Introduction: How to Make a Homemade Pizza Oven

Picture of How to Make a Homemade Pizza Oven

This is a step by step guide on how to build a homemade pizza oven from scratch!! This is a great, relatively cheap project, that will keep you entertained all through the summer and surprisingly, even the winter!! I made it with Darren Lewis and Josh Bagshawe and it always ends up getting lit at every party and actually becomes quite the centre piece!!

As you will discover, as well as making fantastic pizzas, this oven comes into its element when slow cooking large joints of meat! Lovely slow cooked shoulder of lamb, belly pork, beef ribs, pork ribs and even a whole pot of curry! Whatever joint you decide, wrapping it in layers of tin foil will protect it from the fire and keep it tender and succulent!

Happy building! I look forward to seeing what you make! For further designs and projects please check out my website - www.philreillydesigns.com

I am currently working on a new minimalist ballpoint pen and stylus, check it out at: www.529studio.co.uk or follow me on instagram @529studio


All the best,

Phil

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

There are many different styles of pizza oven, ranging from small clay ovens to larger scale concrete ovens. What you decide to build depends on a few factors including budget, location size constraints, time, what you wish to cook etc.

We decided to build this pizza oven on a wooden crate so we had the option of moving it if we needed to! Although if you decide to do this, please remember that the construction will probably be about half a tonne so a pallet truck or fork lift will be required! A lot of people find a more permanent location for the oven and build a brick stand for it so the pizza oven is at waist level when stood infront of it.

What you require:

• Sharp sand (general purpose sand usually containing small amounts of aggregate in the mix)
• Builders sand (finer sand that is good for detailed work)
• Cement
• Aggregate
• A bucket or pot for the chimney (Optional!)
• Spade for mixing
• Trowel for brick laying
• Bricks (ideally heat resistant but not essential)
• Large cellophane sheet
• Some old pieces of wood / foam for shaping the arch
• Chipboard (if building on a pallet) - make sure it is for outdoor use otherwise it will warp!
• Wooden pallet
• Drill
• Wood Screws
• Wood Saw

The exact quantities depend on what size you decide to build. You can build this oven in stages so there is no need to know exact quantities when you initially start building. Lots of people say that heat resistant bricks should be used when building an oven. When heated to a high temperature, standard building bricks can expand and cause the oven to crack a little. We have had this oven extremely hot and have not had issues with cracking so a lot if down to personal preference!

Step 2: Creating the Base

Picture of Creating the Base

When you have decided on a location for the pizza oven, lay the pallet down and make sure that it is horizontal. The floor that it is laying on might not be flat so use some off-cuts of wood to wedge under the pallet to raise it up if needed.

After the pallet is sorted, use the wood saw to cut a section of chip-board that exactly fits the base of the pallet. Cut some strips of chipboard that are about 50mm high to form a perimeter around the top of the pallet. make sure that there are no large gaps between the boards as this will form the seal to hold in the concrete!!

Mix the concrete in a 1:2:4 ratio (1 part cement, 2 parts sharp sand, 4 parts aggregate). Use the spade to put the concrete in the wooden mould. You can use a long wooden baton lengthways to ensure that the concrete is flat and has the best finish. This top layer will create the floor for the pizza oven so try and get it as smooth as you can.

Step 3: Arranging the Bricks / Planning Size

Picture of Arranging the Bricks / Planning Size

It is a good idea to roughly lay the bricks in the correct position before permanently fixing them in place. With the standard house brick I would advise chopping them in half so you can have more shape to your pizza oven. Arranging the bricks before ensures that you know roughly where the bricks are going to go and also roughly how many you are going to need.

Step 4: Creating the Arch

Picture of Creating the Arch

The arch is going to form the roof of the area where you access the inside of the oven. Generally speaking the arch is about two-thirds the height of the whole oven. We used foam to create a support but you could use layered cardboard or even off-cuts from the chip-board to create the curve on which the archway bricks rest. This purely provides support whilst the archway bricks are drying. The advantage of having a curved archway rather than a flat one is that you can use the weight of the bricks resting on each other to provide support (almost wedging themselves in place).

