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Gef 05-11-2011 05:08 AM

Homemade Clay Pizza Oven (Mk I)
Hi Everyone,
I have been trolling the forums for months picking up tips here and there.

I am on the downhill side of my first build. It is rough, but the kids tell me the marshmallows they cooked during my second firing were excellent. I tried to keep the project pretty basic, and to use 'found materials' where possible.

I have documented the build here: Clay Pizza Oven

I took more photos than I could include, so they are at Flickr here: Clay Pizza Oven - a set on Flickr

I have fired the oven twice, and am planning to launch this weekend.

If I take out the cost of the sand I reused top dressing my lawn, the project has cost less than $70 (Australian, which is roughly equal to $US at the moment). Although a dozen pizza trays and an ultrasonic thermometer thingy push it to about $150.

I want to thank the Forno Bravo Crew for your advice.


brickie in oz 05-11-2011 11:18 PM

Re: Homemade Clay Pizza Oven (Mk I)
Well its different.
Have you had a roaring fire in it yet?

david s 05-12-2011 01:03 AM

Re: Homemade Clay Pizza Oven (Mk I)
Clay takes a long time to dry, particularly if it is thick. Suggest you wait a few weeks and let sun and wind do most of the drying for you. it is very hard to dry the oven evenly with a wood fire. try heat beads for a more prolonged and gentle heat. Cook other things in it at lower temps. before attempting to go for pizza temps.

Gef 05-12-2011 04:08 AM

Re: Homemade Clay Pizza Oven (Mk I)
Hi Brickie and David,
Yep, it is certainly an original design. I am going for compact first time out.

I've had two fires so far, both for a couple of hours, and not particularly big. I was hoping for pizza on Saturday, but am happy to take a more conservative approach. My wife asked 'what is the risk', and I think it is that it is difficult to get it up to heat and keep it there. Are there other risks? (Cracks, collapse?)

I am in Rocky, and it is just starting to cool off. Because of the site, it's not getting heaps of sunlight, so perhaps the heat beads would be good for the next step. Any suggestions on duration with heat beads? Are we talking all day, or just an hour or two?


david s 05-12-2011 10:54 PM

Re: Homemade Clay Pizza Oven (Mk I)
Clay pots up to about 10mm thick take around a week to dry (depending on the weather) before they can be safely fired. So, if your oven is 5 times as thick then you should wait a lot longer. Rapid drying leads to uneven shrinkage and results in cracking. In addition water trapped inside the clay walls can build up steam pressure and literally blow the wall apart from the inside, every potter has had plenty of experience of this. You can patch up cracks that may appear with your mud mix again, but the structure will be weaker. I suggest you just use gentle fires for at least the first 10 firings and cook bread or roasts. Use a cheap oven thermometer that you can place inside the oven. The weather is dry now and that will assist the process.Drying will depend on a combination of temp. humidity and airflow (wind) Actually up here in NQ it will dry quite a lot faster in the winter because of the drop in humidity.

Gef 05-13-2011 12:43 AM

Re: Homemade Clay Pizza Oven (Mk I)
Thank-you David - I appreciate the explanation. I'll slow up. I have got some heat beads, and will make a start with those, and bake some bread too.


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