John's Brick Oven Folly

May - June 2011 Brick Oven Folly

May 2011 Where is the PIZZA???????????????????

Here we are in May and the weather is cold and damp! Yuk! But the build must go ON! Here we found a couple of pieces of travertine that the architect says will go well with the oven as a loading shelf and side shelves. Just needed to measure to make sure the pieces will fit nicely!

Oh my Goodness, if it isn't the lazy laborer! He stuck in the foamglas while we were sleeping! Using a sand/fireclay mixture under the foamglas, the foamglas was placed and leveled. And now he is mixing some heatstop 50 to put a skim coat over the foamglas for durability. There is some concern on the thermal expansion/contraction process wearing away the foamglas.

The Heatstop-50 will give it a nice hard surface on which to slide without wear. This coating will go on the foamglas and under the sand/fireclay mixture. All of these will be under the foamglas, both layers are really thin.

Now to lay out the hearth on the patio floor so that a herring bone pattern can be made and firebricks can be hand picked for a smooth floor. Bricks were marked roughly using a template and numbered for moving them onto the foamglas. Kinda paint by numbers system, only using firebricks! :)

Ok so I need to use the numbers to get all the bricks into their proper position. I am just trying to keep a flat level hearth so the peel doesn't catch on an edge and ruin a Pizza! It is a little time consuming to make sure there isn't any firebrick dust or chips on the sides so that they fit snugly together.

The foamglas is down and now to skim coat it with some heatstop50 for a wear surface.

Finally some hearth bricks and first course trials. Still not sure about the soldier course or starting with half bricks. I don't want to have a mortar joint level with the hearth and so I am leaning towards the soldier course to start the dome.

As you can see I opted for the soldier course with a 18 degree bevel on top to start the curvature of the dome. I am still wrestling with the arch and opening details. Working with brick and mortar, once you start down a path, it is very difficult to change, very unforgiving.

After much consternation and researching prior builds, I have decided on using this set up as my oven opening/arch base.  The 2x4 is an idea brorrowed from Dino's build to keep a 20" opening straight and square.

Top View

Add now it is time to play in the mud! Finally some construction is taking place. The architect was beginning to wonder why I had the mortar, since I hadn't used any as of yet! I tried to keep the front joints as tight as possible. Why? I am not sure, except everyone on the brick oven site says so! :)

Well if nothing else it will be one level oven!

I'll finish the soldier course and see you all in June. I hope this rainy weather breaks so that more work can be done!

JUNE 2011 - 
Rain rain go away! Still no PIZZA!

I had to put up a canopy to be able to do any work this Month! And boy did I tackle the wrong part of this oven, The inner arch and Dome transition!!!!

Builders before me fore warmed of the possible marital problems that arise out of this area of the build! Pizza Bob commented his wife said it took him three days to cut one firebrick! OMG!

Well here are a couple of pics of my attempt at an inner arch (roman style) I needed an odd number of bricks so that one centers itself in the middle as the keystone.

With the opening I needed to span and the height, it worked out to be my lucky number 13 for the number of bricks in the arch! Yikes! This can't be good, my lovely (and VERY superstitious) Wife adds to the obvious. But 13 has been a lucky number for me and that is my story, and I sticking to it! The shims are to simulate the mortar that will eventually stick it all together!

Now I cut the birds mouth into the side supporting bricks and I'm getting ready to mortar the arch into place. Of course using that handy, dandy wooden arch template that got me out of the mason's hat and back into a more comfortable carpenters hat!

Ahh, a mortared inner arch entrance, now will it collapse or hold on its old time tested design????

Top, left side view of arch. I know it ain't the collseum!  Hey but an arch is an arch!And it is Standing (or is that arching) on its own!


Now for the dome transition parts! Sometimes thing go right and all is obvious even to an asthecically and mechanically blind bat like myself. Well the dome transition did not fall into that category! I looked at many other builds and how others handled this dilemma, and the only thing I found was I should have beveled the arch bricks  on the inside. To try and grasp this simple concept I started cutting some bricks and trying different approaches, NONE worked!
 So I sat down with a ice cold tea and had a small flashback to my youth. (Now that was a long trip to say the least, going wayyyyyyyyyy back in time to the 1960's) Anyway I asked the architect if stores still sold play-dough, she looked at me like the mortar in my head cracked! Play-Dough??? she asked?  I told her I needed it for the oven. She asked if I was going to use part from an easy bake oven too! Ok, I know I deserved that comment, but at the store we were checking out with the play dough and a young cashier (maybe 18yrs old at best) looked at the play dough and looked at us and smiled. Just then my wife pipes in that we were going to use mom's cookie cutters if we promised not to get the play dough in the carpet! She just busted up laughing and  told us not to get into trouble!

Ok here is what & How I used the play-dough. I molded it into a square shape that was very close to a 4" x 4" brick.

Just another dough boy story!

I then pushed that into place where I needed a brick and then had an impression to use as a brick cutting guide.

That is how I came even remotely close to getting the correct cuts on the dome transition bricks!