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36" or 42" - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



I'm Peter Reinhart! Ask Me Anything! Monday, February 15, 2016 7:00-8:00 pm EST

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

Ask Me Anything New Forum Feature

You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
- Each AMA will have a "sticky" thread where the community can post questions they would like answered during the live session. This will allow everyone to participate even if you can't be online for the live session. These questions will not be answered by the host until the live AMA; if you need an answer quickly, you should post it in the appropriate Forum area for the community to respond.
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We hope you enjoy this new feature! Please let us know if there is a topic that you'd like to have as an AMA and we'll look for a host!

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36" or 42"

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  • 36" or 42"

    Hello Everyone,

    I'm torn between the 36" and the 42" design. Anyone that has build either please let me know if you built a 36" and love it or wish you went with the 42". Those who built a 42" do you think you could get away with a 36" or do you like the extra room?

    Thanks Everyone in Advance !
    Link to my oven build on YouTube:


  • #2
    Re: 36" or 42"

    I have a 42 and most of the time a 36 would be fine. I can say that when the oven is really full is when I have a roast and side dishes going. I don't think I would have been hampered with a 36 but when I made my choice I decided that since I had the room and a suckling pig was one of those things I wanted to roast, I went with a 42. A point not often discussed is the height of the oven entry. If my memory serves me, 60% of the interior height of the oven is what is felt to be the ideal entry height. So for a 42 the entry should be about 12.6 inches and for a 36 about 10.8. These 2 inches may be more important than floor space. Insulation is in my opinion critical and given you're in Maine I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice by cutting corners here. Also I think you want to think about some oven house and covered work area but these really depend on how you want to use the oven and how often.



    • #3
      Re: 36" or 42"

      I also built a 42" WFO and concur with Chris exactly.
      Last edited by ATK406; 02-08-2013, 04:59 AM.


      • #4
        Re: 36" or 42"

        I had the same conundrum and went with a 39". I'm happy with the decision. Plus it's also a meter across, so it felt very international

        To Chris' point - I am not sure door height needs to be a consideration - since it's a ratio of door to oven height. You can make your oven as short or tall as you like. With a 39" diameter, I went with an 18" oven height because I wanted better pizza performance. But I agree with him that it's really up to you to design it how you like.
        Last edited by deejayoh; 02-07-2013, 10:36 AM.
        My build progress
        My WFO Journal on Facebook
        My dome spreadsheet calculator


        • #5
          Re: 36" or 42"

          K79: you asked in another post, about purchasing an FB oven kit. So are you asking now about the 42" compared to the 36" that FB sells as a kit? I only ask because if I had to custom build all over again, I would have done what dejayoh did above: 39" would have been PERFECT. It's only 3", but that last couple inches to the very back of the oven would be nice if it was, well a couple inches closer. Also, I'm 6' and have longish arms but if you or a spouse is shorter, it's all that much farther.

          BUT, if your choice is 36" or 42" (b/c that is all FB has for their kits) well, the 36" is just 3" shorter (x2 of course!) all the way around. I would be happy with it too. It's pretty rare when I've got more than 2 roasting pans in there (ie: 9x11 pan of potatoes and a 12" oval with leg of lamb) and that would fit easily in a 36" with room to rotate the pans with a poker. A 42" might add room for another pan. I rarely do that and by then, well I'm also using my kitchen oven if my meal/party is that big anyway.

          The 6" makes a difference on everything else too: It's usually 1 less concrete block in 1 or both directions on the base and that saves concrete, weight, etc. I do tend to really fill my 42" oven when I'm smoking meats, but with a 36", it technically heats up quicker with less wood (by a small amount) so you can fire it more often if you were smoking or baking large loads of bread.

          Other than that, 42" is a great choice but I wouldn't mind a 36".
          "Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." -Auntie Mame

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          • #6
            Re: 36" or 42"

            Hi K79

            I built a 36" and have to say that I absolutely love it. I regularly cook two pizzas at the same time and would be able to do three, but that would be too difficult for me to handle. I also roast a lot and use the oven to bake bread. For me the 36" is more than enough. Also the door opening size incorporated in my build is big enough and allows easy access for any bake or roast.

            That said I can obviously not comment on the advantages of a 42". All I'm saying is that the 36" is perfect for me and if I had to do it again I would again go with a 36" regardless of availability of space.

            Good luck with your build.

            Check out the link to my build and pictures here


            • #7
              Re: 36" or 42"

              I started out to build a 36", but bumped it up to a 38" while building it. I think it's perfect for the average cook. I can do two pizzas at a time comfortably and it holds more than enough bread to suit me.



