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bisbys 06-23-2005 08:15 PM

Newbie looking for ideas, sources, etc.
I was about to post on the yahoo group but not able to get on now so will try here since things are moving here anyway.

1. I'm wondering if anyone is from the Palm Beach County Florida area? It would be great to get some input from someone local.

2. How difficult and what is the best method for cutting firebrick? I am thinking of trying to do more custom fitting of individual bricks. Is it too much trouble?

3. Has anyone worked with an elongated version of the pompeii oven similar to the Artigiano120, is this feasible for a home craftsman?

4. James, if you read this message, you offered to send Simone higher resolution photos of the Colle Val D'Elsa oven, I would very much like to see those if possible as it was that oven and the one of the squirrel tail oven in Old Salem N.C. on the site, that most inspired me to persue this project

james 06-24-2005 12:46 AM

On cutting brick, I have a couple of thoughts. You can put a diamond blade in a skill saw for about $15 from Home Depot. You could even buy a new, cheap saw for about $29 a use it and kill it on the project.

You could also buy the little wet tile saw from Home Depot for about $100. It takes two passes to cut brick, but it works well.

Don't forget that the cut edge of the brick in the dome face outward, and are never seen -- as the builder's say, the factory edge faces in. I have been told builders in Italy break (don't cut), the dome bricks to save their expensive blades for the accurate works.

Are you trying to built oblong to get more cooking space in a narrow footprint? It's probably easier to just build a bigger round if you have the real-estate.

Did you see the photos here:

They are about 480 wide and show pretty good detail. I can post largers if you want to see better details. There are about 10 photos.

Have fun!


bisbys 06-26-2005 01:33 PM

Thanks for the advice James, and congratulations on a great site and forums, lots of good information, helpful posts, some disagreement without the usual time wasting bickering; -(unfortunately) a rare thing!
I should say I'm one of those who's family think there are more important projects ahead of this one so it may be sometime before I actually get started.

I forgot to mention, another reason I was looking at cutting bricks which is in order to cut the floor bricks to fit inside a wall of full length vertical bricks standing up around the floor thus leaving approx. 4" vertical before the first chain. This should allow better isolation and thus insulation of the oven,but possibly complications with the floor. I have seen the idea of the cast floor modules but prefer the idea of brick.

I was thinking about the oblong or "Stretch Pompeii" as I've named it I suppose mainly as a way of doing something different. Also I'm interested in baking as much as pizza etc. I was actually thinking of one with the door in one long side thus allowing a cooking floor in the center and the possibility of fire on one or two sides with the curve of the brick half domes and ceiling focusing on the cooking floor.

I have seen all! the pictures on the site and love the brick work in the Colle oven, they are great pictures,I guess I was hoping I could get an even better idea of how to attempt to do the same quality work with higher res. pictures.

Thanks again


paulages 06-26-2005 03:52 PM

cutting bricks
i haven't cut firebrick specifically, but i have cut granite, marble and tile to very specific curves and corners, using an $80 wet tile saw from home depot. unfortunately, the one i have will not cut to a 2" thickness, so you would have to mark the same curve on both sides and flip it over half way through. cutting outside curves (as would be for a curved floor) is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
the trick would be to mark out your circle on the hearth, then dry lay out the entire pattern without the fireclay/sand mixture, so you could still see your lined circle. then you could custom cut the outside bricks where they lay across your lines. finish the whole thing, then just reassemble with the dry mortar bed.
if you really want a tight fit, you could draw your circle, stack the first course of vertical dome bricks, then trace the inside of that, so that it wouldn't really be a circle, but rather a series of flat faces that make up the circular pattern. this way the the cuts would fit very tightly against the walls, instead of having a circular floor fitting against an (whatever-)oganal wall. this would actually make cutting the bricks easier, because there wouldn't acually be any curved cuts.
i think you've inspired me to build a round floor and build the walls around it also!


paulages 06-26-2005 03:54 PM

brick expansion
james or jim,
would this type of floor be a problem in terms of floor expansion against the surrounding walls. do the bricks expand and contract?

james 06-27-2005 07:41 AM

You should leave 1/8"-1/4" for expansion. The refractory ovens have a small gap, and while you mortar the floor to the hearth and seal the gaps between the internal floor joints, you don't mortar between the floor and the dome pieces.

