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Wood Fired Clay Pizza Oven Build (With Pizza Recipe)

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Picture of Wood Fired Clay Pizza Oven Build (With Pizza Recipe)
Well it has been a long time in the making and an even longer time in the dreaming about, but it is finally done.... Just in time for winter. Doh. Oh well better late than never.

I have been dreaming about building my own oven for ages now. I started talking about how much I would love to build one when I was renting a two bedroom flat. So I couldn’t really make one then. A couple of years after that we moved to a house, but were still renting and I wasn't going to spend all that effort improving someone else's garden. My girlfriend (Now wife) one Christmas got me all the pizza tools and booked me on the "Build and Bake" course at river cottage. She also got me a copy of "Kiko Denzer - Build Your Own Earth Oven" Which I read cover to cover on the train many times and can’t recommend highly enough. There was no turning back from that point. Finally last year we bought our own house and I could finally build my oven I had been dreaming of all this time!
 
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Step 1: Base

Picture of Base
First the base..... I poured a concrete slab and set to building the walls, both of which were a first for me. I was going poor a slab of concrete but saw these small lintels at the builders merchant and laid 4 square flag stones on top that had been left in the garden when we bought the house. I wanted to store wood under the oven as we don’t have a lot of space for a separate wood pile. Thinking about it later I wish I had left the back open so there would have been better air flow around the wood keeping it dryer. Instead in the finished oven you can see I have chopped down a wooden pallet to fit in the bottom, so the air can circulate.
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Thanks for the detailed instructions! Looks great, and sounds like you properly did your research. Hope the party went great. As soon as I've got a flat area I'm building myself one of those bad boys.

Will it stand against winter freezing temperatures?? As I live in central Europe and the winters here can get really freezing. Below minus ten Celsius is quite normal...
cwolsey (author)  jakub.hnilicka.31 month ago
With the hut and roof mine was u effected by 2 winters. I lived in Peak District and we have a lot of rain and winters with odd weeks of snow.
CarlTrin3 months ago

Man, that's a good instructable !

DennisS43 months ago

Very Nice Instructable! You are my pizza hero! Love the video! What makes this a great guide is your comments and thoughts about the build. Thanks again!


Very nicely done. I can almost taste that wonderfully crunchy crust!

Ovens like this are common in the US Southwest...many are finished with a plaster similar to that used on adobe structures to protect them from the elements, although others have come to the same conclusion you have regarding a structure.
cwolsey (author)  bruce.desertrat1 year ago
Unfortunately here in the Peak District England we get a LOT of rain. I would have to do a lot more up keep with out a roof. But I do agree they look nicer without a roof

after you use it a good number of times assuming you have added a good insulation layer, use a batch of water proof stucco for the outer layer. WALLA, no break down

Can you not cover it with plaster. (Sand and cement). This way you keep shape, you don't need the roof and it is more weather proof.
cwolsey (author)  lourens011 year ago
You can't render it with cement because it needs to be breathable. If you had a waterproof top to it the moister would build up and the roof would collapse inside. You can use a lime render apparently which is breathable. But I went for the roof option
jamwill7010 months ago

Hi just about to start this build just one question why the layer of bottles, why insulate the base, is it for the chance of cracking ? please advise jw from newcastle

cwolsey (author)  jamwill7010 months ago
The idea is to retain as much heat as possible. The oven is surrounded by a layer of insulation. The clay and sawdust layer acts as a honeycomb. With the air gaps retaining heat. If you didn't insulate the base and set it on the ground you would ex spend a lot of energy heating up the soil underneath the oven. If you don't use fire bricks and just put the fire on flagstones they will crack and crumble with the heat.

From reading on this subject for years,

1) they sell firebricks that are insulator bricks and they are light for the size as opposed to the hearth bricks. You couls insulate with them and they are more effective then glass bottles. They also have other flame/heat items that will insulate better, but as long as you do something it will work better.

2) One could use common clay bricks but they will over time spall, as will the dome surface of this oven, so keep an eye out for falling bits on the pie. The good news is, unless you fire this up daily and really get it "soaked" in eat, that will probably be an issue for whom ever it is that buys your house when you retire. But you never know. That is why the longer you let it dry the better.

3) if you have access to a wet saw with the right blade, you could cut bricks to make the true arch/dome and use the mix to fill in the gaps on the outside of the dome. Then give it a solid 2 inch layer of the stuff, then do the insulation layers. My neighbor built one but instead of sand he built the arc and arm and his dome is darn near perfect inside. He waited a few weeks b4 firing it up. But he used all firebrick and motor and his joint are very very close.

Try the Forno Bravo site for more info.

last I live in NYC area, Forno Bravo is in California... they sell a kit made in Italy the entire oven is in 7 pieces and they go together nicely. If you are in the UK you can get it way way cheaper then me ordering it from Italy through California

This is a great instructable. Due to building codes and taxes, I opted for lining my gas grill with fire bricks cranking the things to 900 degrees and making pie on that, as well, I can drop the temperature on preheat and bake 2 crust fruit pies in it during the summer.

thanks fer the nice instructable

1967celtic3 months ago

Fantastic project ,well done .