Step 5: Cementing the Bricks in Place

Picture of Cementing the Bricks in Place

The first step here is to cement the first (ground) layer of bricks in place using a fine mix of cement and fine sand (a ratio of about 1:3 would be fine). At this stage I would also cement in place the arch. Lay the cellophane sheet across the base layer and begin to fill with sand. A sand mould of the inside of the oven is created so that the bricks can be supported on the sand whilst being cemented in place (prevents a collapse whilst the cement is wet!). The sand is wrapped in cellophane or plastic sheeting to prevent the sand from sticking to the inside of the oven where there may be some wet cement. 

Begin layering up the bricks working up the side of the cellophane sheeting. At this stage it is good to cement in place the chimney. Having the chimney slightly higher than the door ensures that the smoke travels out of the chimney as opposed to just coming out of the front of the oven. Don't worry about the cement looking a bit messy. This will be sorted in the next step.

Step 6: Creating the Concrete Outer Layer

Picture of Creating the Concrete Outer Layer

Mix some more concrete up as in step 2. Liberally spread it over the entire outside of the pizza oven. Not only does this make the pizza oven look better, it provides more insulation which will keep your oven hotter for longer!!

Step 7: Removing the Supports and Sand

Picture of Removing the Supports and Sand

Once the concrete has dried (usually a couple of days), it is time to remove the supports for the archway. This will then provide access to the bag of sand that currently still occupies the inside of the oven. Carefully rip the side of the bag and begin digging out the sand. Once the majority of the sand has been removed, the whole plastic sheeting can be pulled out bringing with it the remaining sand.

Step 8: Creating a Small Fire and Then Cooking Time!!

Picture of Creating a Small Fire and Then Cooking Time!!

A small fire should be created first to slowly dry the inside of the oven out. By now it should be pretty much dry anyway but starting small ensures that no cracks begin to form from steam trying to escape! After that it is time to cook!!! Try a little pizza and get a feel as to how your oven behaves!!

Happy cooking and I wish you all the best!

p.s if you get your oven hot enough you may even see some pretty flames escaping from the chimney!!

Comments

danzo321 (author)2013-12-19

So pizza just sits on a wire rack? You don't need air to enter from below?

Bobt100 (author)danzo3212016-09-04

Here's a link to cooking a pizza in a wood fired oven

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dQIi6d7TGc

Phil Reilly (author)danzo3212013-12-19

Hi danzo321!

You can do either, a lot is down to personal preference. We started by heating the oven really hot and then clearing all the coals to the side and cooking the pizza on the hot floor of the over (stone baked pizza). This gives you the rather traditional pizza which usually gets a little crisp around the edge where it gets near the coals. If you want more evenly cooked pizza, we tried putting an oven wire rack supported on a couple of bricks and laying the pizza on some tin foil on the rack. That also worked very well indeed!

Hope this helps!!

Phil

danzo321 (author)Phil Reilly2013-12-19

Phil, When I made pizzas the small stove got to 700º and we had ceramic shelves, which I'd suggest, sitting on a few bricks with coals underneath.
Your bricks look yellow-white, are they firebricks?
Nice job.

Phil Reilly (author)danzo3212013-12-19

Hi Danzo, ceramic shelves sound like a good idea but the metal rack worked well for us. Either way supplies heat from below and makes pretty good pizzas!

They are actually rather expensive Cotswold bricks that we managed to get for free! So we decided to use them! Fire bricks would be the best solution if possible but you would probably have to buy those! We got our oven very hot indeed and the bricks seemed to hold up ok!

Thanks!

Alderin (author)Phil Reilly2013-12-20

When I was building my foundry to do aluminum casting, I made the bulk of the insulation layer with a high-temp concrete "Fireplace and Stove mortar" mixed with vermiculite. The high-temp concrete was fairly expensive, but using vermiculite to bulk it up worked excellently. Reasonably inexpensive "fire bricks" could be made of this combination, and depending on mixture of morter/vermiculite the end result can be quite strong.

danzo321 (author)Phil Reilly2013-12-20

I wonder if the cement board used for tilework would be a good replaceable shelf. I do not believe regular concrete can take this kind of treatment for long without degrading the surface. I don't know from Cotswold but sounds like they are good, I'd put them in the floor too. I am thinking, little passages through the floor or sideways through the bottom of walls would let air in to give a better fire.

rosewood513 (author)2013-12-19

Fantastic you did a great job...

