Clay ovens are thousands of years old and can sore to temperatures that would embarrass the conventional oven. Ancient Egyptians used clay ovens, and recent discoveries of these have been unearthed in Roman Pompeii. These ovens, which were frequently constructed in communal areas and shared by families, grew in popularity and size by Medieval times, and many Italian homes had wood-fired ovens inside until the mid-twentieth century.
Alfresco dining has become all the rage since 2020, and as we’re enjoying a more cafe culture approach to our culinary habits, hosting is the new going out! So why not wow your guests with your very own, home-built, pizza oven. Get a slice of the action and follow our guide on how to build a pizza oven.
Lay the foundation for your pizza oven
First things first, position! You need to figure out the best place to put your pizza oven, as this will become a permanent fixture and focal point for your garden or patio, make sure it’s in a convenient and attractive location. Make sure you build it on level ground, with roughly 3ft of clearance on each side.
Once decided, you’ll need to assemble a base for the oven to sit on, we recommend concrete pavers as they are strong and sturdy enough to hold the oven. You can pick up concrete pavers at most DIY stores. If you need to cut to size, use a circular saw or track saw to score the paver and a chisel to break it free. Build a U-shaped wall, using landscape adhesive, to about 3 feet in height, making sure the joints do not align.
Assembling the inside of the pizza oven
Layer the top of the foundation with a concrete slab, after this you will need fire bricks to set the foundation for the bottom of the oven. They are important to use for a project such as this as they can withstand temperatures of up to 1260°C. Using mortar (sand and cement), assemble the bricks along the bottom base of the oven, and a brick trawler to lay the mortar – wait 24 hours for the mortar to set completely.
Why the iconic dome shape?
Science, purely. The dome shape proved an efficient design for cooking, as it radiates the heat evenly from above whilst storing heat in the oven floor. To create the dome, build a temporary mould out of wood first, removing it once the bricks have set.
Start with an arch shape that matches the measurement of your oven foundation. By attaching a nail to the centre point of the arch, get some string and a pencil and draw out an arch to the desired height. This can be cut out using a jigsaw, and needs to be duplicated to make the back of the oven. Simply trace the first cut out and saw!
Measure out the length of the pizza oven and attach two opposing pieces of wood to make a tunnel. When sturdy, attach a more flexible piece of plywood over the top to form a dome. Note: drill a few holes in the front dome to make removing the structure easier after construction is complete.
Assembling the bricks and chimney
When ready, lay the temporary dome in the foundation and get your brick and mortar ready for construction. This is a timely process, so be sure to set aside an afternoon, use a tuck pointer to fill in any voids when laying the brick, making sure that there are no holes in the structure is vital for crafting an effective oven.
The mortar will need to be thicker around the top of the dome where the bricks have more separation. Repeat this step around the dome mould whilst leaving a square space in the top of the dome to create a chimney.
For the chimney, 8×8 inch should be enough for a standard size oven, but double-check depending on your measurements. You want to build the chimney about a foot (12 inches) tall. This is located at the front of the oven so that fresh air can roll through the front and leave the chimney, creating a natural convection.
Patience is a virtue when building a brick pizza oven
Wait a few days for the mortar to dry and then remove your wooden mould. You will need to use a variety of plying tools and saws to remove the wood from the mortar. Once it’s all removed and ready, clean any excess building material and light up a fire in the back, start kneading your dough and enjoy your brand new pizza oven!
Get the right tools for the job with custom foam
Building a pizza oven isn’t as straightforward as a BBQ pit, therefore, it is imperative that you have the necessary tools to execute the job properly, and safely. Take a look at our toolbox options to protect your tools from corrosion, and stow them away safely with our custom foam, and DIY foam options.