Friday, January 18, 2019

When a Brick Oven isn't a Brick Oven

TBO 36" with prep counter and gable roof
There are five hundred blog posts that precede this one.  So as I itemize the elements that make or don't make a brick oven, I hope that some of the big vendors of products don't take it the wrong way and I hope that you, the consumer, are better informed as you go after having a brick oven for yourself.

  1. A brick oven isn't a brick oven unless the interior dome is made of bricks, specifically, fire bricks.  A wood-fired oven can be brick or it can be cast-refractory, which is what MOST of the products available as kits are.  Cast refractory ovens themselves come in various levels of quality, mostly according to how well and how thick the cast sections are made.  Some are too thin or fragile for either shipping or use.

    Greek style dome as per customer request

    Owner of this oven 
    sent this photo ("Help").  
    Oven didn't work.
    No mouth. No insulation.

  1. A brick oven may still be made of bricks, but if it doesn't have the flue in the right place, it is closer to a fireplace than an oven.  The typical mistake made by someone building one (even experienced masons) who hasn't investigated brick ovens is the placement of the flue in the center of the dome or arched vault.  The interior of a brick oven needs to be isolated from the flue otherwise the air that burns the wood passes through the oven and cools it.  The flue is ALWAYS in front of the mouth.
  2. Again, there are brick oven plans that instruct you to build your oven in incorrect ways.
  3. Too small; mouth too big.
    • The mouth is too large or doesn't exist.
    • There is no, or insufficient insulation under the floor or above the dome/arch.  Your oven will not heat up and/or will cool down too quickly.
    • The interior is so small that you can't make much food in it.  You'll waste your effort in building making an oven under 36" in diameter.
  4. Do your research.  One website, one set of instructions, or a ridiculously easy way to make an oven, won't insure success.  At least 200 of the posts on this blog will give you information.  Look elsewhere too.  Time spent researching will save you time and heartbreak later.

David Neufeld
True Brick Ovens

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