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Old 07-15-2010, 06:09 AM
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Location: Dover, DE
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Default Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Hello All, my husband began building the 42" pompeii oven a couple weeks ago and we've come up with a few questions that I've been unable to find answers too on the forum (they're pretty simple so I'm sure the answers are out there I just haven't found them). We've got the foundation laid, the block stand built and the concrete then vermiculite insulation hearth installed. He's now @ the laying the fire brick hearth and building the dome phase. I'm going to post our photos of the progress so far. Here are our questions at this stage and I admit some of them are really rank amateur!:
1. How do you cut the oven floor bricks so that the floor is perfectly round? We have a 7" Rigid wet tile saw but it obviously only cuts straight not curved lines.
2. Are there any draw backs to laying the first course of bricks directly on the oven floor (aside from not being able to replace chipped bricks on the edges)?
3. We are building a 42+" tuscan style pompeii oven. What are the advantages/disadvantages of having the first "soldier" course be a full size brick laid vertically?
4. We like the plans where the solider course is angled at the top so as to have less mortar with the 2nd course. My question is what is the angle we should cut the solider course top on?
5. What is the best total size of the vent area? If we go larger than a 42" oven say up to a 46" oven should the depth of the vent area be larger?
These are all the questions I can think of now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that some of the brick oven super stars on the forum can help us out. Thanks in advance, Andrea (wife of oven builder and future brick oven cook!)
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2010, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

1) Repetitive cuts to approximate curve. Standard duty firebricks are really easy to cut.
2) I think this is the best way. I built my oven this way. Avoid the fussy curve in the first question, and spreads the load of the dome over a larger footprint. Replacing bricks is rare in a home oven.
3) Personal opinion alert: I think soldier courses are foolish. They exert unneeded side force on unneeded side walls. Full height soldier courses only compound this folly. Lay your first course right on the floor, is my opinion for what it's worth.
4) If you can't be dissuaded from a soldier course, determine the angle by stretching a chalk line from floor center to brick edge. An advantage to a half high solder course is that you can get two angled soldiers from one brick in one cut. Bricks aren't free, and neither is the edge of your diamond saw.
5) The official word on this is a six inch ID vent for a 36, and an 8" ID for a 42. 46? What for? You may want to avoid huge ovens if it's for home use. It's very difficult for one person to make and cook more than one pizza at a time, and you can get any domestic quantity of bread into a 36. To your question, your vent should flare to twice it's area at the top of the entry.
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Old 07-16-2010, 11:42 AM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Dmun,
Thanks so much for the words of wisdom! We're going to follow your advice and skip the solider course and just start with the 1/2 brick on its side right on the firebrick hearth. I also wanted to let you know we loved looking at your geodesic dome!! What an amazing labour of love and engineering! Thanks again for the help. Andrea.
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:23 PM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Andrea,
I agree with dmun and second everything he says. Also, I do find my 42" oven over-sized a tiny bit. When I'm feeling reckless and bold, I do 2 pizzas at a time. I can't ever imagine doing 3, they cook quickly and need turning halfway thru. I could have done with 38-39". Those last 3-4" to the back of the oven are hard to reach. But, you can get a big LeCruset in it with smaller pans and coals so size has it's advantages.

If you do the Forno bravo postings and your husband does the oven building, you could be thru before end of summer . Can't wait to see pictures.
-Dino
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Dino,
Thanks so much for the post. Thanks also for your photo album on Picasa. I downloaded a bunch of the photos and Tim (my husband) says they are the best he's seen for use for reference! We're also very jealous of the lovely pool. Especially today as it's around 100 degrees in Delaware and very humid! Nothing that a little good wine and cheese will not be able to make better though! Tim's a school teacher so he's working full time on the oven and I'm praying he get's most of it done before school starts back up in the fall. Thanks again for your help. Andrea.
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:51 PM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

For determining the angle, you may want to draw a full size template. this would be a cross section of the dome. You only need 1/2 (or a quarter of a cirle) - starting from teh floor and going up to the peak of the dome. then you cna just measure the angle from the picture, or cut the picture up into pieces and use the pieces as templates.

Or if (like me) your addicted to un-necessary precision you fire up a spreadsheet and do some math.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:17 AM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Small world. My wife graduated from CRH. Soldier course or no soldier course, I am sure the oven will cook just the same. For mine, I basicly did as was suggested with the string idea only I used a yardstick. just go from your center position and draw a line straight to the back edge of the soldier brick. as for the additional load....I have gained a huge amount of respect for the dome structure. there was more than one time that I put my full 230 lbs down on it during the build process and when setting the keystone I purposely pushed down with all my weight to make sure it was jammed in. I also Built a 42 and don't see the need to go larger unless you plan on having some big darn parties. I have cooked 3 pizzas at a time, have had ribs and chicken in there at the same time. The bigger the oven, the more wood you are gonna use heating it up. Dover has lots of farmland nearby but I don't recall seeing tons of woodland....might just be my memory.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:18 AM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Oh, and I know what you mean by the outside temps. Hot as Heck here in VA right now.
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Old 07-17-2010, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

Woodchuck Dad,
Thanks for the feedback. Small world with CR! We live in downtown Dover and have been to many CR v Dover soccer & football games. Another coincidence is that today my husband went out looking for fire clay and was sold Heat Stop mortar. So I did a search on the forum to see where we could find some and the best answers were in one of your posts "Help! No fire clay..." So you've helped us out twice today. I don't think we have any pottery supply places around here do you think a hobby place like AC Moore or Michaels would have fireclay? Thanks again. Andrea
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Old 07-18-2010, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: Rookie Oven Build in Delaware

I went with a 1/2 height (4 1/2 inch) soldier course on the floor for my 40 inch oven then approximated an ellipse with my resulting dome height of 18 inches.

The soldier course does give a straight wall at the edge that, I believe, makes for more usable floor space and is easier to clean. (I do agree with dmun that the 9 inch soldier course is not accomplishing much and does introduce some structural issues.)

One of the strengths of this site is that there are differing approaches. None are necessarily more "correct" than the other and there are many ways to achieve the final product. Just pick the ones that make the most sense to you.

Last edited by Neil2; 07-18-2010 at 02:14 PM.
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