Beginning an oven building on the photo to read the builder's story...
Beginning an oven building adventure…click on the photo to read the builder’s story…

Especially when building a larger oven, there are some clear earth oven building errors to avoid. (Building an oven is simple, but the truth is that nothing is quite as simple as it may first appear, especially when you build a fire in it.) Heather Coiner of Hat Creek Farm in Virginia (in photo) has generously documented some of the mistakes they made on a commercial-scale oven they built (and used successfully) on their farm — and which they recently took down after building their next oven — a full-scale brick oven built by Eric Moshier, of Solid Rock Masonry. Here’s the link. It bears repeating that pre-testing material choices (especially insulation) can prevent some mistakes. However, increasing the scale of the oven also increases the intensity and duration of heat effects, which needs to be factored into the equation. If you can start small, accumulated experience will build up your intuitive knowledge of your materials, which will have a good effect on your decision-making…

“Go slow, pay attention, be careful…”

Thanks, Heather, and congratulations!


  1. Kiko,

    Cindy recently found your hand print press site and noticed that you had posted a story on our backyard oven. All of this was completely inspired by you. I read your book probably 20 or more times before and after completing our first oven in March of 2008(?) My brother Randy, who owns a cart up in Olympia Washington introduced me to your book and the rest is history as they say. I owe so much to your time and effort in teaching others a more grounded way of life. Our restaurant is up and running. My family and I have other ambitions that someday I would like to tell you about. We would really love to meet you and your family someday. My parents live up in Boston Harbor, Olympia Washington and we often come through Oregon to get there. I have so much more to share but my son Regan and I are going to meet with the local Piute tribe in about 20 minutes to see if they would like to have an oven built on their property by means of a class on August 22nd. We hope they will be interested. We had presented the idea to our local Womens crisis center but they have not returned any calls. We hope to also build an oven for them in the future. Thank you so much for being who you are. You, your wife and your family are an inspiration to our family.

    Jason Murray
    1. Dear Jason, thanks so much for the lovely note. I’m sorry I haven’t replied sooner; for some reason, I don’t seem to be getting notifications when people comment! I hope your class was successful, and please feel free to get in touch (via the contact form)

      Best wishes to all of you,

      — Kiko

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