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ogorir 09-02-2013 10:26 PM

40" corner build in central TX
Hey guys,
I've been dreaming about building an outdoor kitchen area since we moved to Texas 3 years ago, it's just too hot inside to run the oven during the summer.

2 weeks ago I started building my first "stage," a ~40" pompeii on a corner stand. I dug footings and poured the slab last weekend, did 4 courses of concrete block this past week, and this weekend started my (mostly) decorative brickwork. I'm doing a few courses of kingsize brick corbelled out 3" from my concrete block, as well as the tudor-style archway into the wood storage area.

I got the arch and 3/4 of the first course of brick done today. If things go well after work this week, I should be able to pour my top slab next weekend.

I see there are quite a few central Texas builders, so I'm going to solicit some help in locating the hard-to-find materials. I'm in Waco, so Dallas or Austin aren't too far of a drive.
I'm looking for insulation supplies, mostly, but if I can get firebrick cheaper than 1.64/brick incl gas elsewhere, I'll be a happy guy.

Due to cost, I'm planning on mixing my own mortar, and I'm a bit confused on the final consensus on the ingredients. lime? no lime? 3:1:1:1, 2:2:1. Is home depot/lowes "mortar clay" true fireclay? any sources for actual washed silica in the area?(I'd love to get some for sandblasting, as well).

Thanks in advance!

texman 09-04-2013 06:21 AM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
welcome to the forum.:)
Reach out to TScarbourough. He is in austin and in the bidness.

texman 09-05-2013 08:39 AM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX

I saw the pics of your build posted in the pics section. If you put them with your build thread, then we can keep up with your progress better.:)

ogorir 09-05-2013 07:27 PM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
3 Attachment(s)
Is there an easy way to do that? the pics are too big to use the IMG tag for, they don't fit in the frame.

(edit, in order to not waste a post...)

These are the most recent. I haven't really gotten anything done tonight on the stand itself, but I borrowed an 11' flatbed from work and grabbed some 20' rebar and 15 bags of concrete for the top slab. I can't stand paying $5 for 10' rebar when I can pay $6 for 20, especially when I have to cut it all anyway.

I'm going to go out in a minute and see if I can scrounge enough plywood together to make a form. I intended to buy a sheet of melamine while I had the big truck, but I got too distracted trying to get some Maximizer that wasn't rock hard at home depot. They opened up another pallet, still hard. the store manager said something to the effect of "thats how it always comes in, it's just compacted. drop it on the ground a few times and it will break up." he might be right. I really don't think so, as I did that, and hit the hard corners with a hammer a few times. it breaks, but doesn't turn to dust again. I guess I'm going to have to burn a bag and do a test pour to make sure it's going to mix up fast enough that I can pour the slab.

Oh well... It will work out. Off to find some plywood, I suppose.

Tscarborough 09-05-2013 07:46 PM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
You have to reduce them in size to about 800x600 then add them via the "manage attachments button" below the editing window.

ogorir 09-05-2013 08:00 PM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
6 Attachment(s)
ok, so no easy import from the photo album... I'll just edit this post with pics here in a minute

The slab is 70x70" 4" thick with 16"w x 8"d footings, poured in about 4 hours one bag of Maximizer at a time mixed with a shovel in a wheelbarrow. I'm on expansive clay, so I wet the ground down fairly well (but not saturated) before I poured to minimize heave later(I hope). The rebar is 1/2", set about 2 3/4" from the top. I ran a 2" pass through conduit and a 3/4: electrical feed conduit for a light in my wood storage as well as possible temp probe integration later.

4 courses of block, 9 cores filled w/ 1/2" rebar reinforcement. I stuffed a bag just below the top block on the rest of the cores and filled them full so i had something to get a solid mortar bed on for the brick courses as well.

The 45 degree brick sections on either side of the arch are to this moment still the most difficult part of the whole deal. I spent more time trying to figure out how to cut these kingsize (9 5/8"x 2 5/8" x 2 3/4") hollow bricks to make that work than I'd really care to think about. The only thing that saved me is the fact that the block is getting stucco'd. I'm now planning on stuccoing all the way to the arch face, hence why the ugly side of the brick is showing .

The arch went fairly well, but not flawlessly. I had to re-do the bottom corners a few times to get them aimed to meet in the middle and I wound up breaking a mortar joint trying to figure out my keystone, but otherwise it went well.

It's been interesting learning how to bed the bricks... the first course are headers, figuring out a corner was intersting, but they laid down fairly well and were fairly easy to level, much harder to keep a straight edge down the side. The second course, on the other hand, were absolutely terrible to level because they kept trying to fall off the edge. I guess I should've only done a 1/2" step on each course instead of 3/4" with these skinny bricks.

ogorir 09-08-2013 01:41 PM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
5 Attachment(s)
Alright, I didn't get much done until last night. I had to clean the mud room and garage of clutter, run over to my co-worker's house to borrow his little suitcase stick welder, get some rod, etc.

I got the bottom course of rebar cut and welded last night, did the upper course and tie-ins to the rebar in the filled block cores today and poured the upper slab. I jumped on the rebar for a while, it gives about 1/4", but that's about it. I'm reasonably certain I could've stacked the remaining building materials on top of the rebar without it failing. A wee bit of overkill, maybe.

My form is just a piece of 3/8 OSB cut to fit vaguely inside my brick sitting on some concrete blocks, a few of which are shimmed. I know it's going to be a bastard to remove, but I'll manage. I had to construct a cardboard dam around the arch, as I ended up pouring the slab lower than I had originally planned on and the bottom edge would've been visible. with a little grinder cleanup it should be a fairly smooth transition. It sagged a little bit under the weight of the concrete, but not too badly, I think.

