It’s not finished, it still needs a ceramic blanket for insulation and a couple coats of stucco. It works great making pizza, chicken and bread. Tonight we are going to make Stromboli.
My boyfriend has told me many times that he has wanted a brick pizza oven in the house. We both knew that wasn’t going to happen without a major overhaul. (I never thought it would happen, period.) But one day, while on Facebook, a friend that I went to college with was hosting a “Learn to make a temporary brick oven” class at the Borner Farm project, an organic farm in Prescott. It spurred my attention, and I googled DIY brick oven. There was a plethora (I love that word) of information on the subject, and I sent my man an email stating that I have decided to make him an outdoor pompeii style brick oven. That was February of 2012 and in April I started construction.
I got a big nail, the kind that go into railroad ties and I tied a 24 inch length of twine to it. I walked into the backyard, just off the patio and stuck the nail into the Earth. I had another nail tied onto the opposite end and I scratched away at the ground, forming a 48 inch diameter circle. Then I grabbed the shovel and started to dig. We live in an area of Wisconsin where there is considerable glacial till, so once I got into the B horizon there was a variety of poorly sorted pebbles to cobble. It took a couple days but I dug the hole 28 inches deep.
The next step was multiple trips to the gravel pit, ironically due north 1 mile. We share the same address. Perhaps I live on a glacial moraine? Anyway, I lined the the diameter with chicken wire and lined the chicken wire with some sort of black building fabric I found in the basement. I attached it to the chicken wire with twisties that I stash from the produce section of the grocery store. I started to fill the void with gravel, and then mortared rock around onto the chicken wire.
Ok, a little lie here. I actually filled the whole thing with gravel, 3000 pounds of gravel! I didn’t have the rock mortared around for support, and the darn thing started to lean, like the tower of pizza! I had to dig all the gravel out. That was a sad day. I was so mad, I didn’t work on it for 3-4 days.
So, time to start over. This time I filled with gravel as I mortared rock up. Worked much better!
Next was an insulating layer. And another confession. I daily checked Craigslist in search of recycled firebrick, and found 60 in the Cities. I went to St. Paul to pick it up. When I got home, I realized that I had bough insulating firebrick, not heat holding firebrick. Oh well, I decided to use it as insulation. A little pricey at $1/brick but at least it was useful.
Next, a thin layer of fine-grained sand to help level the firebrick for the oven floor.
Next, you lay out the firebrick for the oven floor. Of course, I over-thought this and did it about 6 times. I wanted it to be perfect so the pizza peel wouldn’t get hung up on a brick when I put the pizza in or take it out!
After you get the brick laid, you need to make a form for the door. I decided to go with an arch. I found a piece of not-quite-rotted-pine, and made the door. Wish I’d had a table saw. Then I made the arch. You use 1/2 bricks for the arch, and set it up using little pebbles.