SyzmonP (author)2017-05-21

HI, can you tell me how many bricks did you used for it plz. Thank you so much.

Jimkuch3 (author)2017-04-24

I am definitely going to build this oven! :-)

I have been thinking about it for the past two years and have done a lot of research and you guys have definitely made it easy

Thanks

Roddy Harrison (author)2017-01-10

Is it possible to attach a door like this https://vurb.eu/products/pizza-oven-door-with-window-and-hatch one to the oven shown in this tutorial?

dianehumphreys (author)2017-01-04

hi

wish i had seen this before we built!!!! we built ours last year but the weather seems to have caused the outer to crack and large bits are falling off does it need to be covered when not in use? shame as nice to have it on show if you know what i mean, going to follow your step 2 mix and coat again please could you advise.

thank you

ncrespo74 (author)2016-09-21

Is the inside of the oven rendered?

spark master (author)2016-09-07

Some thoughts a) looks sweet. b) your arch is a Roman Arch and yes done right they wegde themselves and can be free standing and support structure above it. c) If the bricks are not fire brick then at least clay . Clay will spall eventually as will the mortor you used, BUT, if tyhe joins are as small as can be done, this may take 10 years, even more!. I can't say how many firings, but they will spall, (heat up dry out crumble and fall onto the food). That depends on the bricks, and joint size. If you add a chimney to the vent you will get cleaner burn. A white oven has a chimney that works a, black oven the smoke pours out. You have sooting so just add a chimney pipe section or 3 make it a good 10 feet high, that should give it some draft. With a door and a damper you can control heat and soak time.

in short

IT LOOKS FABULOUS

Webuildwaterfalls (author)2016-09-04

Can you show us something actually cooking inside to get an idea how it works ???
Otherwise...I like it so far!

dschwant (author)2016-09-04

How is it holding up after a few years?

AntiTek (author)2016-09-04

We have been considering building a pizza oven. Do you think using the end of a 150 gallon propane tank and covering it with cement to form the dome would work well? (Been torching propane tanks for 3 decades. Zero accidents)

Jesus Takahashi (author)2015-08-14

How much does the whole project cost?.. Its awesome by the way!

MESHAAL (author)2015-07-07

Thank you for the instructubles. I built my oven following your steps

CarolJ4 (author)2015-06-20

Hi do you have to use fire cement

roccopeterbilt (author)2015-05-12

I noticed some discussion on what to use as a cooking surface. While the bottom of the oven would probably work fine, you could try using unglazed ceramic tiles. They are cheap, can take the heat and most importantly are easily removed and replaced which would be nice for cleaning up. Not my idea, it's all over the web.

1 example:

http://www.thepauperedchef.com/2010/02/how-to-make-a-3-dollar-pizza-stone.html

NetWt4Lbs (author)2015-01-25

http://www.beautyofplanet.com/how-to-make-an-outdo...

this link above was posted onto a Facebook page i follow, by another follower of the page
the author seems to have taken your pictures and everything

EliF1 (author)2014-10-19

Pretty awesome for a first go. There may be issues later on with respect to the concrete not being able to handle the high temperatures and fluctuations. It would probably make things easier if the oven was a little higher off the ground too. I've made an article with further information here: http://pinkbird.org/w/How_to_build_a_pizza_oven


bakken (author)2014-07-29

My dad made one out of adobe or fire resistant bricks, he herring boned or basket weaves bricks together to make the cooking surface and it holds the heat in pretty well. I think the bricks would work as a better insulator than concrete for the bottom. Also left about a 3" hole in the back to regulate the air flow through his oven, he used a piece of circular sheet metal a bit bigger than the hole as his vent cover he would just adjust it to the side and use a crutch made out of a metal rod to hold the vent open. Nice oven btw and inexpensive.

davin_x (author)2014-07-06

This is amazing. Is there an issue with brick (normal) vs some kind of 'fire-brick'? Here in South East Asia, I've never really come across 'fire-brick'. Would really love to be able to do this, but I don't have the space right now (maybe if I ever move to a house with a yard).

