Introduction: Backyard Woodfire Pizza Oven
I have always been a fan of the taste of woodfired pizza, but never even thought about making one myself until I redid my backyard and patio. I was very nervous going into the project because I assumed that making my own pizza oven would take a level of skill and money I didn't have (I am not a professional mason or constriction worker, just a hobbyist), but even I was impressed with how my project turned out, to the point I wanted to share how easy and fun it was with others.
There is also a series of Youtube videos to follow along with if the steps seem too confusing for you or is you are a visual learner like me who benefits greatly from the demonstration. The video is in three parts, each corresponding with a step or sequence of steps in the project and you are free to share and edit as you like, it is Creative Commons material that belongs to everyone. I made sure that the video is only supplementary, you don't need it to complete the project if you follow the instructions I wrote to be as in-depth and helpful as possible. If you have any issues, feel free to leave a comment asking for help of message me.
Hopefully you have as much fun as I did making my own Backyard Pizza Oven, and enjoy your very own authentic woodfire pizza after you are all done!
Step 1: Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Gloves, safety glasses, boots and mask
- Concrete or cement mortar (refractory grade for heat resistance) like this, this product here or here
- Small cement trowel
- Sand (optional)
- Metal Chimney or other cylindrical metal part (optional)
- Heat resistant firebricks, 4'' by 9'' thick by 2.50'' thick similar to this product
- Heat resistant firebricks, 4" by 9" thick by 1.25" thick similar to this product
- Common red bricks
- Outdoor paint (optional)
- Containers or tubs for Cement mixing
- Tape measure
- 8-inch cinder-blocks available here
- Paving tiles
- Loctite Landscape Construction Adhesive from here
- Caulk Gun (for Adhesive)
- Plywood (3/4") and wood planks (I used 1" by 1' pine)
- Level (optional)
- Angle grinder with masonry wheel (optional) from here
Step 2: Step 2: Safety First
Woah there, hold up a second!
You might want to look over some safety guidelines first! Working with power tools and construction materials can be dangerous, if you aren't careful. It may not seem important now, but, trust me, you will thank me later.
- Always wear eye protection when using power tools and make sure to wear closed-toed shoes. Always. No buts. Gloves can also be a good idea.
- Concrete powder is a chemical irritant and you should avoid all contact with bare skin and keep away from eyes.
- Wear a respirator or mask when working with powders and particulates.
- Keep power tools unplugged and in a safe place when not in use.
- This is a somewhat difficult project, and I don't recommend trying it is you are using these materials for the first time, however, if you follow the safety guidelines and the steps closely, your project can turn out just as good as mine (or hopefully better)
Now that we've got this boring (important) stuff done, lets get back to the project.
Step 3: Step 3: Laying the Groundwork
To make sure the oven was constructed on as flat a surface as possible, I first dug just a couple inches deep into the area where the oven would sit, using the pavers as a guide. You can use sand or dirt to create an even more stable foundation. Press the pavers down so they sink into the earth enough to not shift.
Using the Construction Adhesive, join the cinder blocks to the pavers. As with most adhesives, a little bit goes a long way, so don't overdo it. You only need a bead about half the width of the cinder-block for it to create a strong bond. Coming in direct contact with the adhesive is not recommended, so be sure to use gloves when applying and cleaning up. The adhesive comes in tubes that can fit in a standard Caulk Gun and is easy to use and apply.
The adhesive takes 20 minutes to set under ideal conditions, but its best to wail around 30 minutes to ensure a strong bond before continuing and adding the second and third layers of cinder-blocks. Make sure the cinder-blocks are clean before applying the adhesive, as dust and dirt will cause the bond to be much weaker.
Make sure that each layer and section is level and at the same height as the other blocks around it to avoid a nasty surprise later on.
Step 4: Step 4: Bring in the Bricks
Using the paving bricks, add two more layers of paving titles as to create a solid floor for the firebricks to sit. Set bricks on their sides around the perimeter to create a flat surface for the oven floor.
Firebricks are not the same as regular construction bricks, as they are made specifically to line ovens and kilns, made with aluminum and silica for heat resistance. Standard bricks will crack and crumble under the heat of an oven, and will also take longer to heat up and will require more heat to keep warm, so make sure the bricks you have are designed for heat.
Typical firebricks measure 9″x4.5″x2.5″, weigh about 8 pounds and are a dull yellow. The price of a quality firebrick is currently around $2.50 each, which is more expensive than common clay bricks, but trust me, the price is worth it in terms of heat resistance and durability.Watch this video is you are unsure what bricks best fit your project.
With the firebricks, create a floor for the oven by laying them flat over the paving tiles. Use the trowel to spread the mortar onto the bricks just like you would butter, once again keeping it thin to avoid wasted material. Depending on the brand of mortar/concrete you are using to adhere the bricks, it will take some time to set. Begin the arch after the mortar has dried by putting two bricks on their sides so there is adequate room in the oven.
Step 5: Step 5: Building the First Arch
Construct a brace form for the dome with a 265mm radius. I used plywood and pine planks to create a simple form for the bricks to be built around. You could also use polystyrene, which is weaker, but less expensive and easier to remove after the mortar has dried. I added a little drawer pull as a handle so it could be quick and effortless to remove after the arch had set.
The brace also acts as a guide for the angle of each brick, as they will need to sit at an angle with the mortar acting as a wedge between each brick. Apply more on the outside of the arch between each brick than the inside to create a strong triangular shape, and fill in any gaps with more mortar. You could also cut the bricks at angles given the correct tools, or buy pre-cut bricks that are angled to create an arch, similar to the ones available here.
Important: Make sure to get all the air bubbles out of the mortar as you put each brick together. Put some pressure on each brick to push out the bubbles, and use the trowel to squeeze out any bubbles as you add additional bricks to the arch.
Let the arch sit to dry for a full 24 hours to ensure the mortar has completely dried before removing the mold.
Step 6: Step 6: Raise the Roof!
The steps for the other arches will be the same as they were in step 6, using the mold, form an arch with the firebrick and mortar, making sure to push out any air bubbles.
Make sure to add mortar between the previous arch to join them together and avoid any heat escaping during cooking.
When I started adding the mortar, I devoted a lot of time to making sure to clean up any mortar that had spilled out the sides and onto the faces of the bricks, but I realized it didn't matter as I would be applying a thin layer of cement mortar around the entire outside of the oven.
Each arch took me between 1 and two hours to build, so keep that in mind.
Once again, let the arch sit for at least 24 hours before removing the brace, otherwise you risk all your hard work falling apart.
After the second arch is built, skip adding the adjacent arch and build what will be the fourth (frontmost) arch(see the images or video below). This is to build the chimney as strong as possible and avoid any chances of it collapsing under it's own weight.
Step 7: Step 7: Chim-Chimney!
The third arch will be lacking bricks at the top of it's arch to form the opening of the chimney, that's why it is crucial to build it after the other arches have been completed, it needs structural support.
Instead of using two of the full cut bricks, use the half cut bricks to finish off the peak of the arch.
Wait until the third arch has fully dried before attempting to build up the chimney. Place two of the full sized bricks placed perpendicular to the opening of the arch and leveled them off with mortar, then place two half side bricks on top of them. Finish it off with two on their sides next to the opening to create my chimney.
If you are using bricks to build the chimney instead of using a metal one, be sure to use a level to keep the bricks at the proper angle and not sliding off or putting too much weight in one direction, possibly ruining the arch.
You may want to use an angle grinder with a masonry wheel to clean up the mortar inside of your oven. This will create a large amount of dust, so be sure to use your respirator and glasses. I also recommend using an air compressor to clean the dust out of the oven.
Step 8: Step 8: Building the Back
Start with a brick placed vertically, and two on their sides. Continue to build up the back of the oven leaving no gaps and overlapping the arches.
Make sure to seal the back very well with mortar, a lot of the oven's heat will be concentrated towards the back, and you don't want any of it escaping out any of the seams or gaps between the bricks. You also want to stagger the placement of the bricks to they overlap the previous seams, making the likelihood of the bricks collapsing much lower.
Step 9: Step 9: Covering It All Up
Before you go on to the outer layer, go around the whole oven first to fill in any cracks, holes and gaps you may have otherwise missed with more mortar to ensure a perfect seal.
You may want to cover the cinder-blocks as well, you only need to use common waterproof cement mortar and red bricks as it won't be in contact with much heat. This is purely for ascetic reasons and is completely optional.
Covering up the oven with cement is a bit more difficult. The cement mortar needs to be heat resistant as well or it will crack, and needs to be made for the outdoors to withstand rain, snow, sun and anything else mother nature uses to punish us.
Test the oven by lighting a small fire in it, this will help the bricks settle and also help harden up any mortar between the bricks that hasn't hardened yet.
Instead of using a trowel, I used my gloved hands to apply it, as the oven is a curved surface and getting an even and well spread amount is difficult. The cement needs to be be wet enough to spread around, but not too runny so it doesn't slip off the curved sides and fall to the ground.
Apply between 2-4 coats on top of the oven to fully seal and protect it, keep in mind it too will take a long time to dry. Use your cement trowel or sponge to smooth the final layer. You may also want to use the angle grinder with the masonry wheel or a sander, but be aware that it could fling large chunks of partially hardened cement towards you, so take appropriate safety measures.
You can paint the outside to give the whole oven a finished look, be sure to use paint made for outdoor application to avoid cracking and flaking.
Step 10: Step 10: Pizza Party
Here's the part you've been working towards this whole time, the moment you spent all that time building towards. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a pizza cooked in your very own backyard pizza oven. Maybe invite the neighbors over to show off what you built, you deserve the praise after all that hard work and time spent.
You may even find you love the taste of wood fired food so much it becomes just as common a tool for cooking as your stove oven! I love the smokey, natural taste of things cooked with wood instead of gas, and you probably will too.
If you liked this instructable, be sure to favorite it and vote for it in any contests you feel it deserves to win, and if you liked the video, check out Second Son Woodworks for more videos like the ones from this tutorial! And if you built it, share your pictures with me and the rest of the community. If you need help on anything from picking materials to building assistance, just comment or message me, I'd be happy to help a fellow DIY hobbyist! You can also get tips, tricks and advice from forums like the Forno Bravo forum, The woodfire enthusiast, or The UK woodfired oven forum.
Runner Up in the