Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community (
-   Getting Started (
-   -   Jim's build for the common man (

jimkramer 09-12-2010 07:02 PM

Jim's build for the common man
1 Attachment(s)
I'm finally throwing down: started my build today. I have no idea what I'm doing, (I'm a social worker not a mason) and have 2 young kids. So I've decided to do mine as simply as possible - no tapered bricks or anything else that isn't totally necessary. So read follow this thread if you're like me, with no experience, and trying to figure out if you can do it, too.

Things got off to a bad start. First, I cheated a bit - had the guy fixing my patio make the foundation slab. Somehow I guess I gave the guy the wrong dimensions, and it was made too small. I don't really remember - this was a year ago - maybe he messed up. Plus, the slab was practically a trapezoid - very unsquare corners. Definitely his fault. But at least the patio looks great.

After mulling it over, I've decided not to redo the slab myself, but roll with it. I started the block stand today. I'm not sure if the mortar had the right consistency. The blocks were pretty much level, but not perfect. If the bubble in the level was touching the line, I pronounced it okay and went to the next block, cause trying to get it perfect made me and my friend crazy.

I wanted to make a 42" oven, but I could only fit a block stand 62.5"x78" on my slab, which will only fit a 36". However, Neil2 says I can cantilever (extend) my hearth slab out past the block stand, so maybe I'll do this to fit a 42". Any other thoughts from my new oven building brothers? (I assume not too many sisters, but there must be a few.)

Praying to the god of pizza ovens for help. I'm officially obsessed with this now!

Tscarborough 09-12-2010 07:11 PM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
Build the CMU up to the desired level, then form the slab to the dimensions that you want. The minor amount of cantilever is inconsequential.

SteveP 09-13-2010 09:24 AM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
I would suggest you find a good builder on this site and follow their work. That's what I did when building mine. When I became confused, which was a lot, I referred to their build and got a lot of answers. Good luck.

gdest 09-15-2010 10:03 AM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
I agree that the amount of cantilever would be minor at best for a 42" oven. A couple of things from I learned from my build (which is still in process):

1.The level of the blocks are not as inportant as the level of your hearth slab. You can make adjustments to the level by adjusting the forms for your hearth.

2. Fire clay, don't sweat it if you can't find a supplier. Just go ahead and cut your shoulder course, you will have more then enough fire clay to mix with your sand for the leveling course.

3. Do not be afraid to ask any in this forum a question, there are many who will give advise and guidence throughout your build. However they all have one very glaring short comming.....they will not come to the house to physically help you!

4.Don't enlist help from your kids, I tried this with my son and the following events happened:
a. He would go skiing out of state on the weekends I would be home
b. After ski season, he took up fly fishing.
c. After fishing, he got engaged
Kids will do anything to get out of work

Good luck with your build.


jimkramer 09-15-2010 05:38 PM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
Thanks, Gary! My son wants to watch Curious George, so he's not much more help. Looks like I'll be working on this about 3 hours/week at a time while my kids nap. So it'll go slow, but it'll get done eventually.

splatgirl 09-16-2010 09:15 AM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
Sistah here!
WRT the cantilevered slab, I agree that it will not be a problem, structurally. Just keep in mind that it most likely will affect the finished look of your enclosure and may limit your materials and styling options. In my world, that is an opportunity, but if you have something specific in mind for the finished look, you might see it otherwise.

Don't sweat the small stuff and remember it's not rocket science...just keep telling yourself lots of guys and girls a lot dumber than you have done it :)
Almost no one here had much or any masonry experience pre-WFO.
Following or looking to the well-documented builds for help is a great idea, but don't let it intimidate you...there are some serious detail FREAKS around here.

Have fun and good luck! Best project EVER!

azpizzanut 09-17-2010 04:09 PM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
Hello Jim,

Golly, SPLATGIRL got it right. "It ain't rocket science". I stewed and stressed over how to build the oven I wanted. I think I looked at every oven build of the past ten years at least three times before deciding I could do it and be confident it would match or exceed what some others were doing. I'm not a mason or engineer but I do have a simple technical background and a huge bit of confidence now after a successful start on my oven.

Search on "Dry stacked pizza oven" and see what a temporary oven looks like, then see what the evolution of a simple, no mortar, oven looks like, in the same search envelope. Those ovens cook fine pizza and bread just as they are, but as Splatgirl said, there are some detail oriented individuals who would have atrial fibrillations over such construction. I'm not knocking either method but trying to illustrate that both the detail oriented and casual builder can be successful. My next oven will be the temporary or casual type since it will suit my future plans for a property development plan.

Something I learned is that a "so-so" level bubble tolerance can gang up on you and give a surprise at the end of the course that you have to adjust. I learned this as a surveyor.....slight errors add up and sometimes can't be adjusted out without a lot of time and effort. Do try to keep the bubble well within the marks since it will save you having to do a correction.

Best of luck to you and please keep us posted on your progress.


Tscarborough 09-17-2010 04:30 PM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
My surveying mentor (My Grandfather) always said that it is easier to start perfect than it is to correct. Here is his theodolite, built in 1870 and in use until 1978 when we used it to lay out his swimming pool. Still in working order, although it needs a polish and calibration.

(That is my Pop's hardhat and a pen and ink of my Circa 1979 workboots by Mom)

azpizzanut 09-17-2010 04:51 PM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
Hello, Tscarborough,

Ah yes, I remember the old transits. Most of my work was with a Photogrammetry crew working for the state highway dept. We did mapping and highway construction surveys using aerial photos. Later we did county map projects with first order surveys using a Zeiss T-2 and T-3 and elevations with a NI-2. That is great work for a young, single fellow. I got to travel and see all parts of Arizona that few have ever viewed from trail or mountain-top.

The boots are familiar as well. I wore out several pair of Redwing boots with Vibram soles and several other brands nearly as good. Lots of memories.

Interestingly, many of the small towns that we stayed in had a pizza restaurant and of course lots of Mexican food cooked on a heath or bbq. I had occasion to see hornos and bread ovens in SE Arizona too.

Thank you for the pic of your dad's memories too.


Tscarborough 09-17-2010 05:02 PM

Re: Jim's build for the common man
My survey work was commercial construction layout with modern (1980s, laser levels, no GPS) instruments. That particular instrument laid out most of the counties and a lot of the towns of the Mississippi Gulf coast after the Civil war.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:11 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0
2006/10 Forno Bravo, LLC