Old 03-21-2005, 05:42 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 239

> -Hi Jim,
> Thanks for the invite! If we're ever planning to be down in CT.
> we'll certainly stop by! We live just north of Boston, MA. Our town
> got just about 30" of snow on the weekend! I dug out 4 neighbors
> driveways on our quiet little street and my wife cooked for
> a 'blizzard party' yesterday. We all had fun but I sure wish I could
> have fired up the oven for the folks on the street but first I'll
> have to build one! ;-) Do you ever use it when it's freezing out?

We cook year round outside. Before the brick oven I would be out there
in the snow firing up the smoker. Of course the barbecue grill is
always right there on the deck. Everyone I know locally does the same
thing. Last year we were cooking in near 0 temps in our shirtsleeves
with the heat from the oven keeping us toasty. Froze our butts off
when we went inside and realized we had left our jackets outside <g>.

> Anyway, I've decided to build a dome oven like the one you built
> (great pics by the way) and I'm sure come spring, I'll have many
> questions for you! I was wondering if you could explain something to
> me about the dome building pics? Did you calculate the first dome you
> traced on the plywood incorectly or did you just decide to angle the
> first row on top of the walls for looks?

The first dome calcs were done based on a miscommunication over the
size of the first row of bricks. A circular domed oven is not a
hemisphere but rather a sectioned oblate spheroid. A hemisphere (1/2
of a ball) won't be self-supporting as the walls will push out. The
initial row of bricks is vertical with no angling inward to create the
base for the reverse buttress effect of the dome (like an inside out
version of the flying buttresses that you can see on the exterior of
the Cathedral of Notre Dame).

At any rate, James was scurrying over the Italian countryside
measuring ovens and checking on how they've been built for the past
couple thousand years. So, the "full brick" he told me to use on the
first row turned out to be too tall. In Italy oven builders have
different sized bricks. So, using the full American firebrick of 9"
tall, the dome gets flattened in order to get the right dome
height/diameter ratio. The correct size for the first row is a half
sized brick. That provides for the right amount of vertical space to
build the arch into.

>I'm a bit confused by the
> way the pictures jump from tracing the first dome, with that 'sand
> platform', to a pile of firebrick rubble!

The sand platform idea turned out to be a bad one due to the volume of
sand needed. I used something similar when I built a Scott rectangular
oven last year (using a pile of sand & mulch to provide the form for
the vault). After getting the size of the first row correct I was able
to calculate the spacing & angles necessary for getting the right dome

>Also, I'm going to cover
> the walls with stone and I'm thinking of putting 4" block on top of
> the 8" block base so I could face the walls with stone all the way up
> to the roof.(I'm sure I'll have to mortar them for strength.)

Definitely workable. That was my original idea until I found the roof
tiles which made it look more Italianate and led me to the decision to
do the stucco finish.

> I then consider making the base wider for room to insulate later? Or
> is the difference in 4' block and metal studs so minimal, I shouldn't
> worry about it?(I'm thinking of the width of the vermiculite at the
> base of the dome sides and backwall)

There's enough room to keep the same dimensions and use block instead.
It was spec'ed slightly oversized so I could clad it with additional
concrete if I needed more thermal mass.

> I'm so glad I joined this group because I would have made a huge
> mistake by building the wrong type of 'backyard' oven.
> Thanx' again to you and everyone else for all this valuable
> information! Rick

I learned a lot building the Scott design and I think it helped when I
got to building the Pompeii. If I hadn't built Alan's design I
wouldn't have known what I really wanted so it wasn't a total loss.

Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2005, 05:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 239

Following on with the debate regards oblong (post box) ovens against round ovens. I build commercial wood-fired bread ovens here in the UK; in general these ovens are rectangular for several reasons. Commercial bread bakers require several functions to be available to them from their oven at the same time. These are: bake as much bread as possible from one (economic) firing, the oven also has to be able to contain the steam that is generated from the bread being baked so as to provide a good crust (this requires a low crowned oven), the oven must be able to deliver a constant (though falling temperature) to the baker, the oven needs to be easy to load and unload (in the UK and many other countries bakers use baking trays or setters). All the above requirements can be delivered by utilising the building techniques of an arch and producing an oblong (mailbox) type of oven. However, this type of oven is structurally difficult to build as the physical forces of an arch try to push the oven sidewall outwards and have to be contained.

On the other hand, a round oven has several advantages for the occasional user. Firstly they are much easer to construct if using brick, or for that matter any available natural material (ovens have come from peasant cultures, they naturally used building methods that were easy and worked). Secondly, these smaller ovens require a smaller heat up time and consume less fuel. Thirdly, due to their construction they are high arched and much more suited to the higher temperatures needed for pizza baking, they will move the heat around the oven much better than an oblong oven when using for roasting etc.

James and I became acquainted with each other for the same reason, to try and bring good quality, easy to build wood-fired ovens to folks who wouldn’t get scared off from and building one by the complexity of a commercial / semi commercial design.
Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2005, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 239

Lately I've began asking who already did round and mailbox ovens, and I did myself the same question: is it better one or the other for pizzas ?

Well, in both cases, who has the mailbox is happy and who has the round one is happy so I am still confused, anyway someone who does many handmade ovens says that the mailbox gives less and less problems of "crack". But speaking with pizzamen, they 100% are sure that round oven is THE pizza oven and mailbox is for bread and other recipes for the reasons you say in your thread. Probably the game is just to understand better how to stay "away" from vault "cracks".
Moreover the "real woodoven pizza" must stay the last 30 seconds on the peel and the man must keep the pizza very near to the top of the vault. This is for a oven working at 350 Celsius degrees. To do this I think you need that the heat must go up properly and fast and this happens better*in round ovens.

I am asking to the builder of*a rolling project of a big round*pizza oven and I hope to discover some other tips nextly.

Wally from Italy
Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2005, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 239

Hi Wally,
I've built both. When all I had to cook in was the Scott design I was
happy. But, I wanted to do things I couldn't -- heat it in under an
hour & cook 3 pizzas at once (I have 4 kids & many friends who love
pizza & bread). Everyone I know who has a Scott oven wishes it were

So I looked into building a bigger Scott oven. That's when I
discovered the problems with the mass & heating times. The bigger the
footprint the longer it takes to heat up---heat that's wasted unless
you're baking a lot of bread.

Then I looked into round ones. The result is that my latest oven
(Pompeii) heats in under an hour, cooks 3 pizzas at once in about a
minute, can bake a dozen loaves of bread and still have enough heat to
do a pork roast. Not bad.

For the average homeowner round is better. For the serious volume
bread baker the rectangle is better (although one could also just add
a lot of thermal mass to the round one).

Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2008, 12:22 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Mishigame & Iberia
Posts: 1,168
Default Re: Round Italian oven or breadbuilder's oven???

Now that's an historical post!

My next oven will not have much thermal mass and be portable )

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Tiempo para guzarlos.....
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
...enjoy every sandwich!
Reply With Quote
Old 03-25-2008, 05:41 AM
Dutchoven's Avatar
Master Builder
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 931
Default Re: Round Italian oven or breadbuilder's oven???

Good reading! I think I will do the same with my third oven...as the next one will be the restaurant oven!
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
"Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:02 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0
© 2006/10 Forno Bravo, LLC