OAEC Medium-Sized Professional Wood-Fired Oven

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This oven was built in October 2014 at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.  The OAEC has inspired many through its courses and example over the last three decades.  It was an honor to be invited to build this oven which is well situated next to their newly remodeled kitchen facility.

The deck of this oven is 36″ x 40 1/2″ deep.  It features a firebrick core with a vault and steel harness, designed by Alex Chernov, Stovemaster.  High-temp insulation surrounds the entire core, optimizing the oven’s efficiency.  The facing is classic looking recycled red brick with two wood storage arches facing the front and back and keystone for accent.

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(click images to enlarge)

A highlight of the build was getting to help the community to experience their new oven by throwing it’s inaugural pizza event.  We easily fed 75 people.  The oven’s mass-to-insulation ratio is designed to make it efficient but not overwhelming.  We made a fire for three hours before starting our pizza session at about 750 degrees.  We made roughly 60 pizzas over the following two hours with a live fire in the back.  One nice thing about breaking into these bigger oven sizes is the ease of management of the fire and pizzas.  There is not the risk of getting pizzas too close to the fire or mixed up with ash, and it is easy to have 2 to 4 good sized pizzas going simultaneously.

The next morning at 9 am, I opened the insulated oven door and read an average temperature of 425 degrees.  Without lighting another fire, we cooked 12 loaves of bread… and then followed that up with 2 hotel pans of beans…. and after that whole winter squash and many pounds of potatoes.  At the end of that following day, the oven was still at close to 300 degrees.

Thanks to Alex Chernov of Stovemaster for designing the core and Marcus Flynn of Pyromasse for technical advice on this build.  And thanks to the entire OAEC community for making this project a big life highlight!

“Hey Max! Just a quick note to tell you that we have been using the oven lots, and loving it so much! The oven works perfectly. It is all we dreamed of. We feel you in every brick, and every slice! Thank you Max!

We’ll send some party pictures too. If you need any promo photos or testimonials, let us know – we are your biggest fans! Please come visit when you can.”
-Dave Henson, OAEC Excecutive Director

 

Further Reading:

Photo Credits: Oven with Fire and Pizza Close-up in main spread and 5th, 7th and 8th images in mosaic by Tali Aiona.  2nd, 3rd and 4th images in mosaic by Jim Coleman.  6th and 9th images by Brock Dolman.  Thank you!

Big Bear Camp Barrel Oven

We were very happy to get hired by our neighbors Hal and Tonia of Big Bear Camp to lead a workshop to build a Barrel Oven. We took the opportunity to make our first glass door for the Barrel Oven Kit and are thrilled by the result. We think it speaks for itself….

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CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO BELOW OF THE BBC BARREL OVEN IN ACTION!! –

 

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In its last year of existence, the oven has already cooked food for a number of monthly neighborhood pizza parties, been part of the October menu for the Epicurean Bears Club, as well as helped prepare the feast for a pre-Thanksgiving get-together. We love seeing the glow of the fire as the food is cooking. Hal and Tonia report that they often just sit with the oven and a cup of tea as it is pre-heating. Stay tuned for a post about the neighborhood kids and their Big Bear Camp Barrel Oven baked gingerbread houses!

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Further Reading:

Blacksmithed Shelf Brackets

shelf-brackets-web I am excited about these recent results from the metal shop. I’d like to make more of these for this holiday season and have them both in stock and as something of value that I can take to fairs, exchanges, etc. Shelf brackets are a great way to mount shelves and so many of the options available at the hardware store are not as solid as you would like them to be.

The Ultimate Laundry Drying Rack

In our quest to live smartly and well, Eva and I have resisted the urge to use an electric dryer to dry our clothes. Although this common appliance certainly offers some conveniences, it seems a gratuitous use of electricity and energy that is otherwise available to us in free and smart ways. We had been getting along alright hanging our clothes out in the sun during the warmer months and hanging them on expandable accordian-style wooden racks near our heating stove in the colder portion of the year. With the arrival of our new-born daughter and the prospect of many loads of cloth diapers to wash and dry, I figured it was time to up the anti and improve our system or else succumb to the need for an electric dryer. I wanted to build a drying rack that was retractable to the ceiling so that it wouldn’t take up any floor space. This turns out to give it the added benefit of placing it up in the warmest part of the house and exposes all the clothes equally to this rising, circulating hot air.

Watch the video to see more details about how it works.

Materials List:

Qty. Description $/item $
2 2 x 4 (x8′) Lumber 1.39 2.78
8 1/2″ x 48″ Hardwood Dowel 1.58 12.64
4 1 1/2″ Wall/Ceiling Mount Pulleys 9.49 37.96
3 2″ Wall/Ceiling Mount Pulleys 10.99 32.97
4 1 1/4 Pulley Swivel 3.49 13.96
4 1/4 SP Anchor Shackle 1.89 7.56
1 6″ Rope Cleat 3.99 3.99
2 Twisted Nylon Rope 1/4″x100′ 16.49 32.98
Screws
Total 144.84

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If you are interested, we could provide the hardware as a package.

Other great resources:

 

Oven at Wise Acres Farm – Eugene, OR

We built this wood-fired earth oven at Wise Acres Farm, a beautiful place and home to Dr. Sharol Tilgner, author of Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth! The beautiful brick oven base was built by Max and the earth oven project was led and finished by Eva during a workshop. The clay, sand and straw for the oven were gathered from the local area. The oven is well insulated and is functioning beautifully.

Wood-Fired Barrel Oven in Swannanoa, NC

A practical and wood-efficient oven built by hand from local clay, river sand and recycled red clay bricks. Project is evolving into a fully developed outdoor kitchen with counter tops, a wood-fired griddle, a sink and more! The whole area will be roofed as well. Stay tuned for more good times and stories of this family oven at Davidson Farm.

Sculpted Guitar Oven in Brevard, NC

Eva led a workshop in April to build this oven at the Duckpond Pottery, Nick Friedman and Jennifer Kelly’s retail pottery shop and venue for live original music. Nick had an awesome idea to make an oven in the shape of a jazz hollow body guitar! We harvested clay from just down the street and sand from the French Broad River. The people of Brevard are so talented and so much fun! Expect some amazing natural building projects to blossom there soon.

Bali Wood-Fired Oven

We built this wood-fired oven in Bali for Max’s parents using local bricks, clays, sands and fibers. The oven joins the traditional paon (cookstove) that Max built a few years ago.

This oven features ample wood storage for both units, a metal firing door and a wooden door for baking. (Stay tuned for an article about firing doors and efficiency in wood-fired ovens.)

It is always a fun challenge to apply our knowledge of ovens and natural building to local materials. The clay for this oven comes from a village roof tile factory scrap pile and the sand and stone came from a nearby volcano. We found an incredibly porous lava stone to insulate underneath the hearth floor and surrounded the oven’s thermal layer with a mixture that included rice hulls and thatching grass.


Note the sand used to make the smooth inside shape and the sculpted “squirrel tail” to jog the chimney. Upon finishing the oven, we cooked for a three day “Live-Culture Cuisine” fermentation workshop led by Sandor Katz and Mary Jane Edleson.

Many delicious feasts ahead!

Learn to Build Your Own Earth Oven!