I set a 2" deep circle into the center of the slab to get more insulation in. I used a 6" nail with a washer welded at 4" above the OSB and a 1x2" board cut to 42" with a hole in the middle to roughly screed the hole, then hand floated it level.

onward and upward

ogorir 09-11-2013 05:47 AM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
I knocked the forms out last night. I think it only took 15 minutes, but I think I broke just about every block. in hind sight, I should've bedded them in 1/4" of sand so I could wiggle them loose. Its interesting how much harder the solid blocks are to score and break while under a compressive load. I scored the top blocks in half and broke them, but instead of a couple of taps after the score, it took a minute with a 4# sledge and even then it shattered the opposite face of the lower block.

Obviously, the hollow block I had stacked on the 4x16" edge across 2 of the corners was super easy. I should've just bought hollow block for this and planned on sacrificing the top block.

The cardboard dam worked pretty well, but it moved a bit, so I'm going to have to clean it up with the angle grinder later. The underside of the slab is still good and wet, so my curing puddle seems to be working, even in this heat.

I ordered my cal sil blanket (100sqft of 1") and 2- 1" boards as a final thermal break under the floor. I'm going down to visit Tscarborough this Saturday to buy my perlite, fireclay, lime, and flue liner, and I'm hoping to leave work early today and grab my firebrick. On that last note, finding materials and dealing with building mat'l stores that are 8-5, M-F only has easily been the most difficult part of this project.

The forecast for next week is looking very damp, so I'm really going to try to get my perlcrete poured on saturday when I get back from Austin and put a thin sealing layer of mortar on the top surface so it doesn't absorb so much water. I have a 10x10' popup tent I'm planning on putting over it, but I have zero doubts that it will still get wet.

while it's raining, I'm hoping I can get my floor and first course cut and build a tilt turn jig. I'll probably do the latter at work out of steel.

irelande5 09-11-2013 06:36 PM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
great start, look forward to following your build

ogorir 09-16-2013 05:49 AM

Re: 40" corner build in central TX
I've almost gathered all my materials! On Friday I went over to Darden in Waco and bought 200 firebrick. When I got home, the 2 rolls of 1" cal-sil blanket and 2 sheets of 1" cal-sil board I ordered from Skyline Components in Phoenix were on the back steps. Saturday morning I drove down to Austin to visit TScarborough @ MPI and get my perlite, fireclay, flue pipe, and lime. On the way back I stopped at lowes and grabbed a few bags of portland, a bag of topping mix, and a sheet of 1/8" masonite w/melamine on one side.
All that's left to pick up is bulk fine brick sand, which I will get sometime early this week, and my stucco layers.

I had a previous engagement Saturday evening, but I had enough time to cut 2- 2" strips of masonite and clamp it into a 49.5" circle to form up my perlcrete. I placed a firebrick outside the circle every 45 degrees to keep it from moving. One side needed to be leveled up about 1/8" due to irregularities in the top slab.

Sunday I mixed up some perlcrete and poured my insulation. I dry mixed the portland and perlite, as recommended by everyone, 1:8, as recommended by Tom. My first attempt was a bit of a blunder, as I mixed a whole 4cu ft bag of perlite with half a bag of portland. It took forever to get it mixed evenly and it just barely fit in the wheelbarrow. I knew I wasn't going to have any chance wetting it in the wheelbarrow, so I used the mortar tub to mix up ~1cu ft batches. I'm really glad I did, as it was almost impossible to get the perlite to wet in even in the small tub. That's some seriously floaty, hydrophobic stuff. Even using the hose to mist it wet adding a scoop at a time to the mortar tub I still wound up with a floating island of perlite.

Once I ran out of my first 4cu ft of perlite premix, I started mixing the perlite and portland in smaller quantities (8- 2.5qt buckets to 1) and adding water in the wheelbarrow. I wound up needing 3 more of those to get my form filled, which is approx 2.25cu ft.

The last batch I tried something a little different. I mixed the water and portland together and added that to the perlite. It was way easier to tell when you had the perlite wetted, and the final texture is more workable, but It didn't seem like I got the perlite covered as well. It certainly solidified, so it can't be too bad. I think it probably took 30% less time to do it that way. I'm going to try a larger batch like that when I start the dome insulation, hopefully it will speed things up.

I plan on coating the top and about 1/2" of the sides of the perlcrete with a thin layer (3/16-1/4") of topping mix to level the surface and prevent the corner from crumbling while I assemble everything.

This week, I'm hoping to get my floor bricks cut, get my cal-sil board cut, and lay out my arch and buttressing. I'm going to have to try REALLY HARD not to do a flying buttress. I was planning on cutting the floor to go inside the dome, but I'm torn at this point. I'm not sure I see a benefit in disconnecting the thermal mass of the floor from the thermal mass of the dome, in fact I see the opposite. so, provided I can figure out how to stretch my cal-sil to cover, I may set my dome on top of my floor. If I go that route, I'll likely need to do about .5sq ft of 1" thick perlcrete to finish out the outside, as there's not quite enough cal-sil in 2 sheets to cover the footprint of the dome as well.

I'm thinking I'll probably smooth the topping mix on weds or thurs to give the perlcrete time to dry out. Has anyone had significant trapped water issues with the perlcrete/vermicrete? I can imagine that it will take quite a while to fully dry out.

Also, it appears I'm an ejit... I thought I took pictures of the form before I poured and before I de-formed... but apparently I was making that up. I'll edit in pictures of the finished product later.

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