Author Topic: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??  (Read 11650 times)

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Offline New2Wood

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Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« on: January 26, 2007, 09:28:07 PM »
New to the group and interested in recommendations for a home wood fired pizza oven. I've been researching Forno Bravo, Fogazzo, Wildwood, Earthstone, and Magnani. Does anyone have recommendations/experience with any of these site built ovens?

I love to bake and was a pizza maker in college and would like to upgrade home facilities to make something that resembles legit pizza instead of the cheesy mess typical in the US. My daughter said she didn't like pizza the other day - almost broke my heart...

Cheers


Offline Fio

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2007, 10:01:22 PM »
New to the group and interested in recommendations for a home wood fired pizza oven. I've been researching Forno Bravo, Fogazzo, Wildwood, Earthstone, and Magnani. Does anyone have recommendations/experience with any of these site built ovens?

I love to bake and was a pizza maker in college and would like to upgrade home facilities to make something that resembles legit pizza instead of the cheesy mess typical in the US. My daughter said she didn't like pizza the other day - almost broke my heart...

Cheers

I built my oven per the Forno Bravo Pompeii oven plans.  Please look for my "Fio's 35" oven" thread on that site.  I had a great time doing it and here's what I learned:

1) If you are serious about pizza, make a round dome pompeii-style oven.  Do not make a rectangular, barrel-vault Alan Scott oven, which is better for bread.

2) Make your oven as big as you can - if I were to do it again, I'd make it 42" in diameter.

3) Buy a cheap chop saw to cut the firebrick.  For $100 it's a great investment.  Also, if I were going to do it again, I would have bought a cheap ($200) cement mixer from Harbor Freight.  Mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow is a pain in the neck.

4) Do not mortar the cinder block base. Dry stack the blocks and pour cement in the voids.  You'll save days of time and lots of effort.

6) Do not pour the hearth.  Use concrete beams, a.k.a. slag lintels, to span the void.

7) Use Insulating board beneath the oven floor.  Don't use vermiculite concrete.  Cleaner, saves time, lighter weight. Costs more but worth it.

Check out fornobravo.com for TONS of great advice.

Have fun!

Cheers,

 - Fio

Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2007, 01:46:06 AM »
I purchased my Earthstone about 6 years ago at a time when I thought I knew enough to make an informed decision, but, in reality was totally clueless. But I love it, use it frequently, and have, with a great deal of practice, become increasingly able to control it to produce the results I want for pizza, breads, roasted meats, etc. I was lucky to stumble into a good decision at the time, although sometimes I wish I had selected a larger size.

If I had to purchase one today, I might very well end up again getting an Earthstone, which has proven to be a high quality oven (zero problems) with great support from JPY who lurks around here. I would also give very serious consideration to the ovens that pizzanapoletana represents, particularly if I operated a Neapolitan-style pizzeria and needed to produce more than a few pies at a time.

IMHO, the most important thing you need to do before making this decision is to make sure you know exactly what style of pizza you wish to make (Neapolitan vs. Chicago vs. NYC, etc.) and what kind of oven is best for that style. Depending on how much pizza making experience you have, I would hang around here for a while before making such an important decision.

You should also have very realistic expectations about the results you will achieve. Cooking with wood is much more demanding. It has taken me 6 years to reach what I would consider a moderate level of proficiency, although the rate of improvement has been greatly increased thanks to all the great folks here on this board.

Hope this helps a little.

Click here to see photos of my oven in action

Bill/SFNM

Offline jimd

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2007, 12:01:40 PM »
While GoldenEmbers ovens were not on your potential list, just in case you stumble upon them on the web and are tempted, in my opinion you should steer very clear of that company.

I, like you, decided a few years ago that I would give myself a treat and buy a wood burning oven for outdoors. With limited time and skills, I tried to find an oven that came "complete", and the Golden Embers web site caught my eye. Without boring anyone with all the ugly details, it was a huge mistake on my part---I even wire transfered the full purchase price to Australia (where Golden Embers is located) to pre-pay the oven.

If I had it to do again, I would go with one of the company's you have identified, each of whom has, I believe, a terrific reputation.

In any event, in my opinion, anyone considering doing business with Golden Embers would be inviting a very large headache. (In case anyone is wondering, I have zero interest in any maker of ovens, but I have been sufficiently burned by Golden Embers that, when an occassion arises, I try and pass along my own experience so that others can avoid the possibility of the same fate.)

Good luck with what should be a fun process

Jim

Offline bakerbill

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2007, 04:41:58 PM »
I built an Earthstone oven about 4 years old and am very satisfied with it. The only change, in hindsight, would be to order the next larger size up.  After all the work that goes into it, a slightly larger size is not a lot more work.

