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Offline jimA

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building my own oven
« on: August 20, 2012, 09:05:45 PM »
hello, yes i could buy a pre made oven, or build it from a kit, but that would be too easy.  i want to be able to say that i made everything from scratch, the dough, sauce (not cheese just yet) AND the oven. 

i have no clue if this will work but have thought about the design over and over for the past month.  i have a weber smokey mountain charcoal/log smoker.  i want to modify it to include a pizza stone.  i know i have to isolate the pizza stone from the smoke and vent it out top.  i have that coverend in my design.  but I'm worried about the size of everything. 

here's the design i have in my head, make fun of it if you like, I'm here for criticism in the hopes it will help so dont sugar coat things.  the diameter of the smokey mountain is 18.5" so that's the first constraint.  i plan on lining the edge of a 16" diameter pizza stone with bricks but leaving ~12" wide opening on one edge for access.  then i'll sandwich another 16" pizza stone on top and seal everything with 2000 degree mortar designed for fireplaces and pizza ovens.  this "sandwhich" will be placed in the smokey mountain above the logs.  I'll cut an opening in the smokey mountain for access but this will also be sealed away from the smoke.  so here are my questions:     

1 - what is the minimum size cooking surface you would suggest for the stone?  this initial design gave me just over 12" diameter but i might be able to change some things and get this to 14".  is this big enough?
2 - will i need to put some sort of cover on the opening to keep the heat in?  big dome pizza ovens Ive seen dont have closeable doors but they aren't as tiny as what I'm planning. 
3 - is 4" height good?  i know the air temp needs to be as hot, if not hotter, then the stone but I'm thinking that the top stone will hold heat better then air and actually radiate down like its a broiler.  comments? 

thats it for now.  i hope people out there have experience in this.  thanks in advance.  happy eating!! 


Offline ThatsAmore

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 09:44:29 PM »
When people tell me they want to make food from scratch, I always ask them to "please wash your hands before mixing"    >:D

j/k  :-D
Who put that pie in my eye ?

scott123

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 10:05:43 PM »
Jim, in your intro thread you mention owning 3 grills. Could you tell us about the other 2?  You can do something with the smokey mountain, but a grill with more surface area would be ideal, even if it's gas.

At least it would be for the 'NY Thin' that you have listed in your profile.  I've googled Alfonso's and can't come up with any photos of their pizza.  Is that NY thin? If your goal is Neapolitan pizza, then that makes things exponentially more difficult.

Your 'sandwich' idea is actually not a bad idea.  Here, instead of calling it a sandwich, we refer to it as a two stone scenario.  Some important aspects that your sandwich concept overlooks is the location of the heat source, the upward direction that the heat is flowing and the need for the hottest top stone possible. In other words, if you join the top stone to the bottom, the rising heat will flow up and around your sandwich and mostly just heat the bottom stone and the top won't be hot enough to bake the pizza.

The goal with any two stone scenario is, rather than having two stones the same size and having the heat flow up and around both, you want to have a larger top stone so the heat can rise around the bottom stone and hit the top.  You also want to support this top stone independently- not on the lower stone, creating a clear channel for the heat.

The top stone can be:

cordierite kiln shelf
1/8"  steel plate
tiles suspended with angle iron

For the bottom stone, you want to handicap the heat transfer with something less conductive:

Quarry Tiles (cut into a circle and placed on steel)
Firebrick Splits (cut into a circle)
Fibrament Grill Stone

You're basically creating something very similar to this, but with a much lower profile, and, rather than being a full loop, you just have the opening area (a C shape)

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/06/pizza-lab-in-which-we-get-the-kettlepizza-insert-working-and-meet-its-maker.html
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 10:21:43 PM by scott123 »

buceriasdon

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 10:07:42 PM »
Jim, I'm not really sure a water smoker is a good candidate for converting to a pizza oven. There is so much empty vertical space. Do you want it to serve double duty? Also, I don't get the whole sandwhich affair, why not just set your two stones on something similar to what holds up the grates? I just don't get the bricks in between the two stones thing. I'd look at another donor for an oven.
Don

Offline jimA

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 10:31:45 PM »
scott:  im in the early stage of learning the pizza lingo.  im not looking to make thin cracker style but dont want thick sicilian style.  i suppose whatever is in the middle.  most of the pictures i see here are the style i like.

