Cob oven community page: share what you’ve built!

cob-oven beauty

cob-oven beauty: build it with your kids (click on photo for the story)

Earthen, or cob ovens encourage and inspire people of all ages. Many a person who has read Build Your Own Earthen Oven has gone outside with a shovel and a tarp and built themselves an oven on a shoe-string budget; some have gone on to build whole houses! Others have built businesses, and re-organized their lives according to a whole new set of priorities and principles more oriented towards doing and away from just earning and buying.

Some of the stories start with bread. People looking for real food realize that they’ll just have to make their own. Others start when people decide they want to build their own house out of local, natural materials. An oven offers a small, less complex starter project where they can learn and make mistakes; the fact that it will give them pizza and bread only makes it more attractive.

This page is devoted to their (your!) stories.  You can add a story in the comment form at the bottom of this page. If you have trouble with anything, please contact us directly.

There are also, of course, numerous other places to see what folks are doing with cob. Here are a few to start with:

• The handprintpress archive of in-depth, community oven stories
• Cob oven page on Flickr
• Cob Ovens on Facebook
• The Saint Paul Bread Club: community ovens, individual ovens, and more
• Dig your hands in the dirt! a blog about cob art all over

25 Responses to Cob oven community page: share what you’ve built!

  1. Simha Bode says:

    I just created this manual on teaching a two days oven course, its a free guide with lots of info. It covers Pedagogy, Technical logistics of the course, building your own tools and how to use an earth oven

    You can now download the manual as a PDF here –
    https://www.academia.edu/12121029/Facilitating_an_Earth_Oven_Course

    as a printable manual (single fold) here –
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5t_blchjdPtcXd0VUpjcjFHS3M/view?pli=1

    as a free e-book here –
    https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=BRazCAAAQBAJ&pg=GBS.PT25

  2. M Iapalucci says:

    A number of years ago I was able to find and use information on the Internet to help me build my wood burning brick pizza oven, and I created my own web site to help others. http://www.ozarkdreams.com contains step by step pictures with comments of my pizza oven which was based on plans from Rado Hand http://www.traditionaloven.com.
    Over the years I have added to the site with hints from what I have learned from using our oven and from others who continue to share.

  3. Tom Chism says:

    I have been baking sourdough bread for the last three years and pizzas for years before that. As learned more about sourdough baking my interest started to turn to wood fired ovens. After reading both “The Bread Builders” and Kiko’s “Build Your Own Earth Oven”, I decided to build a cob oven to make my entry into wood fired baking.
    Having built a steel bbq smoker a few years back, I felt comfortable with the idea of cooking with wood in an offset heat environment.
    (smoker build)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKmIeVGsqNU

    Building a cob oven that would use both indirect heat as well as stored heat was new to me, so Kiko’s book was a fantastic source of knowledge.
    I started the build this last spring (2013) with the hopes of completing the project before the heat of summer arrived. Unfortunately the heat arrived a month early this year and I was forced to wait until the temps cooled enough to complete the work this fall.
    The results were wonderful! The oven is solid and bakes like a dream. Thanks to Kiko’s fire building video and the knowledge in his book as well as The Bread Builders”, my learning curve on using this new oven has been painless!
    Here are links to the build video as well as my photos including the first two bread bakes!

    The video/slideshow of the build
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d98hV_ZvlB4

    All the pictures including the first two bread bakes!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chism/sets/72157636234018985/

    • Kiko Denzer says:

      Hey, Tom! Thanks for posting this — beautiful oven, and documentation. Richard Miscovich’s new book, From the Wood-Fired Oven (Chelsea Green) has been inspiring us to try new uses/dishes — the current favorite is roasted (whole) onions, done at the top of the heat cycle, in the coals, just before (and maybe a bit after) you clean out the fire. But we’re still working through the book…
      Best wishes,
      — Kiko

  4. Laura Jacoba says:

    Beautiful pics of everyone´s projects, and I love Simon´s blogspot photo journal of Breadtopia´s earthen oven. I live in Guatemala and am about to undertake the construction of a wood-burining sauna. I want to make the fire chamber function as an oven as well – or at least be integrated with it. Does anyone have any ideas on this? I´m thinking a large fire chamber in the bottom and above it, half inside the sauna, half outside, where the oven would be. I would so very much appreciate any perspectives!

    • Kiko Denzer says:

      Laura, for this kind of project you might consider something more along the lines of a rocket stove, which will heat up your sauna a lot faster than an oven is likely to do — tho I do like the idea of using the “waste heat” from the firing of your oven — but what happens if you want to sauna after bake day and the pizza party? Do you have to go back and get the oven hot all over again? If you haven’t already, take a loot at the Rocket Mass Heater book; if you’re already familiar with that, the Rocket Stove bulletin board (http://donkey32.proboards.com/search) is a good place to learn and get advice. In particular, there’s a “batch feed” design that some folks have been building in which the firebox can serve as an oven after the fuel is burnt out. Good luck and let us know how you get on!
      — Kiko

  5. Simon Fraser says:

    This past summer I built a Kiko Denzer style earthen oven in St Marys, Ontario, Canada. The oven is 36″ on the inside diameter with 6″ of thermal mass and insulated with a ceramic fiber blanket around the dome and wine bottles and clay/mulch slip underneath the hearth slab. I have since built a shelter for the oven to protect it from the elements. It wouldn’t have been possible without the generous help of several family members. Thanks also to Kiko himself who provided some very timely advice when I was making some key design decisions.

