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JayP 02-11-2008 01:03 AM

Bigger ovens
I am designing a pizza oven to be built on a rural community in south Western Australia. The oven is to serve community functions and the community is 15 households is size. We have no shortage of wood (indeed burning reduces the fire risk) or space and I would like to build a big one. Inspired by a photo of one in morocco I thought a 1.75m diameter cooking floor (three times the area recommended for a single household) would be big enough. I simply scaled the size recommended by Forno Bravo to get the following dimensions and will put the flue at the back to make the oven more accessible.

Internal diameter of oven- 1750
Internal height of oven - 650
Opening width - 790
Opening height - 460

Does anyone know much about bigger ovens? I suspect the Moroccan oven is a bread/baking oven, but hope that with insulation the oven will reach pizza cooking temperature and stay there with a decent size fire. Will it be able to do this?

Will try to post a cross section and photo of the Moroccan oven.

Dutchoven 02-11-2008 05:42 AM

Re: Bigger ovens
The size you are suggesting makes it about 68 inches diameter with about 25 inch high dome...most ovens here end in the 50 to 60 inch range but I don't see why this larger design wouldn't work...would take more would to heat up but as you said you have no shortage of only concern is that the door opening height seems a bit high in relation to dome height...the ratio you mention is about 70% and most ovens are most efficient in the 63% more like 415 door height...other than that I see no problem.
Best to you!

Ken524 02-11-2008 08:50 AM

Re: Bigger ovens
That'll be a whopper! Can't wait to see the build!

gjbingham 02-11-2008 08:59 AM

Re: Bigger ovens
I'm not sure what the answer is for your specific case regarding the size. Larger makes sense to a point, but the oven will stay hot for a long time and multiple loads of bread and food can be cooked from a single firing.

I think you should do a lot of research to make sure that it will serve your communities needs. The Bread Builders, written by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott is an excellent resource and sounds like the type of ovens that you're looking for.

Canuk Jim will no doubt have an authoratative answer for you soon.

dmun 02-11-2008 09:41 AM

Re: Bigger ovens
Hi, Jay, and welcome to the forum. There is no problem with the size of the oven, particularly if it's used often, as a community oven and doesn't have to be started from cold every time.

I'm a litte concerned about the drawing you posted in the photo gallery:

This shows the flue exiting the dome at the back of the oven, instead of over the doorway. This is a really bad idea. Instead of having a circular path of the combustion gasses that heats the dome, all the heat you get from your fire will be sucked out the back. Also, if you do retained heat cooking, it will be impossible to keep it hot for any length of time with a big hole in the back.

I know you say that there's no shortage of fuel, but it's still work to cut and haul it, you might as well make the most of it.

JayP 02-11-2008 10:13 PM

Re: Bigger ovens
Managed to post a cross section and perspective of the oven and James said he would reduce the size of the Moroccan oven pic for me as it was a bit big.

Thanks for the feedback guys, no worries to bring the entrance it down to %63 (thanks Dutchoven). Yes the flue is at the back, I have seen this in pictures of commercial ovens. A factor I considered in the placement of the flue was that it was not above the height of the top of the door and that a damper can be fitted if the flue sucks to much (the flue is 2.5 to 3m). The oven will also have a wooden door that will control the amount air coming in.


james 02-11-2008 10:27 PM

Re: Bigger ovens
I think a community oven is a great idea. It reaches back to a time when the oven was the center of the community for bread, cooking, and events; and the gatherings and the food will be great. We have talked about wood-fired ovens supporting community work before.

I would agree with the idea that you should build an oven where the vent is located outside the oven chamber, above the door. It will be easier to manage heat and temperature, it will be better a baking pizza, and more efficient with your wood.

From the perspective of dimensions, check out the FB Ristorante ovens. They go all the way up to 185 cm (nearly two meters). This type and size of oven is used throughout Italy to support large restaurants. My view is that these proportions will work well for both high-heat cooking, such as pizza, and for retained heat cooking, such as bread and roasts for the community. You are in good company here. These restaurants make pizza all day, and then bake bread the next morning.

Here is a link to the oven sizes. The drawings give you floor, dome height, door width and door height sizes.

Let us know how the project goes.

Dutchoven 02-12-2008 08:41 PM

Re: Bigger ovens
Just realized this when I read your last post, although you said it in the first I just didn't recognize it...about the flue in the back...I think you would have to make the opening to the flue at the 63% height and the door should be lower(I think) otherwise your exhaust gases will exit the door. I agree with Dmun and think you should use the door as the "exit" for the could then run the flue over the oven dome toward the center or the back...that could be the best of both worlds!!! I will try to render up a sketch for you tomorrow!

CanuckJim 02-13-2008 06:40 AM

Re: Bigger ovens

I built my own Alan Scott 4'x3', brick by brick, barrel vault oven for baking bread. From my experience with this build and also installing Forno Bravo ovens for customers, I would very strongly suggest that you completely scrap the idea of the flue placement at the back. This simply will not work with any efficiency. Making the oven more accessible is a misdirection; properly built these ovens do not smoke, and the facade of the chimney will only get warm to the touch. The whole point about these ovens is to get them hot and keep them hot. For a community oven, this would be crucial for people who want retained heat for bread, meats, casseroles. The design you suggest would guarantee, damper or not, that most of the heat would go right up the flue. Stick with the flue in the front model; it's been proven over centuries. True, for you fuel is not an issue, but how long are you willing to wait to get the oven up to heat? With a rear flue, you'll be stoking and waiting quite a bit; then add gathering and cutting into the equation. The time would be better spent baking with a beer in hand.

The 63 per cent figure for door height is the one to go with. I'd use the dimensions of one of the Ristorante ovens or go with a barrel vault design. My oven is a demon for bread baking, but it's not as efficient for pizza, though it can be done with practice.

Also, the mantra here, and it's a tried and true one, is that you can NEVER have too much insulation, both below and above. I suspect you'll only want to build this oven once, so insulate it as thickly as you have room for; you'll be glad you did.

I suggest you revise your drawing and re-post it here. You will get the advice you're after.


JayP 02-15-2008 07:23 PM

Re: Bigger ovens
Thank you for all the feedback, our pizza oven will be the better for it!

My flue has received the most attention and I would like to explain why I designed a pizza oven with a rear flue and how I believe they work.

The advantages of putting the flue at the back:
• The oven will be easier and cheaper for us to build because we won’t need a hood over the door and can simply put the flue straight into the oven.
• We get our door opening directly onto the cooking floor, an advantage I think that is more applicable to bigger ovens. We would need to be able to reach 1.75m across the floor plus an extra length for the flue, using a 2m plus pizza peel.
• And well…the oven just looks more approachable (see perspective).

How a pizza oven with a low rear flue with damper would work:
• The cook would be able to tune the damper so that the flue draws enough to stop the oven from smoking out of the front, but not enough to suck the hot gases from the dome. To do this you would simply close the flue until the oven starts to smoke from the front, then open it a bit.
• The cook can also choose to shut the flu off which means the oven work like ovens displayed on this site, and vents from the front.
• Using a door you would be able to shut the oven down and retain the heat. You also have the option of shutting the flue.

Perspective @
Pictures of pizza ovens with the flue at the back -

If the oven will not work like this why not, and has anyone used an oven with a flue design similar to the one I have posted, or the ones in the above link?


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