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First firing - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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First firing

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  • First firing

    After 11mths building this oven (and still not finished, geez I'm slow ) I fired the oven up yesterday for the first time.
    I didn't want to make the oven to hot to quick so it was a small fire that I later grew into a medium one.
    The oven took roughly 4 hrs to heat to what I would call a cooking temperature and it still took 25 min to cook the pizza. I had three pizzas in there as doing one at a time would have been to time consuming.
    My wife wasn't overly impressed but I assured her the oven will perform better with each firing as there is still a lot of moisture/water trapped.
    While the fire was in the center the dome was cool to touch but that changed when the coals were on the side.
    The outside of the oven with the fire against it got quite hot I panicked for a sec but then realised it's probably just steam escaping even though I couldn't see it.
    What I also realised is 1/3 of my wood needs to be tossed as it had a very strange awful marijuana kind of smell to it. I also chucked in a piece of red gum I had which didn't last long as it was very smoky and also had a strong smell so it was out rather quickly.
    The hardwood fence posts were great, little smoke and little odor so that's something to focus on when acquiring more wood.
    All in all it was fun a little stressful at times with the smelly wood etc but fun.

    I took a few temp readings and the best I got was the floor around 150-180c depending where the fire was, walls around 220-240c and top of dome was around 350c. You can see from these reading why the pizza didn't cook well but I'm hopping to fire her up again next week so hopefully there'll be an improvement.
    No cracks that I can see except a small once from flue to front of arch right in the middle but no biggie I can deal with that and once sealed it wont be seen.

    Temp this morning 12hrs later is center of floor 60c, walls, 70c and top of dome 80c give or take a few degrees. That's not bad considering the oven never really heated up properly and there was no door (haven't built yet) so the oven was completely open all night.

    I have taken a few pics which I'll load up tonight.

  • #2
    Re: First firing

    Originally posted by OscarA View Post
    I took a few temp readings and the best I got was the floor around 150-180c depending where the fire was, walls around 220-240c and top of dome was around 350c.
    Its obviously still wet, it will get better the more you use it.
    Ive never had steamed pizza, it would have been like a Chinese dumpling.
    The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

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    • #3
      Re: First firing

      Forget the pizza for a while Oscar, try cooking some bread or a joint of meat with the low heat you've generated. Don't smell too much of that funny wood or you might get the munchies.
      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: First firing

        Don't rush the fires mate! First fires should be small!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: First firing

          Originally posted by brickie in oz View Post
          Its obviously still wet, it will get better the more you use it.
          Ive never had steamed pizza, it would have been like a Chinese dumpling.
          It wasn't the best example of a pizza so wont be doing that again in a hurry.

          Originally posted by david s View Post
          Forget the pizza for a while Oscar, try cooking some bread or a joint of meat with the low heat you've generated. Don't smell too much of that funny wood or you might get the munchies.
          I might try cooking some meat next week and see how that goes. I did get the munchies but that was because it was taking so long to cook.


          Originally posted by chidding View Post
          Don't rush the fires mate! First fires should be small!
          You are right which is why I didn't get to carried away loading it with wood. I have read a lot of stories of ovens cracking due to too much heat when they are still vulnerably wet. Having said that it's hard to know what to much heat is and I probably pushed mine a little more than I should have.

          Originally posted by Karangi Dude
          Hey Oscar,

          Finally we have fire, congratulations is has been a real journey but you are almost there.
          Oscar, don't chuck that smelly wood out, when you get the oven dried out use it then, when your oven is dry and burning nice and hot you can burn whatever you like without smell as all the gasses go up the flue.
          You just need to use good dry wood for a while until everything is cured and dry.

          Good luck Mate will talk soon.
          Thanks Doug, yeah it's great to finally get the oven going.
          I don't know about the using the smelly wood, the back of my house is 7ft above ground so smoke from the flue finds it's way into the house. My neighbor to the right have their decking also 7ft above ground so can easily get smoked out if the wind is blowing their way which it often is.
          I realise my oven is new and smokes more than it should until it's fully dried then the smoke should die down.


          Now here's a question for everyone, I know it would take a few fires to dry the oven out but is it necessary to do it quickly say firing it up every day or two or could I space it out to say 1 firing a week.
          I know the sooner the better but just don't want to put my neighbors through a week or two of constant smoke.
          Also how water proof is a cement render I know concrete will soak up water but if the weather forecast is only for a few showers here and there is it still necessary to cover the dome between firings.
          One of my work colleagues has built an oven and when I mentioned what he used to waterproof it he said a 4 to 1 render is water tight so that's all he's done. Haven't seen him lately so not sure how his oven survived the winter.

          Now here are some pics.









