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Oven construction in progress - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Oven construction in progress

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  • Oven construction in progress

    I finally started by Pompeii oven this summer. I've built the base, poured the reinforced hearth, and just poured the vermicrete over it tonight. I plan to start the bricks after a week or so of curing.

    Question: Depending on skill level and tools, etc., how many man hours does it typically take to build the rest of the oven (dome, vent, arch, etc.). I will have a 10" wet saw, btw.

    Anyone keep track of how long it took them? I'm trying to estimate this so I can decide whether to finish the oven this fall or just wait until spring. I will probably be kinda busy this fall, so I don't want to run out of time and have an unfinished dome.

    Pictures to follow soon.

  • #2
    Re: Oven construction in progress

    I can only reply in woman hours, but I think if you had four solid two day weekends, you could get it done from the point you're at now. Basically, a week if you can work all day at it for those days and are able to keep from agonizing over details that probably won't matter a single bit in the end. Seems like there are a lot of perfectionists around here and that sets the bar really, really high, but it's a trade off for getting done and making pizza!

    IMO, it also sort of depends on how long your mortar takes to dry. I found a few points where I absolutely HAD to stop because I had too many freshly set bricks in play that would have made subsequent chains difficult. If you have a helper that can cut or place, mix mortar, keep your saw in fresh water, etc, you'll probably find that you'll way outpace the curing of your mortar. Trading off between cutting a few and setting a few gives your joints a chance to set up a bit and makes it a lot easier.

    I used the "indispensible tool" method for getting my dome. It worked ridiculously well and made for some very fast brick laying if I could cut a whole chains' worth at once. Totally worth the couple of hours I spent digging around at the store for parts I could use and then constructing it.


    • #3
      Re: Oven construction in progress

      p.s. complete novice at bricklaying and domebuilding, but lots of previous tile and concrete experience.


      • #4
        Re: Oven construction in progress

        Hi Cuda,

        That's a really subjective question. It depends on the type of brick cuts you're making, the amount of detail you want to put in, the enclosure style, etc.

        My project took 12 months from start to finish (with about 3 months off during the winter). We have also had people on the forum cooking pizza a week after they started construction.

        If you start and have a 1/2 finished dome when winter hits (or you get too busy), just secure a tarp over it and re-start work in the spring when you are ready:
        Ken H. - Kentucky
        42" Pompeii

        Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

        Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
        Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album


        • #5
          Re: Oven construction in progress

          My basic dome and arch took a week (2, 8-10 hr days on the weekend and another 4-5 hrs each day throughout the week). I'm certain you can go much faster, I used the "cut to fit" method which involves every brick receiving multiple cuts - very time consuming.

          The real time expense is in the finish of the exterior. My mosaic dome has at least 80 man hrs in it over the course of about 4-5 wks.



          • #6
            Re: Oven construction in progress

            Thanks for the quick replies and outstanding advice. I'm not so concerned about finishing the exterior. That will come in the spring in conjunction with the rest of my outdoor kitchen. The entire oven will be enclosed in a pyramidal, cultured stone enclosure that will be integrated with my countertops.

            I just mostly wanted to get the dome completed and fired. I'm insulating with loose vermiculite in the enclosure, so I wasn't planning on using any more portland.

            It's only been about 12 hrs since I finished pouring the vermicrete and it's still just as soft and wet as it was last night. I know it takes a long time to set up, but I thought it would be fingerprint hard, anyway.

            Incidentally, I'm not sure whether to spend the time to cut the correct angle on every brick or just shim to save time. I never really liked the idea of thick joints when doing any kind of masonry, but I'm not sure whether the strength is appreciably compromised with the larger gaps on the outside of the dome. As long as it stays in place long enough for the whole dome to support itself, I suppose.

            For my final concern: If I complete the dome, but don't drive off the moisture by firing it before the freeze cycle begins, will there be any damage to the dome from the expansion? I'm wondering because I've read a few times here about the significant amount of moisture in the dome before firing. I wouldn't think it would make a whole lot of difference, but what do I know?


            • #7
              Re: Oven construction in progress

              Originally posted by cuda View Post
              For my final concern: If I complete the dome, but don't drive off the moisture by firing it before the freeze cycle begins, will there be any damage to the dome from the expansion? I'm wondering because I've read a few times here about the significant amount of moisture in the dome before firing. I wouldn't think it would make a whole lot of difference, but what do I know?
              That significant amount of moisture only becomes apparent when your oven reaches 300F or so. Your brick and mortar will look utterly bone dry at ambient temperatures. If freezing from those levels of moisture were a concern, then I think every brick building ever constructed would have crumbled by now.


              • #8
                Re: Oven construction in progress

                I agree, Gromit. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something about refractory stuff that I didn't know about. I've built lots of masonry stuff over the years, but this is my first experience with refractory materials. It's amazing how many masons and concrete contractors know little to nothing about refractory stuff. In that way they're just like me!!