outdoor brick oven

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ratherbefishin, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    I am nearly finished my outdoor brick oven, just completing the top of the outer brick dome.I started by pouring a waist high 5'x6' concrete deck where the rock sloped down in the front so I could have an ash pit, then laid firebrick over 1 '' of sand/vermiculite, and proceeded to build the inner 40''x50''chamber from fire brick then the outer red brick wall with a gap in between which was filled with a sand/vermiculite portland cement mixture for insulation.I formed the oven chamber dome by laying the firebrick over a form made by cutting plywood to make the stations which I covered with 2x2's[ sort of like building a strip plank boat]Once that was done I carried on finishing the dome which was mortered together using refractory cement, and then plastered over the outside and let air dry.Now I am finishing the outer redbrick dome, again separated by the sand/vermiculite concrete for insulation.The walls and dome roof are about 12'' thick.The chimney at the rear has a place for a sliding damper to shut off the flue when the fire burns down to keep the heat from going up the chimney
    Now- the question-how long do I let the oven dry before lighting the first fire in it?I had thought of just initially putting charcoal fires in it to heat it up to aid curing the mortar, because any regular fire will burn out the frames-which of course will be the acid test- will the dome hold up?I am pretty much going on what my father told me how these oven were constructed, he was a baker and started his career working with these wood fired ovens, but he passed away over 20 years ago so I am just going on memory, plus what I can get on the web.
     
  2. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,553
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Sorry that I do not have an answer to your question - just wanted to thank you for posting. Outdoor brick oven is near the top of my dreams.

    Please keep us posted on your first baking etc. and thanks agains for sharing.

    Marlene
     

  3. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    as usual, I would have done it a bit diferent another time- I would have made the front and back outer walls brick alright, but instead of making the outer walls domed, I would have made them like a regular roof, so I could have finished it with clay roofing tile.Now I have to build a roof over it to keep the rain off the brick dome.It looks neat, but a gable end roof design would have been more functional.
     
  4. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Keep us up to date. Building a brick oven is one of my life goals.... :)
     
  5. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    I would probably have made it out of clay, except someone gave me a bunch of bricks.They really aren;t complicated, this is how bread was baked for millenia.One thing I did learn- I'm no brick layer, but I am having fun building it.No, it's not a work of art, but as long as the dome holds up when I burn the frame out, I'm sure it will be fine.I think making an oven out of clay would be simpler- and cheaper.The only brick you really need for a clay oven is the firebrick for the oven deck- the rest is built out of clay.There are two construction methods for clay ovens- one is you just make the dome out of damp sand and remove that when the clay dries, and the other method is making hoops out of branches, which is burned out later.I gather the key measurement is the height of the oven should be no more than 66%of the width.[Mine is 40 '' wide and 28 '' high]The door is 12''x16''.
    Anyway- does anyone know how long I have to leave it to cure before putting a fire in?
     
  6. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    thanks for posting, I have the fire brick and plan to build one this fall.

    do you have pictures?

    I think the mortar you used will dictate the wait. Did you use portland in the mortar? I'm guessing if the portland content is as high as regular mortar that it should cure. If the mortar contains almost no portland you may be able to fire almost immediately.

    I will ask my friend who has built some commercial ovens about time to fire.
     
  7. Kathy in MD

    Kathy in MD Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,351
    Joined:
    May 30, 2002
    Location:
    Maryland
    Should you burn the frame out????
    I think that would be too hot for a first burn.
    I know the first few burns should be small ones to cure the brick.
    I will ask my BIL and get back to you.
     
  8. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Where did you get the door?
     
  9. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,553
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I'm currently reading "I Hear America Cooking" subtitled A Journey of Discovery from Alaska to Florida...by Betty Fussell -- and just wanted to tell you in writing about an adobe oven -- it was said that they take a year to cure. Since your's is made out of already cured bricks - I wouldn't think it would take that long to cure...but I won't have thought adobe takes a year to cure either...my fear was that your wouldn't wait long enough and all that work for naught.

    If I can remember which book I saw how to build a brick oven I'll look it up for you.

    Marlene
     
  10. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,649
    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Location:
    Hill Country, Texas
  11. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    I used refractory cement for the inner firebrick dome and regular mortar for the outer redbrick dome.I was trying to find an old woodstove door[ they were all over the place before I needed one, now that I need it, can't find it] I may opt for a doubled up 2x6 wood door faced with cement board and use that as a removable door.I am going to make a sliding damper for the chimney[ left a slot for it] to shut off the flue when the fire burns down, to keep the heat inside
    I think I am going to start with charcoal fires first rather than a full scale fire which would burn out the frame, and see if that helps cure it
     
  12. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    well... so much for ''small fires'' I had a couple of small fires, but I lit another one this morning and the frame caught....so....I guess I;ll find out how well I built the dome.If it holds, well and good, if it collapses into a heap of rubble[ I understand there are bets on it from people who have been walking by watching the progress], I guess it's be called ''Clarkes folly'', either that or I'll have to disguise it as a flower bed...oh, well, I had fun building it ,anyway.Should find out in a couple of hours, either way
     
  13. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    it's 6 hours later, some coals still red, and the temperature on the oven deck is holding at 400- not bad.I need to get a better damper to shut off the flue, and I need to get a door- used cement blocks this morning]There is a small crack running lengthwise down a mortar joint on the side of the outer redbrick dome- don't know whether that is serious, or just normal expansion.I guess I'll find out if it collapses when it cools.....hope not!
     
