Author Topic: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...  (Read 4034 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ponzu

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 358
  • I Love Pizza!
If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« on: September 08, 2010, 01:48:01 AM »
All of you (fortunate) WFO owners,

I am sure you remember your thought process prior to entering the WFO game....

You wanted a sweet WFO. You wanted high heat and the ability to cook a perfectly leoparded pie. You wanted to reach your true potential as a pizzaolo.  You wanted value.

But you were also a bit bewildered...

How did you know which oven to buy/build when you couldn't test bake a single pie or even see the oven in person before purchase?  What was the right company?  What was the right size?  What did you need in an oven?  What was not important to consider?

I would love any insight that you can give me based on your experience in selecting and installing a WFO.

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?  What is the right size for a guy who wants to cook for the fam and maybe have a pizza party now and again?  What are the details in the oven that are more important to focus on than you realized?  Do you have any stories about the process of implementing and using a WFO that shed light on an important truth in the process?

Thank you in advance for your wisdom.

Alexi




« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 01:51:08 AM by ponzu »


Offline Kem-er

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2010, 10:51:20 AM »
Have you considered a RoundBoy oven? Sounds like it tailor made for you .There on ebay 280545210151 wood fired oven

Offline carbon

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 128
  • Location: Los Angeles
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2010, 12:17:14 PM »
I had similar feelings and was somewhat lost when I began to investigate wfo's and the possibility of having one in my patio.
But most of those questions were answered during the many months I lurked and read through dozens of build threads, as well as dozens of questions I posted on FornoBravo before I began construction of my wfo.  I knew exactly what size was practical for my family and the type of cooking I wanted to use the wfo for, besides doing pizza.   

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2010, 01:59:26 PM »
ponzu,

Just about 10 years ago when I started my own search, there were no forums like this and only a couple of manufacturers of residential WFO's. So may choices these days and so much information - too much information that you'll have to sort through and try to filter and integrate all the trade-offs into a rational decision.

I can just add a few points that I've made many times before: I wish I had selected a larger oven to allow a bit more space between the coals and the pie. Also, I did spend a lot of time on the layout of the area, making sure there was plenty of surface area for building the pies with an easy path for the peel straight into the oven. Chest-high opening for easy loading, watching, and unloading. I wish the deck outside the opening was bigger - not for baking pies, but roasting meats, etc. 
Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 7155
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2010, 02:43:05 PM »
Bill, can you remind us the ID of your oven again?  Thx


Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2010, 02:46:50 PM »
Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline shuboyje

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1213
  • Location: Detroit
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2010, 03:30:16 PM »
I built my oven a little over a year ago, and after a year of much use know what I would keep, and what I would change.  Rather then bore you with all the details, I'll get to the meat of what I would do if I was to do it again. 

1. Follow the fornobravo plans for materials and methods, but not shape.  I used homebrew mortar and perlite to insulate, saved a ton of money and am happy with the results of both.

2.  Keep it low.  My dome is 13.5" and at 900F+ on the hearth I feel it gives a good balance of heat on top without ever having to sky the pie.  The rule of thumb h=d/4.3 seems like a good one for ovens with diameters in the 40's(inches) which is where you probably want to be.  If you anticipate wanting to cook a more american style pie at 700-750F on the hearth you probably want to go a little higher so you don't scorch the top of your pie.

3.  As already noted, it really sucks to cook too close to the coals.  A 40" or 42" gives plenty of room and even allows for a little bigger door if you want one.

4.  Keep the mass where you want it, in the oven.  Lots of ovens, mine included, have large masonry mouths and transitions leading to the flue.  All this mass out in front of where you are cooking is robbing heat from your oven.  If I were to do it again it would be much more like you see on the ovens built in naples, a vent cantilevered out over the door with no mass bellow it supporting it.

5.  Vent the oven back over the top of the dome, then up.  This will increase the draw.  By being proportional to the oven height, the lower the dome you have, the lower...and smaller the door.  I feel my oven draws pretty well, but sometimes I still feel like I am a little starved for oxygen.  A draft door makes a huge difference on my oven, but can't be used while cooking cause it gets in the way.  If  I had vented back over the dome I don't think any of this would be an issue.

Basically what these leads to is an oven based on the ovens built in naples based on hundreds of years of experience, using modern materials that are easy to get here in the US.  It is by no means an authentic oven, but would be the cadillac of backyard home built ovens in my book. 
-Jeff

Offline carbon

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 128
  • Location: Los Angeles
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2010, 04:29:33 PM »
4. .......  If I were to do it again it would be much more like you see on the ovens built in naples, a vent cantilevered out over the door with no mass bellow it supporting it.

