I think I'm convinced: No to barrel vault, yes to Pompeii
My oven is not yet built. The slab is poured, and the base will be completed this weekend, but I have not built the actual oven, though I am in the throes of planning it.
A comment yesterday on the pizzamaking.com forum really got me thinking. My plan is/was to build a 28X30 "Barrel vault" oven a la the ones made in "The Bread Builders" by Alan Scott. It's rectangular in shape and has an arched vaulted roof.
I realize that that is pretty small for an oven, and it will be only a 1-pizza oven. Moreover, the Barrel vault design is intended to bake bread using retained heat, as opposed to pizza using direct fire.
Then I visited this site and looked at their "Pompeii Oven" design. There is a very good discussion of why round is better:
So here I am: not yet committed, but seriously thinking that I should scrap my plans to build a barrel vault and go for the dome. Fortunately, I have not yet purchased anything that I will be unable to use in building the dome as an alternative (Except the $100 I spent on the barrel vault plans, but I've learned a lot, and it's money well spent).
My problems is space limitation: The slab is poured, the base is built, and I have a challenge. Due to my poor planning, I only have 48" (122 cm) X 56" (142 cm) to work with because that is the size of my block base. From this I have determined that, with a minimum of exterior housing (yet allowing for insulation using refractory board), I can probably build an oven with an inside diameter of 33-35" (81-88 cm).
1) Do you agree that a dome is the proper configuration for a direct-fire pizza oven?
2) Is it worth the extra trouble to build a dome oven? I'll have to cut a LOT of bricks, and build a very tricky dome based on shims, etc.
3) Will a dome oven of the size I am planning give me any more space to cook an extra 10-inch (25cm) pie? Even if I'll be able to cook only one pie at a time, I think the heat characteristics of the dome are superior.
I was in the same situation as you (purchased the Alan Scott Plans and prepared to build a barrel vault oven). I am also in about the same stage as you, I have the stand built and I am ready to start the dome.
I do think the dome is more practical for most home use.
The way I have it figured, you will have to go with a smaller dome than you mentioned if you build your own.
Per James, you basically have:
8" walls (4" each side)
2" insulfrax (1" each)
8" vermiculite Loose/ or perlcrete cladding(4" each)
?" thickness of outer walls.
So if you have a 48" wide stand that would make a 30" oven...
Here is a thread about smaller ovens
Perhaps if you purchased one of James' ovens you would be able to fit a larger oven, since the walls are not as thick?
I am no expert, perhaps others will chime in.
Why not build some forms for the hearth slab that overhang the block base? Then, put the insulating layer down, hearth bricks, etc.
You could probably buy enough inches to get the size oven you want, although it might look a little funny with a big oven perched on a little stand unless you took steps to disguise the perimeter of the base.
Please take this advice with caution! So far, I've only completed step one of my master plan: Use limestone blocks to form an herb garden planted with tomatoes and lots of basil.
Hopefully the oven will be finished by the time the tomatoes are ready to pick!
8" walls (4" each)
2" fiberfrax insulation board (1 each side)
4" insulated cladding on the sides (2" each side where the oven wall is tangent to the edge of the base; thicker elsewhere)
2" cement board sides (1" each)
48" - 16" = 32" And that's pushing it.
Every inch counts
One you start cooking in your oven, I think you will find that just about every inch counts. It isn't just the pizza, but also the grill, bakeware, pans, etc. And don't forget about the turkey!
Here two ideas for getting more oven floor space in the same stand foot print.
1. Use 2" of Insulfrax, rather than 1" (or none) and 1"-2" of vermiculite in the air gap between the oven and the walls. Insulfrax is nearly twice as efficient as vermiculite, so it saves space and keeps heat in the oven.
2. Use metal studs and concrete board for the upper walls. If you don't use a vertical stud cross from the oven at the widest point, your upper walls as only the thickness of the concrete board (1/2"). The horizontal metal stud attached to the hearth can be a little closer to the oven wall without causing a problem.
Thank you for your feedback, and this great forum.
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