We could bore you all day with a thousand different pizza related facts, but don’t worry – we won’t. We’ll keep this blissfully simple and straightforward: pizza is wonderful and it is at its best when you make it in a giant stone oven. A DIY guru who goes by the name DrLittman decided to take his pizza cooking to the next level by modeling and building his own backyard pizza oven. The process took around five months and cost just under $1,000. The results? Well, pizza this good is priceless. Keep on reading to follow his DIY journey and see if you have what it takes to build your own pizza oven!
21. So what’s the deal with pizza ovens, anyways?
Alright, before we dive into the DIY aspect of this article we figure that you should probably know why brick oven pizzas are just so much better than their conventional adversaries. Brick ovens have constant airflow being generated which allows the toppings to cook quick, crisp, and evenly on your ‘za. Yeah, your mouth should be watering right about now.
20. It all started with a sketch.
Alright, you understand why brick oven pizzas are better. Now, let’s get back to the good DrLittman and find out his process for creating the ultimate DIY pizza oven! Here we see that DrLittman has begun the designing process of his future pizza oven. He is utilizing AutoCAD software in order to create a scale model of what he wants to design. This allows DrLittman to use 3D space to create his oven to the exact specifications that he wants. Pretty neat.
19. We break ground with a concrete slab!
Admittedly this is not the most exciting part of the DIY-build but you have to start somewhere. We figure that starting at the bottom makes the most sense, don’t you agree? Here we have a concrete slab measured out. This is going to be one large oven.
18. Bring in the red brick!
Okay, making the foundation is a drag. Still, we’re making some real and tangible progress. DrLittman uses small red bricks to create his oven. While he likes the look and loves how the oven came together, he admits that Besser Block would have been a better choice at this point in time.
17. Here is a Besser Block oven for comparison.
The difference here is largely cosmetic. DrLittman believes that these blocks are easier to install as a foundation than the smaller red brick. That makes sense. Oh well, we still like the red brick aesthetic better, though. Wait, why are we talking about bricks again. We’re here for pizza!
16. The arch comes out perfect.
This is DrLittman’s first attempt at using brick and mortar for a DIY project. He was a little bit nervous about creating the arch going into the project. As you can see here, the good Doctor aced the task. Working with brick and mortar can be a pain, so make sure to do your research before you start slapping materials down!
15. The structure is nearly complete.
While these pictures make the project seem quick and fluid, the reality is that it took him almost two months from start to finish! We don’t have to wait that long, though. Here we see that the structure is nearly complete and it is about time to pour the hearth.
14. Quite the smooth pour.
DrLittman engages in what he calls “some basic form-work” before the material for the hearth is poured. With just a few modifications he is able to smooth out the layer of material in order to prep it for the next step. Can you taste the pizza yet? No? Well, we hope you can at least smell it.
13. A view from the front.
We are making a bit of a time leap right here but we hope you will forgive us. Here we see that DrLittman has smoothed out his CalSil board with some sand and he has also added in his fire bricks. What is CalSil board? We’re glad you asked.
12. Another shot of CalSil board.
Here’s another look at some CalSil board put in place below a brick pizza oven. The CalSil board works as a type of insulation for your oven, thus keeping the utility as hot as it needs to be to make your pizza perfectly. Don’t let the CalSil board slide, you’ll need it!
11. Supporting the inside of the oven.
DrLittman rigs together his own homemade trestle in order to give the fire brick dome some support. It’s a pretty simple tool to build and you can see how he made his just by glancing at this picture. DrLittman was very proud of how this turned out. Well, he should be too!
10. Admiring the curves.
We step back in order to take it all in for a moment. The fire brick dome is nearly complete, the trestle sits on the newspaper unused, and the oven starts to pull to us to feed it some pizza. At this point we bet that DrLittman has already started stocking his fridge and freezer with ingredients.
9. We hit our first road block.
So far we have had little to no trouble with the pizza oven’s build, but good luck doesn’t always stay. DrLittman shows that his arch and oven were starting to have issues supporting its shape. He whips together a paper mache and timber structure in order to keep the oven upright while he works. He claims to have made this structure months in advance just in case this very issue happened. Speaking of months, has it already been that long? We hope he hasn’t been foregoing pizza while making his oven.
8. A nice overhead view.
The dome isn’t exactly gorgeous but what it represents is awesome. The paper mache is still holding the structure in place while he looks on in order to take a picture. We’re moving quickly now and there are only so many more steps until this baby is fired up and cranking out pizza.
7. Smoothing on the castable refractories.
We are about 85% sure that ‘castable refractories’ is a term pulled straight from Battlestar Galactica. Still, we’ll let it slide. Castable refractories are materials that you line your kiln with. Upon heating they bind to their shape and to the structure. You can see why this is important for a pizza oven, can’t you? Castable refractories are made of different grades of grain.
6. The flame is lit.
DrLittman lays down a coating of perlite render before lighting up a small fire. This is what we call a ‘curing fire’ in the DIY world. The curing fire essentially dries out the inside of the oven, thus making it safe to cook with.
5. DrLittman adds on a chimney.
If you are going to be cooking up pizza then you are going to need a chimney. DrLittman manages to work his chimney into place with an angled pipe. This allows him to stay under the porch while operating the oven — a blessing when it is raining or snowing! DrLittman decided against cutting through his roof, opting for the cheaper and more efficient angled chimney. It’s not a perfect look but the price and convenience was definitely worth it.
4. A second curing fire is lit.
DrLittman decides to go ahead and light another curing fire in preparation for his first batch of pizzas. This fire is slightly larger and lasts even longer. He allows the curing fire to stay lit for a full 72 hours before moving on to the next level: a full pizza oven flame.
3. Curing fires are used everywhere.
Here we can see a tobacco farmer utilizing large curing fires in order to cure his yield. Before reading this article we pretty much guarantee that you never had used the term ‘curing fire’ before, but now you are a darn expert. This flame size is closer to what the full on pizza oven flame that DrLittman used to finish off his oven. Unfortunately we don’t have a shot of that moment.
2. The first pizza goes in!
But we do have a shot of the inaugural pizza being put into the oven. From design to reality, this oven is ready to do the work it was dreamed up to do. This oven is hot so it’s not something to treat lightly. At this point, we definitely suggest purchasing one of those long pizza oven tools so you can put the pizza in and withdraw it with ease.
1. Excuse us, we’re in heaven.
Only a few moments later we have our first cooked pizza ready to be devoured. Look at the soft dough, the crispy melted balls of mozzarella, and the delicious sauce. This man definitely knows his way around a pizza pie. Now, are you ready to throw down for your own pizza oven?
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