7 Days to Pizza
Greetings to all from the Wisconsin countryside! Here is an overview of my recent oven building experience/experiment. I have had it on the brain for several years to build myself a backyard pizza oven. Hosting an "after-reception" party for out of town guests proved to be the final impetus to start construction. My company supplies equipment to power plants, from burners, pumps, valves to complete boilers, etc,. Based on this, I have long considered a cast refractory design for a pizza oven. Upon searching, I have come to find a well established experience here at FB which proved to be very helpful in by build. I have attached the stages of construction according to day by day / play by play. In summary, my oldest son and I did all of the work. I have never laid concrete block walls before, and am a poor at best carpenter. Here is our day by day:
Day 1 poured the concrete foundation
Day 2 laid up block walls on the foundation
Day 3 poured a 3" thick concrete "table top" over steel "pan decking" sourced for free from a union construction worker neighbor (no rebar, 100% perimeter support)
Day 4 poured 3" thick "poolcrete" version of vermiculite/portland (only thing I could find)
Day 5 laid out fire brick & cut to pattern (dome-on firebrick)
Day 6 constructed wooden forms and sand dome mold & poured cast refractory
Day 7 removed forms and sand mold - built small fire to drive off moisture
Day 8 fired to 1000 Deg F on floor (still some steam from dome) - cooked flatbread
Day 9 successfully prepared & cooked 25+ pizzas for 60 party guests!
***I titled this "7 days to pizza" when in fact it was 8 for me due to schedule conflicts in picking up my refractory & insulation materials. Day 5 and 6 could in fact be the same day, for example, making day 7 the drying day and test pizza day (we tested with flat bread).
I have one crack which has developed over my arch doorway, which I will repair with a special refractory repair compound. I had also used a 6x4 reducing fitting for the flue exit. I am getting some smoke out of my door (through normal temp range) so I apparently need to increase to a straight 6" flue all the way.
I purchased 19 55# bags of castable refractory and used 12 bags for my 2-1/2" nominal wall/dome oven. I have 13 bags left over in case I have any major failures in the coming weeks and decide to recast and cure at a more sane rate.
Re: 7 Days to Pizza
Wow! Where are the rest of the pictures?
Sorry for the delay - more pics!
We had out of state guests until just this morning, July 4th. Now I have a little time to post the balance of the pics...
I apparently did not get a pic of the final cast dome, which I still can as I have not yet cast my finish vermicrete and stucco. The final pic is of myself in the midst of cranking them out. We made over 25 pizzas the first night, and another 8 two nights later. If you figure about $18+ per pie at any woodfired restaurant, I am already close to breaking even... I have yet to do a final ceramic blanket wrap (firebrick edge and dome), with another pour around the perimeter (firebrick edges to dome base), completed with vermicrete over the balance of the dome and then the final stucco protective layer.
Additionally, I had installed a 6x4 reducing flue - the 4" not having sufficient draft as noted by the smoky door arch. I will be opening up the refractory to a full 6" stack OD & repairing back with refractory repair products.
I am still up in the air on the final finish, and will continue extending the edges to incorporate the grill and a mini fridge, etc.
Fired it back up again the other night & prepared some wild caught King salmon at 450 Deg F - about 1 hour from a cold start to cooking temp.
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