Clay oven project: not so easy after all

What’s missing from this picture? A clay oven of course!

Garden post tidy

Given our love of bread and pizza, and our long-time disillusionment with our puny electric oven, Tim and I have decided to build a clay oven in our backyard.

Yesterday we got started by planning our oven. Like all great projects, this one started on the internet.

If you search Google for “backyard clay oven” or “homemade pizza oven”, you’ll find plenty of instructions for outdoor clay ovens, some even claiming that said ovens are “surprisingly easy” to build. However, as we set about drawing our plans, we realised the scale of what was involved. It took us about half a day to address all of the following questions, and we didn’t even manage to answer them all:


  • Where will the oven live? (Answer: Outside next to the patio)

  • How big should the oven be? (Answer: 60cm)

  • If the inside of the oven is 60cm wide, how big will the outside oven be? (Answer: about 1 meter)

  • How will we build the base? (TBD)



The question of the clay oven base is turning into a whole separate project in itself.

Building a table for the oven is no trivial matter. It needs to be solid enough to support a really heavy oven, level of course, and given our rudimentary carpentry skills, simple to build. All of the clay oven instructions out there seem to overlook this tricky matter of the base. All of the options seem to involve tools or skills we don’t possess.


Wood?



Our initial thought was to build the base out of wood, but we really have no idea how to go about this. Everything out there looks a bit to complicated for us and our lack of such things as a table saw. But a wooden table would look nice and let us store our firewood under the oven.

For example, check out this wooden base at handyprojects.blogspot.com. The pictures reveal just how much work is involved in building even the simplest of bases:



Here is another wooden table, a bit more rustic, built by Jackie and Glenn out of logs:



What about stone?

I love stone, and a stone base would look really nice with our stone walls. But these photos suggest that stone is tough to work with.

Check out the caption on ryancdeuschle’s stone base: “The foundation for the cob oven. I dug into the ground a few inches to give the massive base rocks a little something to bite into. The stone was moved and stacked by hand using a lever and fulcrum. No lortor was used, the rocks are stacked so that their wieght secures them to each other.”



(This stone base is similar.)

Here’s yet another base built out of stone – very pretty, but I suspect deceptively difficult to build!



Brick?



Brick is ok, and seems easier to work with than stone. I love Becky’s brick base – but how did she build it?



Perhaps I could adopt one of these plans for building a brick bbq?




The sawhorse approach



For simplicity, we will likely go with the sawhorse approach, similar to this one used by Chim Squared:



So that’s we left off, feeling burnt out and strangely hungry for pizza (or at least that’s how I felt anyway). It was good to get started. With any luck, we’ll have our clay oven ready in time for a summer bbq!

One thought on “Clay oven project: not so easy after all

  1. Sagan

    That is SO COOL. I can’t wait to see the process! So many awesome things could be made in a clay oven… that would be fantastic in the summer.

    Reply

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