Also, Tiger beer! Yay.

davin_x (author)davin_x2014-07-06

Sorry, missed out another question, is there a need for some 'special' flooring material (I see a lot of reference to 'pizza stone' around online)?

aci925 (author)2014-05-16

Thank you for your instruction. Can i use metal sheet instead of bricks and cement ?

Phil Reilly (author)2014-05-15

For all those people out there that like large grills, I have designed and made one..! And it's up for sale! Have a look - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Large-Modern-Charcoal-BBQ-Barbeque-Grill-1m-x-0-5m-with-Stainless-BBQ-Tools-/111352349006?pt=UK_Home_Garden_BBQ_s_Accessories_LE&hash=item19ed1e014e

Phil Reilly (author)2014-05-15

For all

orangepear120 (author)2014-03-18

awsome!!!!!!!!!!

Jaynestown (author)2014-01-29

Hey, it looks very cool. Thinking of making one but I need to buy everything for it so I was wondering if you could tell me how many bricks it needs and the size of a individual brick.

cristoph (author)2014-01-26

Looks a bit like forge don't you think

juan_k1ng (author)2014-01-06

fekkin awesome want one

jack ruby (author)2014-01-04

Nice work! About how many bricks did you end up using for this project? How much cement?

Thanks

Phil Reilly (author)2014-01-02

Hi jackamo! Yeah you could use this although you have to get it very hot, we reversed a vacuum cleaner so it blew and used that as a blower to supply oxygen to the fire to dramatically raise the temperature! Quite a lot of people use an oxy-acetylene torch instead of a forge but it's harder to evenly heat the blade!

jackamo98 (author)Phil Reilly2014-01-03

Oh wow thanks that's really cool. I'll definitely look into that!

jackamo98 (author)2014-01-02

So can this be used to forge the knife you posted too? Because I have no way to forge a knife but if I could make this it would solve that problem.

dziegler1 (author)2014-01-01

In step 5 what are the little "sticks" protruding out of the cellophane covered sand pile? Are they just a guide for stacking the bricks? Nice Instructable - easy to follow.

Phil Reilly (author)dziegler12014-01-01

Thanks! We actually used those to help pin the cellophane sheet down as it was a little windy at the time!!

Phil Reilly (author)2013-12-31

Hey wkahlich! We managed to get the bricks free which would have been the most expensive part! I think it cost us about 40 quid, including the spade that was a tenner!

wkahlich (author)2013-12-30

how much did all of this cost you?

wkahlich (author)2013-12-27

so about how much did all of this cost you?

Eh Lie Us! (author)2013-12-23

A pizza igloo!

Right on!

nixes8 (author)2013-12-22

great work! bold and "macho" oven. i have a cob oven on our backyard, and she's turning 4 years this december. but i still wanted to build one made of bricks. i'm just having a little trouble finding those fire bricks.. i'll definitely use your instructibles for building one.

aebe (author)2013-12-21

Hornos are a very good way to cook , and yours looks great .
If you sweep out the coals and ashes before you start cooking , you can plug your chinmey and door , have more heat for longer , and no ashes in the stew .
State of California has a horno recipe that calls for a layer of vermiculite for insulation , but that takes away the benefit of having a lot of mass to hold heat .

karthickaski (author)2013-12-21

hey Phil your idea is really works well .thank you .

pb404 (author)2013-12-20

Looks great! One suggestion would be regarding the layer of plastic sheeting between the sand and the dome. You ideally want the inside of the dome to be as smooth as possible so try to have no wrinkles in the plastic. When I made my oven I used wet newspaper but you could also use the plastic sheeting cut into smaller squares or something like that.

rondust (author)2013-12-20

I really like this, you can even move it with a pallet trolley.
But why cant I download it as a pdf??
Why is that?

rondust (author)rondust2013-12-20

Weird, it is working now, false alarm.

Billster36 (author)2013-12-20

wondering why you put the chimney in the front instead of to the back of the oven. Is there a reason not to put it in back?