    Building the oven allowed me to expand a home bakery operation whereby I could sell my baked goods at the local farmers market and directly to my customers through a Community Supported Bakery subscription program. I’ve been very pleased with the performance of the oven. I fire it by burning sustainably harvested hardwood for about 8 hrs to achieve full heat saturation. After removing the final coals, the oven rests/soaks for approximately 1-2 hrs. Thereafter I can bake a few loads of pizzas (@650-750F inner dome temp), about five or six loads of bread (15-20 loaves per load @475-575F) and after resting the oven overnight I bake a load of 100% rye bread in tins (@375-425F) and sometimes croissant, danish and cookies. The interior of the oven doesn’t return to the outside ambient air temperature until three days later during which time I often slow roast meat, bake granola, etc.

    Construction photos can be found here:
    http://breadtopia.blogspot.ca/p/home.html

    Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

    • Kiko Denzer says:

      beautiful! Impressive collection of photos too — looks like plenty of good help — even one to work the bottom of the ladder! Congratulations. We feed others and so ourselves are fed.

  6. We recently built a Cob Oven at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough Maine. (www.broadturnfarm.com) We run educational programs there through The Long Barn, an independent non-profit organization (www.longbarnmaine.org). We ran an adult workshop with the help of Jesse Stevens. We have been working with the children in our summer camp program cooking in the oven and will be doing a farm to table dinner with them in two weeks. We are fundraising to help cover the cost of materials as well as a timber frame covering structure through http://www.kickstarter.com.

  7. Krista Dalby says:

    We just finished building our first earth oven at Small Pond Arts in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.
    Here’s my blog where you can read all about it!
    http://smallpondarts.blogspot.ca/2012/07/outdoor-cob-bake-oven.html

  8. Pierina says:

    I got Kiko’s “Build Your Own Earth Oven” two years ago and after much thinking and over thinking and building in my mind, I finally got started. You can see my progress at http://backyardpizzaoven.blogspot.com/ I used dry clay I got for $10 for a 55 pound bag at the local ceramic/clay distributor. Pittsburgh is lucky to have a major clay source, Standard Ceramics in Carnegie, Pa. ( 5 miles outside Pittsburgh) When I finally started building the oven with the help of my friends who I call “pizza angels” I just couldn’t stop touching and hugging the dome. I even kissed it! There is something about the earth, truly you have to experience for yourself. If I can build it you can too, I am a 57 year old female.

  9. Alex says:

    Thank you Kiko! Your book got me off my rear end and outside actually building something! I had only been dreaming of building natural constructions for the past year and a half until I got your book.

    I simply followed your book and I was able to build a beautiful and functional cob oven of my own. I did everything myself. It seemed a little intimidating to do at first, but I just took the plunge and it all turned out great! I feel like I learned a lot of good basics for building with cob. I learned to set a foundation, learned to mix cob and insulation, and I learned how to do a basic lime plastering.

    Thanks to your book I now how one successful project under my belt, and I feel very confident moving forward and furthering my practice and education in cob and natural building. I think I’ll build a house next!

    Here’s a video I made showing the whole building process for my cob oven.

  10. Im here in Sonoma County active building lots of cob ovens, cob benches, saunas, huts, and even hot tubs. There are photos and videos on my website. Check it out!

  11. Bex Syrett says:

    Hi
    last year we built a clay oven at Fordhall Community Land Initiative, a community owned organic farm in Shropshire, England. A group of volunteers spent the weekend making it in the community growing area so we could grow food, make dough and cook pizza in one area. We had great fun making it and now have fun using it.
    best wishes
    Bex

  12. With assistance and ideas from Larry Winiarski we built a Rocket Oven that works extremely well using very little wood and making minimal smoke. You can see captioned photos of the process and the final product on a Picasa album. https://picasaweb.google.com/Jonnygms/RocketOven#slideshow/5598633235210438450

    Kiko, Thanks for your book and inspiration. We hope you can make it by to see our stove someday.

