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swripley 05-29-2007 04:39 AM

Making Progress in Montana
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Thanks for the stucco/HardiBacker and photo posting advice. All I needed was to resize the images. Here is what I have accomplished thus far. Hopefully I will post more this weekend.


swripley 06-02-2007 02:47 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana
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The weather did not cooperate this week. If I would have known all it would take to end Montana's almost 10 year old drought was for me to start a project that depended on good weather I would have done it long ago.

Since I was stuck inside this week, used the time to figure out how to cut the bricks for the dome. Plan to angle the sides to cut down on mortar within each layer. Haven’t used a protractor since high school but it came back to me fairly quickly. I feel fairly confident that I have the dome height and arch figure out as well.

Didn't get to the insulating hearth layer until this morning. We used an inexpensive plastic children's pool to mix it in. Worked great! Was able to get the whole thing done in two batches. It leveled off very well but then panic set in. I was amazed by how crumbly it was on top. After setting up for several hours, if a lightly run my hand over the top, loose pieces of vermiculite give way. Then I read an old post of dmun …”You can't imagine that it'll ever stick together or bear weight. Wait a week. It'll still be a little crumbly at the edges, but it will be strong.” So I decided to try and relax about it and see what happens in a few days.

I am now working out the floor and trying to decide if I want to cut the bricks around inner circumference or just set the soldier row right on top. Have seen it both ways – anyone have a strong opinion about which is better?


DrakeRemoray 06-02-2007 03:41 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana

Originally Posted by swripley (Post 11020)
I am now working out the floor and trying to decide if I want to cut the bricks around inner circumference or just set the soldier row right on top. Have seen it both ways – anyone have a strong opinion about which is better?

How are you planning to finish the dome? If you are planning a stuccoed dome look, I would try to cut the bricks around the inner circum. Otherwise, if you are going to frame it and fill with loose insulation, I don't think I would go to the effort...I framed mine so did not bother with that...

Look great so far!


Archena 06-02-2007 04:20 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana
Did you mix the concrete at the same working level (looks like it in the pic)? That's a great idea!

swripley 06-02-2007 05:26 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana
Drake - I plan on framing in and filling with insulation. Thanks for the advise.

Archema - I made a temporary platform out of left over concrete block - stacked three high and HardiBacker that I will use later to frame in the oven. I set it up close enough to my stand that I was able to use a snow shovel to transfer it. It went very quickly and was much easier on the back than the bucket method I used for the structural layer.


Archena 06-02-2007 05:33 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana
Coolness! Thanks! :)

I am definitely keeping that in mind!

JoeT62 06-07-2007 09:02 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana
Nice work! Can I ask you to describe how you handled the corner? I see some metal studs and plywood -- I am planning a corner install as well and was wondering about skipping that last course of block that spans the opening - is that what you did?

swripley 06-07-2007 09:33 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana

Yes, I skipped the last row of blocks across the opening and extended the hearth about 8 inches beyond the stand on the corner. In lieu of the angle iron, I used metal studs which will frame in a future stainless steel door. I will cover with HardiBacker and stucco. As my oven is part of an outdoor kitchen, I decided that I will have a counter to the left of the oven (also metal studs and HardiBacker) under which I will store my wood. It will have a wider opening than I would have been able to get in the corner installation. I plan to use the space under the oven to store patio furniture cushions, if it doesn't get to hot under there, because it will be more weather proof.

The plywood you see in the photo sticking out beyond the framing is a scrap piece I used to create the “floor” for the extension. I just used wood screws from the bottom to attach. The structural layer sits right on top of the metal studs. I added several screws which I left sticking up to help anchor it to the hearth. I then used a piece of cardboard to create a template for the complicated corner piece of the floor framing inside the stand. I ended up with three pieces of plywood for by hearth floor framing instead of the two shown in the Forno Bravo plans. If you would like, I will take additional pictures of how the corner turned out after I take my framing off. I should get to that on Sunday.


JoeT62 06-08-2007 07:14 AM

Re: Making Progress in Montana
Sharon -

Looks like we are having parallel conversations on seperate threads!

Of course, I have more questions - thanks for all the help!

Looking at your block stand, it seems to be a 72" square? What size oven are you planning?

I am also planning some countertop, and while I don't live in Montana, New England can see it's share of freeze/thaw cycles. What do you plan for the countertop?

swripley 06-08-2007 01:24 PM

Re: Making Progress in Montana

My stand is just under 6'. I am planning a 42" oven. I figured as long as I was doing this and I had the room, I might as well go as large as I could. I also know myself well enough that once I get a handle of the fire, I will want to experiment with what I cook, already looking forward to roasting whole turkeys and leg of lamb. I don't doubt I will need the larger space.

As for counter tops, I am leaning toward tile, mostly because I have a lot of experience laying it. I have used it for outdoor installation on other projects. As long as I choose my mastic and mortar carefully, I haven't had any problems. I also plan to seal the counters annually as part of my kitchen maintenance. And I have thought about making counter covers to help keep the snow from wreaking havoc with the grout.

Good luck with you rstand this weekend. Hopefully the weather will hold for both of us.


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