We had a large fire pit in our yard that was used for burning brush and scrap wood. It got to looking pretty nasty after a few years of use. We decided to make something that looked better and was easier to clean the ashes and metal bits out of. We have always wanted to make an outdoor oven, so this was the perfect opportunity.
We wanted the new firepit/oven to do the following:
Have an “over the coals area” for a grill and skewers. Have two chambers in the oven so we could regular how much smoke got the foot. Be able to cook a pizza or most anything else! Have a concrete floor to prevent fire/ashes from getting into the soil.
The first step was to make some sketches of what the oven might look like. We even made a paper model, but we went with a different design in the end.
Digging the pit Reinforcing wire We dug out the old fire pit and made the new one round by staking the centre and walking the radius with a rope. Some reinforcing is always good for the concrete. We used an old, discarded barbed wire fence we found in our hedgerow. Many loads later of concrete (we used a concrete mixer) we had the base. It much cheaper if you get a load of sand and gravel delivered and use portland cement to make the concrete rather than by ready-mix.
Scrap plywood pieces Arches for the forms Supports of the arch General idea Old panelling used as the support Door bands at ends In order to build an arch, you need a form. After the stone is laid, you remove the wooden form. I used some scrap plywood around and some old sheets of panelling.
Lots of rocks were collected from nearby hedgerows We checked that the top of the oven was going to fit on the base. Another arch was made for the wood storage area that is shown in the next slide deck.
Now we got to the fun part of building the base. Remember that the wooden form for the wood storage area comes out after the concrete has cured.
While the tiles set we finished off the fire ring. We wanted a flat baking surface for the oven. We had some travertine tiles that seemed like a good choice.
Oven forms in place Chimney The next step was the ovens. As the structure gets taller, it seems to be harder to keep the walls both thick and straight. We used quite a bit of mortar which I am sure a professional would not have done. There is also a small chimney at the top of the oven in the fire chamber.
These rocks kept the form in place. Chimney from the inside of the oven Doors made from some sheet metal we had. We let the concrete cure for a week or so and then took the forms out.
We made some skewers and pizza on our first try. We thought the fire chamber would get the oven hot enough to cook the pizza- but nope. Next time we put fire in both chamber and then shift the coals to the fire chamber and put the pizza in. It did work though in the end, and cracking (we expected hairline cracks) of the oven arch was minimal.