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m1mckinlay 04-11-2011 10:25 AM

Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
Well, after a couple months of research and "should we do it" discussions with my wife, I dove in over the weekend and broke ground on a WFO in my backyard. I've got a hole excavated about 8' x 6' x 10".

Next, my plan is to lay about 4" of pea gravel and 7" of concrete, then build the hearth from cinder blocks as shown in the Pompeii oven instructions. Before I get too deep, I figured I better ask a few questions to be sure I'm on the right track.

Pouring concrete and laying brick are all new things to me, so forgive the elementary questions.

1. I live in Boise, ID. Winters are somewhat mild - we'll hit low 40's during the day and single digits or teens at night during the coldest months - so there's a lot of freezing and thawing during the winter. My soil drains pretty well and would be considered to be somewhat sandy. Is 4" of pea gravel and 7" of concrete (with rebar support) the right foundation? Anything I should consider before pouring?

2. Do I put the layer of pea gravel in before the frame (and put the frame on top of it), or do I fit the frame in first and put the pea gravel inside? Or, does it matter?

3. I haven't yet decided which oven I'm going to buy. I've had the Pompeii 90 (build from scratch), Casa 90 (modular) and Toscano 90 (place and fire) each in my shopping cart at different times and just haven't been able to make the decision on which is right for me. I'd like to do it all myself and buy the Pompeii 90 kit, but am somewhat concerned whether I have the time and skill-set to do it. Cost is a consideration too. Any suggestions? What's the incremental time required for the pompeii versus the casa 90?

Thanks in advance for advice. I've read a bunch of threads on this forum and appreciate what an awesome resource this is. I've loved seeing the pics and progress from others and I plan to snap and post lots of pics along the way.

Paul in Rockwall TX 04-11-2011 04:42 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
It takes time to build one from scratch, and can get expensive to get the materials. I've got six months of weekends and nights into mine. wife said I should have bought one, but I couldn't live with that. I haven't added up the receipts yet, but including tools about $3K

Paul in Rockwall TX 04-11-2011 04:43 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
Also sounds cold there. Here in texas we don't need deep foundation work beacuse of the cold, but good footings because of the unstable soils.

tusr18a 04-11-2011 06:06 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
I put a full foundation under my oven. If I was going to put the time and money into the project, I wanted to make sure that frost did not get the better of me. With that said, there are many on this site that have gone with the floating-type slab that you are leaning towards. They report back no trouble with that approach.

As to what oven to buy, if you do not have the time, buy the modular oven. If you have the time, use the Pompeii plans and source your materials locally. Half the fun of the project is trying to figure out where to find/buy all of the materials. As to how much it will cost, you have to look at it as project of love where money doesn't really matter. My project took two full summers. I could spread the costs out that way. My wife called it my $150 per weekend project. The local masonry supply store got to know me by name.

dmun 04-11-2011 07:10 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
Masonry fireplace code says the footings should be poured below frost line on undisturbed soil, no gravel or crushed rock underneath. The footing should extend six inches beyond the structure, and be one foot thick.

Now that's for multi-story masonry chimneys, which are seriously heavy. Freestanding ovens are light by comparison, and that's why they work fine with a slab on well drained crushed rock.

m1mckinlay 04-18-2011 12:43 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
3 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the feedback. I spoke with a couple people locally who felt a floating slab would work. This weekend I poured the slab. Next weekend I'll stack the block, and the following weekend I will pour the hearth.

I'm still undecided which type of oven to go with. I'm leaning towards the brick / pompeii route and assuming I go that route, I'll probably hire a bricklayer to help with the dome and arch.

Attached are some pics of my progress so far.

kmaxx 04-28-2011 08:56 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
I am about to start one of these projects as well,when you free stand the bricks i think that means no mortar on the bricks is this right?just concrete down the center of the bricks ,is this your take on it?

brickie in oz 04-28-2011 10:06 PM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .

Originally Posted by kmaxx (Post 112008)
i think that means no mortar on the bricks is this right?just concrete down the center of the bricks ,is this your take on it?

Correct, the correct term should be dry stacked, that way there is no confusion, well maybe less confusion. :p

lwood 04-29-2011 05:50 AM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
Your pretty close to that two-story house, better plan on a tall chimney.

m1mckinlay 04-29-2011 08:41 AM

Re: Broke Ground! And Questions. . .
1 Attachment(s)
What you've described is what I did. . . I dry stacked the blocks and filled the cores with concrete and rebar. The block stacking / positioning went very fast up until I needed to lay the blocks on the angle iron. It took me about four hours to grind / cut the grooves into them, using both a tile saw(cheap one) and a grinder.

This week I will pour the hearth. I am planning to bend the rebar extending from the cores at 90 degrees and attach them to the rebar grid centered in the hearth. Is that a good idea, or a waste of time?

Thanks for the feedback regarding the chimney - I hadn't put much thought into that. Am I going to smoke myself and my neighbors out each time I fire up the oven? Aside from building a towering chimney, any other suggestions? Maybe I'll have to deliver a pizza to my neighbors as a peace offering each time I use it!

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