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bbell 11-07-2008 10:27 AM

A couple of questions
I'm starting the process to build a pompeii oven and have enjoyed all the insight, creativity and sharing through this forum. What a difference it makes.

My son and I were at a farmers market a short while ago and feasted on a pizza hot out of an oven atop a trailer. My son suggested we build one and that started it. Had a hot tub that was never used on our deck - now in many pieces, extracted and dumped. After contemplaing the deck, the whole where the hot tub used to be and the weight of an oven I decided the deck had to follow the fate of the hot tub... Should have consulted the wife first. Another story...

Because of the slop under the previous deck I need to put in a 4' retaining wall and backfill, tamp, etc. Will try to be patient and let it all settle for a short while so I don't face too much settleing once the oven sits atop the fill. Probably won't be all that patient so we'll see. Also, the rains have started here in Seattle and it might slow things down a little.

So that's where I am!

First question is whether there are any benefits to heat retention by placing the hearth bricks on end or on their side rather than flat.

Second question - has anyone built a 36" and wished for a 42"? or vica versa? I do plan on some bread, certainly roasts, and mostly pizza.

Thanks in advance for the help I know I'm going to be asking you for and I'll certainly keep you posted on any progress and lack of patience...


staestc 11-07-2008 11:41 AM

Re: A couple of questions
Welcome to the forum Bill :) I have not actually built an oven yet, but am starting, so I will let the experts address your questions more specifically. But I have been studying a lot to figure out what best fits my needs, so can offer a couple of things I have learned.

If you are going to do mostly pizza, do bread just for yourself and some neighbors and family, and do roasts and the like, then a well insulated dome oven along the lines of the Forno Bravo Pompeii plans is exactly what you need in the way of oven mass. Basically, if you increase the heat holding capacity of the oven, by thickening the floor, or the dome, it will take more time and fuel to get it all heated up to the point you can cook pizzas. It will also stay hot for a longer time, so you could cook more complete oven loads of bread, so it is a trade based on what you want to do with it.

I have read more than a few posts from people that have built a big, high mass oven, that takes a long time to get to temperature, etc., the lament the fact that the oven never gets used because it takes so long to heat up. Personally, I have come to the conclusion that something along the lines described in the plans mentioned above is just about perfect for somebody like me, that wants to be able to use it often for pizza, and still be able to do bread and roasts, etc.

I have decided to build a 42", because I have the space to do it. I have not read many people saying that they wish they had a smaller oven, but have heard folks say they wish they had built a 42. I don't think that the fuel or time to heat up is significantly different between the two, but the 42 gives you more floor space to work with, given that for pizza cooking you will probably still have a fire in the oven pushed off to the back or side. But a 36 will do just fine, if that fits your space and needs.


RTflorida 11-07-2008 12:15 PM

Re: A couple of questions
I built a 36", more than enough for me and the family. I don't host many parties, so I don't think I need a larger oven. I can do 2 pizzas at a time with ease...I think anyone attempting more is either VERY, VERY good or enjoys watching pizza incinerate - mine are done in 90 seconds (no time for error - place, turn, turn, remove).
As for other cooking - Last Thanksgiving I roasted a 17 lb turkey along with 2 other pans of stuffing and sweet potatoes at the same time.


RTflorida 11-07-2008 12:45 PM

Re: A couple of questions
Bill, one other point. A 36" usually heats up a little faster and uses less wood (provided both would have equal insulation) than a 42". I can get my dome to burn clean (turn white) in 45-50 minutes, let it burn down and stabilize for another 10-15 minutes; 60-70 minutes from being lit to placing the first pizza.


DrakeRemoray 11-07-2008 01:11 PM

Re: A couple of questions
Welcome! On that first question about putting the hearth bricks on their is not necessary. It will take longer for the deck/hearth to heat up and you will not be happy. there is plenty of retained heat in the dome and it will continue to charge the oven and keep it hot when using retained heat to cook (bread, etc).


Frances 11-07-2008 02:05 PM

Re: A couple of questions
The pompeii ovens plans really are good - just about the ideal oven for home use! Pizza, bread, roasts, cake ... it all works.

I actually built a 40 " oven in the end, maybe 39, so half away inbetween and its just right. Don't know if that helps at all though... :)

bbell 11-07-2008 09:28 PM

Re: A couple of questions
It all helps!
Many thanks to you all.

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