The reason why I am critical of this with regards to brick ovens is that these are both major investments and contain fire. In my mind, a major investment should more than adequately compensate the buyer for his or her money spent. Something with fire needs to be safe. For instance, my truck should run well past the date on which I pay it off and, incidentally, not blow up!
|300 year-old Brick oven at Annaberg on St. John USVI, windmill in background|
Whether you are building your own brick oven or having it built, attention to materials, both specifications and quality, should enter the equation.
1. Do the plans (or design) fit the traditional and technical standards for oven design?
2. Have the designers and builders taken into account the ergonomics of cooking in one?
3. Are the materials up to withstanding temperature extremes and fluctuations associated with wood-fired ovens?
4. Have the designers and/or builders satisfied the aesthetic potential or wishes of the user/buyer?
Take these one at a time:
1. Wood-fired ovens are thousands of years old. The design was essentially worked out long ago. The fire heats a mass, traditionally a dome, and exits the flue at the front. If any plan or builder tells you that the chimney exits the center of the dome, WALK.
|Many pounds of beef slow-cooked (note 2 handled door)|
Wood-fired ovens are intended to keep the heat in the oven. Plans without insulation (or insufficient) under the floor or over the oven will not work well.
The user should be able to see all part of the oven interior.
Accommodations for working space should be made nearby.
Cast refractory concrete, whether made into a solid shell or in sections, needs to be reinforced in order to withstand the temperature swings and any other shock. Sectional pieces can be damaged in shipping or assembly and fail later. Cast domes are rarely fully half domes. The point at which the wall straightens is its weakest point. Still there are some very reputable products.
These are ancient devices, unique to each town, castle, and hamlet. Why wouldn't yours be as custom?
|inexpensive cob oven being built|
|Cob oven in Costa Rica|