admin on May 25th, 2009

Now that the stand is mobilised and complete, time to get ready for the ‘heat face’. I’m using a layer of Hebel brick - and onto this will go a low cost clay paver. For those who don’t know Hebel, its an extremely light and fire resistant building material. The roughly 900mm x 1200mm stand needed seven bricks.

Hebel can be cut super easily with any kind of saw and requires a special cement too. I made a bit of a pigs ear of this (made the cement a bit too watery), however a second skim this weekend sorted that out. I’ve decided to leave the Hebel exposed on the sides (budget is getting tight) and I’ll treat this in someway perhaps with the final pigment I’ll use on the oven exterior.

I spent a couple of hours this weekend shopping for the the next set of materials - clay pavers, builders sand, fire cement, even a double skinned gas flu (not sure if I’ll use this yet). But couldn’t find clay. Working on this.

admin on May 21st, 2009

Time to get started on the base.

The first stage is pretty simple using 100mm x 45mm treated pine timber. It comes in 3.6M lengths at least from from my local hardware shop (Bunnings Artarmon in North Sydney - great store worthy of many hours investment).

So far I’ve been through five lengths in total they’re $25 each. You’ll need three for this first stage. I got the store to cut it for me and then screwed it into this format using 70mm galvanised hex bit screws. Of course I hadn’t decided on the means of portability totally at this point, and so when I settled on the 450 mm diameter wheels I realised it was just too high. So you’ll see in the pics that I but the legs down by about 150mm.

Next step was to toughen up the lower part to handle the wheels and moving the beast around.

Check out that wheel! Definitely Lancaster Bomber material, or maybe a Mosquito.

…And here its is before the Hebel Brick layer.
At this point it really feels extremely sturdy. If it looks a little ‘bodged together’ that because it is. (Hey wait ’til you see the next stage, I never pretended to be a carpenter/DIY guy extraordinaire - believe me if I can do this, then you can).

Measurements? Hmm yes, I’ll supply all that stuff at the end in a wrap up. Main thing is we’re ready for the next layer.

admin on May 21st, 2009

lizardThis is my lizard mate, he’s a beauty - about 12cm long - shot him on one on my Pizza Oven Hebel Bricks… Hope he keeps those nasty Aussie spiders at bay. My 4 year old, got quite a shock on the cold day I took this shot, having told him not to touch. Of course when my back was turned he went for a good poke only to get the shock of his life when sluggish lizard sped off! Anyone know what sort he is?

admin on May 19th, 2009

Getting Mobile

OK, concept sorted, but how to make it mobile?

When finished the thing will weigh 200+ KG – not something that a simple BBQ stand will work for. Plus, when you think that the oven must be capable of being pushed over grass, up the side of a house with steep incline, onto a trailer and off at the other end… then you realise that you have a challenge!

At one point I seriously looked at building a trailer like one of these (image credit)…


But expense is an issue – a trailer would cost at least AU$6,000 – and wouldn’t fit behind my house anyway.

Sizewise I’ve settled on 900mm max wide and so made a bit more in the length to 1200mm.

The budget: I really don’t want to spend more that AU$600 all up (and this is proving to be a big challenge).

I’ve settled on a treated pine timber frame both for cost reasons and because I’m not a great metalworker. What wheels? When it came down to it large pneumatic castors seemed the most appropriate, and I ummed and aahhed on this for a while tossing up between axle-based wheels and castors.

Eventually a couple of calls to Castors and Industrial and I decided on a 45cm diameter pneumatic castor.

See right hand castor

See right hand castor

Two fixed and two swivel - they worked out at about AU$80 each delivered - a painful blow…until they arrived. I’m reminded of the landing gear of a Lancaster Bomber.. and I’m convinced they’ll be the making of the oven.

Next… the frame.

admin on May 19th, 2009

It’s probably useful for me to share some of the sources I drew on before I settled on a direction for this project…you may well decide to take a different route – and good for you if you do!
If you google wood-fired pizza oven, you’ll see there are thousands of sites.

And quite a lot of books too….

Russel Jeavons Great BookA friend bought this one for me and I love it. Written by chef and restaurateur Russell Jeavons, an institution in South Australia – Russell opens his restaurant for just 1 night a week and makes oven baked produce throughout the rest week. Here’s why.

Wood-fired ovens have been around for thousands of years and people have discovered that different kinds of food prefer different temperatures. When a fire in the oven burns long and hot enough the oven literally becomes full of heat or ‘soaked’ (something that can take up to a day depending on the size of the oven), it then starts to radiate heat. At that point temperatures are searing – up to 500deg C (over 900 F) and from there if the heat source is removed the oven will gradually cool sometimes taking days to do so.

Having spent all the time and effort to get it there then the smart baker learns to use every part of the heat – starting with a snack before the job of bread baking begins, followed by roasts then pastries finally in the last warmth of the fire egg custards and tarts.

Guess what that little snack cooked for the baker and his assistants in the first heat of the fire has become…yep you guessed it!

There are many interesting designs for smaller wood-fired ovens, and a few – but only a few have been developed with portability in mind. We’ll take a look at idea for portability in the next post.

In this first post, lets look at idea starters for ovens.

clay-ovenI love this web site from Simon Brookes – his blog details many of the finer points of building a clay oven – and the results a fine-looking effort at the bottom of his garden. Also the fact that he has been prepared to share so much is great – look forward to buying you a pint one day Simon!

oven3This oven  looks great – and could be something I look to build once I have some space of my own…

ovenAnd this one I liked for it’s simplicity…though the award for simplicity must go the to the River Cottage guys - Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s uber brand franchise from South-West England. If you get chance to catch this episode of  “River Cottage Treatement” it’s great. And if you’re UK based you can do a course at River Cottage HQ – and check out this video footage about the course – it looks great fun.


Another stellar resource (and perhaps the one that I found most useful) comes from Yahoo in Australia – and this forms the basis of the design I decided to go for. Grab the PDF from the site (you won’t find a more comprehensive guide) and then  watch the movie…

More soon…

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