I would second the idea of stacking the cement blocks. I filled the voids but also used a Shurwall, a surface bonding compound that is like stucco and put it on both inside and out. If you do go this route and make an Earthstone oven, keep in mind that their plans assume mortar between the joints so you will have to take that into account.

I called once or twice during the construction phase and received good advice.  They also have a video which was helpful.

bakerbill

Offline telehort

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2007, 07:08:49 PM »
Fio - can I ask why you wouldn't pour the hearth and would go with slag lintels instead?  I am at the stage where my foundation is poured and this weekend I plan on setting the cinder block stand and was going to do the hearth next weekend. Any info on this would be appreciated!  Thanks all on this great forum.

Offline Fio

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2007, 12:44:31 AM »
Fio - can I ask why you wouldn't pour the hearth and would go with slag lintels instead?  I am at the stage where my foundation is poured and this weekend I plan on setting the cinder block stand and was going to do the hearth next weekend. Any info on this would be appreciated!  Thanks all on this great forum.

To pour a hearth, you have to build and prop up a form out of 2X4s/plywood to hold the concrete. That's labor in itself.
Then, mix the concrete. LOTS of it (you know how much a PIA that is; in essence, you are pouring another foundation slab all over again). Tie rebar together for reinforcement.  Then; Concrete. Several bags; fill the form with the concrete.
Hope that your wooden form holds while the concrete sets.
Remove the wooden form.

With slag lintels, you just plop them down, and you've got your hearth. They've got rebar already in them.  They're heavy, but you can have a hearth in about 20 minutes.  A thin coat of mortar on the top surfaces of your base (cinder block stand), will hold them in place to keep them from sliding, but they are so massive and heavy that you can probly get away with no mortar at all. 

What I did was, after I laid the lintels down,  I actually built a frame around the slag lintels and poured 2" of concrete on top of them to  create a perfectly level surface.  That was because I was an idiot and mortared my blocks instead of simply stacking them and filling the voids (as is done at FornoBravo.com)  But if you are meticulous with building your cinder block base, (and it will be a LOT flatter if you avoid mortaring the blocks and merely stack and fill the voids)  it will be flat enough so that your slag lintels form a flat enough surface to lay your insulating board on.

I hope that makes sense.  But rest assured - either way, you'll have a strong floor for the oven.
Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.

Offline arlo_54

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2007, 12:29:35 PM »
I recently had my home renovated and as part of the work i had a wood burning oven installed. Knowing myself I would have never fished the job of installing the oven myself that is if i even started it at all. Anyway after speaking to my contractors mason and determining he had no idea how to build an oven although he claimed to have built many. I thought my best option was to get a kit. I bought the Earthstone 90. Unfortunately the F*@#ing moron mason put gout between the deck tiles. My point here is that I think the Earthstone ovens are great and the people there are incredibly nice and helpful. The other point is to make sure directions are folowed if this is the course you take. NO GROUT BETWEEN THE DECK TILES.

Sorry just venting a little and sharing my story. I was able to use the oven twice before having to repaire it and I love it.

Offline bakerbill

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2007, 04:56:03 PM »
I am not a mason and when I built my model 90 earthoven I didn't even use mortar between the blocks. However, the directions for laying down the hearth tiles are straightforward and there shouldn't have been any confusion. Perhaps the contractor should have looked at the video that comes with the kit. I am curious as to how you repaired the problem as the tiles, as I recall, sit under the walls of the oven.

bakerbill

Offline arlo_54

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2007, 11:43:28 AM »
I want to kill the contractor everytime i think of this. The instructions could not be more clear. They are printed in bold, capital letters and under lined. Apparently the mason knew best.
The way they "fixed" the problem was to cut out the 6 tiles in the center. Those tiles were re-layed with no grout. The space left at the side of the oven were filled in with refractory cement. This way the majority of the cooking area is clean. If there is cracking it will be where the fire sits. Unfortunately for me i will forever have maintenance issues with my oven because of some f*&^king know it all mason.
This "fix" was just done a week ago. I was advised to allow two weeks before starting the curing fires. If anyone is interested i will post an update after the first real fireing. Hopefully all i will have to report is that i made amazing pizza. :pizza:


Offline koloa

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2007, 11:45:40 AM »
hello, quick question.

can you use your brick oven outdoors in the winter? are these ovens built by earthstone/forno able to withstand the cold temps on the outside while maintaining  heat inside?

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2007, 11:55:03 AM »
hello, quick question.

can you use your brick oven outdoors in the winter? are these ovens built by earthstone/forno able to withstand the cold temps on the outside while maintaining  heat inside?

I use my Earthstone all year-round; in winter temps of 5F-15F it definitely takes longer to get up to temp, but otherwise operates fine. Nothing better than firing up the oven early on a cold morning, warming yourself by it's heat, breathing the sweet fragrance of burning hardwood, and watching the sun rise.

Bill/SFNM


Offline koloa

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2007, 01:09:34 PM »
now that is what im talking about!

ive been reading about brick ovens for a 2 yrs now, mostly about the bread ovens by alan scott. alot of folks that ive read about seem to get a crack here and there from moisture and winter temperatures. im located in NJ and was just concerned about $$$ investment.

Offline trosenberg

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2007, 06:05:05 AM »
I have  brick oven built according to plans on the Forno Bravo site & I live on Long Island. If it is installed right, mine has a roof, there is no problem with its use in the winter.  The Alan Scott style ovens contain much more mass than my oven thus requring about 2 times the amount of time & wood to heat up.  I wanted an oven that I could use after work. I find in 1 1/4 hours I can have the hearth over 850 & ready to go.  Afterwards I can bake several loaves.   
Trosenberg

Offline koloa

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2007, 07:35:40 AM »
hi trosenberg,
question, dont most breads cook around 500? how difficult is it to maintain a 500 temp? is that 500 temp from retained heat, or maybe from a little log that is burning?

Offline David

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2007, 10:53:28 AM »
I'm in the NE also and have an outdoor oven built following the "Pompeii' design of FB.I've had it for a couple of years now and used it in all seasons.I have no roof on mine and do get some rain water enter through the mouth on occasions.My heat up time is ideally around 3-4 hrs for Pizza.I have had only very minor cracks to the arch grouting and chimney top.Nothing to stop me using it.

BTW...My investment has beenroughly 2K.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2007, 11:01:15 AM by David »
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Offline trosenberg

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2007, 05:35:37 PM »
Koloa, After I am done with my pizza, I remove all the wood & ashes & sweep the hearth with a brass brush.  Usually I have to let the oven sit about an hour & then it is about 500 degrees & ready for bread. I holds that temp for a sufficient time to bake a load of bread.  Often the next am I load it up with wood & let it dry in the warm oven so it burns well for the next batch of pizza.  I have also used the residual heat the next day to slow cook ribs at about 225 degrees.
Trosenberg

Offline JConk007

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2008, 10:28:29 AM »
Bill,
 I know this is an old post but I know you are on alot as well.
I am just curious, as you know I have the earthstone 90 which I built as well, but am scared to fire during the NJ winter months. rapidly approaching. I am afraid that I may cause damage to the dome, floor, exterior etc cracks... If I must repair anything on the inside , I might as well rip the whole thing down at which point I would probably start looking for a bridge (with frozen water under it to make it quicker). I have so much time into it. anyway . you have exp. with winter pizza and such which I miss soo much ! I have plenty of nice red oak for about 2 years time. if I burn twice a week. Matter of fact I next summer I plan to fire on friday and cook through monday each week Once your hot your hot, and a few amber go along way! Yes I have a friend in the tree bus. :)
Bottom line I want to use this baby all winter. I have  easy access to house about 10 steps or less and was wondering if there are some hints, precautions od advice you could forard on to mee , and  have you any exp. keeping it going for a few days I can see pizza friday night, some breads sat., Sat eve. roast pig or chicken, (more pizza) Sunday breakfast pie ... the skys the limit! why heat up the house ?
Thanks in advance
John
the guy who cant post pics :(
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2008, 11:06:19 AM »
John,

As I have mentioned before, I fire my oven on mornings when the ambient temp is in the single digits. I use a cactus burner to start up the fire. It is so hot it can turn the deck a glowing red!. This must indeed be a major thermal shock to the bricks, but I have seen no cracks at all in the brick. I did put a great deal of care in following the directions for building the bed under the deck to isolate it from thermal expansion of other components. Just because I haven't experienced problems doesn't mean you won't. I'd talk it over with JPY and Maurice.





Offline David

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Re: Recommendations for home wood fired oven??
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2008, 12:40:44 PM »
It sounds as though we have a similar set up John (outside about 20' from the house).The one thing i would add is to try and keep the interior as dry as possible.Make sure as little rain /snow etc can get in the mouth and chimmney as possible.I sometimes get this and it not only delays my warm up,but sends smoke signals to the local fire house.My local fire dept. were not happy that someone called them out last time and interupted the football game !I've used mine all year round for a few years now with no structural problems though in similar conditions.Mine is a home built oven though and not a modular.
Regards,
David
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market