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Old 08-08-2013, 07:29 AM
boerwarrior's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 450
Default Re: Does size matter?

I have a 32inch oven and cook one pizza at a time (which takes about 2 minutes per pizza. We had a party for 18 people and had no issues at all with people getting hungry!

In other words I am extremely happy with mine!

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Old 08-08-2013, 03:13 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Detroit
Posts: 405
Default Re: Does size matter?

I've built two oven. My first was 30" and my second was 42". I will preference all my statements with the fact that I build my oven to make Neapolitan pizza and that far and away takes precedent to everything else, and is what my comments will be based on. Each had it's ups and downs.

The 30" was also built lighter on mass then a standard Pompeii with 2" in the walls(full height sailor) and 3" in the dome. I could get that oven to over 1000F on the hearth in under an hour and keep it there for hours cooking pizza after pizza. The downside is the limitations from that physical size. For retained heat cooking it was fine, but for Neapolitan pizza it was just too small. With the fire in the oven a 12" pizza was just too close to the coals. You could cook great pizza in it, but it was also very easy to end up with a charred mess due to the proximity to the glowing hot coals. Other Neapolitan enthusiasts with small ovens will tell you similar stories.

The 42" oven is the opposite. It is a pizza baking machine with enough space to cook 3 12" pies at once without any of them getting as close to the fire as a single pie in the 30" oven. I also built it with an oversized door(18" wide) so I can cook 18" New York style pies at lower temperatures. The down side is going from the light mass 30" oven to a 42" oven with traditional pompeii mass was like going from a geo metro to a hummer. It is a beast to fire to true Neapolitan pizza temperatures. It just isn't worth the fuel and time to fire it up for my wife and I to have a couple pizzas on a wednesday after work.

I personally think based on these experience's a 36" oven would be perfect for home use. Insulate the heck out of it and adjust the mass based on your use. If you want to do lots of retained heat cooking go with traditional pompeii mass and deal with the little bit of added fuel and time to fire it. If you just want to cook pizza use a full height sailor course and then cut your bricks into thirds for 3" of mass in the dome.
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Old 08-08-2013, 05:35 PM
david s's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Townsville, Nth Queensland,Australia
Posts: 5,163
Default Re: Does size matter?

With a small oven you can overcome the burning edge problem by either cooking smaller pizzas or by removing about half the coals and then maintaining a neat fire on one side. This does not require too much space because a smaller oven requires a smaller fire. Having said that, we usually cook around 9" pizzas, but that has more to do with them being easier to roll out.
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Old 08-08-2013, 05:45 PM
bobmurphy's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: missouri ozarks
Posts: 78
Default Re: Does size matter?

Thank you everyone for the replies. It's nice to get some perspective on a project of this scale.

Great to get an opinion from someone who has used two different sizes. I have been leaning towards a 32 or 36. I hadn't thought about the closeness of the coals to the pizza in a smaller oven. Point well taken.

Fuel will really not be an issue here in the Ozarks. Very plentiful, quite cheap, and either oak or hickory.

Well one decision down, I will be building a 36"oven. Did some digging tonight after work. Not really that hot 85, but the humidity is also about 85% so no fun. A half an hour was enough for me. Tomorrow I'll dig some more.
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