Step 1: Build the oven floor
To build the oven floor:
- Arrange concrete edges to form a rectangle (these were not fixed)
- Pour and flatten vermiculite and perlite insulation into the centre
- Lay the ceramic bricks then on top, and then pat down with a rubber mallet
- During this process, check that all of the bricks are level and flush with each other. You won’t get another chance to access the inside of your oven so easily again!
Step 2: Build the oven frame
To build the arch:
- Place the front and back pieces of the arch in place
- Using a wooden fram and wood fillets, create a skeleton for the bricks to be rested on
- Brace the whole oven so that pieces don’t move while you are building it (we used spare besser blocks)
Step 3: Lay the bricks on the frame
- Place the bricks on the wooden frame
- Ensure the flue fits
- Place chicken wire over the bricks and tighten to stabilise
- Fit in the flue
Warning: You might not get this right the first time. Let’s just say the instructions weren’t comprehensive, and we had lots of experts involved in this process. This was the hardest part of building the whole oven – we tried three times to get the right bricks in the right place. Ensure you bring your sense of humour!
The bricks were numbered especially, and shaped to form an arch. The flue is positioned at the front of the oven.
Step 4: Cover the oven with cement
- Using a wheelbarrow and spade, mix the cement
- Shovel cement onto the oven
- Put on your rubber gloves
- Rub the cement into the chicken wire
- Press the cement into place
- Cover the entire oven
- Ensure you smooth the cement down and shape it over the arch
- Allow to dry
Step 5: Burn out the oven
- Create a fire inside the oven. This burns out the wooden skeleton and sets the cement. Note: As the bricks are shaped to fit into an arch, they will not collapse.
- Take a bottle of wine to your neighbours to apologise for all of the smoke. Promise you will make them a pizza when you figure out how to use your oven!
- Get your pizza dough ready. When the embers are showing, brush them aside and make your first pizzas.