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GianniFocaccia 06-28-2009 10:51 PM

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Greetings All,

I am new to the Forno Bravo site and am jazzed to be here! It is because of the knowledge, experience and generosity of all the members that I have decided to leap into the WFO realm feet first.

Currently, my plan is to build an outdoor kitchen with a 42" Pompeii, charcoal barbecue/smoker and natural-gas stove. The kitchen will also have an island with a small sink. I will also be installing a new brick paver patio.

Because of the configuration of my backyard/kitchen, I have a somewhat limited space to put my WFO. Hence, the octagon shape of my foundation and hearth platform. Can you please let me know if the dimensions of my oven and hearth look viable? My thoughts are that a 73"x74" hearth platform will sufficiently accommodate my 42" interior/51" exterior dome and 2" of insulating blanket and 2-3" of vermicrete insulation. With 4" concrete blocks to house the dome, I should have a few inches of space to fill with loose perlite, if necessary.

I have completed both the island and counter slabs, raised four inches to incorporate a toekick in each. I am ready to start forming the oven foundation slab and would like to make sure my octagonal design and dimensions will work.

Any/all comments, suggestions, warnings, etc will be most welcome!

BTW, I have three kids and a wonderful wife (did I say WONDERFUL?), love to cook, am fond of California zins, petites and merlots, and am a big fan of porters, stouts and pulled-pork as well as Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Looking forward to sharing pics of my progress and any help that can be thrown my way during my build.:)



exceloven 06-29-2009 07:02 PM

re: OctoForno
Welcome John,
You've found the right site, and it seems your'e well on your way. As far as your dimensions, I think your landing area will be a factor. I haa 14" landing and my stand is 81". I have a 6" area in front of the landing. I'm sure you can make it work with your dimensions by adjusting your landing.
Disneyland? Orange, Anahiem, Tustin, just wondering. I'm in Oceanside but am up that way a lot for work. Keep the questions and pictures coming.


GianniFocaccia 06-30-2009 12:25 AM

re: OctoForno
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Thanks for the reply, Mark!

Funny, of all the builds and oven configs I have studied on FB over the past four or five months, the one I patterned (copied) my design after was......yours! I like the benefit of a deeper vent landing (keep smoke out of the front), the larger vent dimensions and the clean lines of the construction.

I am assuming your concern is the fact that my landing appears to extend out into space unsupported. Actually, my design calls for the hearth slab to extend 4" past the face of the block stand (retaining wall) and another 5" to support a 1 1/4" thick piece of granite. This is the only question mark I have regarding my design, but was not arrived at without lots of thought. This design (and the 14" landing depth) was decided upon in order to allow enough room for insulation and 4" concrete block walls surrounding the dome to the sides of the vent. I also wanted to take advantage of the corner shelf to the left of the oven opening which would otherwise be a wasted corner.

Please take a look at the supporting (pun intended) 'blueprints' and tell me if you think the 5 inches of extruded concrete (rebar not depicted) will accommodate the slab of (38"x11") granite. Otherwise, I'm fairly sure the extended 4" of hearth slab will support the last inch or so of landing bricks. If I have to go back to the drawing board and redesign I will.

I actually live in La Mirada but while in college I met my wife working at Disneyland where she still works.

Nice build, btw, and gorgeous wine cellar! I have enjoyed watching your build progress and have learned quite a bit from the answers from the collective. Can I ask: where did you get your clay chimney flue? I would like to do something similar. And, have you ever had second thoughts on your vent size? I would prefer not to have to employ a chimney much over 36" so would like to ensure a good draw with a large vent and larger diameter flue.

Thanks again for your input, Mark.



exceloven 07-01-2009 04:43 PM

re: OctoForno
Thanks for the kind words. I think we all find a build we try to copy.
Looking at your drawings, I think you are golden. Your design looks great. You will be so happy with the counter right there on the right side. Straight from the oven to the counter. I'm looking forward to following your progress. Feel free to ask anything, we all have.


exceloven 07-01-2009 04:52 PM

re: OctoForno
I forgot to address your question about the vent size. My vent pipe is about 30",(bought at RCP) and my draw is very good. As you can see I have no black smoke residue on my exterior brick work. I'm sure larger vent at 36" would even be better.
One other thing I would do next time is use the "indispensable tool" as Greg, James and others are using. I didn't use it and mine turned out fine but I think it makes the whole process much easier and more accurate (see Greg's perfect 16" circle at the top):)


Dino_Pizza 07-02-2009 09:32 AM

re: OctoForno
Hi John,

I really like your drawings! I know they are a lot of work but they sure makes for a well thought out project.

