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Cementing the bricks question - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Cementing the bricks question

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  • Cementing the bricks question

    Do you cement the bricks like regular clay bricks (mudding the edges of the brick) or like a ceramic tile? (even coat and use a notched trowel)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/yannic...7644224444113/

  • #2
    Re: Cementing the bricks question

    Originally posted by Yannick View Post
    Do you cement the bricks like regular clay bricks (mudding the edges of the brick) or like a ceramic tile? (even coat and use a notched trowel)
    I use a regular trowel, not sure what the pros use. I just mortared my first brick a little over a week ago.

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    • #3
      Re: Cementing the bricks question

      G'day
      Now that's an interesting question I read it earlier and had a big think about it.
      What you want to achieve is near brick to brick contact on the inside face of the oven. That's why folk take so much time and effort in cutting and positioning there bricks.
      Now if you are leaving the bricks uncut on the bottom and the top, you have a larger gape at the outside. Of course a trowel ( and spacing wedges) are what you would use.
      With bricks cut side and bottom and top using a notched flat trowel like tiling would over some advantages. Anyone that has done some tiling knows that those gapes left by the notched trowel allows you to position the tile by being able push it into the mortar bed to get it perfectly level and aligned.
      You would certainly be able to push your bricks together at the front face to get that brick to brick contact.
      But as you pointed out are those spaces between the mortar further to the back of the tile going to somehow weaken it?
      My opinion on this is that it doesn't. The strength of the dome comes about from that inside contact. As some as that last brick goes in the dome is strong due to gravity bearing down on it rather than being stronger than the gravitational forces on it.
      In saying that there are more than gravity acting on any oven. You heat these things up then let them cool. There is something to be said for the mortar being a flexibly union between the individual units (bricks)
      The hydrated lime in the homebrew gives a flexible union. Its been used for centuries, no thousands of years for mortar, long before Portland came along. A lot of the roman structures are still standing regardless of gravity or time!
      Anyway those are my thoughts on that. I hope someone can add to this as I'm keeping an open mind on this.
      Regards dave
      Last edited by cobblerdave; 05-04-2014, 03:45 AM. Reason: Speeling
      Measure twice
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      Fit in position with largest hammer

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      • #4
        Re: Cementing the bricks question

        On the dome bricks I just buttered the two edges that were about to touch the build and wriggle it a little as it comes into contact to position it. When I had completed the course/chain I removed the wedges and filled any voids. Not sure if there is a right or wrong way but that worked for me.

        I did not cut my bricks to get the 'stand alone perfect fit' though and it might need a different technique if all of the faces meet tight.

        I just used a small(ish) pointed trowel.
        Cheers ......... Steve

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        • #5
          Re: Cementing the bricks question

          I only cut the vertical sides of my bricks (bevel and wedge). I used a full size brick trowel and laid a mortar bed on the previous course, buttered the vertical mating surface of the brick I was setting, set in place, then pulled out as much mortar from the outside as I could with my finger. I found the bricks set way faster this way with the homebrew mortar (4:1:1:1). I used the extra mortar each night to fill in the wedges of previous courses. By placing the bed on the existing bricks, I could taper the mud so I didn't have to squeeze as much out on the inside to get a nice tight joint.

          I also used a sponge. a lot. to clean up mortar.
          Time flies like an arrow; Fruit Flies like a banana.

          My oven (thus far): http://www.tinyurl.com/ogorirsoven

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          • #6
            Re: Cementing the bricks question

            I use a paint scraper, I butter the vertical side of the preceding brick and the top of the bricks below and set my brick in place with the IT. Tap things gently and the mortar squeezes out all round. Scrape off excess with the paint scraper and on to the next brick.
            I only mix enough mortar for about 4 or 5 bricks, so I can mix it quite "stiff".
            End result is the bricks stay in place without wedges and things.
            Wedges of brick should be removed before the mortar sets, or they might prevent the bricks following the mortar as it shrinks slightly, creating dryiong cracks.

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            • #7
              Re: Cementing the bricks question

              I've been using a 2" paint scraper myself. I butter the perimeter of the brick that I install. I'ts been working fine so far.
              https://www.flickr.com/photos/yannic...7644224444113/

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              • #8
                Re: Cementing the bricks question

                I struggled with mortaring my first row even after soaking the bricks. The mortar from Forno Bravo is drying quickly or at least leaching water enough that it is hard to move a brick without breaking bricks around it or breaking the mortar seal you just made on the one next to it.

                Here is what I resorted to.
                I bought a Mortar Grout Bag from Amazon 7.99

                This allowed me to squirt the mortar into place and really worked well.
                You have a bit of a wetter mix but the brick is sucking up water so quickly that I don't think it is an issue.

