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Old 09-10-2008, 09:56 AM
PerryPizza's Avatar
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Location: SW France
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Default Any disaster stories?

Having read the Firenze concept oven pages with delight, I've been wondering just how important the attention to detail is in creating an oven.

I'm torn between on the one hand building an oven to the very limit of my capability, something to make me glow with pride every time I even think about it, or, on the other hand skimping on everything possible to create a fully functional oven for the absolute least amount of cash I can get away with... something genuinely rustic. It is the function I'm really after, and I am skint!

I think there will be pleasure gained in either construction, but what I'd love to know is if anyone went for the latter (or even the former!) and ended up with an oven which didn't perform as expected, or didn't last more than a few months? Is the build quality of the dome soon forgotten once the perfect pizzas start sliding out??
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Old 09-10-2008, 10:47 AM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

PerryPizza,

What a great posting. Excellent questions, and think this will get everyone thinking about all the trade-offs we go through on every project.

If only time and money were not so finite...

Let the discussion begin!
James
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:34 AM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

The major disaster I've encountered so far results from making promises: "I'll get the oven finished and we'll be eating wood-fired pizza in our own backyard by the end of summer." After many schedule slips due to a vreity of avoidable and unavoidable situations the family now asks "which summer did you mean?"
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:48 AM
Jed Jed is offline
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

Pizza Perry,

I went for the high side of middle on the scale you propose...

I used as many 'found', 'home made' and 'used' bits in the construction of the oven as I could; but bought new parts where 'used' was unavailable, or where 'new' was my preferred choice or best option. The result is that I installed good fire brick, good (not great) insulation, and have built an oven that I enjoy using and holds heat well. If I would change anything on the oven I would have used better insulation.

My total construction cost is right close to $1,300.00 USD (I built the oven this year). We are located in a smaller community on the west coast and the brick parts are a bit expensive here, not like the UK, but higher than in cities closer to brick manufacturers.

We use the oven often and have thoroughly enjoyed having the oven in the back yard...

JED
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Old 09-10-2008, 01:47 PM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

Skimp AND build as well as you can.

Just because you go for the cheapest second hand bricks you can find and decide to cut them with a small angle (not angel...) grinder, doesn't mean there's no point or need to pay attention to detail, or that you won't glow with pride every time you look at your oven!

On the other hand, the most expensive and perfect materials won't make up for sloppy building.

And although most people seem to be insulating with isulfrax nowadays, and FB has some really well priced stuff in its store (which I wish they'd had a year ago...) I believe there are also some perfectly good ovens out there insulated with Vermcrete.

Its more a question of how much time you want to spend building and sourcing material, rather than how much money you want to spend.
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Old 09-10-2008, 03:03 PM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frances View Post
Skimp AND build as well as you can.

Just because you go for the cheapest second hand bricks you can find and decide to cut them with a small angle (not angel...) grinder, doesn't mean there's no point or need to pay attention to detail, or that you won't glow with pride every time you look at your oven!
That's a good point. If you are putting in the labor -- you are free, other than the other things in life that are competing for your time.

If you are free, then you have to work out the trade-off between going faster and eating pizza sooner, and going slower to get the details right.
James
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:48 AM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

I have to say I'm usually a bit of a perfectionist (virgo), but having been living in the house I'm also restoring I have learned a few things.

There have been some jobs I have spent hours deliberating about until I get to the point where I think to myself "FOR GOD'S SAKE, JUST GET ON WITH IT!" and many of the 'temporary' things I've constructed have become perfectly good permanent features.

There have also been occasions when I have tried to do a job and achieve a 'perfect' result, but the unavoidable mistakes, no matter how small, stand out (to me) like a sore thumb!

I love stone pizza ovens because of their authentic simplicity. I live in a part of france where there are numerous bread ovens in various states of repair and I find each one fascinating. Like the houses, they were constructed with whatever was at hand and this gives them a rustic quality not unlike the bread which has come from them. But they all worked, and many are still working.

I can really relate to BrianShaw, I've been deliberating long enough. Time to get stuck in, but I have to remember what it is I'm building - it is first and foremost an oven for cooking pizzas. Maybe the next one will become the centre-piece!
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:56 PM
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Location: Louisiana
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

I went through the same mental gymnastics concerning my oven......at first I wanted it as simple as possible and sought to just make it functional....then I realized that it was going to be a focal point at the end of the path in our backyard. We compromised in that we did as much labor as we could, and did not hire a designer to make it perfect. What resulted (four months later) was a very functional oven with an expression of our taste. (We installed a Casa 100. Our roof and chimney are funky,,,,,,of no great design, but we love the finished product.....and it is a gathering place for friends and family....how great is that! Good luck.
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:26 PM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

I didn't want to commit to a very expensive and slow build before knowing whether I'd use the oven much, so I made a clay oven. Now I know I will use it, and the next one will be firebrick built. Useful lesson learned.

My regrets? Using recyled firebricks - too uneven and worn on the surface, so I've laid another layer of hearth of fire bricks from inside storage heaters. Makes the oven smaller, but holds heat longer...

My build cost was in the region of 200-300 with a lot of recycling. Still going strong, but only a few months in so far. I'm very very pleased with its performance - it is still hot many days after use. I'm drying wood in it after cooking pizza and bread, and it's still at >50C after 4 days!

My advice is to go with what feels best for your budget and put the effort into making sure it's functional (insulate!), not pretty. I've not heard of anyone that regretted building their first oven, mud or brick.
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Old 09-13-2008, 03:27 AM
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Default Re: Any disaster stories?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl View Post
I'm drying wood in it after cooking pizza and bread, and it's still at >50C after 4 days!
I have read somewhere about a problem caused by routinely drying wood in a hot oven, can't remember exactly what it was though - anyone else heard this is a bad idea? It's a shame as it seems like a great way to make use of the residual heat....
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