I agree that diamond blades are pretty amazing. I've cut and fitted prefab slab granite counters a couple of times with just a skill saw and a good blade -- it wasn't that difficult. On the other hand, picking up the countertops was.

Steve, thanks for the comment on the group. I think its possible to have opinions, without the conflict and bombast you see in some forums. But hey, we're building pizza ovens, not trying to bring peace to the middle east. :-) We're doing the fun stuff.


ColonelCorn76 06-27-2005 02:33 PM


Originally Posted by paulages

i think you've inspired me to build a round floor and build the walls around it also!


Wow! There's some work I'd never have thought of. It's truly a case of the "factory edge" phenomenon. Having the wall sit on a roughly circular/-oganol/jaggedy hearth of floor bricks was fine & is entirely hidden by the mortar, insulation & housing....But, go at it if it makes you sing.

BTW, I cut my first few bricks with a hammer & chisel (a handful) then went to the HD tile saw (flipping over to get through the full 2+ inch thickness -- did a couple of dozen that way)...then just did one pass through the saw and a whack with the chisel in the groove to split it (which is how I did all the rest).


paulages 06-27-2005 03:13 PM

i'm definitely not too concerned with the "factory edge" aspect of it, as much as the insulative properties. i thought i had seen it stated in the plans that building the floor around a prefab refractory floor provides much better insulation, as heat cannot escape underneath the dome walls. this definitely makes sense...exactly how much heat is lost in this matter i don't know. perhaps not enough to warrant the extra work.
as for getting a tight fit against the walls--i was really just thinking of eliminating large cracks for ash to build up in, and a tight fit would ensure that the floor bricks don't shuffle around at all, not having the weight of the dome to hold them in place.
keep in mind that i haven't built mine yet. if i pose an idea that seems pointless or excessive...well, that's why i'm posting it before trying it. i'm just trying to learn from others' mistakes and discoveries so i can build mine as efficiently as possible.
i do have to admit though, that i'm a bit anal when it comes to detail, but that's what makes things look good in the end, eh?


james 07-02-2005 04:12 AM

Cutting a round brick cooking floor

I don't know of anyone who has cut a round brick floor, and it sounds like it is more effort, and possibly risk, than it would be worth. I can picture a lot of effort getting the floor round, cutting each floor edge brick with multiple passes at a tile saw to get a good curve.

From a thermal design perspective, it is true that an enclosed floor is better, but my view is that the difference is not worth the time and effort. As word gets out, and more Pompeii ovens are built, we will be able to start importing the round floors, which will solve the problem -- but (I know) that is for future builders.


paulages 07-02-2005 11:41 AM

thanks james,
i had decided against the idea, but now i'm thinking about it again due to a brick shortage. i know it won't save a ton of bricks or anything, but i may be cutting it close to have enough medium duty firebricks anyway. the guy i'm getting my bricks from has a huge warehouse full of superduty firebricks, but he says people seldom use the low and medium duties, so he just doesn't have many. and he's pretty much THE supplier for everyone else in the area. i may have solved the problem by going with 9"x6"x2.5" bricks for the floor and some of the courses.
i talked to him specifically about the shrinkage specs. they shrink max. 2% at 2500 deg. F. if i lay them cool, there shouldn't be any more of a concern than there is laying the floor bricks dead tight.
i still haven't decided for sure, but if i did, i wouldn't cut curves, but rather the exact shape of the first wall, which would be all straight cuts where the floor hits the face of the wall bricks.

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