Your 73"x74" base will be fine for your 42" oven. My 42" is on a 71"wx78" deep base & I've got plenty of room using 3 blankets but your vermic-conc will only add add another 1"-2" and since your counter will cantilever out front, you're fine. So, welcome to the forum and congratulations on good looking project. Nice work on the footings and base too. Cheers, Dino

GianniFocaccia 07-03-2009 10:08 AM

re: OctoForno
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Hello Dino,

Thanks for the input! I found out about SketchUp on this site and after a short learning curve it's been invaluable in helping me make design choices and visualize what each construction phase should look like.

I am impressed with many features of your build, especially your entry arch transition. The endless problem-solving and design approaches to oven construction by all the builders are really cool to see. You're lucky - you have Mike to bounce things off of and you guys get to work together on such a neat project. I'm going solo on my build and wish I could go faster!

I had to wrestle with a front yard underground sprinkler valve yesterday, but did manage to demo my retaining wall. It took forever with a hammer and chisel (just kidding!) but now I'll have access to my wood storage area and reasonable room to pour and finish my foundation slab.



GianniFocaccia 09-04-2009 06:14 PM

re: OctoForno
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Hello All!

After what has seemed like forever, I finally have some progress to report. I was able to pour my foundation slab, mortar in all my angle-cut stand blocks and repair the retaining wall that fronts my oven stand. After cutting out the original retaining wall I had discovered a crack in one of the blocks and when removing it with a hammer (what else?) accidentally cracked the full block next to it. I lost two days rebuilding it but that’s life.

I went with a 2x10” support/insulation frame dimension that would allow 1” of stand overlap, 4” of support slab depth and 5” of vermicrete insulation. Next, after scribing a plywood template for the base of the octagon support slab , I was able to cut and bend ½” rebar that got placed 12” on center and ends that terminated 8” into the depths of my block cores.

My plan called to pour the support and the insulation slabs separately, basically for ease of placing and filling the insulation form. Unfortunately, after the first pour my computer crashed and I lost all of the photos I had of the rebar grid, but oh well.

Later, after two road trips, a long weekend in Las Vegas and a week of hosting a Japanese homestay player (my daughter stayed at this girl’s family house in Fukuoka, Japan, last summer when we visited during an all-star basketball exchange program) I was able to finish my insulation form and pour the surrounding concrete deck. The redwood bender boards proved challenging, but soaking them first did the trick.

Yesterday I visited the local ANH Refractory distribution center and was impressed with Frank, the DC manager. He took the time to walk me through the warehouse and introduced me to every one of his refractory products, including: 5-6 kinds of refractory bricks, refractory mortar, castable, insulation block, boards, ceramic blanket, and a caulk-like fiber insulation that comes in a tube. The coolest product (I think) he had was 12”x24” refractory ‘tiles’ that came in 2, 2 ½” and 3” thicknesses. If I had the budget to buy these for my oven floor I would, but I would have to also buy firebricks to ensure matching expansion rates. Since I already got my bricks, I told myself I would do this on my next oven.

Understandably, I felt like a kid in a candy store and walked out with my first bag of refractory mortar and (unexpected) a 24cu’ case of 2” Insblok 19 that had been accidentally torn open by a forklift and subsequently returned by the customer. I got it for less than the price of three bags of vermiculite so off I went, deciding I would just go with 3” vermicrete /2” insulation board and use the leftover vermiculite on the dome.

Fortunately, my initial thoughts of overkill dissipated when I remembered that quite a few FB’ers (Elizabeth… Les…) have designed their insulation layers beyond the recommended 2” of insulating board or 4” of vermicrete/perlcrete. Besides, didn’t I see somewhere that ‘one cannot over-insulate’?

I’m not sure if I will press the Insblock into wet vermicrete (dmun) or let my vermicrete cure first and lay the Insblok onto a dry vermicrete ‘slab’. My initial thoughts are that pressing the board onto wet vermicrete would help it cure more slowly in this 95-98* socal weather.

After that I have to install 1500sq' of patio pavers, and then on to the oven!


dmun 09-04-2009 07:43 PM

re: OctoForno
It's nice that you got such good treatment from HW: my visit to my local branch sent me looking for other sources. I also wanted those refractory tiles, but, wow, the cost...

Insblock19 is a good product. It's used in kiln building a lot, and your two inches will probably be enough. I used two and a half inch (it may have been left over from a custom order) and my support slab almost never warms up on the bottom.

Dino_Pizza 09-04-2009 10:19 PM

re: OctoForno
Great looking base John. Recessing the insulating layer into the base is a great way to go. The octagon base is so cool. Can't wait to see the rest. Very nice job so far. Look forward to the rest., -Dino

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