Take your outdoor cooking and entertainment up a notch by building an outdoor pizza oven. You can build one as a do-it-yourself project in less time and for a lot less money than you might imagine. The key is to keep it simple by using common materials such as cement breeze blocks and red bricks. The project can easily come in for less than £65 and you can do most, if not all, of the work yourself.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cement "cinder" blocks
- Metal oven box with "stovepipe" for ventilation
- Sand (optional)
- Heavy-gauge metal lath sheet(s)
- Rebar (optional)
- Oven wood (hickory, mesquite, apple, etc.)
Level the area where you will place the pizza oven. Use a tiller if needed to plough through grass or rocks. Level ground is necessary for your pizza oven to have a firm foundation. Do not set the oven on a cement or wood base that can become hot and cause a fire.
Use cement "cinder" blocks to create a foundation base in the shape of a square or rectangle. Consider using a size such as 6-by-10-feet to create a medium-sized oven. Start from the centre and work outward to create a solid base of cement blocks throughout the entire square or rectangle shape. Alternatively, you can build a perimeter of cement blocks and fill the interior space with packed sand.
Apply mortar to the right and left sides of the blocks to adhere them together. Use the same process as in step 2 to create a second level of cement blocks, filling in the interior with sand, and mortaring the blocks together.
Place the metal oven on top of the cement blocks, and as close to the front edge as possible. Center the oven box.
Use chalk to draw a line on top of the cement block foundation, outlining the left, rear and right sides of the oven.
Remove the oven from the top of the blocks.
Use bricks to create a firebox for the wood to use with your pizza oven. Let your chalk line serve as your guide for placing the bricks. Starting on the left edge, place the bricks around the outside of the chalk line, creating an upside-down "U" shape. Do not place bricks on the front of the oven or in the centre. Add at least three rows of bricks to allow ample room for the wood to be placed inside.
Place the metal lath on top of the bricks. Secure it with rebar or metal ties.
Stack one row of bricks on top of the metal lath to support the metal oven.
Place the metal oven on top of the metal lath.
Build a wall of bricks to encase the firebox and the oven, starting from the base of the firebox and going high enough to encase the oven. Mortar each row of bricks together.
Allow the entire project to "rest" and the mortar to harden for at least 24 hours. Cover any exposed breeze blocks with leftover bricks to give the oven a finished look.
Test the pizza oven. Stack wood inside the firebox opening and fire it up. Check to make sure that the oven is heating properly and that smoke is exiting through the stove pipe.
Use a thermometer and take notes on the time it takes the oven to reach different temperatures. Pay special attention to the time it takes for the oven to reach levels from 316 to 427 degrees Celsius, which is the appropriate range for baking pizzas in an outdoor oven. Make your first wood-fired homemade pizza for the final seal of approval.
Tips and warnings
- Always check the level of the cement breeze blocks and bricks. Use sand for height or adjust mortar if needed to ensure everything is level. Allow sufficient time for the mortar to set and harden before proceeding.
- Consider using flagstone or cement pavers to create a ground foundation for the pizza oven.
- If you cannot find a metal oven box with a stovepipe, you can make one out of heavy metal. Cut a hole into the top of the metal oven box and insert a custom-made, DIY circular stovepipe; attach it to the oven box with flanges, metal straps and fittings.
- Take time to level the ground. If the ground is not level, the oven will not be level.
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