I basically designed and cast my vent following that principle, although mine does not look cantilevered.  The vent is mounted and supported on insulating bricks instead.

Offline ponzu

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 358
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2010, 08:13:38 PM »
Shuboyje,

Thank you for your detailed reply.  So is there any prefab oven that you feel comes close to your ideal oven?  Or is brick by brick the only way to achieve your aims.

Bill,

As a huge fan of your neapolitan artistry, I'm dying to know, when you say you'd get a bigger oven, what floor size and which manufacturer?  Also how did you set up your prep area?  is there a covered table near the oven?  Is side by side the way to go or should the table face the oven mouth?

AZ
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 08:15:44 PM by ponzu »


Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2010, 08:40:01 PM »
AZ,

The model I have has a 35" diameter cooking area. I would have gone up to the 43" model. Follow this link to see the model I would have purchased at the time:

http://www.earthstoneovens.com/resoven_model_110.shtml

I can't say if this is the oven I would purchase today.

The prep area faces the oven mouth, so my back is to the oven while I'm building the pie. The prep surface is the same height as the deck. To load the pie, I just swing the peel around and slide it into the oven. I'll try to take some close-up photos in the next day or so.



Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline ponzu

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 358
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2010, 01:56:57 AM »
Great.  Thanks Bill,

Can't wait to see the pics.

Alexi

Offline JConk007

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 3755
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Lovin my Oven!
    • Flirting with Fire
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2010, 04:00:17 PM »
Ponzu,
I have the same exact oven (engine) of Bill SFNM the earthstone model 90 I designed the exterior and the entire outdoor kitchen around it. Not sure I have seen exterior of Bills but he uses that jewel  A LOT! You can check my  build out at-  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7338.0.html  I also find the size at just bit small and would have probably went for the 110 as well. I often do parties for 20-30 people with no problem. just need an oven man to help out, its  impossible for 1 person to keep up with a 900 degree oven. Hey it only takes 70-90 seconds to cook a pizza :) everyone fills up in a hurry. I also did a ton of research before purchase. Now a days there are also many great modular ovens that usually cost a lot$$ available for a fraction of the cost (fire sale  :-D) ready to place and build an exterior of you choice around for sale even on ebay and such you just have to be in the right place at the right time. A fellow memeber here did just that bought from another member (widespreadpiza?) really nice oven and was cooking next day someone please post. any oven will bring a lot of smiles!!
John
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 04:06:31 PM by JConk007 »
I Love to Flirt with Fire! www.flirtingwithfirepizza.com

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2631
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2010, 05:03:00 PM »
My search for an oven was based on the ability to somewhat replicate a true Neapolitan oven, and that meant as low a dome as possible. One other factor was aesthetics. I love the look of the Acunto/Uno Forno ovens, and thought that was the best route for me - which meant it would not have a structure built around it. And finally, I did not want to hire out (or do myself) any masonry. If I spent thousands of dollars (or hours) building the oven, and decided to move next year it would not have been cost effective.

So a pre-made, ready-to-use oven for an outside location was my target, and Forno Bravo had such a model, the Primavera series. I chose the larger one (the 70). Then again, my choice of ovens was very limited given the parameters I set for myself.

If you want to make more than one pizza at a time, then you will need a larger oven. It will also require a mastery in oven management. If the oven is outside, make sure you plan for pizza prep space. Add in the cost of masonry or a table with marble. The space should be large enough to accommodate you and the 50" peel you will be swinging around.

I cook for my family easily every week doing one pie at a time, and usually have 6-8 guests every other week. You spend the first 1/2 hour or so in front of the oven while people are starting to eat, but that is really not a big issue. If you are cooking for more (like 30), then plan on being in front of the oven the whole night - and make sure there is plenty of antipasto.

No matter what oven you choose, you will produce amazing pizza - guaranteed. Good luck in your search.

John

Offline BrickStoneOven

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1599
  • Location: Boston
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2010, 06:45:51 PM »
Ponzu,
A fellow memeber here did just that bought from another member (widespreadpiza?) really nice oven and was cooking next day someone please post.

That would be me. Here is the thread. http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11034.0.html

Offline JConk007

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 3755
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Lovin my Oven!
    • Flirting with Fire
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2010, 08:20:37 PM »
Yes ,
Thank you how could I forget what a beauty! hope you are enjoying it!
I Love to Flirt with Fire! www.flirtingwithfirepizza.com

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2010, 03:49:19 PM »
Great.  Thanks Bill,

Can't wait to see the pics.

