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Building a Dome

The last time I updated you fair readers on the progress of our wood-fired oven progress was after the Victoria Day long weekend and we had poured the foundation slab that will support the oven.  Since then the block stand has gone up, another reinforced concrete slab was poured on top of that, and we have made excellent progress with building the dome.  Here are pictures of our progress with some brief commentary.

This stands purpose is basically to lift the oven off the ground so that it is easy to use and away from animals.  The blocks are laid dry (without mortar, except for the first course that is levelled with some) and held in place by every second void filled with concrete and rebar.  In case you’re wondering (many have) the space inside is not where the fire goes; it’s used for wood storage.

A second reinforced concrete slab sits on top of the block stand.  The plywood in the centre is there to act as a floor for the concrete and will be removed before the oven is fired.

All of the form work for the second concrete slab.  This was a large part of June’s work on the oven.

The heart support slab poured on a very rainy day at the end of June.

Better weather for Canada Day means an early start.  To give you a sense of the scale of the project the top slab is six feet by seven feet and took thirty-two bags of concrete–thirty kilograms each–to fill.  This is where we stood at the beginning of day 1 (Thursday).

The floor is laid in a herringbone pattern (on top of insulating board) to help smooth the peel’s progress across the floor.

At the end of Day 1.  The first course of bricks are tipped on their side (called a soldier course) to give more space above the floor in the corners of the oven.  The oven floor is forty-two inches in diameter.

Day 2 was especially productive as we managed to lay three whole courses.  The cool sundial-like pattern and views of the sky and trees through the top of the dome will disappear once we finish laying brick.  Some oven builders choose to construct a brick arch to span the inside door opening for mainly aesthetic reasons but that makes the dome-door transition even more complicated.

Day 3 was also a good one.  The weather had started to get hot and it was getting a bit uncomfortable sitting inside the dome all day but we finished the most difficult part: Spanning the space above the door where a curved angled surface (course six in the dome) meets a flat level surface (the three bricks across the door).

Day 4 was even hotter but we managed to resist the strong temptation to faint inside the dome-to-be and we laid two more courses.  My Dad and I did most of the brickwork ourselves (with some valuable help from my cousin) but this has truly been a whole family effort.  Every step, but especially both concrete pours and moving all of the material by boat and ATV would have been impossible without the help of so many hands.  Needless to say I’ll be making a lot of thank you pizzas well into autumn.

If you’d like to see more photos, clicking on the picture below “Wood-fired Oven Photos” will take you to my Picasa album.

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  1. Looking good! What a great foodie backyard project. Any completion date in mind?

  2. Kim says:

    Loved seeing the progress of your oven, David. I like the tent for working. Nice to hear you’re keeping Harry in shape. I can’t wait to visit sometime.

  3. This is so impressive. Love it.

  4. [...] assured, I am not a very good cook and I pulled it off after a whole day of laying bricks for our pizza oven project.  The advice I can offer is just to be prepared.  Lay out all the washed ingredients in the [...]

  5. foodwithlegs says:

    Marc-André: Many thanks. Safe money has us finished by Labour Day. Part of the problem with the wood-fired oven project is that once you’re at the point where you can cook pizza it gets harder to find the motivation for the final steps like exterior finish.

    Kim: Appreciate the comment. Not pictured was the awning we jury-rigged from an old sheet over the oven to keep me from fainting in the thirty-degree heat. As I’m sure you can imagine I’m the one being kept in shape. We can’t wait for you guys to visit either.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Tonya.

  6. [...] will know that this is the summer we build an oven at  my family’s cottage that is designed to cook, among other things, pizza.  Hopefully, [...]

  7. [...] week of Riesling–and a day of brick oven construction–ended with the second installment from the Inniskillin Winemaker’s Series, their 2008 [...]

  8. Chris says:


    Found your blog via Lord of The Wings post this week. Excellent work so far. While anyone with the $$ can easily buy a shell insert these days, your craftsmanship and ambition are going to make this oven something VERY special. I’m very impressed and can’t wait to see this pit fired up one day.

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