Last time we left off with the foundation structure built. Our next step was to top it off with the 4×6 boards and use the Liquid Nails to adhere them to the landscape bricks. We then put a layer of pavers on the side where the oven would sit. This was to add an extra layer of protection between the floor of the oven and the wood underneath. Even though there would be a 3″ layer of insulation there as well, at temps over 700F, it’s a good idea to keep wood as far away as possible! The floor of the oven is actually rated to go as high as 2400F, but that’s just crazy!!
We leveled the pavers with shims and moved on. The oven we purchased, from The Bread Stone Ovens Company, came with everything we needed for the installation, except the wire to wrap around the dome before applying stucco. The day it arrived was so exciting! I’ve never received a crate before 😉 It was like Christmas unpacking that box! Everything was safe and sound and we couldn’t wait to get it all put together. We purchased the 700B raised oven which gave us 3″ additional inches of height on the entry arch. This would allow us to cook a turkey or anything else that is a little taller. It has also been very nice to have that extra room, in general, just for cooking pizzas…especially since I can be a bit of a klutz.
I’m going to be sharing a lot of pictures in this post because I would have loved to have had a reference like this when we were going through this process. While we received excellent written instructions with the oven, it still would have been nice to have someone else’s experience to follow, even if it wasn’t 100% the same as mine. My hope is that this helps someone along the way.
The base insulation was next. We laid the sheets of insulation on the foundation, placed the floor of the oven on them and traced the outline, then cut the insulation to shape with a jigsaw. Very easy to do and we finally had a visual of the size of our oven on the foundation!
That’s Carolyn, cheesin’ it up!
The base came in several pieces. The two pieces of the actual base are held together by twisting the wires on the sides. Then the fire bricks are placed inside. A bead of “cement” (provided) is run along the edge of the base and then the 3″ riser was added. This “cement” doesn’t actually adhere anything, so be aware when it comes time to use it on the front arch. We lost a whole day waiting for the arch to adhere to the dome only to learn that it never would with the “cement” that was provided. We ended up getting some flame retardant adhesive at Lowe’s to use for that part. Anyway, the next step was to get the dome from our garage and lifted up on to the base. The dome itself weighs over 500lbs, so we enlisted the help of the men in our families. There are sturdy wires looped in the concrete covering the dome and these are used to insert 2x4s to make lifting easier. Though easier is a relative term; the guys in our family who helped us with the lift would beg to differ, I’m sure!
And there we are, all smiles…
We held the arch up to see what it would look like and then used bungee cords to hold it while the adhesive set overnight.
After the arch was set, I installed the chimney, but for some reason I don’t have any pictures of that.Next was insulation, a layer of kitchen aluminum foil, and wire to cover the entire dome. Yes, kitchen foil. The instructions said foil and I was thinking it must be some sort of foiled insulation; I just couldn’t figure it out, so I called the company and he informed me that it was regular old kitchen foil. By the way, I had to call the Bread Stone Oven company a few times during the installation and they were so helpful every time. I even asked a bunch of questions by email and always received prompt, informative responses. I highly recommend this company for your wfo needs.
Then stucco and we’re done!! We put a heavy plastic sheet over the foundation to avoid stucco getting on the oven or the pavers. Mixed up the stucco, added the coloring powder and began troweling it on. We didn’t have wire on the front of the oven and this made it very hard to apply the stucco. I ended up applying it with my hands and smoothing it out as much as I could. I would recommend putting some sort of wooden structure around the front, along with wire, before stucco to make it look better. I do like the rustic look of our oven though. Also, you have to do at least two layers of stucco. The second one is much harder to apply, in my opinion. We chose to leave the surface rough, but you could smooth it out with a soft trowel if you choose. Neither of us had done anything like this before, but it was much easier than we anticipated. Don’t ever be afraid to try something new.
So, that brings us to the end of the building process. We began cooking in our oven the weekend after we finished everything and have used it almost every weekend since. Total building time took around 14 days over 9 weeks from the first shovel in the ground to the first fire.
You need to cure the oven before baking in it by building a series of small fires and increasing the size/intensity of the fire. This is done to get all of the moisture out of the bricks. You’ll want to do this if your oven sits for an extended period of time without use, as well.
UPDATE: The section under the opening did not fare well for us over the winter. It all cracked and crumbled away. In the spring, I removed it all and replaced it with some old fire bricks we had laying around. I really like the new look a lot more.
And this is the oven today…we added a board around the front and side and painted the pavers. I’ve installed some hooks on the board for my paddle and to hang towels. We also added an umbrella at the end of the foundation because the sun sets on that side and it just beats down on us when we’re cooking.
Thanks for sticking with me through this process. Join me again for more wood fired cooking!