Alexi

Alexi,

Here are quick shots of my WFO. Ignore the metal frame in the prep area (it is a rig I built to hold cameras and lights when I shoot videos). The cutting board slides off and beneath it is 60KBTU wok burner for stir-frying, discadas, lobster boiling, deep frying turkey, etc.

 
Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline MD205

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2010, 04:41:25 PM »
I became obsessed with a WFO after visiting relatives in southern Italy.  I knew 20 years ago, that one day I would own one.

A friend of mine suggested I apply for a do it yourself show on HGTV.  One of the projects on my list was the WFO which was chosen.  Wallllaaa - 20 years later I had my oven.

Here it is: Los Angeles Ovenworks -  They were very helpful in the installation and always available for me.  It's the smallest model but one day I hope to have a larger one.  It says it fits 3 pies, but truly difficult to manage.  I cook one at time for the most part.  6 to 8 guests and if we have more, I make sure I have some other stuff to nibble on while the pizzas bake. 

I'll post pics later -

Oven interior diameter: 32Ē
Weight: 558 lbs.
Length: 48Ē
Width: 39Ē
Height: 19Ē
Door Opening Size: 17.7Ē x 11Ē
Heating Time: 60 minutes

Oven kit includes:

■5 Floor elements
■2 Dome elements
■Metal door with thermometer
■Flue manifold 6" interior diameter
■Arch
■Thermal insulating blanket
■Refractory mortar
■2 year limited warranty


Offline BrickStoneOven

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1599
  • Location: Boston
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2010, 05:00:28 PM »
Bill that is an awesome area, you should just open a pizzeria in your backyard.

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2010, 05:06:53 PM »
Bill that is an awesome area, you should just open a pizzeria in your backyard.

Thanks, BSO. Actually, that is just half of the area. There are two other stations on the other side if the WFO - a charcoal grill and an offset smoker. Like many others here, I love cooking with fire!

Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline ponzu

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 358
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2010, 10:30:44 PM »
Bill,

Really nice set up.  First class like the pies that emerge from your ovens depths.

I'm interested in your decicion to have the pie bulding area facing the oven mouth.  In pizzareas it seems more common for the counter to run up on one side of the oven (perpendicular to the oven mouth.)

Also what sort of shelter do you have over the work area/oven?

AZ
 

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2010, 10:51:01 PM »
Bill,

Really nice set up.  First class like the pies that emerge from your ovens depths.

I'm interested in your decicion to have the pie bulding area facing the oven mouth.  In pizzareas it seems more common for the counter to run up on one side of the oven (perpendicular to the oven mouth.)

Also what sort of shelter do you have over the work area/oven?

AZ
 

Thanks, AZ. The decision was very complicated. Factors included the size and shape of the available area, protecting the oven mouth from the wind and me from the weather, my desire to build-in four different stations (WFO, Wok/Prep, BBQ Pit, and Grill), etc. In the pizzerias I have visited in Naples, often the person building the pies is different for the person baking them, especially during peak periods. But I think the arrangement I have is better for one person. On very cold days, it is nice to have the fire warming my back. On really hot days, I sometimes place the door in front of the mouth so that it doesn't impede the draft, but it does block the radiant heat.

The whole outdoor kitchen is covered by a roof deck - that is where I grow my tomatoes.



 
« Last Edit: September 10, 2010, 10:53:07 PM by Bill/SFNM »
Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 4239
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2010, 01:25:34 PM »
My search for an oven was based on the ability to somewhat replicate a true Neapolitan oven, and that meant as low a dome as possible.

Whether or not a low dome is of any benefit in the home setting can be debated. But there is one thing to consider: the larger models of some of the kit ovens also come with a correspondingly higher dome. So if a low dome is important to you, carefully check the specs from the manufacturer. You might want to select one of the smaller kits if you want a lower dome.

 
Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2631
Re: If you knew then what you know now about WFO's...
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2010, 06:14:23 PM »
Whether or not a low dome is of any benefit in the home setting can be debated. But there is one thing to consider: the larger models of some of the kit ovens also come with a correspondingly higher dome. So if a low dome is important to you, carefully check the specs from the manufacturer. You might want to select one of the smaller kits if you want a lower dome.

 

I should have elaborated on my statement, in that I was looking for a lower dome height in proportion to the overall width of the oven mouth and floor. The actual height itself is not relevant, only it's proportion - at least for a neapolitan style oven. The oven I have has an inside diameter of 28in, and a 13.5in dome height.

John


 

pizzapan