#1  
Old 03-28-2008, 04:46 PM
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Default Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Greetings, I'm someone who is very interested in the idea of building a wood fired oven, both for the pizza and the experience of it, but am a bit daunted by the fact that I know next to nothing about laying bricks. I've been devouring the posts here and the pdf's, and have been amazed by what others have accomplished. But I think I may be starting out from an even more basic level than most.

For those of you who did not have a lot (or any) previous experience with masonry, how did you deal with that fact? Did you do some practice projects first? Take a class somewhere? Hire a mason for some of the task? Not worry and just jump right in? I would love to hear any advice people have for me.

PS: I do have some friends with some brick experience, but I would rather not have to rely on them too much. They might develop unreasonable pizza demands afterwards!
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  #2  
Old 03-28-2008, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Hey Smokey, welcome!

I'm like you. I never picked up a brick before I started my oven. My father-in-law is a retired mason. He offered to help, but I figured I would try to go it alone until I got into trouble. I made it all the way through.

Are you a do-it-yourselfer with some basic skills around the workshop? Do you like to play with power tools? If so, you'll be fine.

For my "practice" I built the brick arch for my wood storage. I built the left side two or three times, tearing it down while wet and rebuilding until I was satisfied (standard brick mortar is cheap). My first attempt was really sorry looking!

I found that the refractory mortar and firebrick was actually easier to work with than the standard house bricks and mortar. The HeatStop is smooth, peanut buttery and easy to handle.

Don't worry about taking a class. Just read everything you can here, ask questions, then jump in. After a few courses of brick, you'll start to get the hang of it.

Good luck; we're here to help!
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

My standard answer to "can I do it?" Is to suggest a trip to the Home Center and pick up a 92 pound sack of Portland Cement. Put it on the cart. Push it around. Put it back on the top of the pile.

That's the hardest part of the project, is lifting the heavy stuff. All the rest is just learning the basic stuff, and being careful. It's useful to have this source of information and support.

And by all means get the neighbors to help. They'll just be offering "helpful" suggestions anyway, you might as well put them to work unloading the truck. You'll have to make them pizza, but that's the fun part.

Good luck with your project. Read everything you can here (I know, it's getting to be a lot).
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

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Originally Posted by dmun View Post
My standard answer to "can I do it?" Is to suggest a trip to the Home Center and pick up a 92 pound sack of Portland Cement. Put it on the cart. Push it around. Put it back on the top of the pile.
That's a great answer!

Also: "Will your spouse let you stack 200 dusty fire bricks in the back of your family minivan?"
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  #5  
Old 03-28-2008, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Funny dmun! You forgot to add, do it a hundred times!

I still have no masonry skills, yet mine is still standing. Ken got his skills from his father-in-law through his wife's love. Power tools don't get me too excited, though I like to look at them in catalogues. Have no fear. You can do this. Questions are easily asked and answered around here. Choices made along the way are more difficult. Those, you have to decide for yourself.

A mason will cost you big bucks for something you can do with a little time and effort. In the end, telling people that you did it yourself is more rewarding than just having it to use. Keep reading. You'll see how many people are totally captivated by building ovens. If you have trouble sleeping, though, it might make it worse. It totally consumes you. Have fun! It's only time, a little money, and a challenge that you'll be happy you stepped up to take on when you're only 10% of the way into it.
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Old 03-29-2008, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Thanks so much to all of you! You are very encouraging, and after having read through your own building threads, I almost feel like I know you.

I'll be back with more questions as I begin to work out a basic plan, and get wifely approval.
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Old 03-29-2008, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

When you were a little kid, you loved to build with blocks, play in the sandbox, and jump in the mud puddles....

...now we're called adults, and it can still be fun!

( the other hard part is the insomnia from the excitement, again just like a kid on Christmas eve )

XJ

PS, I believe that masonry is not an exact science, but that it is relatively simple if you follow basic guidance and there's plenty of that discussed on FB's forum. The advantage here is it's focus on Wood Fired Ovens.
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Old 03-29-2008, 02:31 AM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmun View Post
<snip> --- a 92 pound sack of Portland Cement.

<snip>
Geez you guys are still made of tougher stuff over there!

In Oz, the public service softies that look after us have reduced the weight of cement sacks (and most other things) from 40 kg to 20 kg -- and stuck big labels on everything saying "Heavy! Lift carefully"....

Cheers,

LMH
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Old 03-29-2008, 09:07 AM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Carioca. Good point. They do that here with everything as an excuse to charge more money for less product. 60 LB bags cost almost the same price as the 80 or 90 LB bags.
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Old 03-29-2008, 10:02 AM
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Default Re: Newbie looking for basic masonry advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by smokeybruin View Post

Not worry and just jump right in?
That's the way to go!
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