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petanque 03-08-2012 04:53 AM

How small?
It seems that larger the oven the larger the cost to build and fire.

As a person who lives in a household that has 2 adults and one child (12 years)

It seems the need to cook for lots of people will be infrequent.

While a big oven may give bragging rights and perhaps make up for other things

If I am only going to cook 2 or 3 12 inch pizzas or a modest roast and a loaf of bread how big an oven is really needed.

Are there disadvantages to a small oven other that the modest amount that can be cooked in them?

Is temperature control more challenging for instance?

SCChris 03-08-2012 07:15 AM

Re: How small?
Petanque, The size of the oven does relate to the dollars spent on materials, labor and firewood needed, but not to the degree that you might be envisioning. An example would be the cost of 100 firebricks or an extra day of labor to build, if any. As for the cost of the firewood, I’m sure that there is some 20% less I can’t say..

I think that the ability to use the oven any time that you want is more important than size. Any oven you build take your time to get the work area right. It needs to be comfortable in all of your weather, shade from the sun, protection from wind and rain and area lighting that allows you to work at the oven and enjoy your guests. By the time you do these things the cost of a few more or less oven inches becomes a minor cost how the oven fits your lifestyle is key..

I built a 43” oven with the idea that I might host a 30 plus person party occasionally and might need the oven space to roast a small pig, lamb or couple of standing rib roasts plus all the fixings. I’ve only once used it for a party of 20, but know that a party for 30 wouldn’t be a problem as far as the oven goes. If all you want of a WFO is to cook a roast and all of the fixings for a maximum of 10-15 persons, a 36” inch oven will do you proud!! As for Pizza, as long as you have the about 3 times the diameter of the pizzas as an oven diameter, you should be fine. Why 3X, 1/3 for the fire 1/3 for the pizza and 1/3 for space between the pizza and the fire.

As for temp control, the oven mass makes control less of an issue than you might think. Getting the oven to pizza temps is a 2 hour burn, some say more or less time is needed; bread is baked on the cool down as are other items. The time to cool down to the temps you want for these, other than pizza foods, will take you a little time to discover. I see this as slow food entertaining, so I schedule a bit more time with friends to allow for the variances of the oven and food is needed and enjoyed.


PS Playing Petanque or Bocce is a great way to enjoy time with friends.

SCChris 03-08-2012 10:39 AM

Re: How small?
I think I remember some around having ovens as small as 28 to 32 inches, if these sizes fit your lifestyle, go for it. I have wondered about how I might use a second, mini oven as an adjunct to the large one.


david s 03-08-2012 11:27 PM

Re: How small?
I'm a fan of small ovens. Their advantages are numerous.

1. You don't need a bomb shelter to house it.

2. Smaller means less weight, cost and faster build time.

3. Lower fuel consumption. Fuel used is related to chamber volume so a 25 % increase in diam = 100 % increase in volume/ fuel used. use a small oven more frequently. No trouble to fire up and cook just two pizzas.

( I can cook for parties of up to 30 with ease and my oven is only 21") My oven (when dry) takes only 4 Kg wood to reach 350C in 1.5 Hrs

6. most folk only cook one pizza at a time anyway, the prep takes longer.

7. A small oven doesn't take up half your backyard.

8. If you need more oven you can always supplement with your normal kitchen oven.

9. You don't require long handled tools that are likely to clock some poor kid in the head.

10. less emissions into the atmosphere.

petanque 03-08-2012 11:54 PM

Re: How small?
the only people who think Adelaide is a country town are those who live in Sydney or Melbourne.

I was thinking about 800mm across.

@ wotavidone if you wanted to host a wood foraging weekend it could be popular.

david s 03-09-2012 12:11 AM

Re: How small?
I've never paid for any wood. It's everywhere if you open your eyes. Try asking council workers who do tree work to cut you some thin slices, which split more easily, then store them for a year to dry. I also used to collect fallen branches (nothing bigger than a wrist) when walking the dog. Unfortunately he's dead now but these fallen branches (hardwood only) are great to burn and don't require cutting. You just stomp on them or use the fork of a tree to break them.

Manolo54 03-09-2012 12:13 AM

Re: How small?
I have built both 24 inch and 28 inch ovens...I like the 28 inch better as I have a little more room between the pizza and the fire.

david s 03-09-2012 12:30 AM

Re: How small?
In theory, as the 28" is 20% bigger in diam. it will have a 73% bigger oven chamber, assuming both are a hemisphere. This means 73% more fuel consumption too.

petanque 03-09-2012 03:32 AM

Re: How small?
is my biology training now showing as things get bigger the surface area to volume ratio changes.

when it comes to animals small animals expend a lot more energy just keeping warm.

wile intuitively it seems sensible that big ovens will require more fuel/heat is it a direct linear relationship with volume?

david s 03-09-2012 09:43 AM

Re: How small?
Lilliputian physics explains why spiders legs are so skinny compared to those of an elephant. But the difference in the size of a small oven to that of a large one is no where near as different ,so it hardly counts as a factor IMO

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