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cholme 06-22-2011 10:02 AM

32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
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First, I want to say that out of the all the forum groups I belong to, this one is by far the best. All of you have great information and it really seems like a little community.

I got it in my head about 4+ years ago that I wanted a pizza oven. I was initially looking at the barrel design and actually bought plans from someone online. I then found FB. After researching a bit I started leaning toward the Pompeii oven design… it didn’t hurt that Pompeii is one of my wife’s and my favorite places.

So I started to lay it out in my yard and in SketchUp. We determined the right spot for the location and about 3 years ago had a pad poured to house a BBQ station and our pizza oven… then we had our 1st Daughter so things got put on hold. About 16 Months later we had our second Daughter, so things got further put on hold: All the while though I was looking at the plans and reading through the forums.

I even decided to try to fashion a Pizza oven out of our charcoal grill. I bought 12in unglazed tiles from Home Depot and lined my grill with them. Seemed like a decent alternative… boy was I wrong. In case anyone is thinking of trying it let me tell you what you will get. You start the charcoal and get the grill and tiles up to 600deg, this takes about 45 min. Then you are ready for your pizza… you open the grill cover and in comes the cold air: so now you have a tile floor that is 600deg and a dome that is around 200deg. You will wind up with a black crust and uncooked toppings… NOT good pizza.

So, after our last bbq pizza debacle, we decided it was time for a real pizza oven. I broke ground a few weeks ago. Because of the limits in our yard, it will be a 32in i.d. oven with a 16 in dome. I figured the door should be about 15 in wide and 10 in tall, so I can't make any jumbo pizzas, but that is no big deal. I won't be the "ultimate" dream oven, but it will be 100% better than the pizza oven we have now. I went with the higher dome because I do like to bake bread too.

Anyway, I welcome any comments and critique; I know anything said here will be said in the best interest of my oven and the FB community in general.


Sherman Oaks, Ca

P.s. The oven will be named "cave canem"... 10 points if you get the reference, no fair Googleing it. :)

Sent from my iPad

cholme 06-29-2011 08:59 AM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
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I made some progress last weekend. I laid out my floor and cut the bricks, and even got them set using the mortar/sand mixture (1:1).

Unfortunately, I came across a couple of flaws in my hearth design. Both are things I literally added or changed at the last minute. First, I decided to add a small counter area in front of the oven opening. When I was building the forms I thought "it doesn't need to be the full 7in thick, I will only make it the thickness of the top." Well, now I have a 12in counter that is supported by a flakey mixture of cement and vermiculite; granted I have re-bar, but I still don't like it. I will wind up building a metal support and I think that will solve the problem.

The other issue is that I mis-measured when I set the floor so it is too far to the right. I will have to figure out how to build my enclosure in a much smaller area than anticipated. Still a fixable problem.

My advice is if you are going to make changes to a plan, make sure you thing it through, don't just pull the trigger. :)

I am using Pacific Clay bricks that I ordered through Home Depot at $1.16.

cholme 07-02-2011 09:33 AM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
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Well I made some great progress and am hoping to have a full day today. I made my own version of "the indispensible tool". Jim made some nice plans found at His are a bit more elaborate and ultimately a better tool, but if you want something pretty simple mine works pretty well.

After getting into the project I am happy I decided to taper the bricks, it really reduces the mortar and seems like it will be more sound construction.

I am very impressed with so much of the workmanship I see posted in this forum, and even more impressed after starting this project.

cholme 07-06-2011 11:23 AM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
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I am getting there... Right now the biggest challenge is that here in the San Fernando Valley is has been about 100deg. I have had a moving blanket covering the dome and I got a cheap mister from Orchard Supply Hardware to keep it moist.

I have about 4 more chains to go. :)

I used a different technique for the opening, you can see it at:


Sherman Oaks, CA

NYC 07-06-2011 11:34 AM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
Try staggering the brick joints from one row to the next. See how the last photo you have many mortar joints lining up. It will be stronger and less prone to cracks.

cholme 07-06-2011 01:50 PM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
Yes... strangely I actually tried to stagger them. For some reason the way I cut the bricks made them align almost perfectly at the back side. The next few courses were ok though.

chidding 07-06-2011 06:24 PM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
Excellent work so far, really making some fast progress,
And as far as weather goes, i will trade you any day. Has been too cold/wet here to do anything!

cholme 07-10-2011 10:05 PM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
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Finally, I finished the dome. :) It wasn't easy, but I have to say it was totally rewarding and not quite as difficult as I thought it would be. I last few chains were challenging to get the correct angles for the bricks. I used the "indespensible tool" for the first 6 chains, but then they got too vertical. I wound up using a styrofoam form for the last ones. The problem with using the forms is you can't clean the inside of the dome as easily.

cholme 07-12-2011 10:27 PM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
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Clean a little more of my dome. I used a stiff wire brush to get some of the mortar film off. I will probably leave well enough alone at this point. I don't want to get into the muratic acid stuff. I am pretty please with the outcome.

Can't wait til I can fire her up.

brickie in oz 07-12-2011 11:08 PM

Re: 32" Oven in Sherman Oaks
Nice oven. :cool:

Your yard must be kind of tight for space I take it from the positioning of the oven?

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