In 2016 I decided to build my own pizza oven and after many hours reading posts on various forums along with watching YouTube videos I came up with a project on how to build my very own wood-fired pizza oven.
I opted for what is called a ‘Pompeii oven’ and this article will take you through, step-by-step, on how I did this.
The budget for a pizza oven can vary wildly with a few variables:
- Design and Size
- Who’s building it
I was looking to make my build as cheap as possible, scavenging materials where I could, buying only the essentials, and in the end I spent around $350/£300.
Location of the oven
This is the most important thing to consider as once it’s there you aren’t going to be moving it!
You’ll want a location that is away from buildings but also as close as you can to the kitchen, as that will help give you a nice prep area and cut down on your steps back and forth.
Pizza ovens will create some smoke though so here are some things to also consider.
- Check if there are any laws or building and fire codes prohibiting you building the oven. Are you in a “smoke control area” which prohibits the emission of smoke from a chimney of a building, furnace, or fixed boiler?
- Could it impact on neighbours? Consider whether the noise, smoke, and smells could affect them. You’ll want to ensure it’s away from boundaries/buildings.
- Consent from the building owner. If it’s your house then cool, but if you’re a tenant of a leased property then it’s best to check.
Dimensions of the oven
Once you’ve decided on the location of the oven it’s time to start planning and consider the size of the oven you want to build.
The height of the dome and door both affect the air circulation and heating, making its measurements essential, and this table will help you decide on the diameter oven you want.
|Internal Dimensions||Cooking Surface Area||Vault Height||Door Height||Door Width||Foundation||Pizzas (10″)|
|30″ diameter (76cm)||4.9ft2 (0.45m2)||16″ (41cm)||10″ (25cm)||16″ (41cm)||53″ x 66″ (135cm x 145cm)||1-2|
|34″ diameter (86cm)||6.25ft2 (0.58m2)||16″ (41cm)||10″ (25cm)||18″ (46cm)||57″ x 70″ (145cm x 180cm)||2-3|
|42″ diameter (106cm)||9.5ft2 (0.88m2)||18″ (46cm)||11″ (28cm)||18″ (46cm)||65″ x 78″ (165cm x 200cm)||4-5|
|50″ diameter (130cm)||14.3ft2 (1.32m2)||22″ (56cm)||14″ (36cm)||18″ (46cm)||73″ x 86″ (185cm x 220cm)||7-9|
Bigger isn’t always better though. I decided upon building a 30″ diameter oven and this smaller size will allow you to get up to temp quicker, use less fuel, and then cook pizzas at the maximum temperature possible.
It’s at this stage that I found it useful to draw a rough idea of what the oven would look like along with the dimensions for the base etc to keep me on track.
Building the foundation
A pizza oven is going to be heavy, so you’ll want a foundation that is strong and level, and in my case I built a concrete foundation.
I’m no construction expert so it was a little guesswork but once I’d decided on the location I dug suitable depth down and inserted a wooden frame which had the dimensions for the foundation. This would allow me to make a nice square base and also meant I could get it nice and level, using a spirit level across the boards.
Into this frame I added some hardcore that I had laying around and then added the concrete. I ended up having to buy 13 bags of 25kg concrete mix which works out as 325kg or 716 lbs or 51 stone! I’m not sure how that happened but it’s definitely going to be a strong base!
You may already have a patio or foundation that can be used so do consider that if you want to make things a little easier.
Building the base
Now it’s time to get your bricklaying skills out, but honestly don’t worry too much as this will be rendered with plaster later on, so it doesn’t need to be pretty.
I opted for a diagonally facing oven and whilst going for this design is a little trickier than just a square structure it works better with the space I have.
The image above will give you an idea of how I used the following materials:
- Dense Concrete Blocks x 30
- 1200mm Concrete Lintel
- 600mm Concrete Lintel
- 600mm slabs x4
- 25kg Pre-mixed Mortar x 2
You will need the following tools too:
Many plans for oven bases don’t call for a lintel and instead build a wooden formwork and then pour a concrete top but I decided lintels and pre-made concrete slabs would be a cheaper and quicker option.
Cutting the concrete blocks
You will need to cut some blocks and manually doing this with a bolster chisel is much quicker and cleaner than using something like an angle grinder.
Here’s the exact video that taught me how to do it.
Laying the blocks
Once you’ve got all the gear and an idea of what you’re doing you can start laying the bricks.
Check every brick to make sure they’re level and you’re not building a wonky wall. Yes there are more accurate methods that bricklayers will use, but I’m just an amateur DIYer and this all worked out fine.
Once the sides and lintels are added in it’s time to add the slabs. As I’m using a 1200mm lintel I knew that 4 x 600mm slabs would fit perfectly.
My plan was working perfectly!
For the final block I measured it off and then used an angle grinder to cut the angle I wanted before cementing it in place.
To be continued….