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How to make a pizza oven - part 1
Everyone loves home made pizza, so one of the most rewarding projects for your own back yard can be to make your own wood fired pizza oven. Pizza ovens are becoming increasingly popular, and this is a project that can be done by pretty much anyone who doesn't mind a little hard work. You don't need any specialized knowledge, this was the first time I had laid hands on a cement mixer, and the whole family will want to get involved! The real home handyman will want to take this idea one step further by including a wood or charcoal grill, a smoker - even a built in bar fridge!
In this article we will look at all of the steps involved in making your own outdoor pizza oven. You will need to do some research in order to plan the perfect dimensions and construction techniques for your own situation but this article will give you an overview so you see exactly what is involved.
The first step in making your pizza oven is to pour a strong foundation. The final oven might weigh in at well over half a ton, so it's better to make your slab stronger than you think you'll need.
I made mine by digging until I got through the loose layer of dirt, and setting up 4 planks as a form for the concrete. Make sure your form is square, and use stakes to support the sides. If you have a deep sandy soil you might want to dig deeper, then refil part of your hole with compacted gravel. Once you have your forms set up, lay a sheet of plastic on the bottom to stop the concrete from drying too quickly, then set up a layer of rebar (metal reinforcing rod) and fill the forms with concrete.
The foundation slab is touch dry after 12 hours or so, and you can remove the forms. It will need to cure for a few days before you start putting weight on it.
When the slab is dry, you start making a base for the pizza oven to stand on. A common and easy method is to use besser blocks (large, hollow concrete blocks). These are built up on top of each other and once the base is shaped, concrete and rebar is set into the hollow cores to provide strength.
Once the blocks have all been set up and filled with concrete, you set up forms inside the base to support the floor of the oven. I set mine up by stacking bricks inside the oven and laying a frame of planks over the top. This will be removed later, so the form doesn't need to be fixed together. Just make sure that it can hold a lot of weight!
The Base Opening
This step is purely optional. I made a decorative opening for my base by setting up a form, and making an arch out of bricks and mortar. Another common option is to use a flat steel bar, and set the top row of concrete blocks over the opening.
Now you will be setting up more forms around the top of the base, so that you can pour a second concrete floor to hold the actual dome of the oven.
First, I used concrete sheeting as a bottom layer. I cut it to size and laid the sheets over the supporting planks. This doesn't have to be too neat and tidy as you will never see the bottom of the slab (unless you climb in with a torch).
Next, you need to set up planks in a square around the top of the base. This is tricky, so get someone to help. I used nails to roughly tack the planks together, and then put supports around to hold up the planks. It's a good idea to use a cargo strap around your form to stop it from bulging at the sides when full of concrete.
Once your forms are set up securely, add another layer of rebar and pour your floor slab.
This concludes part 1! In 'How to make a pizza oven - part 2' we will look at the process of building the dome of the pizza oven.