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How Do I Build a Wood-Fired Oven?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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The most common method used to build a wood-fired oven involves using brick, mortar, and mud, with slight variances depending on whether the oven is for indoor or outdoor use. Indoor wood burning ovens require much more planning, as they must be properly vented and insulated to avoid the risk of fire and smoke inhalation. Kits can be purchased at many building supply centers that contain most everything needed to build an indoor wood-fired oven.

Before you build a wood-fired oven, it is a good idea to check local zoning regulations. Some areas have laws that regulate how indoor fires can be built and what types of structures can be used. If regulations are in place, it is likely that once built, the oven will need to pass a safety inspection.

To build a wood-fired oven for outdoor use, you will first need to decide how large you want the oven. Once you decide on a size, you will need to decide on the location. You will probably want to situate the oven near a porch or patio, but keep in mind that to protect the home from risk of fire, the oven should be well away from exterior walls. You will also need to decide on a platform for the oven, such as a stone or metal base. Once you know the size and location of the oven, you can purchase the necessary amount of bricks and mortar.

When you are ready to make the oven floor, you should assemble bricks on a bed of dry sand supported by an iron plate that measures the desired size of the oven floor. The sand bed should ideally be about 6 inches (15 cm) deep, and bricks should be lined up evenly, with all sides touching. Once the bed is complete, the bricks should be covered with a layer of wet sand, measuring as thick as half the overall width of the oven floor. Once the sand layer is spread, it should be covered by a thick layer of dense mud.

Once the oven floor is built, you can build the sides and top by using molded clay or brick. Brick is probably easier, though some claim that better taste can be achieved by using clay or builder’s mortar. If you want the top of the oven to be flat, you will need to add a platform made of iron or steel to support the upper bricks or clay. Some wood-fired ovens have sides that angle inward so they meet in the middle at the top, and these usually do not require added support. Both the sides and top of the oven should be lined with a thick layer of dense, damp mud.

You can build a wood-fired oven for indoor use much the same way as an outdoor oven, but you will need to surround the unit with heat-resistant material. In addition, if a chimney is not already in place, you will need to have one installed. In most cases, because of the risk of fire, it is a good idea to have an indoor wood-fired oven built by a professional, or to use a kit that has been tested for safety.

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Discussion Comments

By deroles — On Apr 16, 2012

I want to make a pizza oven, but with a difference. I have had a look at the traditional designs (hundreds!) where one builds a fire in the oven and when it's hot enough, push it to one side and cook (pizzas, etc).

My thoughts are: this uses a lot of wood, takes time to get to temp (one to two hours), can only cook for as long as the oven is hot enough (floor cools down first so pizzas don't get a crispy base).

I would like to build an oven with a separate fire box underneath the oven chamber(dome shaped), with the fire venting into the oven space around the sides/back, and the roof of the fire box doubling as the oven floor (fire tiles). This way, one can keep the fire going all the time, the oven base is always hot and it should be quicker to heat up as there is no need to heat the large thermal mass of the base.

Has anyone built something like this or does anyone know of a design for such a contraption? I have searched extensively on the web without success and am wondering why no one builds an oven like this, since it is essentially a duplicate of a traditional indoor wood fired oven. Is there some obvious drawback that I am missing?

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