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BrickWood Ovens (company)

BrickWood Ovens is a small US-based (Lynden, WA) producer of foam forms/molds used to make DIY brick ovens using locally sourced materials, including firebricks. The BrickWood Ovens plans are pretty much a disaster, and we recommend against someone using them. The oven opening is far too tall and wide, and the vent is built into the oven chamber, so the oven does a very poor job of holding heat. The shape of the barrel vault arch itself is too high, making it difficult to make high quality pizza, and the orientation of the cooking floor is wrong. The oven cooking floor is too narrow and deep, making it impossible to maintain a fire at the side of the oven while cooking pizza. A fire in the far back of the oven does not efficiently reflect forward in a barrel vault oven chamber, making pizza baking very challenging.

And finally, the BrickWood Ovens building instructions call for the builder to make a border of bricks that is fulled with sand underneath the cooking floor. There are two different problems with this design. First, sand under the cooking floor has thermal thermal mass, which wicks heat away from the floor, making it difficult, or even impossible to the oven to maintain high pizza making temperatures on the cooking floor. Second, the sand, bordered by a course of bricks, tends to absorb and hold any moisture in the air, or any rain that gets into the oven. Something that is very likely, given the large oven opening. Because the oven does not have a vent area in front of the oven opening, which can shield an outdoor pizza oven from allowing water to enter the oven, water incursion into the oven chamber happens frequently.

Like a wet sponge in a kitchen sink, the sand stays damp, making it impossible for the oven floor to come up to cooking temperature. The only way to solve the problem is to follow the instructions for curing a new refractory oven, where you bake the moisture out of the oven.

In the long run, the only solution to keeping the cooking floor and the sand below it dry, it is very carefully seal the large oven opening after each oven use. Building a proper vent in front of the oven opening can also help manage the problem.

Another criticism of the BrickWood Ovens plans is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find refractory materials and ceramic insulation in US masonry and building material stores, driving up the cost of building the oven.

The appeal of the BrickWood Ovens plans is that it makes it look very easy to build a brick oven, with no cutting, no vent, and minimal insulation. The problems many builders encounter is that the oven does not perform at the level they expect. A better solution would be for builders to join the Forno Bravo Forum, and work with other builders there who have built better-working brick ovens.

It’s important to note that the issues you will encounter with the BrickWood Ovens plans are not intrinsic to a barrel-vault pizza oven. They are not. The problems listed above, including the large oven opening, the lack of a vent, the tall shape of the barrel vault, the narrow and deep orientation of the cooking floor and the sand underneath the cooking floor bordered by brick are all specific to this one set up plans. You don’t need to go to the time and expense of building a round dome oven, such as the Pompeii Oven. There are better ways of building the less complex, less expensive, easier to build barrel vault pizza oven. We recommend you follow a different set of instructions.