No offense to anyone, but I'm really interested in hearing from folks who have experience building their own brick oven (Pompeii, Scott/Rado, Pre-Fab) or are in the trade. Pleast be patient while I explain where I'm coming from.
Long time lurker. Read all the books (bread builders, etc.) Seen all the web sites (ovencrafters.net, traditionaloven.com, fornobravo.com, etc). Read all the threads here, on pizzamaking.com, and fornobravo.com (their brick oven sections).
Evaluating the various oven types and trying to come up with the best compromise of design and cost. My oven will be used predominately for pizza making, so I'm looking for a relatively quick heat up time (<2 hrs) and capacity for high maximum heat (950F). I don't envision myself baking bread, cooking roasts, and/or drying fruits using retained heat after a pizza party. These will be done, but with their own firing the next day probably. So.. I'm not really interested in an oven that takes 3-4 hours to get to 900F and then requiring 50 lbs of wood to maintain that fire over a few hours. I will bake bread and roasts, but only one batch per firing. No artesonal visions here. Just family/freinds stuff.
After much research, here are my observations:
Napoletano style oven (round, lower ceiling than Tuscan style)- hard to build "properly", easily reaches and maintains goal temps, available in pre-fab, but expensive.
Tuscan style oven - (round, higher ceiling) - not considering this type. No as good for pizza.
Alan Scott / Rado Hand ovens - (barrel style, with lower ceiling arch than Tuscan/Beehive/Igloo) - easier to build, appears to be over built for my purposes, longer firing times, questions about ability to hit 950F and maintain it with reasonable fuel loads. Not expensive. Not roundish like the napoletano ovens (unclear whether this is an "absolute" negative, heard opinions, but no "evidence based fact"). Seen folks cook pizza in these, but haven't seen alot of data around ability to reach 950F and maintain that temp, as well as fueled required to achieve this level of performance.
So... when I look at the aforementioned options (not aware of any others) and attempt to find the best compromise, what I come up with is the following:
A Rado Hand oven (prefer his floating hearth slab to Scott's rebar supported slab as I live in humid Florida/rust) with a higher insulating portion of the slab than recommended given same slab height, less cladding on the oven itself (maybe 1" instead of the approx 2" recommended) and everything else very well insulated with insulating concrete / vermiculite, etc. I am considering a more square format rather than a rectangular format to give me more lateral room to fit multiple pizza's in the center of the oven with fire on the sides.
This type of oven seems like it would offer the best match of attributes given my requirements:
- The lower dome roof and lower thermal mass of the round/pompeii type ovens.
- The lower cost and easier build of the Scott/Rado Hand ovens. That is easier to build a bullet proof oven.
*No doubt Pompeii ovens can be built, but from my research, I've concluded that there is some question whether they can be built effectively and with the same longevity that the Scott/Hand ovens can be built by a novice. Scott/Hand ovens seem much more durable when built by a novice.
Overall budget is approx $3K "tax, tag, and title".
Questions (only for those who have experience building ovens or have built their own oven):
1. Given my requirements mentioned above, have I missed anything that I should have considered in my evaluation?
2. Have I drawn any invalid conclusions?
3. Given the changes to the basic Scott/Hand oven I am contemplating (primarily wider oven with less conductive concrete in slab) am I creating any structural deficiencies by making these changes. Regarding the wider option, I am considering building an additional supporting wall down the middle of the wood storage area... Will I need additional structural concrete along the sides to support greater lateral load? Can I put this outside the insulative layer? Thoughts?
4. Would be interested in suggestions on overall oven dimensions, dimensions/depth of both components of hearth slab (structural & insulative), as well as depth of cladding that will be geared toward my baking requirements...
The LAST thing I want to do is make some assumptions, build an oven, then find out the assumptions were wrong and have to live with an oven that won't perform to my expectionas. Would rather be safe than sorry.
Appreciate your patience in reading this post. I am looking for experienced responses. No conjecture, no thread hijacking please. No veiled sales pitches. After reading many of pizzanapoletana's posts, I think I already have his opinion, though additional input is always welcome. (I checked Forno Napoletano's prices and they are significantly outside my budget). Many thanks in advance for your time and consideration...