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chestnut 07-03-2011 09:43 PM

Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
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Hi Everyone,
Thanks for such a great resource! This forum has given me the courage to try my hand at building a pizza oven (and a fireplace). I am building this onto my garage where I have transformed an old gravel drive (weedtrap) into a lovely patio. The majority of my oven dome will be built into a garage bay with the front only protruding about 2 feet out from the wall. I am going to build a 36" rumford fireplace next to my oven and will build a double flue chimney to accommodate them both.

I am at the point now where I have just framed for the concrete floor and will be doing the pour tomorrow morning if the weather holds. I am going to be building my oven out of soapstone which is very heavy, so I have put a block wall in the center of my stand and will be pouring the concrete floor to 5.5" thick instead of the 3.5 recommended.

I picked up a large bag (350 lbs) of vermiculite last week at Virginia Vermiculite. Check out the size of that "pouch" in the back of my truck! This should take care of my needs for this project with some left over for the garden.

I am getting soapstone from a local quarry and should have enough for the oven and fireplace at this point (I've made a few more runs since taking the attached picture).

I was thinking about doing a soapstone veneer on the outside of this structure as well but recently paid a visit to Frasier Quarry in Harrisonburg (Limestone). I think I am sold on their Stonewall Grey Frazier Quarry: History of Stonewall Grey: The Valley as an exterior veneer although I still might use the soapstone for the chimney (with a liner).

Wish me luck on my pour tomorrow, my wife and I are going to be mixing and pouring individually, 60 lbs at a time.

The pic of the fountain was last years project and is positioned next to where the oven and fireplace is going. It was a find on ebay from Pennsylvania. I built the catchment basin out of the same soapstone I am using for the oven and fireplace. The Fountain itself is 100-300 years old and was hand crafted from sandstone by a Hessian immigrant. Hopefully my finished project will not have too many different types of stone.

GianniFocaccia 07-04-2011 02:55 PM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford

Welcome and thanks for sharing your plans on yet another groundbreaking oven design. I am most interested to watch your build. Do you have your plans drawn up yet?

Now that's a bag of vermiculite!


chestnut 07-04-2011 03:08 PM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
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My wife and I were able to pour the slab this morning. It came out pretty good I think (although I haven't taken down the form yet. How long do I need to keep the stilts and platform under the floor?

I started cutting brick from my scrap soapstone rubble. I am going to use the thinner stuff (1.25" thick) and remnants from the bigger stuff to do a thin herringbone for the fireplace floor, walls, and back.

Next step is pouring the vermiculite crete. I believe that I have read that you want 4" of this stuff. Is there any reason not to go thicker? I'm thinking about 6" as it will bring the floor up so I don't have to bend down to slide the pizzas in and out (plus the extra insulation can't hurt).

John, Thanks for the welcome. I haven't drawn up any plans at this point. I have been reading through the forum and have been saving pictures of my favorites though.

chestnut 06-18-2012 07:36 AM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
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Wow, just looked at the date of my last post, it has been a while since I last worked on this oven! To many projects and vacations I guess. I just returned from 3 weeks in southern italy eating wood fired pizza, so this oven project now has priority again :D. My wife and I poured our insulating pad and finished cutting our soapstone floor this weekend. I used a couple of my larger scrap pieces for a prime pizza cooking area.

I'm renewing my permit this week and inviting the inspector out to talk about clearances before I go any further. I'll post as I plow through this project.


UtahBeehiver 06-18-2012 08:00 AM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
Wow Doug,

How nice would it be to have access to all that surplus soapstone, would give my eye teeth to be able to put some in my oven. If you build is anything like the fountain than I will be really cool. Going to keep an eye on your build.


chestnut 05-04-2015 10:06 AM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
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Hi all, So vacations turned in to having a kid, now spring is here and the wife wants that ugly patio finally finished which mostly just means that I have to finally finish this outdoor kitchen/oven that is on the side of our garage.

So, yesterday I finally got the courage to mix up a batch of heatstop and laid my solider corse. Since I am using soapstone (very smooth when cut) for this project I went ahead and scored all the sides that are being mortared together to create a little extra bond.

Since this is such a big oven and is using soapstone (heavy) I am thinking about wrapping a stainless steel chain around the solider corse and tying it into the base bricks that make the oven opening (fairly large stones). What do you think? thinking about just carving a notch (see pic) for a stainless u bolt on each side with a chain attached wrapping the oven. I'll carve the notch a little roomy (and stuff some cardboard over it) so that the metal and stone don't conflict with heat.

I have a bit of cutting to do but really hope that I can get this thing done. Wish me luck.


stonecutter 05-04-2015 07:51 PM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
Scoring was a good idea. If you are building a Pompeii oven ( hemispherical dome ) you don't need a reinforcment band around your soldier.

But if you really want too, I won't recommend attaching the band to anything else other than something anchored into your structural slab.

stonecutter 05-04-2015 07:54 PM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
Also, I think you're going to want centering (a form) for your upper coursing. Soapstone won't allow the mortar to 'grab' like brick and gravity will fight you the higher you go.

chestnut 05-04-2015 09:27 PM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
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Thanks for the advice StoneCutter, I attached the chain yesterday afternoon so I might cut it and bolt some heavy duty shelf brackets into my base next to my insulation pad instead. Time will tell if I made a big mistake embedding those u-bolts into my stone. I started on my second course and noticed that the bricks want to slide off and i'll have to make some sort of form.

stonecutter 05-05-2015 04:03 AM

Re: Chestnut's 42" soapstone oven & rumford
Are you in western VA? I'm wondering where you got your soapstone.

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