To cut, or not to cut (FIRST course!)
(M) The Step by Step instructions do not seem to agree with the photos. The instructions say:
"The first chain is a ring of brick cut in half and standing on their ends, with the thin edge (2 1/2) facing inside the oven. You can adjust the exact diameter of your oven to match the size circle that your bricks form, so that you do not have to cut a brick in your first chain.
(M) This is not clear to me. Do I cut them to 4.5 x 4.5 x 2.5, or do I leave them UNcut at 9 x 4.5 x 2.5 ?? ____________
"The subsequent chains are made up of brick cut in half and set on their wide edge (4 1/2") with the clean edge facing in."
(M) I see 2 accompanying photos. One surely looks like a full soldier; the second, like his little brother. Please look at the images, below and kindly clarify.
You are definitely right. When Jim was building the first Pompeii oven, we debated whether the first course should be full, or cut. He tried the full high, and went up a course or two, and we debated again, and decided that the easiest, and most mainstream solution would be to use a half brick in the first course. The curve of the arch would be more gentle, and easier to build.
If you do the first brick full height, your curve to the peak of the dome is more aggressive and harder to build, and more demanding of forms. There are ovens made in both styles that I found in our neighborhood in San Gimignano.
Jim un-did the first few courses, and re-started, and the result was his great first oven.
What you have found is a photo of the first attempt (which was taken down) that found its way into the final plans. Nice catch.
I will remove the erroneous photo ASAP. Thanks for keeping us in line!
Could we use half bricks in the first & second course?
(M) Then, Jim, for added stability, could we then use only half bricks, in the same plane as all the other bricks from the start of the cooking floor? This presupposes that the 2nd course does not yet start to curve inward. It is of course staggered over the joints like all other courses. I realize that you want a parabola rather than a hemisphere and this should maintain that parabolic spheroid, or ???
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