Everyone loves the flavor that a real wood-fired pizza oven can give you, but many still believe that these ovens are too expensive or complicated to make. We’ve uncovered the myths and mysteries and can give you great tips on how to build a wood-fired pizza oven in your backyard very easily. The only question will be your dedication to getting the job done right, so we’ve also decided to list the steps you’ll need to start and finish a custom wood-fired oven – simply and affordably.
Top reasons why you want a wood-fired oven
Go ahead and get excited a little bit, since a well-built pizza oven that uses wood can cook pizza dough in less than 2 minutes! Don’t forget that the aromatic smoky flavor that’s infused into your pizza is the main reason to have your own rustic pizza oven. Building your own outdoor pizza oven is a feat that gives you more reason to have friends and family spend more time outdoors.
Depending on your design, this can be incorporated into a patio area that makes a great relaxation retreat that gives any evening feel special. This is why it will be essential to find the right spot to build your oven. After this, you can add on patio elements to expand your oven or build your oven into an existing patio setup. Either way, this cost-effective solution to cooking pizza is just the beginning.
Wood-fired ovens can also cook a variety of food, bread, bake and grill meats, fish, make BBQ dishes, cook baked potatoes, and a slew of vegetables. It can also cook anything as you normally would in a conventional oven while it’s reached its peak temperatures. If you’re a true outdoor foodie, a wood-fired oven will be appealing for all the right reasons. It’s also a great source of keeping warm when it gets chilly outside too!
How to build a wood-fired oven
Working with your hands is one thing, but for this job, you’ll need some added protection which always starts with safety gloves. Some good eye protection including safety glasses is also a must. Then there are the required tools to make this job go easier. The most complicated tool you’ll want to get is a wet saw to cut your bricks. This can be rented from hardware suppliers or tool rental outlets for general construction.
You also want to rent a concrete mixer that allows you to mix entire bags of concrete mix much faster than doing it by hand. Obviously, a hand trowel, carpenters hammer, carpentry level, and rectangle-shaped construction pencil. The rest is simply follow-up supplies such as plastic buckets, sponges, and water for cleanup. This project can be completed in just 2 weekends and will cost you about $200 for the supplies.
Some special tips include using your level to make sure the foundation bricks are level and plumb. All of the bricks need to be cemented together using fire clay mortar instead of mixed cement mix. Always read the instructions for mixing and allow enough time for them to cure properly otherwise they will crack if you start using your pizza oven too early
Supplies you will need
- Pizza Dome: 200 red bricks + 20 refractory bricks
- Wooden framing: 2×10 and 2×4 lumber strips + 2 inch woodscrews
- Countertop foundation: Cement, sand, gravel, and metal mesh re-enforcement
- Base bricks: 60 concrete blocks
- Fire mortar: clay and sharp sand
Steps you’ll need to follow
1. Build the foundation
The base is one of the most important steps since this will support the overall weight of the pizza oven. Since we’re talking about enough weight to support all of the bricks that go onto this base it needs to be sturdy enough to support the weight of a horse and must be reinforced with wire mesh. It’s also partially submerged into the ground, so you’ll also be digging a shallow support basement within the foundation floor.
2. Storage space above the foundation
These are built using cement blocks and will later become the storage area for your firewood. This is built after the foundation has dried for a couple of days. The concrete blocks are cemented in place using cement mortar.
3. Construct the countertop
Once the storage space is completed, you need to construct a countertop using your wood. Additional inner support underneath the countertop is created to support the weight while your base frame is constructed. This frame will contain the concrete that’s poured into this, so you’ll need to add flat strips around the edges of this frame so they sit just outside of the cement blocks. This will help the countertop slab to cement itself to the blocks.
You will also need to block off the inside of the frame with more cut slabs of wood so the cement doesn’t fall through the countertop frame. These are removed when the cement is dry and the inner storage support frame is taken out. Additional wire mesh is used inside this wooden frame so the slab countertop will become stronger and won’t crack so easily.
4. Add the firebrick base
Using the firebrick, you then need to form the inner base of your dome. These bricks need to be circle-shaped and centered inside the countertop. Careful cutting of the firebrick will get the best results. Fire clay mortar is used to lay the bricks into place and the gaps in between are filled in. Use your sponge and a little water to smooth out this mortar in between the gaps of the bricks.
5. Construct the brick dome
This is when you start to circle your red bricks around the border of the firebrick base using fire clay mortar. Cut your bricks in half so you can create a circle shape much easier. Your bricks need to be cut at each corner so each brick will better follow the circle lines, but be sure to leave enough room for the entrance door. Once you have at least three stacks on top of each other, this is when you need to make the dome shape.
This is achieved by putting small pieces of brick at each edge on the outer side of the dome so the brick is elevated Fire clay mortar is added into each brick section to cement them into place. This continues until you can reach the very top of the dome. A large beach ball or exercise ball can also be inserted into this unfinished dome to help support the shape of your bricks being added. It will need to be deflated once this dome is complete.
6. Add oven doors and chimney
Where the entrance door is located, you can now construct an entry doorway using the regular-sized bricks that lay vertically to the dome. Build these up so it forms a partially rounded doorway, so cut your brick pieces as needed. Leave a section at the very top of the arch big enough to create your chimney. Four red bricks stacked in a circle along the top of this arch will serve later for the support of a chimney stack pipe.
If you decide to finish the chimney stack using bricks, this needs to be stacked at least 7 bricks tall.
7. Adding the outer dome insulation
This is a mixture that helps to keep the heat inside when the dome is heated. This is where the refractory cement will come in handy and should be applied using a trowel. This layer needs to be at least 1 inch thick but no thinner than inch. It also needs to cover the outer entrance bricks so they are also insulated.
8. Finish off the exterior storage doors
Using a wooden frame inside the edged of your storage doorway, pre-measure the opening to install a door design of your choice. If you plan ahead, you can choose prefabricated cabinet doors from the hardware store. They must be painted and sealed for outdoor use. Choose hinges and handles that are stainless steel so they stand up to the outdoor weather.
Need more info?
If you’re looking for specifics on the size of your outdoor pizza oven, you can grab some free pizza oven plans online which will provide a more detailed instructional guide for what is mentioned here. It tells you more in between these steps and shows pictures of the building process too.