                As you run out of mortar, I would simply mix it right in the bag. The mortar bag is big. Put in more mortar, add some water, Shake back and forth pinching the ends. Viola, mix ready to go.

                This has been a game changer for me. I am also getting more mortar in the crevices where before, I was struggling.

                Still use the wedges to keep the bricks that you need to mortar in place. Squeeze in mortar push it in the best you can. Wait a few minutes and pull the wedges. Fill the void. done.

                Good luck.
                Darin

                I often cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food...
                WC Fields


                Link to my build

                http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/4...-ca-20497.html

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                • #9
                  Re: Cementing the bricks question

                  Originally posted by ogorir View Post
                  I found the bricks set way faster this way with the homebrew mortar (4:1:1:1).
                  How have you found the longevity of the 4:1:1:1 mortar?
                  The FB recipe is 3:1:1:1, but plenty of masons and experienced cement professionals on this site have stated that 3:1:1:1 is way stronger than mortar used for laying brick walls, etc.
                  In an oven, it is probably good that the mortar is just as strong as the bricks - unlike a wall where we want the mortar to break before the brick does.

                  However, the downside of the extra strength is that the mortar has less adhesion to the brick. i.e. every pro, and everything I can find to read, will tell you that the adhesion to the brick is inversely proportional to the strength.

                  With that in mind I've been considering making the mortar for the next oven a little weaker, because it seems to me that most cracks seem to be the mortar pulling away from the surface of a brick. 4:1:1:1 sounds good.
                  Any problems encountered?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Cementing the bricks question

                    The correct and proper ratio is 2-3 parts aggregate to the cementious parts of the mix, by volume. This is not new or experimental, Vesuvious laid it down as a rule back in the time of the Roman empire. In the case of homebrew, that makes the correct proportion (Portland/lime/fireclay/sand): 1/1/1/6-9. The stronger it is, the less bond strength, the more shrinkage cracking, and the less work time you will have with the mortar, just less workability overall.

                    This is a common mistake made, and one that does not really hurt anything, other than make laying up the structure harder than it has to be. Use the correct proportions, wet, not soak the bricks in high temps/high winds, and you do not have to mix small amounts every 10 minutes, plus you will have less cracking in the finished build. It is MORTAR, not CONCRETE.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Cementing the bricks question

                      I had to check my thread to be sure, but I went 4.5:1:1:1 and it probably leaned toward 5 parts. The clay can technically be counted as aggregate in this mortar application..( I'm still not 100% convinced it can be called that)....so a 3:1:1:1 is really more like a 4:1:1. Though with the fine particle size, clay won't and doesn't perform the same as graded aggregate in the mortar.

                      My oven has been in service since last year, and I see no evidence that a leaner mix is inferior. Instinctively, I do not want to work with any mortar that is very rich, and an oven build is no exception...especially since it's a dynamic structure.
                      Old World Stone & Garden

                      Current WFO build - Dry Stone Base & Gothic Vault

                      When we build, let us think that we build for ever.
                      John Ruskin

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                      • #12
                        Re: Cementing the bricks question

                        I don't think the 3:1:1:1 hurts anything, either. Might not even call it a mistake, it may be intentional.
                        Perhaps it is considered that the rich mix helps prevent heat degradation.
                        After 2 years it is certainly strong in my oven, but I take on board what has been said about the adhesion.
                        On the oven I helped my mate build, I did modify the mix a little.
                        It was more like 3.5 sand, 1 cement, 1.5 lime, 0.5 clay. This was partly because we were using brickies sand, which had a small amount of clay already added, and I'd also read that you should have more lime than cement.
                        (But no more than 2 times the cement.)
                        I reckon this time I will use maybe 4 parts sand - if I can get sand with no added clay.
                        I know on the UKwoodovenforum, they often mention 4:1:1:1.
                        Last edited by wotavidone; 06-03-2014, 08:46 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Cementing the bricks question

                          The jury is still out on the fireclay. On one hand it does have cementious properties, but a mix using it and sand (or even just it alone), while fine for say, an indoor fireplace, is not suitable for an oven.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Cementing the bricks question

                            Originally posted by Tscarborough View Post
                            The jury is still out on the fireclay. On one hand it does have cementious properties, but a mix using it and sand (or even just it alone), while fine for say, an indoor fireplace, is not suitable for an oven.
                            Frustrating isn't it? If its a cement, we have one part binder for one part sand.
                            If its filler, we have 1 part binder for 2 parts sand/filler.
                            So people use it in the US for indoor fireplaces?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Cementing the bricks question

                              I've personally never seen fireclay used with only sand, it's always been gauged with portland or lime.
                              Old World Stone & Garden

                              Current WFO build - Dry Stone Base & Gothic Vault

                              When we build, let us think that we build for ever.
                              John Ruskin

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