Monday, April 16, 2018

What is an Authentic Brick Oven?

I have become accustomed to mass manufactured products.   I think we all have.  Really, do I want my books to be made on a Gutenberg press?  Or my lumber to be 'hand-hewn'?  Uh, maybe.

When a manufacturer uses our desire for authenticity to sell something that is not authentic, whether it is craft beer or brick ovens, I trip over the accepted idea that some things are true and others are more true.  "Truthiness" is now a word.
TBO 54"

Up front, I cannot satisfy the market need for thousands of authentic brick ovens.  I build each oven authentically, yes, but there is a limit to my strength and time, so I have a limit on ovens-per-year.

TBO 36"

I still balk at companies such as Chicago Brick Oven and many others claiming both brick and authentic.  If they claimed inexpensive, cast shell, wood-fired oven kits, they would be telling the truth.  But they don't.

Chicago Brick Oven shell
The ovens sold by most of the manufacturers of brick ovens are akin to tract housing.  Modular, identical, and cheap.  They offer none of the cultural warmth that we associate with the ovens we see in old Europe or the Southwest.

TBO dome roof
I have also given open-source access to my building techniques so that anyone with gumption and grit... and a limited budget can build one themselves.
This September, the 8th and 9th, I am offering a brick oven building workshop in Clinton Corners, NY at Wild Hive Farm.
See next post for info on registration.
TBO oven in progress

TBO oven mouth arches in progress
If you're wanting authentic, you can have it.  If you want something to be true, don't buy the 'truthiness' products.

We are drawn to authenticity.  Even today.
Greek style oven by TBO

Back two thousand years, the brick makers in Pompeii turned out millions of bricks.  Some of them went to build the 26 bakeries still standing there.  Yet, however modular the bricks were, each oven had its own character and exterior design: the trademark of the bakery. 
Pompeii brick oven 2000+ years-old


  1. What is the recommended Aluminum content for the fire bricks. I am thinking of using ones that have 27% aluminum

  2. great project


  3. Alumina is added to firebrick to make them temperature tolerant. High alumina in bricks is not necessary for brick ovens as the surface temperature of the bricks tops out at 1500 degrees (not 2300 or higher).
    Fire Bricks come in three common grades: Standard, medium duty, and high duty. Standard and medium are best for brick ovens.
    Thanks for the question