  14. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.
    For anyone wanting a door.I had a thought yesterday.I am wanting to build a Huge BBQ pit.My main problem is finding something suitable for a doors.Well yesterday i found it.A metal crawl space door for a house.They come with a metal frame that is made to set in the foundation and have a door that sets in with a turn lever on top to hold it closed.Would work like it is.But i think ill modify it to slide up,and lock in place.I also wouldn't think they cost to much.There (about)24inches tall by 34 icnhes wide.Thinking of what typ of insulation would stand up to the heat from the fire and keep the door from turning red hot.Might be as simple as just tack welding a thin layer of something like flashing to the inside to reflect heat away,leaving and air gap between.What do ya think?May even put a layer of fire proof dry wall between layers.But id rather keep it as light as possible.

    For insulated handles or fire poker handles.You can buy the cheap made in china chipping hammers made for welding.$1.99 The coil spring raped around them makes for a good door handle.Just cut off the head.Of grind off the spot weld to remove the spring/coil of metal.
     
  15. wheeezil

    wheeezil Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    50
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Oven build article MEN Oct.-Nov. issue 2002
     
  16. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    well, it's after supper and the oven has cooled , it sure holds the heat!Itdidn't collapse, either[thankgoodness].I don't know what to do about the small crack-fillit with mortar?It's quite small, but runs the length of the oven ,half way up the outer redbrick dome.
    As usual, if I built another one[unlikely]I would do it a bit diferent- like building the inner oven chamber totally before the outer walls[ I had built up 5 courses of the outer wall, then built the inner chamber]I finished the inner dome by plasteing it with refractory cement mortar, but of course couldn't reach the sides to plaster them as I had built the outer brick wall.
    I wouldn't build an outer dome from brick, I would build both gable ends from brick,and the sides, but I would bring the outer walls up higher, then fill the whole space sides and top with the vermiculite/sand./ portland cement mixture[ for insulation]then use clay roofing tile over that- it would serve as a roof-because now I have to build a frame and roof over the oven.
    I spent the afternoon making a ''peel'' out of a yellow cedar plank, it should work nicely to handle the bread.I also made a simple wooden rake to pull the ash out into the ashpit.
    Tomorrow I shall fire it again and try a batch of bread!
     
  17. wandasm

    wandasm Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    ga
  18. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    well, I really wanted to build one for years too[ used to be a baker ,I worked with my dad in our bakeshop, 30 years ago[ gracious, doesn't that sound like a long time!]so this summer I finally decided to go for it, after reading many books, websites, etc.Actually, it isn't that complicated, but as usual, I would do it a bit diferent if I was building another one.It is a lot of hard work though, brick and mortar isn't light! I should have been more careful not to light the frame on fire, I had intended to just have small fires to help it cure.Itheld up, but I do have a small crack-whether that would have still happened had I left it a month, I don't know.
    The simplest oven is a clay oven, you just need a platform,lay firebrick on that, then mix clay, sand and straw together.The form can be either a wooden form, or even a shaped sand mold, that you dig out after the clay has hardened.I think the method is to make clay''bricks'' and build the oven ''igloo'' fashion,using a coffee can for a flue mold, and cutting out the front door after the clay sets up, but hasn't hardened yet.
    As I said, it can't be that complicated, they've been building ovens this way for thousands of years,so it's pretty low-tech.One of the critical dimensions is the height -width ratio should be about 2/3 , and the door should be about 2/3 the height of the dome[so as to keep the heat in when checking the oven]
    But- no point in wishing- go ahead and build one!
     
  19. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    well , the learning curve continues. I put a batch of bread on and fired the oven-it wasn't hot enough[ used wet wood]so I punched down the loaves and put on some dry 2x4's, and got it going .This time it was too hot when the bread was ready, so I sort of pushed the coals to the sides and put the bread in- not good, the sides burned immediately, so I raked out all the coals and redistributed the loaves.The oven temperature was still too hot[ 500*].Actually if I had a second batch, it would probably be about right now.
    So, I knew it would take some getting used to, and I wasn't wrong.I think you could bake several batches of bread one after the other.
    When I am finished, I will stack the wet wood in to dry- that's what the old bakers did at the end of the shift- the oven still has enough heat to basically kiln dry the wood for the next firing.Got to run, the bread should come out now.
     
  20. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    237
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    bread out- superb crust and great flavour-exactly what I was hoping for.Next time will be better, I;ll know what to expect- I'll use dry wood to fire it and rake all the coals/ash out before putting any bread in.Timing is everything.A broom worked well for cleaning the ash out, after I used my wooden rake.All in all- a success, I've been wanting to do this for years!