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Eddie4 01-30-2008 04:13 PM

Hi from Massachusettes
Im not a mason, Im not a construction guy, Im not even a chef, but love to cook.
I have been on the fence about building a pompelli style oven now for about 2 months.
Its cold here and the ground is still frozen.
Can anyone give me a good reason not to not build one come spring or to build another style like those mentioned in The Bread Builders?

I would love to save the money by no purchasing a prefab, but don't want to get in way over my head either by taking on the challenge of building from scratch.

Thanks for you opinons,


RCLake 01-30-2008 04:44 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
If you've been thinking about it for two months you have already gotten yourself in over your head. But don't worry, building the oven isn't over difficult for individuals that aren't masons - parts are very physical but I assure you that you can do it, especially with the help of the wonderful guidance this forum provides. If you can get ready-mix concrete delivered to the spot you want to build that would take the hardest part out.

I started out wanting a smoker and after searching the web I found the barrel type WFO and became convienced that was the way to go. Then I came across this site and looked into what James was saying. Read his e-book, it will state the difference between the two approachs. If you need long time heat retention the barrel may be the way to go. If not, this approach may be a bit harder to build (but a H... of lot more fun) and would not take as much time to heat up (and more wood to burn) also being very flexible.

I'm half way thru my build and I'm convience that is the way to go.
Get your plans ready and kick it off come spring

Eddie4 01-30-2008 04:54 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
Hey RC,
Thanks for the push.

I too thought about going the smoker route for the longest time then converted.
Do you know how much you have spent so far? Or what you might be in it for when completed?

Are you building a larger model?

Thanks again for your help,

brokencookie 01-30-2008 05:04 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
Hi Ed
Welcome to the forum. However, I think you are in the wrong place if you think anyone here is going to try and talk you out of building an oven:p

Everyone who posts has a serious case in oven insanity:eek:

I started my planing with a BBQ and smoker. I then caught the bug and added an oven. As my planning has progressed I will probably drop the smoker ( will use the oven) and just build a grill and oven complex.

There are many good reasons to build an oven, (Pizza, Pizza, Pizza) and absoutely no reasons I can think of to not build an oven:) :)


james 01-30-2008 05:04 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
Welcome aboard. No matter how you do it, there is no doubt that having a real wood-fired oven is the best way to cook outdoors. Bar none. :-) One of life's great pleasures.

You can't go wrong, and though you will end up covered with concrete and mortar, and will probably hit a finger with your hammer, it's a lot of fun.


dmun 01-30-2008 06:12 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
Hi, Ed.

The only reason not to do it? If you have serious back problems, it involves a lot of lifting, and you will have to plan on lots of help. Go to Home Depot, and if you can lift a 94 pound sack of portland cement, you're good to go.

The expense? It depends on how much time you're willing to spend scrounging for found materials. There is some expensive stuff involved, particularly if you go with the high-tech insulations. I think everyone here will tell you it's worth the expense.

Good luck with your project.

gjbingham 01-30-2008 06:15 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
After reading many posts about the costs of building vs. purchasing a pre-fab, you might spend a grand (+/-) or so more on a prefab to totally finish it, but you will likely end up with an oven that is problem free and much faster to get up and running with.

That said, building an oven is one of the coolest things you will ever do. How much time and desire do you have? That is the question.

Frances 01-31-2008 12:49 AM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes
Building an oven also works if you have somebody to lift the cement sacks for you - means you have to plan a bit more, but it works :).

I had no prior masonry experience at all, and still managed to build mine, so don't let that prevent you. If you enjoy making things and thinking through the challenges involved (always with the help and support of the forum when needed) go for it! Like George said, its one of the coolest things you'll ever do.

Wookie 01-31-2008 10:20 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes

Hi Ed,

Looks like you have lots of support already. I am half way through my build (42" Pompei). I have had some challenges along the way but nothing I haven't been able to overcome. I too was a total novice but now I have laid a slab, built and reinforced the stand, added a reinforced top slab and built 6 courses using tapered firebricks. I am in the process of constructing the vent opening 'forms', while waiting for some material to be shipped. A friend of mine was building a similar oven and he was about 4 weeks ahead of me so he provided great advice about the practicalities, suppliers, what didn't work and obtaining brick cutting equipment etc. The forum is excellent, especially for some of the more complex bits.

I nearly had the oven built professionally and apart from being way too expensive I am glad I am doing it myself. No hurry, just getting it done!

Your effort will be rewarded.

Good luck


Wookie (all the way from Aussie):)

RCLake 02-01-2008 02:40 PM

Re: Hi from Massachusettes

Originally Posted by Eddie4 (Post 23350)
Hey RC,
Thanks for the push.

I too thought about going the smoker route for the longest time then converted.
Do you know how much you have spent so far? Or what you might be in it for when completed?

Are you building a larger model?

Thanks again for your help,

I'm building a 42" and costs are as follows
$272 for foundation, 94 for renting a mixer
$185 for stand
$ 99 for cement hearth (I did all my cement work using PC, gravel and sand)
$184 for Hearth floor included Insulation Blocks
$543 for Dome including 193 for 3" of ceramic blanket (50sf)
$1283 total spent before chimney and then stone exterior

So far I've bought 225 firebricks and 3 bags of Heat Stop 50, probably will need 20 more bricks - I've messed some up at the arch:o

If you can get ready mix to your build site, it wouldn't have cost me much more and pouring the hearth so far has been the hardest.

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