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Cooking Floor Height - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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Cooking Floor Height

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  • Cooking Floor Height

    More planning questions for all the users out there…this time on hearth height. I know this has been mentioned in a few threads, but I am having a hard time coming back to where it was discussed. Anyway, I am working out my base, and having a hard time deciding on 3 blocks high vs. 4. My situation is a bit different because I poured my foundation before I knew I was going to build the Pompeii style oven, so I am going to need to cantilever the hearth slab which requires it to be thicker than the plans call out. So here are the numbers:

    If I go with 3 blocks:
    Foundation = 3” above grade
    3 Rows of Block = 24”
    Hearth Slab = 8” (On the thick side, but remember I need to cantilever…)
    Insulation = 4”
    Firebrick floor = 2”

    Total = 41”

    Add a 4th block = 49”

    49” would make it nice to see in the oven, but I am afraid of the proportions being way wrong as the oven is in a fairly small space, and I can’t have it look like a tower. (Afraid of family heat…)

    Any thoughts on workability of a 41” vs 49” hearth floor height? Thanks!


  • #2
    Re: Cooking Floor Height

    Go on the high side. It's easier to work the oven than bending over.
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    • #3
      Re: Cooking Floor Height

      Felix my rule of thumb is elbow height
      Standing at finished ground level, bend your elbow and the bottom of your elbow.is top of cooking floor.

      Others will chip in but the balance is between not bending over to see in the oven for cooking yet not too high where your bent arms go above a straight plane, reaching up too much

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      • #4
        Re: Cooking Floor Height

        I agree with Les. Go higher rather than lower.

        It will be easier to raise the patio than to lower the oven.

        My cook (Mrs Neil2) if 5'4" and my hearth height, which she says is perfect, is 44 inches.

        This is an important dimension. Mock up the opening, entry depth and the height with cardboard or cheap plywood and try it out before you start your build.

        8 inch slab !. Seems excessive. How much are you cantilevering out ?
        Last edited by Neil2; 08-27-2012, 04:44 PM.


        • #5
          Re: Cooking Floor Height

          Mine is on the low side ( a couple of inches below elbow level) because it is on a stand off the edge of my deck. I haven't found working the oven difficult being lower, I guess you get used to whatever you've got. However I do like the fact that when seated at the table it is a perfect height to stare into, something our guests always enjoy.
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          • #6
            Re: Cooking Floor Height

            If you're torn between the two, after the second row, use solid half block. Top that with a course of full 8 inch.


            • #7
              Re: Cooking Floor Height

              Don't forget that the 8 inches of slab does not necessarily need to sit completely above the blocks. You could cut the inner face of the blocks and set the base of the slab lower. You can even have the top of the slab level with the top of the blocks if you wished. As long as your rebar extends over in to the block work it will be plenty strong enough.


              • #8
                Re: Cooking Floor Height

                Great to hear the different perspectives on the subject. I like the idea of mocking it up, and turn the decision over to the sidewalk bosses.

                Neil2 - I appreciate your question on the cantilever distance and the proposed slab thickness. I can't say I have any engineering in this slab design other than, what I hope, is overkill. As I think about it, I wonder about going even thicker, so I would like to hear opinions! I have attached a psuedo cross section sketch (maybe I will learn sketch up during the long, cold winter). I am not worred about the weight of the oven, but more the rock veneer and the roof structure. The rock is a field stone/river rock that is widely available in this area if you are willing to do the picking...



                • #9
                  Re: Cooking Floor Height

                  You could also get some "half-blocks" (16 x 8 x 4) and lay them on their sides for your top course. This will split the difference and you will end up with 45 inch...

                  The perfect height depends mostly on how tall your cook(s) are. My family is relatively short, our hearth is 42 inches....perfect for us.

                  I also agree to err on the high side. you can always build a step to raise the Chef as needed. I also think that a 8inch thick overhung hearth sitting only 3 blocks high might look "squatty" and disproportionate...but maybe not.


                  • #10
                    Re: Cooking Floor Height

                    "I can't say I have any engineering in this slab design other than, what I hope, is overkill."

                    A reasonable approach. Eight inches seemed to be excessive with a typical build but I did not know you were supporting a stone finish as well.


                    • #11
                      Re: Cooking Floor Height

                      I second (or third?) the half block idea. I think 45 inches is pretty perfect height. 41 would be too low unless you are on the vertically challenged side. I am 6' and would not want my oven any lower. But I did have a 5' 1" ish pizza chef over and she had to stand on a stool...

                      As for the slab - seems to me if your oven is not resting on the cantilevered section (which it doesnt appear to be in your drawing) that 8" is overkill. That's a lot of concrete. Remember you will need to build your landing up further to meet your oven floor - that's 4-6 inches of additional bulk on the front of your oven. You could have 12-14 inch block of cantilevered concrete/stone.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Cooking Floor Height

                        The half-block idea is a good one. Can you get those in that format, or do you need to cut them? Can't say I have run across those before...

                        On the cantilever... After doing some poking around the internet on rock weight, I found an estimate that a pallet of fieldstone weighs about 3000lbs, and that it covers about 50 sq ft. If we stick with a conservative approach, that would make each side about 3000 lbs - cantilevered on a 8" slab. It strikes me as OK, but I may need to scare up a civil engineer on this one!