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marcusjn 10-09-2006 11:29 PM

Red Bricks and Mortar
Hi all... I'll start by saying "Great Forum" it's given me some great ideas on how to start building my first wood oven. I have a few questions though... ???

(1) I am thinking of building my first wood oven from reclaimed red brick (using fire bricks for the Hearth) I guess the question is will these types of red bricks be sufficient for an oven that will be fired no more that once a month (if that).... ?

(2) Regarding the mortaring... (a) should the first row of bricks (the solders) be mortared down to the hearth... ? (b) should the bricks in the oven wall be mortared so as the mortar is showing on the inside of the dome wall (e.g like a traditional brick wall) or only mortar on the outside with the face of the bricks inside the dome just butted up against each other as closely as possible... ? hope that make sense.

(3) Instead of the brick work be mortared into place on a angle to form the dome... could the brick work step up with the bricks meeting up at the top of the dome.... hope that one makes sense too.

james 10-10-2006 01:22 AM

Welcome aboard,
We have other Australian members -- hey, spring is coming down under.

Yes, you can use regular clay brick in the dome. It will not heat up as fast, hold heat as well, or hold high heat for pizza as well as firebrick, but it will definitely work. Many people have built Scott ovens with clay brick domes.

Still, if you can find the budget money, a firebrick dome will cook better and last longer. You get to decide.

You should mortar your first course in place (they are vertical), then try to match the facing sides of the bricks smoothly to each other with little mortar showing. Your mortar will not be as heat resistent as your bricks.

You need to curve the dome inward by setting your bricks at a angle, which is what gives your dome structure integrity. If you staggered your bricks inward, but flat, the dome would fall in. But that's OK -- you can build the traditional dome.

Enjoy the project and take photos.

wg_bent 06-03-2007 06:56 AM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
I'm glad I found this post since I had the exact same questions. I'm just thinking of building one of these. I found a local supply of used solid brick and was thinking of building an oven with them.

For the morter, should it be a mix of fireclay or heat resistant morter? Some designs I've seen put a layer of sand or morter on top of the bricks, I was thinking of sand, then vermiculite, then a concrete cladding. The sand and vermiculite would first offer more mass, then insulation; both offering some room for expansion. Then the concrete cladding for the finish Thoughts?

One more question. Is a chimney necessary?

maver 06-03-2007 12:18 PM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
A chimney is not necessary but helps keep the face of your oven free of soot, may help with draw, and keeps smoke out your eyes when you are starting the fire.

My feeling is adding extra mass for a home oven is unnecessary. Even 1/3 bricks are likely enough mass for a few batches of bread. Spend your efforts on insulation, which is a larger factor in keeping the oven at temperature. Extra cladding delays readiness of a home oven which is not kept at temperature (although is useful for commercial applications).

Bacterium 06-03-2007 05:58 PM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
Hi marcussjn......great to see another Aussie on board.

As James mentioned, red brick will have its drawbacks and its good to consider that in the plan of what you want to achieve. However its possible and fine.....and I'm happy to give plenty of detail on it. I have successfully built an oven with reclaimed red bricks - have a read here:

I see it a bit like this.....mine is more the "agricultural" (or less refined) type of oven whereas there are some very "refined" units on here :D

So by all this forum until your eyes just about pop out .....then your plan of attack will start to come together. :D

Hendo 06-03-2007 08:27 PM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
G’day Marcus and welcome – good to have another Adelaidean with us. About seven of us now, with twelve or so Australia wide. You’ll find the local input useful, especially for details of local suppliers of materials.

I was given Russell Jeavons’ book a couple of years ago which stimulated my interest to construct one of these things. His ovens are built out of normal pressed red bricks with standard cement/lime mortar, and are used commercially two or three times a week without any problems.

While initially I considered going down the same route, I changed to firebrick after considering James’ points above – mainly the reduced heat-up time appealed to me. And stories abound of ovens requiring long lead times to heat (which could be due to poor insulation, rather than brick composition) – eg Coriole’s needs to be lit at 6:00am for lunch! I doubt I’d ever use an oven if I had to spend a long morning stoking it!

One of our local members (nissanneill) managed to salvage some used firebricks at the old abattoirs at Gepps Cross, so it is possible to use firebricks and still minimise costs.

As James points out, each ring of the dome must gradually lean in, so that a cross-section would look like a door arch – see pic. I chose tapered firebricks ($4 ea though), so I will not have to worry about lifting the outside face to get the right angle on each course. The taper creates a natural arch of 1100mm (43”) diameter – perfect!

The other crucial element is top-notch insulation and plenty of it. It will reduce heat-up time significantly and retain heat more efficiently.

Finally – I agree with Damon’s sentiments concerning studying this forum. Frederick Winslow Taylor may have said that there is only “one best way” to do anything, but he obviously wasn’t thinking about building a brick oven! I’ve spent a huge number of hours reading forum posts with great interest, but have come to realise that there simply isn’t one (best) way to achieve an oven that, at the end of the day, will cook great pizza!

Good luck with your build.

Cheers, Paul.

RTflorida 06-03-2007 08:30 PM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
Damon is spot on. There is SO much information on this forum, you will get bug eyed. You just have to take bits and pieces and form it into what will work with your budget, space, time, comfort level (if constructing it all yourself). I've read of several successful red brick builds. For home use, I don't think the type of brick is the key, its building to the proper thermal mass for what you looing to cook (pizza or baking) and or course - insulation, insulation, and more insulation.


phill 06-04-2007 02:17 AM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
Hi Paul & Others. I agree with you, if you can afford it buy tappered fire bricks. I used tappered fire bricks I purchased in Victoria, Darley Refractory, the guys are great help. It makes constructing much easier and the dome stays in place as you build it. the bed joints remain tight. The bricks are 230mm long, but what I did was cut each 4 times to create a wedge shape thus once put together end to end they create a circle. I have some pics that might help anyone. as yet I cant post them because the files ar too large and unsure how to compress, Im a bricklayer not a pc whiz



Hendo 06-04-2007 03:45 AM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
Hi Phill and welcome too. Must have missed your first posts. Where the bloody hell are ya?

Re posting photo's, send me a private message with your email details, and I'll send you an instruction sheet on how I manage to compress jpg files down to an acceptable size. It's probably not the ideal way to do it, but it works for me!

So you tapered tapered bricks? While I've got some tapered ones I plan to halve, I am still undecided whether to cut once or four times per brick. Was it worth the trouble? I like the idea but ....

Cheers, Paul.

Archena 06-04-2007 06:53 AM

Re: Red Bricks and Mortar
There's a free online resizer that I use which is very easy and will get your pics to the size you need. PM me and I'll provide the link if you like.

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