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  #1  
Old 10-23-2012, 01:06 PM
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Default Rustic Primitive Materials

I am attempting to build a pizza/bread oven with materials that I have available to me on my property. I know from the outset that I will not be able to build anything comparable both aesthetically and functionally to the ovens that have been built by the members here but for me even a humble oven would be wonderful.

I have a few questions about materials...

So far I have dry stacked field stone for a base for my oven. It measures about 6 feet in diameter and is about 2 1/2 feet high... I am not going any higher... rocks are heavy! The base is infilled (not surprisingly) with rocks and seems locked tight... I am wondering do I need to infill with beach sand (that is what I would use) to help insulate the bottom of the oven?

I have plate of 1/2 inch thick cast iron that is 3' x 5' that I was planning on placing on top of the rock base as a platform for the firebricks for the oven... my reasoning was that the cast iron would provide heat retention & stability... is this a good/bad idea?

Also, I have at least 100 salvaged red brick that are over 60 years old... are these suitable for cladding the oven or better yet for the actual dome/vault... I would use standard modern firebrick for the oven floor but if I can use just the reds or even splits with the reds for the upper construction that would be great... is that a wise idea?

Thank you in advance for the benefit of your experience and advice.

Cheers Annie...

No comments about the aesthetics of my 'rock work' please! I am quite proud of it... I did it all by myself without scratching so musch as a knuckle and prior to this project rocks were just something I sat on at the beach!
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  #2  
Old 10-23-2012, 11:44 PM
brickie in oz's Avatar
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie M. View Post
I am wondering do I need to infill with beach sand (that is what I would use) to help insulate the bottom of the oven?
Sand is not an insulator, it will conduct the heat away from your oven into the base.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie M. View Post
I have plate of 1/2 inch thick cast iron that is 3' x 5' that I was planning on placing on top of the rock base as a platform for the firebricks for the oven... my reasoning was that the cast iron would provide heat retention & stability... is this a good/bad idea?
Again, all the heat from the oven will escape through iron/steel and brick into the base, you need to insulate.
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2012, 03:47 AM
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: South Australia
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Hi mate.
I applaud your decision to go with what you have.
Here are my thoughts:

1) Rocks might be heavy but, unless you are a very short person, trying to cook in an oven with a floor only 2 feet 6 inches off the ground will be a pain, too.
2) Find some insulation to go under the floor bricks. If you use your oven, and then decide it needs insulation over the outside, it's very easy to add later, and can be quite cheap. For example your insulating layer over the outside could be clay with sawdust in it if you were really short of cash.
If you build your oven with no insulation under the floor bricks, adding it later is next to impossible, so it's much better to "bite the bullet" and do it now.
Is a layer of vermiculite concrete beyond your financial reach? This would be good, as you can "screed" it fairly flat.
Perhaps you can get scoria or pumice? Essentially you need either something that traps air, which is a poor conductor of heat, (pumice, scoria, vermiculite, perlite) or a material that itself doesn't conduct heat well (ceramic?)
3) Most people say red bricks are probably not as good as firebricks, but thousands of ovens would have been built with them, and many have lasted decades, even centuries. Advice from a brickie - most bricks have been fired at least a bit hotter on the surface than inside, so make sure that an original outer surface is facing your fire - it will be that little bit more robust.

I know a guy who has an oven made of red brick (dome) and fired clay pavers on a sheet of steel for the floor. His advice to me was "Don't worry about insulation, these things get bloody hot."
The difference between his and my moderately insulated oven is that his takes well over two hours to get to pizza heat, and presumably takes a lot more wood.

So insulate if you can, but if you can't build it anyway and be prepared to accept it will be slower to heat , and hungrier for fuel, and you may never get a 90 seconds margherita out of it.

All the best with your build.

Last edited by wotavidone; 10-24-2012 at 03:49 AM.
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  #4  
Old 10-24-2012, 03:56 AM
Master Builder
 
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

PS check you red bricks. Make sure none of them have gone soft or crumbly. You should be able to tell when you cut them.
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Old 10-24-2012, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Beach sand contains salt so it should not be used for any kind of construction.
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:16 AM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

This is great... thank you for providing clarity as to what I should be considering.

So... INSULATE INSULATE INSULATE then add insulation!

Ceramic is an interesting idea... perhaps I can put something together from a potter friend's shard pile.

As to height, with 2 layers of brick for the oven floor it will be at just over 3' and there it shall stay. I am a petite woman of 5' 2" and some of those stones weigh more than I do... I am done with rocks!

As for fuel there is an unlimited supply of free firewood... at this moment I have 8 cords stacked high and dry just waiting to become heat.

Cutting bricks... yikes! I am going to try and find a work round on that. Perhaps some bricks could be turned on end instead of cutting and the oven can have that hedgehog look!

Seems prudent to spend some time reading the forum archives... I obviously have a lot to learn.

Now, another question... (see attached photo... ignore the bricks, that is just me thinking out loud).

I have a cast iron side plate of an old wood stove that I would like to convert to a door to my oven ( just for a touch of whimsey ). What are the oven doors lined with to keep in the precious heat? Also, any design considerations would be sincerely appreciated!

Best,

Annie
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  #7  
Old 10-24-2012, 08:34 AM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie M. View Post
Ceramic is an interesting idea... perhaps I can put something together from a potter friend's shard pile.

As far as I know not an insulator, unless in fiber form (ceramic blanket or board)
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:36 AM
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Location: Japan
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Hi Annie,

Here are the plans for a modern(meaning well insulated and fuel effficient) traditional pompeii oven. Look at it and see how you can modify it to your needs. Keep it Rustic Primitive, but make it function as if solar powered, go with ceramic fiber boards and blankets, since this wil be your only real expense. Good luck and in a few months, start sharing your recipes.
Pompeii Oven Plans2.0
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  #9  
Old 10-24-2012, 11:04 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 154
Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Excellent... thank you both for the information.

I was just talking with one of my neighbors who is a professional chef... he is amazingly creative with food... he thinks it is wonderful that I am building the oven and he is going to help me with some food ideas... so there will definitely be recipes!

I think it is all going to turn out just great!!
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  #10  
Old 10-24-2012, 12:43 PM
Master Builder
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: South Australia
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laku View Post
As far as I know not an insulator, unless in fiber form (ceramic blanket or board)
Ys, I should have been clearer - ceramic fibre or blanket is what I meant.
That's a beautiful door by the way, you certainly must incorporate it in your build.

Last edited by wotavidone; 10-24-2012 at 12:46 PM.
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