Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pizza Oven Part 3: Birch's big truck

by Birch

Anyone who has rented a truck at a big-box home store knows the Zen koan: Do you shop first or rent the truck? Fortunately our local big-boxer will hold the truck for a half-hour while you shop, then start the rental clock after you've loaded. And with a fork-lift, a pallet with sixty-five concrete blocks loads fast. Along for the ride with my blocks were twenty bags of ready-mix concrete and a few ninety-pound bags of Portland cement. There were also five ten-foot lengths of rebar. To the casual observer, I had the makings of a fine underground nuclear fall-out shelter. But it was the stand for our pizza oven that I was aiming for.

The blocks were stacked hard against one side of the bed, which made for a precarious load, but I took off anyway. I was anxious to get everything unloaded at home and return the truck while June, Fern and Blossom were at the beach. The truck drove fine out of the lot, but when I came to that first turn into traffic, I took it too sharp. Down went the concrete blocks. Funny how a ton of bricks—or blocks in this case -- falls just as hard as they say it does. The truck wagged dangerously. One concrete block clunked to the street, almost hitting someone's new Prius.

I hit the flashers and scurried out to retrieve my block. The rest of the blocks had stayed put in the truck bed, blocked by the bags of concrete stacked next to them. Fortunately, I had bought a few extras, but I hadn't intended to leave them on the street like a breadcrumb trail.

I made it home without further incident and pried the jumble of blocks, sacks of concrete, and rebar off the truck. Maybe I wouldn't have to admit my trouble to anyone—especially June. (So June, if you're reading this, when I said renting the truck was okay—well, it nearly wasn't.)

After I established a level back corner with a trowel of mortar, I set the first block in place. I was going five courses across and four up, dry stacking the blocks. At the front of the stand, I used half-blocks to create a three-by-three foot opening for wood storage. A heavy piece of iron creased with a right angle would support the fourth course of blocks over the opening.

When the blocks were stacked and leveled, I cut up my rebar into equal lengths and mixed my of concrete. I filled every other core of the hollow block with concrete and rebar. A few days later when it was dry, I began the concrete support table for the oven.

I cut two pieces of one-half inch thick plywood to fit inside the blocks that formed the stand. I built props from two-by-fours and fastened those to support the plywood. And that plywood needed help because I was about to load several hundred pounds of cement on it. I built an eight-inch tall frame around the top of the stand and filled it with five inches of concrete mix and rebar. When that was dry, a three-inch insulating layer made up of vermiculite mixed with Portland cement was smoothed over the concrete table. This would help the oven maintain its heat.

With the oven platform completed, I was ready to build the oven dome. But early below-freezing nights and a fall snowstorm managed to interrupt my carefully composed schedule. There would be no wood-fired pizza to warm us that winter.

Coming up next: Spring brings firebricks.


The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

What a lucky woman to have you to build her a pizza oven. I would be in heaven!

Magnolia Handspun said...

Does this mean you'll be taking orders then? hehe.
This is an inspiring post...I'll have to show this to hubby, I can smell the pizza now.
Great idea June!

A Friend Across the Miles said...

Dear June...

Do you know what Doughbird would give to have that in the backyard?

I'm not even gonna let him see this post...

Wren said...

Dear June,

Oh yea! Outdoor kitchen.. I can see it now! Oh, to have a pizza oven. I've always wanted an outdoor oven. My dad got me a book last year for Christmas on how to make one, plus I think I have a few articles cut out and saved along the way. This looks like it is going to be fantastic! Can't wait to see the pizza!

Bread crumb trail of cement blocks? Now that is something I would do!
ha-ha. Glad to hear you missed the Prius!

Sharon said...

Wow, close call! Glad everyone is okay!

Heading to Maine next week - very excited!!

sarah said...

WOW! I can't wait to read about and see photos of bread being made in this oven.

This is VERY neat and you are so lucky!

So, can I ask what inspired you to make this? Maybe that is in an earlier post.. I should read first :) I love bread.. and bread made in one of these.. YUM.

gardenmama said...

outdoor pizza oven.... *sigh*

June, I thought at first this was you writing about lifting heavy concrete bricks and all I was thinking you go girl ; )

sarah in the woods said...

Oh fun! May I invite myself over to try it out when it's ready?

Stephanie said...

Looks like your big oven is making progress :-) Your new wall paper (background) is very nice. I love it!

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