i have a big weber propane grill.  ive thrown the stone in this with mediocre results.  i dont completely trust getting it to very high heat.  i also have a  "refrigerator" style smoker that is propane heated with a water bowl and big cast iron wood chip holder.  the third is the weber smokey mountain.  here's the confusing part, ive already modified the smokey mountain once.  i cut a 4" diameter hole in the top of the hood and a 4" diameter hole near the bottom of the fridge smoker and connected them with 6 feet of flexible furnace pipe.  i burn logs in the smokey mountain to pump extra smoke into the smoker.  amazing results, but that is another topic for the BBQ forum. 

i dont cook in the smokey mountain and i dont use the water bowl.  i just burn full size logs and i feel like im wasting all that nice heat.  im a DIY person and would rather fool around modifying it than buying a pizza oven or oven kit.  the 18.5" diameter smokey mountain is what is driving this design.  i totally understand your drawing and it makes perfect sense but i dont know if i'll have the room.  i may look at some of the things you suggest to see if i can work with 18"5 inches better.  but if im stuck with my initial design, when i smoke i burn logs for hours and hours so i'll have plenty of time to heat everything up.   

Don:  i need the the bricks in between the stones to create the internal area that can be sealed away from all the smoke.

scott123

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 10:58:04 PM »
Jim, time is no aid.  With your sandwich, the top will never get substantially hotter than the bottom.  Because of the nature of infrared heat, for pizza, the top has to be at least a couple hundred degrees hotter.  In my setup, you're not only collecting the heat from below to heat the top stone, but, as the pizza bakes, the heat from below is flowing over it. With your enclosed oven, that active, convective heat is shut out.

You could, in your enclosed setup, if the walls supporting the ceiling were sitting right next to the hearth rather than on it, pre-heat the ceiling so that it's nice and hot, and then add the hearth stone later so you get that couple hundred degree difference. The heat in this kind of setup isn't very stable, so you only get one or two pies.  You could remove the hearth between bakes and allow the ceiling to reheat, but handling a hot hearth can be dangerous.

How big is the weber propane grill? BTUs?  If it can hit 650, it can do NY thin crust pizza.


enter8

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 11:03:34 PM »
Scott, which Weber are you using? 

scott123

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 11:21:09 PM »
Scott, which Weber are you using?

I use a rectangular Royal Oak grill, but have helped friends with 18" and 22" webers.  The shape of the grill makes no difference- the thermodynamics for bottom heat sources are all the same. Gas home ovens with only one bottom burner are in the same group. Once you understand the principles behind one, you understand all of them.

enter8

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 11:27:16 PM »
I use a rectangular Royal Oak grill, but have helped friends with 18" and 22" webers.  The shape of the grill makes no difference- the thermodynamics for bottom heat sources are all the same. Gas home ovens with only one bottom burner are in the same group. Once you understand the principles behind one, you understand all of them.

Oh cool! A rectangular Royal Oak sounds nifty. I nearly bought one once for grilling but never thought of it for pizza. What sort of temps/bake times are you getting making pizza on that?

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2012, 11:41:32 PM »
When people tell me they want to make food from scratch, I always ask them to "please wash your hands before mixing"    >:D

j/k  :-D
Dino....stop sugar coating things will ya please..... :angel:
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"


Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2012, 11:46:24 PM »
Oh cool! A rectangular Royal Oak sounds nifty. I nearly bought one once for grilling but never thought of it for pizza. What sort of temps/bake times are you getting making pizza on that?
My royal oak can get real, real hot...never actually IR gunned it man but I wish you could feel how hot it gets...awesome!  You shoulda bought one dude.... ;)
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

enter8

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 12:01:50 AM »
My royal oak can get real, real hot...never actually IR gunned it man but I wish you could feel how hot it gets...awesome!  You shoulda bought one dude.... ;)

I thought you had a gas grill, Bob? but yeah the Royal Oak was a near miss purchase-wise - I thought the build quality was a bit suspect. I ended up with a small smoker with sidebox - again not to make pizza!

