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El Puaco 06-27-2007 02:44 PM

Getting ready for the final push...
Well, after a winter off I finally have the oven finished. I was delayed by weather and some health issues but we're finally done. I do have to build the "house" now but with a little help we should have that done soon. I'll get some updated pictures to show her off soon also. I have a source of apple wood which is getting me pretty excited too. We're drying out now and plan to start the series of fires this weekend.

Quick question: How does using the oven in the cold/damp monthes work? I'm in the Seattle area and we have about 9 months of rain followed by crappy weather. Any need to re-dry the oven before any real use? I'd be especially grateful for any input from nothern guys like Canuck Jim.

James, that Casa vent deal worked like a charm, once I figured it out. It's tough being in the learn as you go program. Lucky for me the IT department doesn't mind helping with the brick work.

CanuckJim 06-27-2007 04:53 PM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...

Once the oven is cured and enclosed, you needn't worry about the weather, particularly rain, intruding, so long as it's cured and dry. The only thing you'll have to deal with is that cold weather means more wood and longer firing times. Just make absolutely sure that your enclosure is watertight and you should be fine. Don't forget, cured applies to wood also. Look for those radial checks in the cut ends.

Keep me posted or send an email if you have additional concerns.

True north guys have to stick together. Nice Blake quote. "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," if I recall rightly.


maver 06-27-2007 06:47 PM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
El Pauco, I'm just a bit south of you in Washington. With our humidity in the winter I've seen a drop in oven performance with prolonged disuse (around a month) - longer heat times. When I have been using the oven a lot it seems to jump to heat pretty quick (even in the winter).

Jim - I'm starting to doubt whether wood can truly cure here - we're so damp in the winters and mild in the summers it's tough to get really seasoned wood (unless we buy from east of the mountains where they have more heat and really cold dry winters).

I look forward to your pictures


El Puaco 06-28-2007 09:08 PM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
Thanks guys. I was envisioning a soggy oven interior caused by 99% humidity on those November/December days. It sounds like a little extra wood and a little longer warm-up should do it. I appreciate your advice.

Jim: I'm probably going to want to ask a few questions about bread
making soon. I love those boule loaves. Oh yeah, nice catch on the Blake quote.

Marc: I was looking at some old posts and was wondering how you managed with the move. Did you get the oven to the new place? We're close enough that we might consider a show-and-tell field trip and look at the ovens someday this summer.

I'll have the IT department help load some pictures as soon as I can get her out of the garden.

Thanks again

CanuckJim 06-29-2007 02:59 AM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
EP, Maver,

I guess I have the opposite problem. Winters here are typically cold and very dry, which leads to humidity starvation in my baking area. More, in my case, is better.

Don't forget to take advantage of residual heat in your oven. It's amazing what a few hours of coking the next day's fuel in the leftover heat will do to dry wood for the next firing. In short, it will go off like a nice bomb. Consider making up an insulated "plug" door to maintain oven heat when you won't be using it for a day or so. When coking wood, though, don't seal the oven completely. Leave a bit of a gap for gasses to escape.


Ask away on the bread side. One of these days, I will, I will, make a perfect hearth bread. I keep trying anyway. The variations, permutations and variables seem endless sometimes. It's nice to think you can control them all, but it's more like a finger in a dike.


maver 06-29-2007 05:43 AM

coking wood
I've been coking my wood - no matter how long I season it I cannot get it to burn as fast as it does when I coke it. Disclaimer for anyone using this technique - patience! Don't make the same mistake I did - I raked out the coals, left the door off 15 minutes, then it was getting late so I threw in some wood, a few wetter pieces on the bottom to stave off combustion. The next morning - what's that smell? Looked out, steady smoke from the chimney. Only reason it didn't all burn down was the door (mine does not seal completely, but slowed oxygen delivery). I took the door off and small flames started in the oven - had to rake out the wood and beat it with the back of my hatchet to knock smoldering pieces off. But, it did light easy the next time.

Oven move - slow process. We have a prospective buyer - I need to prepare my new house which I plan to work on in earnest after I return from a week at the lake (Chelan). Once I'm ready, I have a concrete company that I hope will be able to pump a yard and a half of concrete for the pad, then cinder block stand, then the move. I think I field trip is a great idea, we may want to include a trip to Jack Chastain's oven across the sound.


El Puaco 06-30-2007 09:03 PM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
Thanks guys. I'm drying out the coating over the bricks and am having some of the cracking that some of the others have been talking about. I put a heater inside to give my fire process a head start. Probably won't get much from that but what the heck, eh? I don't expect much in the way of smoke coming from the dome but you never know I guess.

I'm going to start reading the online baking tutorial and might have some questions then. I'm probably a week or so away from actually making any bread. I'm really anticipating it! At the worst I expect I can eat my mistakes. The coking idea intrigues me. Do you get the wood black during the process or just nice and dry?

Same question I guess, did you intend to make the wood black or was that just a funny pay-off? I'm going to Montana on the 15th and will drop you a note when I get back so we can try to do an oven field trip. One of those things I should have probably done before I started construction. Might have answered a lot of questions.

Thanks again

maver 07-02-2007 10:07 AM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
El Pauco, I may be in the middle of the oven move when you return, but it will be visible for showing somewhere. Black was definitely not intended. Look forward to your note.

El Puaco 07-05-2007 03:45 PM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
Thanks to all for the previous advice/help. I'm now in the process of building the little house on top of the stand and have a question or two. Cement Board. I've found Wonderboard at a local hardware store. Is this what we mean when we say "cement board"? The stuff I found is 1/4" and 1/2" thick. Is it necessary to go all the way to 1/2"? 3'x5' sheets seems to be what is available.

I'm toying with the idea of rock covered on the bottom of the building with a stucco finish and a red tile roof. Kind of a "Med" look.

The dome is done as well as the vent and chimney attachment (Simpson Duratech). I'll get the IT department to help me download a picture or two tonight.


maver 07-07-2007 08:53 PM

Re: Getting ready for the final push...
That finish sounds good. Wonderboard is one brand of cement board. If you are using it as a base for stucco I think you are ok at 1/4" - that's what I used. I used a metal roof, which was ridiculously easy and quite cheap compared to some of the other options I looked at. It's also lightweight and available in all kinds of colors. I ordered mine from the local McLendon's but you should be able to order it from most other hardware stores.


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