled fireplace bricks so I have a little smaller size than others have used They are 8.375 X 3.75 X 2.25.

                  I cut full bricks lengthwise removing a 4 degree taper from each side as the basis of my internal arch. They are then cut into the desired shape as needed for each new chain. The indispensable tool is very handy for doing the internal cuts.

                  I really like the ball bearing and magnet indespensable tool setup I have. I have now made up 2 brick holding tools both the same size. One tool that is a positioning stick that is just cut to fit the 21 inch radius, and a magnet with a string attached to mark angles from the center,

                  All the tools have come in handy so far.

                  I did modify the brick holding tools today and removed some of the width and most of the bottom edge from the angle plate, I find it easier to clean up excess mortar with a smaller brick holding tool.

                  The real benefit comes from being able to set two bricks at a time. I will be working on chain 5 tomorrow and I still have a little FB mortar in the first bag. I think I may only use 2.5 bags for the entire project ( we will see ).

                  That is all for today



                  • #10
                    Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                    I realized I have not posted a photo of my saw so here you are.

                    She is a big old Norton Clipper that takes every electron out of a 20 amp circuit.



                    • #11
                      Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                      She is a big old Norton Clipper that takes every electron out of a 20 amp circuit
                      Now that's a beast! Bet she sounds good too!


                      • #12
                        Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                        Originally posted by GianniFocaccia View Post
                        Now that's a beast! Bet she sounds good too!
                        Nice smooth powerful dual belt drive wonder - it just hums and does not slow for anything I toss at it.

                        I keep my hands in safe positions because I know it would not care if it was cutting brick, stone flesh or bone.



                        • #13
                          Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                          Today was slow but I learned a few things building the inner arch might not be as easy as it looks. And there are some easy lessons to be learned.

                          As you will see from some of the photos that I took. I learned that transferring the top of the previous brick geometry to the next brick above was easy to do once the lower brick was cut. That way it was easy to set up for the cuts for the upper brick. Using my indispensable tool, I was able to then determine the cuts for the upper brick on its topside. The photos will show, the markings made to the lower and upper bricks and the shapes translated.

                          I am now at chain five, and will begin making my inverted V cuts on the next level.

                          The chain five bricks are almost identical to the chain four bricks. and I had a few extras from chain four, so I cut chain five identical to chain four.

                          The transition bricks to the inner arch are quite easy to cut because of the techniques being used.

                          I finished my first bag of FB mortar today. I have been mixing it in batches of approximately 24 ounces volume measure. And I am able to lay somewhere between six and nine bricks with that amount of mortar. I always seem to throw away or waste a little bit of mortar by either dropping it, having a dry out, or there's just not enough left to place another brick.


                          • #14
                            Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota


                            I had the same leftover mortar problem; I just smeared it on the outside of the dome for additional thermal mass...

                            Your arch is looking good



                            • #15
                              Re: Chip's 42 in Minnesota

                              I have been out of town and did not make any progress for several days -- but progress was made last night and today.

                              First I would like to address the hand tools I use to work on the oven - Photo attached

                              1) Rubber coated gloves. - These are used to handle bricks when moving them, cutting them and mortaring them into place. They are very rough and the glove keep your skin in place.

                              2) Marking pens and pencils - Permanent marker - I lake the large sharpie it holds up for about 1 day of marking bricks and leaves a nice line on the brick that does not wash off from the wet saw spray. Cons - not real accurate.

                              Pencils - for precision marking and taking notes. if you use on brick it will need sharpened often but it will wash off so no permanent marks to worry about.

                              3) 8oz measuring cup. and not shown a 24 oz plastic yogurt container. Used to provide a precise measure of dry mortar and water so my mix is always consistent. - Also not shown - I put a 1/2 gallon plastic milk jug in the freezer 1/2 full of water. that way I can add water if it is fully frozen or pour very cold water for mixing with mortar. Mortar will stay usable longer if mixed with cold water.

                              4) Stainless mixing bowl - 2 of these one for cleaning and one for mixing small batches of mortar. why stainless - it does not break and is very easy to clean

                              5) Small drywall knife - nice for cleaning up and pushing around mortar.

                              6) Hand Lotion - Put on before during and after working with mortar. it will save your hands.

                              7) Silicone Spatula - I prefer this over a masons trowel for these small bricks and odd angles.

                              8) Angle tool - Measures angle of bricks and shims I use to angle bricks on the brick saw.

                              9) Bullet level - Checks for level on short distances.

                              10) 36" level - Level of longer distances - I also have a 6 ft level that I use.

                              11) Rubber Hammer - Perfect for nudging the bricks into place and squeezing out the mortar. many light taps are better than a few hard smacks. Also pushing on the brick while tapping works very well.

                              12) 3M scrub pad - makes short work of partialy set mortar

                              13) Sponge - I prefer a grout sponge with rounded edges but you may have other preferences.

                              14) Towel - used to dampen bricks - clean up floor of oven and wipe down bricks etc...

                              15) String attached to magnet - Used to measure from center of oven to inner and outer sides of bricks also checks angle for brick cuts. Hint- mark the string with permanent marker at inner and outer walls of oven for quick check of dimensions.

                              16) Indispensable tools with brick holders. - Using the ball bearing center and magnets for positioning More than one tool can be use at a time. Set one brick, set the second brick on the opposite side of the oven and by the time you are done setting the second brick the first tool is ready to be removed.

                              17) Measuring tool with magnet ends - This tool is set to the internal radius of the oven and is used to check and mark positions and locations. It can also be used to hold a brick in place so it does not slip into the oven. With magnets on both ends it can be used to hold metal objects like knife blades and mechanical pencils, etc...

                              18) Plastic door and window shims (not shown) - I also use plastic door and window shims on the wet saw to position the bricks for cutting. Home Depot sells packs for a couple of bucks.
                              Last edited by mrchipster; 08-10-2011, 09:57 PM.