I have to dig a large hole for a soakway will not be skipping the clay >

Wheatridge3 months ago

What an ambitious project. It is magnificent! But it is also an impossible task for me to even contemplate beyond the admire stage.

KerryK3 months ago

Great instructable. I LOVE the removable front on your cover. Great idea. One great source for clay is the local cemetery. I built one of these from Kiko's book a few years back. Ours had a large pile where they put all the dirt that had been dug for the graves. Of course I got permission. I did get a few odd looks driving into a cemetery and breaking out a shovel but the digging was easy and within a few trips I had the clay I needed.

These are a lot of work up front but can last a long time if properly cared for and well worth the effort. I've moved since then and doubt I will do it again but I would highly recommend this if you are a pizza/bread lover or just fancy cooking by wood.

BlueJinxie7 months ago

Oh dear, I'll worship you from now on. My fiance and I are at your second step : we rent a house and can't wait to buy our own, but we dream of that oven and the big garden parties with friends and family since ages ! Thank you so much, I'll preciously keep your instructable.

rlohr1 year ago
Nice work! I've read Kiko's book a few times now and hope to build one next summer. Just need a source for clay. Thanks for the fine post and photos.

hi. Could you tell me where you brought your clay from. I'm having right trouble locating some. Thank you

cwolsey (author)  sarah.swainsbury8 months ago
Dig a big hole. You will most likly hit clay eventually.

have no where to dig in the garden as base built and garden decked. Didn't know if there was a supplier who sells pizza oven clay. Thanks tho

hi all. I'm in need of some help. We're building our pizza oven but I cannot find a supplier for the clay. Anybody have any suggestions please. Really appreciate the help

jamwill7010 months ago

hi jw again kud i put my fire bricks straight ontop of my fags which are 2ft x 2ft and 60mmm thick. are your flags in the photos 2x2 ?

cwolsey (author)  jamwill7010 months ago
Yes they are 2ft x 2ft. You could just put it straight on the flag stones but then you will only have insulation on the top and sides not the bottom. The bricks will acts as thermal mass. Which will be fine it you just want to cook pizzas. Which is fine But if you want to do any thing like a roast joint of meat with retained heat / bread (no fire in the oven) all the heat will escape out of the bottom. Having said that I have not tried it, I am just going off my research. You will find that if you make a clay done with no insulation it will work but not as well as an insulated one. I am moving house soon so going to have to build a new one and I am thinking of doubling the insulation. The base is not a lot more effort and to be on the safe side I would insulate it. Plus it means you have to drink lots of beer / wine to get bottle and that no bad thing.
jamwill7010 months ago

Hi just about to start this build just one question why the layer of bottles, why insulate the base, is it for the chance of cracking ? please advise jw from newcastle

sublimemick11 months ago
What an inspirational instructable. So good ! I copied your structure (bar the clay) i'll not even attempt your roof (i'm gonna buy a dog kennel and modify it). On a serious note - this is more informative than kilo denzer's book - which i bought. I found myself turning to your instructable for information and pictures. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through my project. Thank you for the inspiration - you gave me the confidence the build one myself.
cwolsey (author)  sublimemick11 months ago
Thank you for such a lovely comment. I am thrilled you found it so useful.

I have just sold my house and so there might be brick built oven instructable coming in a few years.

Any questions at all I would be happy to help.
The oven was probably the deal clincher for house sale!!! Good luck with the next build. I'm looking forward to the instructable already. Hope you are staying in the peak district. Lovely part of the world. I've done some mountain biking over there. Sure can get wet (like here in Co. Down). What is the internal diameter of your oven?
cwolsey (author)  sublimemick11 months ago
27" which is plenty big enough for me.
I've gone 27" too. How many bags of sand did it take for the dome?
cwolsey (author)  sublimemick11 months ago

To be honest I cant remember the exact figure. but it was like 10 or something like that. I do remember thinking it would have been a cheaper to buy a half ton bag. but I can't remember if that included the sand needed for the cement base as well.

Hi there,

Is it 1 part fire-clay, 1 part sand and a little bit of water ?
Is it the same amount if you buy the clay
cwolsey (author)  alexgrindrod1 year ago
It all depends how pure the clay is. I made some small test bricks with diffrent ratios. I suspect if you buy clay it will be a lot more pure than what you dig out of the ground.
cirillin1 year ago
In what part of the country do you live? I was wondering how it held up to winter weather.
How is it working out for you?
cwolsey (author)  cirillin1 year ago
I live in the Peak District near Manchester. So it has seen a lot of rain and snow. Which is why it needed such a full on roof. It is absolutely fine, in fact it improves each time you use it as more and more moister steams off.
wallerps1 year ago
Congratulations on your project. I too want to build one of these when we finally get retired and move into our retirement home next year.

You did a excellent job and thank you for your post.

All The Best,
Sparkie Waller
Birmingham, Alabama
Arghus1 year ago
this makes a touch jealous, anybow, nice work both on the building and the pizza , did you build that huge chopping block too ?
cwolsey (author)  Arghus1 year ago
Thanks,
i bought the butchers block in a supermarket years ago for next to nothing.
Pizza Hut....ha!
wilgubeast1 year ago
Great story, and I love how you got the clay for the oven.
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