Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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johnnybrewmeister 01-25-2013 03:13 PM

how big?
So I guess size really does matter. ;)

I built a small "practice" oven last year (12" ID). Came out really cool, and evolved to be quite permanent at this point. We have a large family though, so now I'm designing my "real" WFO. Gotta love having 2.

A typical firing for our family is to cook 8-10 personal size pizzas, then 2 loaves of bread, followed by something like a pan of banana/zuchini bread.

So, how big? 24"? 28"? 36" seems REALLY big, but maybe not.
What size do most folks have?


PsychDoc 01-29-2013 11:37 AM

Re: how big?
Well well Johnny, we seem to be kindred spirits. I find myself in almost the exact same situation, both in process and geogrography.
Seems to me it comes down to not just how many pizzas the oven can hold but how many you can reasonably manage at one time. I think the guys that can cook more than two at once must have additional prehensile apendiges. Not to mention the pie prep. How many can a person prepare at one time? Of course there are those who put their entire thanksgiving dinner i there so...
For what it's worth I'm going with a 32" on a roughly 4x4 base. As we know real estate is at a premium in these parts. And that seems plenty big.
And the 'brewmiester' does this mean you brew your own? Could be yet another point of commonality.
Oh yea, pictures, lots of pictures.

PsychDoc 01-29-2013 12:53 PM

Re: how big?
To answer another Question about sourcing materials. RCP block and brick has pretty much everything you may need. they have firebrick refractory cement and fireclay in addition to a lot of decorative stone and brick. I've used them before and I like them. There maybe other sources and if you get other hits on that I'll be pleased to find out where else I can look.

johnnybrewmeister 01-30-2013 08:33 PM

Re: how big?
I've got pics of my practice oven, but haven't looked into what is needed to post here.
I sourced the materials for it from my back yard (except the sand, got that from HomerDepot).

Are you building a brick oven? I'm building a clay one (a bit unorthodox I guess for this forum) so won't have the same structural integrity of a brick dome. That is why I worry about going "too big".

I've gotten firebricks from RPC before, but they didn't have fireclay. I found a clay store in National City that sells it (but would prefer RPC).

P.S. homebrew, yep! :)

nissanneill 01-31-2013 02:04 AM

Re: how big?
whatever you do, don't make it too small. Check out the comments from members who responded to the thread as to what would you do different if you were to build a new oven.
I appreciate that space is a very real concern, and big is not always best, but look carefully into where you see the oven being used, what you plan to use it for, how much wood will be required to heat economically etc before you decide on a size. Mine is a 40" (or really a metre diameter) and would not build one smaller. Remember that you need a fire in tour oven when cooking a reasonable quantity of pizzas and that takes up a reasonable amount, inhibiting your remaining useable floor. Also remember that you can't place your pizzas very close to the coals as the edges will burn.



how many you can reasonably manage at one time.
It is very easy for a person to cook 4 pizzas at once, bearing in mind tht you put them in one at a time, continually turn them and as my first pizzas are cooked in 1 minute, as soon as you put in 3, turn the first, put in the remaining one and pull out you first. I often take the pizzas off the assembly trays once they harden up a little and cook their remaining time on the hearth.


I think the guys that can cook more than two at once must have additional prehensile apendiges. Not to mention the pie prep.

How many can a person prepare at one time?
Who wants to prepare other peoples pizzas? All my guests and family make their own to their preferences and cook them. I show them initially and then it is up to them, great experiences and never, never had a disaster, only the occasional one with over cooked edge


johnnybrewmeister 01-31-2013 09:37 PM

Re: how big?
Thanks for the info Neill, nice setup you got there, by the way.
I'll search for the "what would you do different" thread, sounds like a good thing to think about now. Learn from ;)

I suppose if I submit a pic of my "practice" oven to the FB pictures collection, then I should be able to paste a link to it here. I don't have them anywhere with a URL pointing to them, just local to my laptop.

Great forum, btw, tons of good info.


nissanneill 02-01-2013 01:05 AM

Re: how big?
Thanks for the compliment, yes it works well but I don't use it as much as I should. It does come in very handy though when we entertain large groups of up to 50-70 people but luckily that is not very often, the inlaw's 60th anniversary and 90th birthday etc.
Why not add your pictures here on your thread????
Just go up to the paper clip and follow the prompts, easy mate!



david s 02-01-2013 02:28 AM

Re: how big?
If your oven is small you tend to use it more often, because it uses less fuel. No problem to cook three pizzas or a few loaves of bread.

jeeppiper 02-01-2013 07:49 AM

Re: how big?
I built a 42" oven...and (like most everyone), thinks it is the perfect size for me.

We typically cook 1-2 pies at a time for 4-6 people....On occassion, we have entertained upwards of 50 people with it (over 100 pies in one day) ....And I like to cook entire holiday meals in it (turkey + multple cassaroles, pies, bread, etc.)

Thinking back I probably would have been just as happy with a 36...but wouldnt go any smaller and I dont think any bigger for me would be any benefit.

PsychDoc 02-01-2013 08:45 AM

Re: how big?
I can appreciate the space of a large oven but I think one does need to balance the space with heat up time and fuel consumption.
David said that he can feed ? 30 - 50 people (correct me if I'm wrong) with a relatively small oven 21" if I remember correctly.
How often will you feed a group that large? Will you use it if it takes an extended heat up?
Another thought... When you have a gathering do you want to all sit and eat at once or do you "graze" and talk and snack and share etc?
Just some random thoughts.

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