Monday, September 24, 2012

Wood Fired Brick Oven

About 15 years ago friends of mine built a clay oven at Shell Lake, Saskatchewan. We have had many a slice of fresh bread with jam from that oven and I have always wanted one. This is a link to the making of their oven The kid with his hat on backwards is my son now in his twenties.

A couple of years ago my wife and I bought a small cabin on a 1/2 acre of land which gave us enough room to finally build an oven for ourselves. Sadly the ground is sandy and there was no clay to be had. I got on the internet and found many plans for brick ovens. The main problem was the cost of materials refractory bricks are running in the $8-9.00 range and I wasn't sure what I wanted or or where the final location would be for the oven. Our fire pit is about where we want to build our new cabin and the logical spot for our fire pit will be where the old one now stands.

I was still mulling around the idea and mentioned some thing to a potter friend about wanting to build an oven but the cost refractory bricks making it too expensive. We were at the cabin at the time and he just looked at me and said you have enough bricks here why not use them. The bricks were clay bricks I had bought for landscaping at $0.35 a piece.He assured me that they would be fine at the temperatures I would have the oven.

Another friend gave me info on how brick ovens were made in Argentina using clay bricks and for mortar they use a mix of clay sand and horse manure. You might wonder about the horse manure but it works well I'm told and the inside of a brick oven you place the bricks edge to edge so it is unlikely that it will fall into your food. Lacking the clay I opted for a mix of sand, fire clay, Lime and Portland cement. The mortar was my largest cost.

This is the base for the wood fired brick oven. Someone asked for the plans, that string tied to the nail is it. This will be a dome when done, all you really need is the string for measurements. I made the dome 17" radius or 34" in diameter.

I started with the door and arch, the door is 18" wide and 11 1/2" high, most likely a little high. It is set into the 34" dia. circle so that the dome brick will hit the arch. The concrete platform I poured on top of the rebuilt fire pit. concrete block is not the greatest for a fire pit, the last one only lasted 34 years. This one will hopefully last 3 or 4 years till we build the cabin. I'm hoping that I can lift the pad to a new location, if not I get to build a new oven.

The bottom course of bricks are on edge,this is because there will be a stone base for the fire and cooking. I will add this when I get it later.

This shows the chimney is added I made it the same width as a brick to make life easier. Note bricks are not fire brick but cheap clay bricks, my potter friends tell me they will work. In any case this is an experimental oven as it stands on the site of our future cabin. If we get a couple years out of it I will be happy and I most likely will want to build something more elaborate when I build permanently.

It looks better on the inside

This is the chimney and damper, next time I would make it a bit longer, but it works well

Just a rough coat of mud I will add some fiberglass strand to the finish coat.

I've fired the oven three times now, this shows a coating of sand, fire clay, lime and Portland cement, with fiberglass strand in in for reinforcing. I want to try cooking pizzas so this is a test.

675 F should be warm enough.

Lots of ash, I need a supply of hardwood. Most ovens use fire brick and that is what is on the bottom I added granite tile, and think I might be able to get some thick granite for the floor. As it was I paid $5.00 for 10 square feet of tile so this will be no loss.

This is the important stuff, I made the pizza peel on the lower left from scrap hardwood and shaped it with tools in my metal working area.

Scraping out the ash. It still looks like a construction site, but we want to give it a try.

The tile has a few cracks but it looks good.

First pizza cooked/burnt in 60 seconds, I didn't say I knew how to cook. 675 is too hot

Pam's pizza

oops still too hot, Pam says I can burn things to perfection.

Pam's Caramel pizza

Caramel Pizza cooking

Perfection! and 525F is a great temperature. Looking forward to the next attempt and we need to practice our pizza crust skills

We finished the insulating coat, sometime this week I will parge it, to make it water proof. This oven is an exercise in how to make a cheap wood fired oven, I would say anyone can make one like this with about $500.00 in materials, and bit of hunting would take it down to $250.00 metal working skills would be required for the door. I was able to make this for a bit less but people gave me materials


  1. This is great Daryl. Now I want to build one too. The regular bricks will work just fine. The whole thing looks cool and food cooked in a wood oven always tastes good. If you wad up a piece of newspaper and throw it in the hot oven, it should brown in one minute without burning,then the oven is ready to bake in. Galen

    1. Thanks Galen, It was Pam's Birthday today and we baked 8 pizza's, Kids thought was heaven, we even baked one to go. I'm not a cook but even I can make a fantastic pizza in that oven. Playing with crust recipes and have found one that works and want to try more. I do need a supply of hardwood, the closest I can buy is 1 1/2 hours away.

  2. You can really taste the difference between a wood fired oven from the conventional one. It looks fun and feels authentic to use this, especially when you’re going to cook pizza, bread, etc. But, building one is very time consuming and you need to really watch closely what you are cooking because it doesn't sustain the same temperature for the duration.

    Nohemi Tutterrow