              • #8
                Re: 36" or 42"

                I built a 42' and would like to have gone with a 48" or even a 54". I can cook 3 pizzas at once, but for baking bread I would have like to have a bigger oven. The cost of the extra bricks and mortar would be well worth it when you think you'll have the oven for years and your saving money building it yourself. Build bigger if you have the room.


                • #9
                  Re: 36" or 42"

                  Just be aware that you are fighting against mathematics. A 42" is only 17% bigger in diam. Than a 36" but is 36% bigger in floor area and a whopping 59% bigger in volume. This means that there is a significant increase in weight and materials required. Also as fuel consumption is directly related to volume of the chamber the fuel required is also drastically increased.
                  Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


                  • #10
                    Re: 36" or 42"

                    You must have built a 36". Don't have dome envy. Maybe 30-40 extra bricks at a couple bucks a peice for an added 36.11% increase in floor sapce. Also I use 10 peices of almond wood to get my oven to temp and it keeps because of the efficiency of the insulation. K79 dont cut corners on something you will probably use for the rest of your life. Plus you guys in Maine must be rich, look at how much lobster you eat. Bigger is better. At least that's what my wife says.


                    • #11
                      Re: 36" or 42"

                      If you could only find a person who has both 36" and 42"...Most everyone loves their oven and thinks it is the perfect size for them. I built a 42 inch and it is the perfect size and would not want it any smaller. On the other hand, if I had built a 36", I probably would have said the 36" is perfect and I wouldnt want it any bigger.

                      Point is, no matter which way you go, you will most likely be happy with it....


                      • #12
                        Re: 36" or 42"

                        My first oven was a 34" precast oven kit - my second (current) oven is a 42" Pompeii.

                        Hands down - I like the 42" and would not go back to a smaller oven. I've got plenty of room for a fire and two nice 14" pies at the same time. I couldn't do that with my 34" - and don't think you can with a 36" either.

                        Anyway - I cooked with the 34" for two years - and have had the 42" for two years - and really enjoy the 42".

                        my 34" http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/c...tml#post110571

                        my 42" http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/8/ch...tml#post140577


                        • #13
                          Re: 36" or 42"

                          Originally posted by jeeppiper View Post
                          If you could only find a person who has both 36" and 42"...Most everyone loves their oven and thinks it is the perfect size for them. I built a 42 inch and it is the perfect size and would not want it any smaller. On the other hand, if I had built a 36", I probably would have said the 36" is perfect and I wouldnt want it any bigger.

                          Point is, no matter which way you go, you will most likely be happy with it....
                          Good one jeeppiper. It's good that someone starts a thread on this subject every now and then.....gives everyone a chance to post an opinion agian.



                          • #14
                            Re: 36" or 42"

                            I Agree with everyone! LOL I have a 42" Pompeii and love it! I do have plenty of room to work a couple of Pizza's at once. A 36" oven I can imagine would be able to handle at least two pies without trouble. They cook so fast it can become a mute point for more than two pies at once. Unless you are going commercial. Define for yourself how you want to use the oven, that is the hardest part. Not having an oven, you can only imagine how you are going to use it. The range goes from having a few pizza's once or twice a week, to using the oven for cooking over a four or five day period. The difference in 36 vs 42 is not only physical dimensions of interior volume, but also thermal mass. A 36" oven with 2.6" walls/floor and minimum insulation would be great for a quick heat up and throw a couple of pies in for a great pizza party! A 36" with 4.5" walls/floor added refractory concrete and HEAVY insulation will take a bit more wood and heat up time, but you will have lots of pizza(800F), bake bread the next day(550F), Cook chicken or casseroles(375F),then slow cook Lamb, Prime Rib, pork shoulder etc. (260F) So you have four days of cooking and then I load up the oven when it it down to 140F with wood for the next burn. So either will work for however you want to use it. You just need to build it that way. As an aside note I have had times when I have only had Pizza and do not have the oven saturated fully with heat. I just bring it up to 900F and then move the fire over to the side, clean the floor and by the time I am putting pies on the hearth it is down to 750-800F and pies are cooking perfectly! I just keep the side fire a little hotter, than when I have ful saturation.
                            Build Thread:http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/i...ome-15521.html
                            Photos: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brick-...67884/pic/list
                            Oven Blog: http://johns-brickoven.blogspot.com/...ven-folly.html


                            • #15
                              Re: 36" or 42"

                              ^ Beautiful, wow. I would love to hang out there.

                              This may sound weird but its going thru my mind if i would rather build a 40" instead of a 42" oven. Space is not an issue, neither is money or materials. I know for sure even a 38"-40" would be enough for me. Would a 40" oven take a noticeable less amount of wood to heat up the oven. I know the difference is VERY little but lets see what you guys have to say? Thanks.
                              Matthew 19:26. With God all things are possible.

                              My Build: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f21/...les-18741.html