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Gromit 06-29-2009 09:00 PM

Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
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Hi to all. I have been lurking in the forums for a few months now, learning an incredible amount by reading about dozens of builds. Thanks upfront to James for freely publishing the Pompeii plans; what a resource!

What I really enjoy about this forum is the fact that nobody follows the plans! Each builder brings their own ideas and innovations to the core ideas. I got started on my own build about six weeks ago and the first thing I chucked out from the plans was the recommendations on foundation size and hearth size.

I have space constraints in the yard, so I decided to squeeze a 36" oven in to the smallest space I could. My foundation is 52" x 60"; my hearth is 48" x 56". I have 36" floor space + 2 x 3.5" brick + 2 x 2.5" insulation to fill the entire 48" of width. Most of the dome will be a full 1/2 brick thick and will be insulated with loose vermiculite on top of a 3" ceramic blanket. The soldier course at the left, right, and rear will be sheared off to 3.5" thick and will have three layers of blanket squeezed in to the 2.5" of stud-wall cavity between the brick and the hardiboard exterior.

...will continue in another post so I can post more pictures...


Neil2 06-29-2009 09:10 PM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
Look forward to your build David.

Keep posing pictures.

Gromit 06-29-2009 09:38 PM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
3 Attachment(s)
For no good reason, I decided on a hybrid height of 16" for my dome; I just liked the way it looked on paper. The interior soldier course is 6" high. I should probably buttress the thing, but in the name of science, I won't. Five years hence (or sooner) I will report back here and let you know whether a dome such as this should be buttressed.

I had intended to use an Indispensable Tool, but gave up on that when I decided on a non-hemispherical shape for the dome. I wanted to be able to clean the mortar as I go, so I built a rotating vane to serve as the form. I have some furniture glides in-between two discs of plywood to help it spin better.

The entry arch went up yesterday. I pulled the arch form after five minutes. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I was somewhat amazed that it didn't collapse!

One other note: I have read several comments complaining about how what a pain it is to grind back the cement block for the angle iron over the stand entry. I had horizontal gaps between my dry-set blocks, so I just pushed back the top-front row of blocks and got by without any grinding. A picture of this is attached. May not be pretty, but it will all get covered up.


Dino_Pizza 06-29-2009 09:57 PM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
Looks great David. I love the low dome. Very authentically Pompeii and perfect for pizza and flat breads. You'll be surprised what else you can fit in it when you are done. Your dimensions should work fine. The blanket DOES compress and shaving your bricks to get the most diameter oven from the base you build is a fine idea. I can appreciate your approach to the angle iron at the front block opening and the quarter "circle" plywood you've got to follow your rings around. I did almost the exact thing and so am sure you're build will be at least as successful as mine. Can't wait to see it all unfold...take care, Dino

cynon767 06-30-2009 09:58 AM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
Am I missing it, or does the base of your plywood vane assembly not split in half? If not, how are you going to get it out once the oven is built?

Otherwise, it looks great. I love the look of the low dome, and think there probably is some truth to the notion that the low ceiling helps considerably with pizza cooking. If we didn't want our oven to be more multipurpose, I would probably do the same.

Gromit 06-30-2009 10:37 AM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
The bottom piece of plywood is split in two. The top piece of plywood to which the vane is attached is not split. The plan is to unscrew the vane, run a skillsaw half way across, spin it around, and run the skillsaw up the other side.

If all else fails, I will just light a big fire.


cynon767 06-30-2009 10:48 AM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.

Originally Posted by Gromit (Post 58793)
If all else fails, I will just light a big fire.


lol- that thought had occurred to me as well.

keep up the good work... I'm looking forward to seeing the low-vault ceiling develop!

Lars 06-30-2009 11:14 AM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
Hi David,
I had plenty of room for my build, but in my hurry to get started, I ended up with a slightly small footprint for the base too.

I ended up with 4'8" width on the structural, and and even 4' on the vermiculite layer. It was slightly longer ( 4'4") front to back on the vermiculite layer, but I just ended up using vermiculite portland around the oven at the the three 'tight' areas, the sides and back. I have seen other guys just form the vermiculite in, and it really accepts a 'scratch' coat of stucco pretty well ( directly on the vermiculite) Let's see, I had 39" inside + 4.5" times two(=4'=48") so my dome kind of hangs over the edge with the 4" of vermiculite, stucco, etc.

As you said, everyone kind of ends up doing something a little different. I realized that when another site I had plans from ( for a barrel vault oven) used the rebar layer of the structural slab for the insulating layer, and put the solid concrete on top of that!!! Many different ways to do things, most is valid and workable!


Gromit 07-01-2009 07:11 AM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
RE: Intersection of entry arch and dome.

I am considering a great cop-out: I want to cast the transition from the dome to the entry arch from refractory cement. I realize that I would be bypassing a rite-of-passage by not banging my head with a diamond blade over all sorts of funky angle cuts. But, I think I would be happier with the end-product, having a smoother transition. My low-dome comes in a lot lower at the arch than most of the builds I have seen. It would not be difficult to make the form with a couple of formica scraps I have

I know the stuff can be expensive, but I don't think I would need more than a 25 lb. bag.

Thoughts? Recommendations on product?


DrakeRemoray 07-01-2009 07:36 AM

Re: Smaug: A 36" x 16" build.
Hey David,

If you cast a vent, it will make the transition much easier and give you a better draw and less smoke out the front.
Here is the vent casting section of my thread, it discusses materials I used:

Also, since you are space contstrained, you can check out how I framed to keep the studs away from the widest parts of the dome...(a link to a later post in the same thread)

Hope that helps,


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