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Pizza Pizza 09-06-2009 09:46 AM

Early planning, not so insulated
.....asking dumb questions,.. in the planning stage. Help me if I'm thinking wrong. I'm thinking my oven doesn't need to hold heat for 10-18 hours. My back yard is small. Fitting in a 36" oven without totally destroying the current landscape is a challenge. I need it to be as rather compact as possible. Also, my main thought is I'm making pizza for me and the wife and an occasional family party. I'll only be cooking one pizza, maybe two, and very rarely, maybe 4. I may bake a couple loaves of bread at different times. I'm thinking a 36" dome oven, with maybe just a couple inches of insulation, and a painted stucco finish...??

The way I look at it I don't care if it holds heat for 18 hours. I just need to make a couple pizzas, then I'm on to other things... more wine or beer, a dip in the hot tub, and off to bed. I'm done with the oven. So why would I need it to stay hot for so long?... I don't. I might not make another pizza for several days. I'd like to build one, but I don't want it to takeover my small backyard. If I can keep it about 50" total width I'd be happy. Wall thickness would be 4 1/2" of firebrick, 2" of insulation, 1" of stucco and paint. Material suggestions greatly welcomed. I'm just learning. I know I'm trying to reinvent the wheel, but I don't think I need a oven to feed the entire neighborhood. Any advise would be >much< appreciated,... Thanks in advance.


dougrappe 09-09-2009 10:58 AM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
Hey Fred, you might consider a smaller oven size to begin with. I know everyone says that they don't regret building larger, but it sounds to me like you might not even need 36". I "finished" my 36" pompeii earlier this summer and have only been cooking for a short while, but it's plenty big, and I actually think for most of what I plan to do it could be smaller, maybe 32"

Pizzas cook so fast that I haven't been able to keep up with the oven,even though there's room for 2 or 3, one at a time has fed a group of 12 people in no time. Having said that, I would say that the insulation is the key, don't skimp here. You want that thing to get hot and stay hot without having to stop and re-fire or keep too big of a big fire going while you're cooking. I have been baking bread with residual heat too, so that's part of my motivation, but with minimal insulation you might be bleeding off so much heat it could be hard to keep the oven going.

I too have a small yard, so I guess if I knew then what I know now, I might consider a smaller oven, with plenty of insulation. By the way, mine at 36" inside, sits on a base that is 60" wide by 62" deep. With its current minimal enclosure, it really only has a footprint of 56 x 56, so you're not way off considering 50 x 50.

Good Luck,


christo 09-09-2009 12:25 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
Hi there and welcome!

Thought about your 18 hour temperature time and have an opinion.

I think what you are after is a really fast heat up time and you are not after baking bread the next morning.

Fast heat up means low mass and good insulation - good insulation (and a good door) will mean long time heat retention as a bonus.

Low mass - typically means smaller oven or really thin walls and floor. Really thin walls and floors don't retain heat well for multiple nice cripsy pizzas, so you are on the right track for a smaller oven.

good insulation - underneath and all around - minimize paths for the brick to conduct heat away from the oven to the outside world.

To make my oven appear even smaller, I built it on a pentagon shaped footprint. From most angles you can't see the entire oven - so it looks smaller than it is.
good luck


Pizza Pizza 09-09-2009 12:42 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
Thanks for the outstanding advise. I'm going to consider at a 32"er. Bigger is better, but smaller is better than not doing the project at all. Thanks for taking the time to offer advise.


dmun 09-09-2009 01:03 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
Don't even think about not insulating. It's not primarily about heat retention, it's about concentrating the available heat down onto your pizza. An inadequately insulated pizza oven will consume forests of wood, and you will only get up to pizza temperatures briefly and with difficulty.

Yes, an insulated oven stays hot for a long time, particularly with a door, but an uninsulated one may not get hot at all. Pizza cooking is about absorbing and reflecting heat.

Insulate! Insulate! Insulate!

ThisOldGarageNJ 09-09-2009 05:45 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
I agree,, Insulation is truly the place you dont want to skip... If you wanted you could make a very small oven and clean out the fire and ashes before you cook,, Im sure if it was well insulated you could cook a few pizza's and some bread after...

wlively 09-09-2009 07:00 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
As everyone has said, insulate it. The heat will wick right out of the brick (move from inside face to outside of brick) and you may not even get it to pizza temperature. The brick mass is the prime factor in how long an oven holds heat and how long it takes to get it hot. It is like a sponge, the larger it is the more water (ie. heat) it holds and the longer it takes to saturate it. The insulation is like a membrane or barrier that makes sure water can only go in and out on one side of the sponge and not wick away and dry out.

From what you describe go with a smaller 1/3 brick or thinner thickness oven, forget about the 4 1/2 except for the first couple of courses. Actually, unless you really want or need to build it, you would probably be better off buying the small FB Primavera Beehive oven.

kebwi 09-09-2009 07:16 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
As an another rank beginner, may I ask about the idea of using thinner walls instead of thinner insulation? Is that a possibility? Maybe 1/3rd or 1/4th thick? Is that feasible for someone with the OP's usage expectations (not far removed from my own), or is 4.5" a minimum for basic functionality?

Gromit 09-09-2009 07:48 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
4.5" is not necessary for the functionality of the oven so far as the heat retention goes, but it certainly helps in the structural stability of the dome. I fit my 36" oven on a 48" wide slab by shaving that 4.5" down to 3" along the back and each side; I used a full 3" of insulation.

As far as making the oven so small that one would need to clean out the fire before baking pizza goes, I am much happier with my pizzas when they are cooked with the flames rolling up to the top of the dome.

Dino_Pizza 09-09-2009 09:14 PM

Re: Early planning, not so insulated
Fred, what a great question you posed. You can see by all the replies that there's a lot of great info here.

I say: combine the best of all worlds yet stay in the realm of what has been done often on this site by its members.

Your 1st post, you suggested a 36" oven and 2" insulation. I suggest getting away from big, whole, even numbers (they are all equally valid) and build a 34-35" oven with 3" of quality FB Ceramic blanket insulation. You get excellent insulating value for all the GREAT reasons mentioned above, and a 35" oven is still relatively big. I agree with Doug (dougrappe) I can only handle 2 pizza's at a time in my 42" oven but I'm a novice with a wandering attention span (my wine glass always seems need refilling while pizza is cooking :D). A slightly smaller oven might have worked for me but 2-3 casseroles fit nicely. Can't wait to hear what you eventually do. Cheers, Dino

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