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Joe Baker 04-19-2013 06:38 PM

Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?
Hi Folks

I built A wood burning oven mostly to bake bread, thick walls with lots of insulation around (here is the construction video if you did not see it in a previous thread) wood burning bake oven construction - YouTube

It bakes great bread but not ideal for pizza, ideal temperature is hard to control.

I would love to built a good simple efficient pizza oven. What is the right wall and floor thickness? Is insulation really necessary? Is the pompei oven plan from forno bravo the right choice for pizza?

Please let know your tought

Cheers Joe

Les 04-19-2013 07:37 PM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?

If you are only after pizza a Neapolitan Pizza Oven would probably be the ticket. I think insulation would not be required. I personally would insulate the hearth to avoid the time / fuel to heat the slab. Also, just go with splits, it would heat up even faster.

WJW 04-19-2013 08:20 PM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?
Why is temp hard to control in your first oven?

It seems relatively well-insulated...but I can't tell how thick the floor is. Cooking pizza seems to me to be the least demanding of all tasks for a wood fired oven. Other than having the ability to use active flame to radiate heat from the top, the only real requirement is a floor with sufficient thermal mass to allow you to cook multiple pizzas without it cooling off too quickly.

I'm guessing that you have difficulty maintaining heat through successive pizzas. Say four or more in quick succession.???

My oven is relatively large (36 inches x 40 inches) so I can move pizzas around and/or vary the locations where I'm cooking. This allows the surface to "recharge" with heat between pizzas. The "recharging" occurs from both below and above in that stored heat is moving up from the masonry toward the surface...and the surface is being heated from above by the flames in the oven. If you are cooking on exactly the same spot every time, I could see where you'd find it hard to maintain temps throough more than three pizzas without giving things a few minutes rest between pizzas. When I'm cooking for a big party I've got three pizzas going at all times for thirty minutes plus....sometimes twice as long. And I'm going full speed cooking three at a time as fast as a bunch of people can make them. The only way to be able to keep that kind of flow is to be completely heat loaded at the start, and have an ability to let various areas "rest" between pizzas.

Your oven seems relatively small. What are the dimensions of your hearth? Maybe you need to make a larger floor to allow you room to move things around and not cook on the exact same spot for successive pizzas. Or maybe you build a hearth of sufficient thickness such that you can cook in exactly the same spot for multiple pizzas and it still does't cool off much.

I think your construction method is fine...maybe a bit thicker hearth. Maybe the issue is size.


Joe Baker 04-20-2013 08:40 PM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?

Thanks for your replied,

Again my oven was made with bread in mind so the thick walls takes a a good long burn to bring it to baking temp and then is good for two good days of baking. and I am really happy with it but If a have a live fire in my current oven for pizza, it gets too hot, I think its too much insulation. That is why I want to built a Pizza only Oven.

WJW The oven is 40X40 inchs, the hearts is 5 inchs thick floating on 2.5 inch of percrete.

I like the one from Tony Gemignani Tony Gemignani Neapolitan Pizza - YouTube
Is this a Neapolitan Oven?


WJW 05-09-2013 10:04 PM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?
Wow...the oven is plenty big at 40x40. Are you saying that the inside cooking surface (hearth) is 40x40? If so, it is plenty big. Bigger than mine anyway.

The hearth (at five inches) is super thick...exactly twice as thick as mine...assuming it's fully heat loaded, you should have zero problems cooking a ton of pizzas in that monster with very little temp fluctuation.

Your 2.5 inches of pearlcrete seems a bit on the thin side, but not overly so...certainly thick enough for cooking pizza....I have three inches of ceramic fiber...but you have way, way more than is needed for cooking pizza. But with a five inch thick hearth, your challenge is saturating the masonry.

In my oven, the hardest part is to heat-load the floor. The top-most portions of the oven heat much more quickly that the deepest levels of the hearth. My guess is that you would need at least three hours (or a bit more) of raging flame/red-hot coals to completely saturate five inches of masonry hearth.

My guess is that you are not properly loading your masonry with heat. Assuming your deepest levels of masonry are still relatively cool (say less than five hundred F) the heat energy of the masonry closest to the surface is constantly migrating down...away from the pizza...That would cause rapid drops in temp as you cooked multiple pizzas.

Thankfully, it's an easy fix. Just start your fire sixty to ninety minutes earlier and make it a bit bigger. (In other words, give it a solid three hour burn before cooking for a big party.) Keep the hot coals moving around the hearth. Once that sucker is properly heat loaded such that the deepest levels of hearth masonry are 600 plus, it's going to be stable as hell and will cook a ton of pizza without dropping appreciably. If properly heat loaded with that thick a hearth, you should easily be able to keep three pizzas going at a time, almost non-stop, for a couple hours. That easily equates to something like seventy-five pizzas.

Obviously, the above only applies for cooking for a BIG party. If you are only going to cook four or five pizzas, just get the surface temp of the hearth up to 750 or better, keep it there for thirty minutes, have some good active flame going under the dome/arch, and start cooking.


okn 05-09-2013 10:28 PM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?
Joe, you said your oven is getting too hot? How hot is too hot?


Joe Baker 05-14-2013 06:43 PM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?
Hi folks

Thank you all for your input. I think I figure out the problem with my current oven burning pizza when I have a live fire. Is due to the dome being sorta flat, probably too low and the mouth is relatively small.

But I have good result with the bread baking (which it was built for)

For my Future pizza oven, I will built the pompei from the FB download plan. The base will be round like my current oven, the rest will see...

Again thank you


Tscarborough 05-15-2013 08:43 AM

Re: Ultimate Pizza Oven construction?
A Neapolitan pizza oven 40" in diameter will have a ceiling height in the 14-15" range, and will be almost flat. It sounds to me like your issue is one that can be addressed in 2 ways using your current oven.

First, bake your pizzas as soon as your firing is complete. Remove 90% of the coals and ashes, sweep the remaining 10% to the rear, one side or the other. Add a small log (about the size of your wrist) and it will fire right off. That is how much fire you want while cooking pizza, and you want it rolling up the wall and ceiling.

Also, you can make an ash guard to keep the logs from rolling off the coals and shield the edge of the pizza from extreme radiation.

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