Combining Earthen and Masonry Techniques in Wood-Fired Oven Construction

Is it made of earth or brick?  This is a common distinction in the world of wood-fired ovens and comes with a whole slew of assumptions.  “Earth ovens are cheaper, easier to build but less durable.”  “Brick ovens are expensive, harder to build but more professional and will last longer.”  The oven build documented below is an exploration of the combination of these techniques to leverage the advantages of each.  We use earth where its sculptural quality allows us to perfectly mold it to the shape that we desire.  We use brick where it will give a good durable surface for cooking and in the entrance way to withstand the abuse of heated and passionate cooking.  The book Build Your Own Earth Oven provides further reference for these techniques.

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Using rope to define the shape of the catenary vault.  The plywood is cut and the negative shape is used as a screed.

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Eventually, a whole outdoor kitchen and service bar was built around the oven!….

 

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Useful Links for Further Reading:

About Max Edleson

Max is a contributing writer to Hand Print Press as well as the website's designer. He is also a builder, craftsperson and musician. His services include building masonry heaters, wood-fired bake ovens, round-pole carpentry, and website design. The more he can be on the farm or in the garden, the better! Find out more about him at Firespeaking.

4 Responses to Combining Earthen and Masonry Techniques in Wood-Fired Oven Construction

  1. I live in a high desert area with a lot of pumice and no clay, etc. Where would I find the clay material to make my oven? I have wanted to do this for several years and can not find the material need to add to cement & straw. I live in Oregon and travel around Oregon and wonder if there is a place to get it.
    Thanks,
    Dennis

    • Kiko Denzer says:

      well, there are two approaches: one is to do some sleuthing and really learn about the land you live on/off. This, I think, is the more fun approach, and will reward you with much more than clay — even if you don’t find any (over east in desert area, ask at the soil and water conservation office, for starters…also read the section in the Hand Sculpted House about finding clay). If you travel around the state, there’s plenty clay all over the valley, in roadcuts, ditches, graveyards, building sites, etc.

      The other approach is to buy bagged clay — “fireclay” is typically available in 50 lb sacks from the building supply. You should also be able to find it, wet or dry, at ceramic suppliers.

      let us know how you get on.

  2. martin says:

    wow beautiful !!!!

  3. Beautyful and solid building!

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