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
All the best,
Step 1: 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)
• 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
• 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
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
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
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
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
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
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!!
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!!