    Jon and Flip Anderson

  13. Follow this link to see my pizza oven chronicle on facebook (you don’t have to be a facebook member.)

  14. hi everyone.
    I have been building earth ovens for over ten years, and was fortunate to work with kiko several years ago when we built an oven at an eco event in wales UK. I have since gone on to building ovens from fire cement, mainly for pizza making at festivals in the UK.
    I was commissioned to build a very large bread oven on a campsite in sussex UK and i have posted a link to the slide show of the complete process; in addition i ran a week long bread making course, so there are some pictures of some very happy sacred bakers!!
    I hope you enjoy them and are suitably inspired, but just to let you know i do not look at emails/computers much so any questions you may have might take a while to be answered.
    Michaelthebaker

    https://sites.google.com/a/wowo.co.uk/sacredbaking/wowo-oven-build

  15. C.V. Mansoor says:

    Hello: So nice to hear from you. Please see our site. We built an oven using Kiko’s book. I also built one with a group once using a willowish basket technique with the Hiram Trust. I have used the one on our website for about 6 years. Children from our programs have made bread every Monday morning during the school year and then our Dragon takes it into his belly and makes the most delicious bread. . . I recently tore it down in hopes of making a new and improved one. If there is any chance any of you would like to come here and do a workshop please let me know you are interested. (Our dragon has been on a journey for about 3 weeks now and I have promised. We are open to slinging mud, working with bees, etc. Thanks for contacting us! (I am not sending this to post these words, just want to contact you. . . don’t see how to post pictures.)

  16. I built an oven following an earlier edition of Kiko’s book and blogged about it under the category Fire, here http://www.nilspeterson.com/category/projects-and-thinking-related-to-sustainability/fire/

    I was in a hurry so I built on a wooden deck on saw horses, and as Kiko’s book predicted, it burned thru. Dismantling the oven gave some insights to the failure and to how much firing had ocured in the inner shell, see http://www.nilspeterson.com/2010/11/30/dismantling-my-mud-oven/

    I plan to build a new oven on a heavy duty trailer (with concrete blocks above the wooden deck for greater insulation). I’m talking with a local bakery (http://www.panhandlebread.com/PABC/Home.html) about bringing the oven trailer to their booth at the Moscow Farmer’s Market on Saturdays this summer.

    Finally, there are two Flickr photo sharing groups that may interest you
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/woodfiredbreadovens/pool/with/2098689023/
    and
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/forno-horno-ovens-woodfired_ovens-kilns-furnaces-heaters/pool/with/2098689023/

  17. Kiko Denzer says:

    David S. Cargo, who assembles info about community ovens for the St. Paul Bread Club sent me a link about Lily Gordon, a remarkable young woman, now 16, who has been helping villagers in Tanzania to build ovens so they can make their own bread (previously, bread had to be transported from so far that it would often be inedible when it arrived).

    At the age of 11, Lily Gordon started raising funds for the village of Shirati, Tanzania. For her 11th birthday, instead of gifts, she asked her friends to bring money for the children of Shirati. The party raised $1,300. Behind Lily are many others, particularly a woman named Christine Nyanda Chacha, a Tanzanian woman who decided that lack of parents and money didn’t need to prevent her from going to school, getting a degree, moving to America, and becoming a teacher in Berkeley — where she sought ways to help her students think past the bounds of affluence and entitlement (for more of this story, click here). Lily is just one of many students who have had this experience, thanks to Ms. Nyanda Chacha. Watch the video to hear Lily tell the story:

  18. Here’s a video of an oven I made with my friends in Argentina.
    We used homemade adobe bricks and clay mortar.

    You can see more of my work at Firespeaking.

  19. Riki Shochat says:

    I have your book about earth oven and i build a few of those ovens with people in mud building workshops in israel (also giving credit and publication to your book), so i’m eding a few pictures:
    1- an earth oven in ein-gedi
    2- set of coocking places two of them are rocket stove and one is not
    3- a bench made with children and parents in the entrance to a kinder garden.
    4-nice detail
    and another thing: i’m looking for information about open fire place to make out of mud. i know it’s not as efficient as rocket mass heater, but it has the qualities of having an open fire indoore and it is made only fot occasionaly use (not every day) and in our place it’s not so cold. so if you know where i can get information about it: proportion,shape, how to make it “throwing” as much hit inside, i would like to know..

    thank you very much for all the knoledge and inspiration…
    riki
    p.s. looking at the pictures i thought you might be interested in pictures of a traditional earth oven i once build with old yamanay ladies (mother of a freind of mine and her neighbors) and we baked in it there traditional bread ans cookies so i add a few more

    awesome oven in israel
    women building tanduri-style oven
    woman cooking in earthen tanduri-style oven
    mixing the dough
    cooking nans in tanduri-style oven
    making small breads
    rocketstove cook stove

  20. Max Edleson says:

    I feel that building an earthen oven is a “gateway” or initiation into natural building. An oven is like a mini building: it has a foundation, walls and should always have a roof to protect it. One learns about how to make “thermal” cob and “insulative” cob, experiments with sculpture… and creates something remarkably functional and beautiful without too much ado.

    Here is a picture of the first oven and natural building project that my brother, Alex, and I built upon reading Build Your Own Earthen Oven:

    I have gone on to build many ovens since…. here is another one:

    You can see other ovens as well as masonry heaters I have built at firespeaking.com.

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