So wow, thanks Scott, Bob -  seems like there's a community of Royal Oak Pizza grillers here on Pizzamaking. I'm sure folks here will be keen to find out more from ya on this.

scott123

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 12:07:55 AM »
Enter8, this thread is about helping Jim set up his smoker, not about my grill or Bobs.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 01:17:36 AM by scott123 »

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 12:12:10 AM »
I thought you had a gas grill, Bob? but yeah the Royal Oak was a near miss purchase-wise - I thought the build quality was a bit suspect. I ended up with a small smoker with sidebox - again not to make pizza!

So wow, thanks Scott, Bob -  seems like there's a community of Royal Oak Pizza grillers here on Pizzamaking. I'm sure folks here will be keen to find out more from ya on this.
Well hey man, glad to hear about your small smoker...I'm sure a lot of good things come outa that!
Not sure if only 2 known royal oak men constitutes a "community" but if you decide to bite the bullet I'm sure you'll find help in how to work it....
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 12:17:05 AM »
Yep, the setup is the key.  Been there, bought the t-shirt and the rest.  Let us keep this on topic.  Do you have anything positive or noteworthy to post?  When in doubt , err on the side of not.  ???
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

buceriasdon

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 06:53:24 AM »
Jim, I'm totally with scott123 on the KettlePizza conversion. Throw away the dome, set your top stone in it's place, cut out the front for smoke and loading and raise up the bowl for wood. You might be able to use the access door for fire tending and more wood loading.
Don

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 08:11:36 AM »
One of Jim's concerns seems to be that the smoke will impart a bad flavor to the pie as it cooks.  This is not the case.  The pizza will cook so quickly that the smoke flavor doesn't have a chance to settle on it.  Anything under 3 minutes, absolutely no smoke flavor.

So, let's try to get to the sub-3 min area with an evenly cooked pizza.

You can heat up the stone stack with the dome on, and remove it for the cooking period.  This won't affect your other operations much.  Just drop the dome back on to resume using it as a smoke supply.

Points made already about heat flow and the importance of having top and bottom heat balanced are critical.  You will need a forced path for the air to travel between the stones, inside the baking chamber.  Note that I said "air" not smoke.  At extremely high temperatures, with proper venting, there is no smoke. 

Have you considered adding a duct to the bottom with a small fan?
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

buceriasdon

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2012, 08:50:17 AM »
Once again, Scott's drawing is an excellent template to modify this grill. Move everything up, larger stone covering top, smaller stone below to allow hot air to get to the top, cut out the front level with lower stone just large enough to load, remove pizza. Done.
Don

Offline jimA

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2012, 04:01:48 PM »
i would happily talk bbq's & smokers all day but i'd eventually bore you.  :) 

all the advice probably saved me a whole lot of mistakes, money and possibly even ruining a good smokey mountain.  with all your suggestions i have two different things to try.  neither will ruin the smoker and both require only ~$15 of accessories. 

1 - buy a 13" stone and use it for the bottom and use my current 16" for the top.  i can just prop up the top one using bricks next to the 13" so i'll have air flow and a full 13" cooking surface.  (an upgrade to my initial design)
2 - i found 18-8 SS cooking domes with a 17.75 diameter, like the ones used on griddles over hamburgers to melt cheese.  i can put the 16" pizza stone over the fire and use this dome as the top and since its a bigger diameter it hopefully will collect heat.  im not sure how heat efficient this will be so im considering this a second option. 

i also realized that when the smoker lid is off and the log access panel is open, the logs burn hot with alot of flame so they produce the least amount of smoke.  this along with one of yours advice that a 3 minute cook wont infuse it with smoke flavor made me abandon sealing everything off.  at least for my first few tries.  and if i need to eventually cut out the front of the smokey mountain for a better design then so be it.  at least i explored other options first. 

hopefully i can get to this over the weekend.  and the best part is, since im fooling around with the smoker i might as well put a brisket in!! 

one last question, when i log in here i know where to go to see if there are new replies but if there arent i cant seem to find things that ive done easily.  do i just have to remember which forum and topic im having conversations in or is there an easy button to show me where ive posted?  thanks everyone. 

enter8

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Re: building my own oven
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2012, 04:20:39 PM »
Jim I think you have to turn on a setting on your "profile" in order to receive notifications to replies from topics you created or posted in. See screenshot below: