Where should I build my oven?
Before you dig up your garden to lay the foundations it's a good idea to have a think about exactly where you want your oven to be.
The photo above shows the location of my oven in relation to my house.
There are a few important things to bear in mind when deciding on the correct site:
- Distance from your kitchen / food preparation area.
- Distance from your wood supply.
- Distance from a water supply for cooking and safety.
- Shelter from rain. A clay oven is not water proof so a good sheltered position or roof is required.
- Shelter from high winds, as wind blowing directly into the oven entrance will make it hard to start the oven.
When did I build my oven?
I built the foundations and the base for my oven in October 2012. I then had to wait until the weather got better to carry on with the build so I began work again in March 2013. I worked on the oven mainly on the weekends when the weather was good. The oven was completed in July 2013 and I finally completed the roof in October 2013 (just in time for the winter!)
How much will it cost?
I have made a list all of the materials used for the build along with the prices that I paid.
You can view the list here.
How long will the oven last?
I have to be honest and say that I do not know the answer to this question. I'm guessing that as long as the oven does not get wet it should be many years.
The roof on my oven has worked great. When we have had very bad rain for several days, the oven did not get a drop of rain on it.
The good feature of a clay oven is that it can easily be repaired by simply using more sand/clay mix.
Will I be able to build the oven by myself?
Apart from doing the odd DIY jobs around the house and garden I had never built anything like this before. I'd never laid bricks, slabs or attempted any kind of building work.
As long as you are relatively fit and healthy, there will be no problem in completing the build yourself, although having a few extra pairs of hands will always make things quicker and easier.
The most exhausting/demanding stage of the build is the base due to the weight of the concrete blocks, but everything else is pretty straight forward.
How many stages are there in building the base and oven?
I have split the build process into 12 individual parts.
- Sand Former
- Brick Arch Former
- Brick Arch
- Completing The Sand Former
- Rendering The Base
- 1st Layer
- 1st Fire, Flue & Door
- 2nd Layer
- 3rd Layer & Roof
How accurate do I have to be when building the oven?
The great thing about building a clay oven is that it is a very forgiving build when it comes to measurements and alignments. So although you should try to be as accurate as you can when building the base and oven, it doesn't matter too much if the dimensions are not exact. So don't beat yourself up if something isn't exactly aligned or the correct dimension. The fact is that you have built it yourself and as long as it doesn't fall down who cares if it's a bit wonky!
What happens if it rains during the build?
It is a good idea to be prepared for when/if it rains during your build, especially if you have begun to make the sand former or the clay dome.
Below are a few of the ways I had to cover my build during bad weather: