The Big Build…continued

Read More
5b

Welcome back!

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!!

6a

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 ūüėČ 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.

11760179_10207359577487779_8478361918102019040_n 11822278_10207448057539725_8377780940225409166_n 11825780_10207448057779731_4336485983644373393_n

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!

11811408_10207456854239637_7638284752344252385_n¬†20617_10207456854639647_3075535056676744370_n¬†11828661_10207456854679648_5512146073423739757_n 10463048_10207456855239662_5047820529939188715_n 11822315_10207456857119709_5922893116350830467_n11873643_10207456855759675_2929664194139626250_nThat’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!

11224306_10207456854199636_5486203460678553076_n11870687_10207514955012120_6275459335653620652_n11229548_10207514955052121_5665151623362838793_n11888078_10207514956012145_4663733650698646073_n11863392_10207514957652186_3728019014271112582_n11855706_10207514958692212_4086598232339753226_n11846746_10207514959612235_751961645149475637_n11201496_10207514961132273_1860611633022067029_n¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 11902266_10207514961292277_7161549371127330379_n¬†11892076_10207514969652486_5639014471257419985_nAnd 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.

11846619_10207514966132398_1903133618207884493_n 11866281_10207514970332503_4606179691365246456_n

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.

11903796_10207619256979604_6886601123374761360_n11899775_10207619257099607_8240518306136598487_n11923230_10207619257299612_1165060298368865080_n11935011_10207619257819625_8190043079635774612_n11924289_10207625568177380_3564638380992239375_n     11899922_10207619257579619_6893876776830816362_n

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.

11960066_10207666390077902_5971042302156722822_n11951319_10207666390317908_6309670039571046611_n11986955_10207666390717918_2695127775137389854_n11960220_10207666393237981_756023542901676814_n11960082_10207666392797970_8122228016647205771_n11987016_10207666395038026_5759344651862120373_n   11986338_10207666394318008_2936526565123944725_n     11949494_10207666393837996_5837286438586766388_n

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.

11947490_10207680687155320_3840238447165129503_n11986483_10207710621463659_5682799796953111932_n

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.

Before: 12993580_10209342889589342_7606197189731808417_n After: 13083252_10209381414592443_5214147800544075358_n

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.

13524383_10209466294365291_231552947346599733_n oven2oven1

Thanks for sticking with me through this process. Join me again for more wood fired cooking!

The Big Build…Let’s Dig In

Read More
11696009_10207353707581035_647179011646618788_n

I began dreaming of having my very own wood-fired pizza oven over a decade ago. My wife and I had “Pizza Wednesday” every week and posted our delicious pies on Facebook. Our friends and family¬†looked forward to seeing our creations each week so much that they would complain when we would skip a week for one reason or another. Due to work schedules, Pizza Wednesday became Pizza Friday and the fun continued as we moved from Arkansas to Pennsylvania. While our pizzas were very delicious baking in our house¬†oven, I knew I wanted more.

After living in our new home for a couple of years, I began a serious search for the perfect wood-fired oven to build in our backyard chill space…we have a shed bar with a deck and enjoy many family gatherings there.

chilledit

I looked at kits to build your own oven (meaning a form that you¬†fill with concrete, etc and then build your own arch on the entry…phew!¬†NOT for me), cob ovens on Pinterest (they always make things look so easy, don’t they?)¬†¬†and kits that came partially or wholly pre-assembled (now we’re talking!).¬†We are good at DIY, but have never really done anything with masonry, so I was intimidated to say the least; however, I knew¬†we wanted to do some of the building so¬†we had some sweat equity in it.

I decided on a company where I could get a partially assembled oven with an all brick dome.¬†This is one of the things that sold me on this company, because I knew it was the best conductor of heat….and all the pictures of the flame dancing across that dome had me mesmerized! I’ll share more about the oven itself and where I got it in future posts, you’ll just have to tune in if you’re curious. I ordered the oven and began digging in…

1st

…and let me tell you, I got my SWEAT equity in right away!! That huge tree you see in the top right of the picture had massive roots (see below)¬†all throughout the area I needed to dig. I began this first step over the 4th of July weekend, 2015. This alone took three back-breaking days to get¬†our space level enough to add a layer of sand and start compacting it.

11705295_10207239512526230_4020031514874253454_n

We tarped the space to keep it dry (sort of) and worked on it only on weekends, for the most part. The next step was to put down a layer of concrete pavers and level that whole area.

2nd

2nd-a

3rd

We bought landscape bricks at Lowe’s and used landscaping adhesive (Liquid Nails) to keep the bricks sturdy. Then we had to decide how many levels we would need in order for¬†the final surface to be the perfect height for cooking. We knew we wanted to top the brick layer with 4×6 weather-treated lumber to contrast nicely with the bricks. We also knew there would need to be a layer of concrete (we decided on more pavers, see before where I said I’m not a mason!) between the lumber and the oven’s base insulation. Then you would have the insulation and the height of the oven base to consider. After figuring all of that out, we determined we needed to have 8 levels of the landscape bricks. Several weeks and several trips to Lowe’s later (we ended up miscalculating by ONE brick on¬†our last trip!), we had a great foundation for our oven.

4th

I’m exhausted just writing about all this work! Join me next time for the rest of the build.
Feel free to comment and let me know what you think so far!