How to build a pizza oven
Having your own wood fired pizza oven is really awesome, not only for making pizza, but all kinds of wood fired oven dishes.
This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve done research, looked at many online examples, taken ideas from those that I thought were useful and came up with the following.
Please note: My design is built in a very narrow corner in my garden, so the base is tapered towards the back (as per photos). This tutorial is based on a normal square base (as per drawings).
This instructional guide and the material covered is for informational purposes only. I take no responsibility for what you do with this knowledge. Please consult your local building code for best building practices and planning permission.
Use safety equipment when operating equipment. Take necessary precautions to avoid injuries to persons/animals and damage to property when operating equipment. Always abide by the manufacturers safety information and warnings when using equipment.
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Materials required (see figure 1)
|1||Cinder blocks – 6″ (150 mm)||20|
|2||Lintels – 4′ (1220 mm) long||9|
|4||Bags of cement – 50kg||2|
|5||Bags of building sand – 25kg||15|
- First off we need to create a foundation for the pizza oven. Dig an area 49.2″ (1250 mm) wide by 49.2″ (1250 mm) long and 4″ (100 mm) deep. Check that the edges are level, as shown in figure 2.
- Mix sufficient cement and building sand in a 1:3 ratio (1 part cement to 3 parts sand) to fill the foundation area.
- Pour the concrete into the foundation area, 4″ deep. Spread and smooth the concrete with a straight edged piece of timber. Check that it is level, as shown in figure 3.
- Let the concrete cure for at least 48 hours.
- Cut 4 of the cinder blocks in half using an angle grinder, as shown in figure 4.
- Mix sufficient cement and sand in a 1:3 ratio (1 part cement to 3 parts sand) to use as mortar for the building of the base.
- Build 2 short cinder block walls, parallel to each other and about 27.95″ (711.2 mm) apart. Each wall must be 2.5 blocks long and 4 rows high, as shown in figure 5.
- Place the 9 lintels on top of the walls. Arrange them as shown in figure 6.
- Figure 7 shows my project with the walls tapering to the back due to an sharp corner I chose as the location. The walls are also only 2 cinder blocks long. Instead of the 9 lintels, I used 3 lintels to support concrete slabs on top of it. This can be done as an alternative method of construction, all depends what material you have available to you.
- Cover the lintels with mortar and place the bricks flush against each other with no gaps in between. Also make sure that the bricks are the same height, with no edges protruding on top. That will prevent the pizza paddle from jamming against uneven bricks. Fill any small gaps with mortar, as shown in figure 8.
- Let the base cure for 24 hours.
- From the center of the base, draw a circle with a 27.5″ (700 mm) diameter, as shown in figure 9. Use a pencil and a piece of string to draw the circle.
- Please note: The height of the inside of the pizza oven will be half of the diameter, so 27.5″ x 0.5 = 13.75″ (700 mm x 0.5 = 350 mm). The height of the bottom of the chimney must be 64% of the internal height of the pizza oven (so 13.75″ x 0.64 = 8.8″ or 350 mm x 0.64 = 224 mm), as shown in figure 10.
- Cut 2 pieces of plywood into the shape of the pizza oven opening, these will become the form work to support the bricks when building the arch for the opening. The height must be 8.8″ (224 mm) high and 17.3″ (445 mm) wide, as shown in figure 11.
- Attach the plywood to each other with a pieces of wood. The overall depth of the plywood form work must be about the length of a brick, as shown in figure 11.
- Place the plywood form work in the location of the oven opening, as shown in figure 11.
- Build a arch with bricks and mortar, using the plywood as support for the bricks, as shown in figure 12. The top brick (keystone) must only be half a brick as it must leave space for the chimney. Place a suitable size tin or container behind the keystone to keep the space open for the chimney.
- Mound damp sand into a dome inside the circle. Measure 13.75″ (350 mm) (half of the diameter) on a stick and insert it into the center of the sand. Push the stick until the bottom reaches the base, as shown in figure 13.
- Heap and round the sand to to the height of the mark on the stick, as shown in figure 14.
- Remove the stick and cover the mound of sand with wet newspaper, as shown in figure 15.
- Mix sufficient cement and sand in a 1:3 ratio (1 part cement to 3 parts sand) to use as concrete to cover the sand.
- Cover the sand with a 1″ (aprox 25 mm) layer of concrete. Build it up from the base in rings, as shown in figure 16.
- Smooth the concrete with a builders trowel. Use a fire blanket or fire proof insulation and cover the concrete to help retain the heat in the pizza oven when in use, as shown in figure 17.
- Cover the insulation with chicken wire. This will give the next layer of concrete something to grip to and also help prevent cracking , as shown in figure 18.
- Add another 1″ (aprox 25 mm) layer of concrete over the chicken wire, as shown in figure 19.
- Smooth the concrete with a builders trowel and then a builders float, as shown in figure 20.
- Use a wet sponge to clean off excess cement from the brickwork.
- Let the pizza oven cure for about a week.
- Remove the sand and newspaper from the pizza oven. Any newspaper left behind will be burned off when in use, as shown in figure 21.
- Light a small fire in the pizza oven to help it cure from the inside. Do not rush this process by lighting a bigger fire as the pizza oven may crack, as shown in figure 22.
- Repeat with a slightly bigger fire the next day. The pizza oven should now be ready for use, see figure 23.
DIY Pizza Oven FAQs
How long does a pizza take in a pizza oven?
If you pizza oven is at about 700 deg Fahrenheit / 370 deg Celsius, it will take about 2 to 3 minutes to bake a pizza, depending on where you place it in the pizza oven.
How long does it take to heat up a wood fired pizza oven?
When I start my pizza oven, it usually takes about 1 hour to 1.5 hours. This wold depend on the size of the oven and the amount of wood used to light the oven. In extreme cases it can take up to 3 hours.
How do wood fired pizza ovens work?
Pizza ovens use 3 types of heat: convection heat - directly from the flow of air heated by the fire; conductive heat - from heat of the floor; radiant heat - from the fire itself and heat reflected from the shape of the dome.
Does a pizza oven need to be round?
The most effective shape of a pizza oven is round for the circulation of heat, but other shapes have been used, e.g. barrel, square.
Can a pizza oven be too hot?
Yes, temperatures reach up to 1000 deg Fahrenheit / over 530 deg Celsius. This could easily burn a pizza as the floor could be too hot and burn the pizza base, or the dome too hot and certain topping could burn before others are done.
Is wood fired pizza healthy?
Toppings cook faster and retain their nutrients and antioxidants.
What temperature do you cook Wood Fired Pizza?
The temperature can range between 700 and 800 deg Fahrenheit / 370 and 430 deg Celsius.
What can you cook in an outdoor pizza oven?
There are a wide variety of foods including meats, fish, vegetables and breads. There are endless recipes.