          This is the only crack I could see it's from the middle of the flue to the front arch.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: First firing

            Gudday Oscar
            Great to hear the ovens in the curing stage! Its been a journey...you have built yourself a great looking oven there...still love the entrance it was worth while changing you mind and rebuilding the first. And you worked shifts and survived a melbourne winter!
            Looks like you have some wet wood there... check your photos out... you can see the moisture steaming out the end grain. It''ll dry out in time.
            The smoke is mainly from this and as you know an oven thats still got a lot of moisture in its inners. Most ovens will produce a little smoke on start up but none at full tilt... so you will not normally smoke out the neighbours ( unless you sneek a little less dry wood when fully hot ..I do).
            To help dry out the oven try some heat beads ala dougs oven. I've done this myself and the low/slow heat gently drys it out ( and no smoke). A bag will last about a week just keep a little pile of beads glowing every day.
            You'll still need to build up the gradual fires to heat set the fireproof mortars but without the steam to cracks things.
            The ovens still got it pealite layer exposed right? if so definitly tarp it, any insulation is full of air holes waiting to suck up water.Only render when fully dry...then waterfroof Paint/ render finish... if coloured render, "bondall sealer". Sorry starting to rave it took my months to finally get my oven to remain dry in the Big Wet

            congrats again.....Dave
            Last edited by cobblerdave; 10-15-2011, 03:57 PM.
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            • #7
              Re: First firing

              Hi Dave, Thanks for the compliments the oven has turned out better than I thought.

              You could be right about the wood as it did smoke up more when the branches were added but not so with the fence posts. The branches do look and feel dry but more than likely not 100% dry.

              I have thought about using heat beads to help dry the oven. My father in law was over last night and we were talking about ways of doing it and I suggested heat beads and he said briquettes might be an option as well. I can find a tray easy enough and load them in that rather than directly on the floor so that might be a good solution.

              Update - had some heat beads under the house from our weber so I got a cast iron camping frying pan and chucked 20 or so heat beads on it and now have it in the oven.
              It wont produce a lot of heat but it should still help.
              I'll check it in 30 min just before going to work and see if it's working.
              Last edited by OscarA; 10-15-2011, 04:23 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: First firing

                Originally posted by OscarA View Post
                One of my work colleagues has built an oven and when I mentioned what he used to waterproof it he said a 4 to 1 render is water tight so that's all he's done.

                Its supposed to be, but you only need 1 crack for the water to find a way in.
                Id paint it with acrylic paint if it were me, and Id keep it covered.

                Whats the point of continually drying it out after a rain?
                The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

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                • #9
                  Re: First firing

                  Don't get me wrong Al, I am going to water proof it but I will do that after it has been fully dried. I was just wondering if it could handle light showers as covering it up all the time is a pain in the you know what.
                  Apart from the small crack near the flue I can't see any other cracks anywhere.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: First firing

                    Originally posted by OscarA View Post
                    Apart from the small crack near the flue I can't see any other cracks anywhere.
                    What about the ones you cant see?
                    The English language was invented by people who couldnt spell.

                    My Build.

                    Books.

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                    • #11
                      Re: First firing

                      Oscar,
                      A new oven is always a bitch to fire because it's moist. It is hard to light, hard to keep the fire going well and it smokes like crazy. These problems will all disappear when it is properly dry. You will notice, when it starts to dry out more, that there will be a persistent black ring around the base of the dome. That is because there is still water there and it is hard to get it out. Push coals out to the edge to help dry it here.
                      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: First firing

                        Originally posted by brickie in oz View Post
                        What about the ones you cant see?
                        Fair enough, better to be smart and play it safe.

                        Originally posted by david s View Post
                        Oscar,
                        A new oven is always a bitch to fire because it's moist. It is hard to light, hard to keep the fire going well and it smokes like crazy. These problems will all disappear when it is properly dry. You will notice, when it starts to dry out more, that there will be a persistent black ring around the base of the dome. That is because there is still water there and it is hard to get it out. Push coals out to the edge to help dry it here.
                        That's exactly how it was hard to light and keep going and very smoky. However once the fire was well established with heat in the oven the smoke did die down a lot but it did take a while at least 2-3 hours before I could honestly say there was no smoke coming out of it. I'ld hate to think what the neighbors must of been thinking.

                        Yesterdays attempt at using heat beads was a failure as I couldn't get them to light. I've put it down to old beads so I'm trying again with new ones so hopefully I'll have more luck.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: First firing

                          Thanks Doug

                          I will give it a try on the next firing. I have seen that thread before but forgot all about it. I did do something similar to yours but I did the upside down version where the larger wood is on the bottom and progresses smaller towards the top. The idea is the smaller top pieces burn easily and the burning wood heats and burns the larger pieces below it until it's all going. This method is suppose to reduce smoking as well.
                          Unfortunately for me I didn't do it right and as your thread/pics show space is needed to allow good air flow and thinking back I had mine more tightly bunched.
                          It's all a learning process for this urbanite

                          The heat beads are going well with the oven reaching temps around 100c.
                          Temp reading after about 6hrs from when first lit were floor around 60-70c walls around 70c, top of dome around 100c. These reading were taken when I got home from work and the beads were already out.
                          I'll do it every day while weather allows.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: First firing

                            What does everyone use for lighting fires? I tend to use all natural firelighters which smoke a fair bit at startup, but ive never had issues making a fire, no matter how much airflow the fire catches really quickly.. and at $2 a pack.. its a cheap method..

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: First firing

                              I use dried tea bags soaked in a jar of methylated spirits. Not my invention, got it from another forum member, works a charm.You have to cut the strings off or you get a tangled mess.
                              Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

                              Comment

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