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fisherhum 04-26-2011 09:07 PM

Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
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After lurking on the site for the last few years I finally decided it was time to put together a budget steel/brick wood oven. Building at the weekend retreat meant that I don't have the time to build a pompeii oven. I also didn't want to spend a few thousand dollars on an oven out there. I liked the last two Aussie drum ovens that were posted on this site so I decided to head down that route as my economical alternative. I found a local drum supplier on Kiiji that was selling food grade drums for $20. I was informed that it had been used for Omega 3 oil for vitamins with an orange flavouring. I didn't put two and two together that orange flavour does not translate to orange scent. After cutting into the barrel with my angle grinder I found out that fish oil and hot steel leave a distinct odour. Thinking even less about fish oil I decided that burning off the last bit of oil in the barrel was the best way to go. I'm not sure if you've read about whaling ships but black smoke and their distinctive odour are noted quite extensively in the history books. I learned first hand why fish oil was used for burns a long time with a little amount of oil. All I can say was luckily I live in Canada and the vacation homes were mostly vacant at this time of year. I then realized the barrel was lined with an epoxy paint to make it "food grade". A few hours of paint remover, grinding with a wire brush and burning it off with a high temp weed torch and I finally had a usable barrel on which to start my oven. This job took a lot longer than expected.

The standard 55 gallon barrel had a 23" diameter and I cut it at the 21" width below centerline using an angle grinder. This will leave me with a 15.5" dome height and I'll cut a semicircle door opening width of about 19" with a height of 9.5". This will give me my golden door ratio of roughly 62%.

I had some leftover Allen Blocks from the patio so I buried 8 of them 90 degree to usual placement and used the fronts as my "concrete base". I fully realize they will settle at different rates but a few shims here and there will solve that issue. I purchased 4X4 posts and cut them in half. I then lag bolted on 2X4's and ran two 4X4's down the middle. I then laid 3/4" plywood on top of all this. My quick and dirty foundation took 3 hours to this point.

For my insulation layer I ran 2X6's around the perimeter and filled with my 5:1 perlcrete mix.

I've attached a few pictures to show progress so far. Next weekend hopefully that popcorn cement has set and I can start on laying the firebrick and putting the bricks over the dome.

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fisherhum 05-04-2011 05:39 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
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Well as with all things at the lake they take twice as long as expected. My wife and daughter had a fun run last weekend. With all the other things going on it looks like we won't get out there again until the May long weekend. However, I spent my spare time finishing up my pizza/patio cart that I started over the winter. I won't have any counter space with the oven so I decided to build this cart which will give me some basic space to put the cooked pizza, bread, and meat on. I also added a couple of handles which will double as tool holders. The project started with me wanting to play around with cement countertops next to the oven. I quickly realized that starting small was my best bet and I could do this in my home workshop over the winter. The cement didn't turn out quite as expected but I'm fairly happy with the finished cart.

brickie in oz 05-04-2011 11:31 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
Love the table. :cool:

fisherhum 05-23-2011 02:01 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
3 Attachment(s)
I only managed to knock off a few hours of work on the oven over the weekend in between the rain showers and r&r. I picked up some insulating firebricks with a plan to put them at the entrance of the oven. I was initially going to put the insulating firebricks straight on top of the edge of the wood and thought these bricks wouldn't pose a danger regarding the heat. However I quickly realized after playing with them that they abrade way to easily. I modified the front of the stand to put the insulating firebricks on top of the wood but with a layer of regular firebricks on top of them. I forgot my jigsaw at home so I couldn't put together a jig for the front arch. The next time out I should be able to complete the outer layer of bricks and the front arch. Last weekend the family popped down to the US for a quick shopping trip. I managed to get a stop into Harbour Freight and grabbed their 10" sliding compound saw and the IR thermometer. I'm usually a tool snob but I must say the saw is so far the best tool deal I've managed. I can't come close to the $100 I paid for it at any of the stores in Canada. I popped in a masonry blade and it worked great on the few bricks I had to cut. I plan on using a steel blade in it for the studs I'm going to use to frame the oven.

fisherhum 05-27-2011 04:53 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
3 Attachment(s)
Well another weekend of staying in town. I'm hoping to get the front arch jig built over the weekend and will post a quick picture if I get it done. In the meantime I received a few pictures of an old pizza oven I thought I would post. My mom just returned from a hiking trip in Italy and spotted the oven at one of the lunch stops.

fisherhum 06-05-2011 04:07 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
2 Attachment(s)
I managed to get in about 3 hours worth of work this morning. I took a few pictures about half way through. The first 5 rows on each side are now complete. I couldn't go any higher on the front arch as I need to move the back jig forward as the last few rows will only be half length so I can get the stove pipe/chimney in. Next weekend I'm hoping to get the rest of the brick work in. I want to be able to bake bread and cook a brisket in the oven so I decided to lay the bricks horizontally in order to maximize the thermal mass. A lot of brick efflorescence came out on the insulating firebricks. I'll have to clean it off in the finish process.

lwood 06-05-2011 04:51 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
No Insulation?

fisherhum 06-05-2011 05:09 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
I'm going to put the insulation layer on top of the brick. I'm going with Roxul (rock wool) as they have a manufacturing facility a few hundred km away from me so it's nice and cheap. Basically I'm utilizing the steel drum as a quick non removable form. It allows me to build the dome quickly and I can use cheap regular bricks as they can't breakdown and fall into the oven. I'm taking some of my inspiration from this build.

RTflorida 06-05-2011 08:46 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
I've got to say, until now I have been less than impressed with most of the inexpensive attempts at oven building. I've seen several other steel barrel and various grill conversions and none of them seemed worth the time, effort, and little money people have put into them. THIS ONE, I like. You have insulation, a proper arch and entry that looks properly sized, flue and chimney, its going to look great.......and I'm guessing that you are meeting your time and finance budgets. I see no reason why you wouldn't have years of cooking enjoyment at your weekend getaway.
If I ever get that cabin in the mountains that my wife and I want, this looks like a viable option for what would be our weekend getaway.


RTflorida 06-05-2011 08:50 PM

Re: Steel Drum Oven at the Lake Cottage
And that cart/table really kicks ass :D
I'm a woodworker at heart and really appreciate attention to detail in any furniture build.


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