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Wood Fired Vlog #2: In the Shop & Install

We decided to spend the first half of our wood fired vlog showing everyone around our shop. On this day we were right in the middle of building the brick dome on our batch of 12 ovens for the month of December. The brick phase is one of the more unique and difficult parts of building our wood fired ovens, most other oven companies will use refractory concrete for the material in the dome of their ovens. Refractory concrete makes the process of building your dome incredibly easy and quick, there are however some downsides in terms of overall performance and longevity. We believe that by using firebrick, our ovens will last longer and perform better overall, and it is the sole reason we confidently give a lifetime guarantee on its structural integrity and performance.

There are about 250 individual firebricks per oven, and we hand-cut each one on 4 sides so that when you look inside your oven, you will only see brick-to-brick contact with no mortar joints. These bricks are hand-cut beforehand, and categorized by corresponding row; there are 11 rows for each oven not including the floor bricks. We carefully hand-lay each individual brick, starting with the soldier course and making our way to the top of row 9. Special cuts are made so that along with the mortar at the back, the bricks are also held together by gravity. At 4.5”, our bricks are thicker than most refractory concrete oven domes. With a thicker dome, you have more thermal mass, which translates to longer overall heat retention and a slower temperature drop off rate. This makes our oven ideal for low and slow style cooking. Just like all of the other components and material that go into our ovens, the dome is all built by us and it is done by hand. It is a painstakingly long, and expensive process but for our clients who plan to use the oven several times a week to cook from 200-1000 degrees Fahrenheit, it is by far the best material that can be used.

After our time in the shop, we headed to Lafayette, CA to re-install a pizza oven for a client named Alex who had purchased a pizza oven from us in 2015, I think he was actually our 12th client ever. I remember this installation was incredibly tricky, we had to use a forklift through very wet mud, it was November so it was incredibly saturated with water. The forklift weighs 8,000 lb. and the oven 2,500 lb. so we had to utilize a ton of plywood and 2x6 planks so that the forklift wouldn’t get stuck. To make matters worse we also had to pick the oven up from the front which is always dangerous a it puts our forks further away from the center of gravity. After several hours we managed to get the oven in safe and sound. When Alex purchased the oven he had told me that he might move at some point, and asked us if we could help him move the oven to his new house if that ever happened, and we agreed we would. Fast forward to 2019 and Alex has moved into a new home and we were ready to help him re-install the oven. Extracting the oven went fairly smoothly, it wasn’t as difficult as the initial installation, partially thanks to the ground not being nearly as wet. We brought the pizza oven back to our shop and cleaned it up nicely and set out for the installation.

Thankfully there was no forklift needed on this installation, we hired Network Crane to do the heavy lifting. Because the home was new, I was not able to pull it up on Google Earth to figure out what size crane was need and where it would set up, so Network Crane sent out an operator for a site inspection. They told me they could do it no problem so we decided to meet at 10 AM onsite. When we got there they were already setting up the crane, and Alex showed me exactly where we were placing the oven. It ended up being about at 85’+ pick which is pretty far on the spectrum of crane installations. Alex had a stand so it made setting the oven much easier than on a countertop as we are able to easily pull the crane rigging off of the oven. All in all it ended up being one of our easier installations thanks to the excellent operating by Network Crane and also due to Alex being a great client.

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