Old 08-20-2013, 09:14 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: vancouver
Posts: 11
Default Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

Hi Everyone,

I've been wanting to build a pizza oven for a while now, and finally managed to get some time off work so I figured I'd better go for it when I have the time.

Spent a month lurking on the forum and soaking up all the great info on here before I decided I was ready to start.

Also note that I am not a mason and have never done any masonry related, so please don't be too hard on me or my techniques!

The two main conditions of the build were
a. It has to be cheap
b. It has to be portable so I can take it with me when I move (I'm in a rental house)

The answer to A. came in the form of a CL ad advertising free refractory bricks from a kiln that had been disassembled in Surrey. I headed out and came back with a couple hundred bricks (not many full) that I'm pretty sure are a high duty firebrick. (they are tough as heck to cut)
Got the bricks home and started cutting, one of the threads I read said that the cuts are pretty much for the first 5 courses so I just went for it, dry stacking them as I went.

Answer to B. came in the form of a 60 day notice as our property is being redeveloped. The original plan was to build the oven on a wooden stand that would make it possible to move to a new location with a trailer. As my time frame had just been significantly reduced, I figured why not just build it ON the trailer and save myself a step. I found a trailer for 100 bucks that day and got to it right away.

1st photo shows some of the bricks (some full, some half, many bits)
2nd photo shows dry stack "mock up"
3rd shows trailer
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Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4822.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4819.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4816.jpg  
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:21 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: vancouver
Posts: 11
Default Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

Next I made the forms for the insulating layer. I decided to use percrete as it was cheap and it's components were readily available. (See my post on finding materials in the "Regional" forum.

For the floor bricks, I had to buy them new, as none of my salvaged bricks were smooth enough for the floor.

Cutting the med/low duty bricks that I bought for the floor was soo much easier than the salvaged brick. Like 5 secs/cut compared to 25.

You can see my cutting setup in the photos, I looked at renting/buying a wetsaw, but it wasn't in the budget so the skillsaw would have to do. Biggest problem with that is the saw will only take a 7" blade so you have to make one cut on the top of the brick and then flip it over and make another cut to complete 1 full cut.
Attached Thumbnails
Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4823.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4826.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4829.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4831.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4833.jpg  

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Old 08-20-2013, 09:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: vancouver
Posts: 11
Default Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

Laid the fireclay/sand mixture on the insulating layer and my girlfriend helped me land all the bricks. Even with the bricks numbered, it was super tough keeping them straight. I highly recommend taking photos before you break up your initial dry fit.

It was really nice having most of the dome bricks already cut because it meant I could really fly at the construction without having to stop and cut bricks every time I finished a course.

I swear I was awake nights trying to get my head around tying the arch into the dome, in the end (after reading Octoforno and the other related threads), I just decided to make all my cuts to the arch bricks and leave the dome bricks as intact as possible.

Forming the arch support went well thanks again to the great resources on this forum, and the the arch itself went in without a hitch. I left the form in for a few days and sprayed the mortar religiously to try to fully cure it before the form was removed.
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Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4841.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4844.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_4845.jpg  
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: vancouver
Posts: 11
Default Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

Next came tying the dome into the arch, which was a nightmare, but I found a 4" diamond blade for the angle grinder at Canadian Tire for 12 dollars and just cut the back of each arch brick to fit the corresponding dome brick.

At this point I was out of pre cut bricks from the salvage pile and I made the decision to continue using new brick as it was so much easier to cut. I have been getting them for 1.18/brick, which, if you compare it to the rate that the salvage bricks were using up diamond blades, it actually worked out cheaper and I'm sure saved my sanity.

They are REALLY hard!

After I got the dome past the arch, it was smooth sailing. I am using the homebrew mortar and it has been going really well, I haven't had to use any forms, and only dropped one brick inside.

My decision not to use an IT was partly influenced by my desire to complete the job before I have to move, the cost and added hassle, and the fact that my dry stack mockup turned out pretty round without any measuring at all. That being said, after the dome passed the arch, the bricks were looking too "flat" already, so I reduced my angles, and as a result, ended up with a bit of a "conehead" looking dome. Oh well, live and learn, and I'll see if I can round it out when I insulate.

Got lazy on the photo taking, so only a shot of the finished dome inside and out.

I actually really like the look of the reclaimed bricks in the lower dome, hopefully they don't get too hot!
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Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_5018.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_5016.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_5026.jpg  
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: vancouver
Posts: 11
Default Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

So just working on insulating now, I'm doing a 5" percrete layer with a stucco finish to keep the weight down. I used some stucco lath to hold the insulation in on the vertical, but it stacks well once it moves to the horizontal so I think I'll omit the lath and try to stucco directly over the percrete.

This is as far as I got before I had to go out of town for a few days, I can't wait to get back!

Does anyone have any tips for cleaning the remaining mortar off the inside of the dome?

I'd also welcome any comments or suggestions, let me know what you think!

I'll keep everyone posted once I get back and get back at it.

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Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_5021.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_5025.jpg   Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC-img_5029.jpg  
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:33 AM
texman's Avatar
Master Builder
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Amarillo, Texas
Posts: 654
Post Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC


Nice job on the oven build.

Are you using homebrew mortar mix? Is the plan to leave the oven on the trailer after you move? How far is the move?

I have some concerns as to what shape your oven will be in after traveling if it is very far and also the wood base.

Also, the mix of different duty brick could cause some issues. I think you will have a functional oven, but i would expect a lot of cracks to deal with. Also, you need to cure that oven before all the wet pcrete insulating layer. Dont have to, but it is recommended.

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Old 08-21-2013, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Arkansas river valley
Posts: 138
Default Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

Hello, looks like you got yourself a "beehive". I have noticed that you may need a buttress added to the sides of your arch walls...I don't know how wide your bricks are ,or what kind of chiminey, but considering that it is a mobile oven it may be prudent. Also considering the fact that the dome looks high I might go for as much insulation as I could get up there, heat will rise and you will want more of it at the floor or there may be a disparity. I might opt for the cal-sil or ceramic fiber blanket in a few layers. What was your "perlcrete mixture? It may not be as insulative as you think. As far as the wire mesh, I guess if you can get the underlayer uniform you may not need it. You might be better off making a house over it.. Then you can pour loose perlite around it instead of fighting stucco cracks... Your gonna have to keep the B.C. liquid sunshine from getting in...
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:54 AM
mrchipster's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Minneapolis, MN USA
Posts: 1,268
Default Re: Portable 36" in Vancouver, BC

other comments, you will have quite a reach to the oven from the back so get extra long tools. And I agree on the buttress of the arch, a house over it would make it easy to incorporate a buttress into the structure.

If you still can make the outer arch a little wider to give yourself a larger reveal at the inner arch. It will make door insertion and removal easier and also make it easier to create a proper door seal.

Do you know what the foundry did where the bricks came from? You would not want them for food if they were a lead smelter or the like.

Last edited by mrchipster; 08-21-2013 at 10:58 AM.
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