This is our home in North Idaho approximately 40 miles from the Canadian border. In the background is Lake Pend Oreille- the fifth deepest lake in the US.
The house was completed in November 2006 and since then, the focus of my free time has been landscaping the yard.
Our back yard sees a number of wild critters - moose, deer, coyotes, raccoons and skunks. The skies are filled with bald eagles in the winter and osprey in the summer. This moose showed up at the dining room window.
The first project was a greenhouse/shed as well as a number of raised beds for my lovely wife's gardening needs. While other gardens had a rough summer of 2010, we were harvesting squash, beans, tomatoes, peppers and a wide of veggies.
The next project was a pergola (with help of friends Jim Haynes and Rick Snodgrass),
So here is the plan for the areas around the pergola. On the backside of the yard (along the fence) a berm is put in for flowers shrubs and trees. To the left (presently fescue grass, thistle and clover) is a new sitting area with a stone retaining wall and grass. On the right is also a stone retaining wall along with a flagstone patio with a raised firepit and a cooking area which includes a wood fired pizza oven.
The gate that exits from the pergola goes out to the wetlands where most of the critters hang out. Sharon thought the deer were cute until they cropped her brussel sprouts (and the moose were impressive until they started munching on her weeping cherry). During the NCAA basketball final game last year, Jim and I tried to drive off a moose with snowballs as it chomped on one of her apple trees.
Seven foot deer fences have protected the vegetable garden but they still get into the main yard. However, the incursions have decreased markedly.
The area for the pizza oven, patio and fire pit is cleared. Friends Wade and Travis along with son Jason aided in this earth moving endeavor.
The garden berm in the back of the patio is added.
It was a wet June, so the foundations were installed in the middle of the insidious Dover mud and clay. Here, forms and re-bar are put in for the foundation of the retaining wall.
After the retaining wall and fire pit foundations are poured, the forms for the slab under the cooking area are installed.
Re-bar is placed on a 8" centers for the 6" slab under he cooking area. A french drain is placed on the uphill side of the retaining wall and slab for the cooking area.
Cement blocks are dry fit for the hearth under the pizza oven.
The cement blocks are fitted with rebar and filled with cement.
Hearth walls are complete.
The lintel is constructed using concrete and rebar. The concrete forms are shown here. Being an engineer (who was taught to err on the side of caution), I also put a steel plate on the underside of the lintel.
Lintel concrete forms in place.
Once the lintel is poured, backer board is placed over the open space (reinforced by temporary 2x6 supports underneath) and rebar is placed 1 1/2 inches above the backer board.
Again in "engineer-over-design mode", I placed a cement column under the center of the backer board (you can't see it in this picture as it is too dark inside the hearth). I made this permanent by filling the cement block core with cement and rebar. The pizza oven hearth will now double as a 1960s cold-war bomb shelter.
The first 3 1/2" slab is constructed using conventional concrete.
Our son Mark (home from Montana State for the 4th of July holiday) pouring the conventional first slab.
Smoothing the first slab.
Note that the first slab only fills half of the 2x8 form.
The next slab is poured using insulating concrete. This is made using Portland cement and vermiculite. The concrete is mixed by hand so as not to crush the vermiculite.
The second slab (made of insulating concrete that is also 3 1/2 inches deep) is complete
The hearth is complete (until it is time to construct the outer facade).
Start laying out the floor of the oven using medium density fire bricks.
The floor is laid out using a herringbone pattern that floats on a mixture of fire clay and fine sand. The outer ring is made up of fire bricks that are cut in half, laid on edge and mortared using high temperature mortar (3 parts fine sand, 1 part portland cement, 1 part lime and 1 part fire clay).
The small gaps between the floor firebricks are filled with a mixture of fire clay and fine sand.
To build the dome, a styrofoam form is constructed to support the bricks as they are mortared.
A total of 16 vanes are used in the form.
Completed form for the dome.
A form is also made for the entrance.
To test out the curvature of the form, a temporary dry fit was used.
Once the curvature was tested, the dry fit was torn down and then the bricks were mortared in place.
The entrance required bricks of differing dimensions. The bricks were cut to size, numbered and then dry fit.
The entrance bricks were then mortared into place.
On the upper courses of brick, I went to 1/4 size bricks (approximately 2 1/4 inch high).
The bricks were first dry fit and then mortared into place.
Mortaring the upper courses.
Work is interrupted by rain and a rainbow.
With Lake Pend Oreille is in the back ground, I ponder "What next???". If I wait a minute or two, somebody will come walking by and I can ask them what I should do.
I met a lot of people through the course of this project as we live right next to the main walking path along the lake. I think there was a betting pool going as to what I was building. As word got out that it was a pizza oven, requests for an invite started coming in.
However, as many of our neighbors are vacation homes, I should have most of the fall and winter to get practiced-up on pizza making.
On the final two courses of brick, I beveled the side edges to get a better fit.
The final bricks were custom fit.
The last course of bricks.
Keystone bricks complete the dome.
Foundation for the chimney plate is added.
The completed dome!!!!!
OK - I am paranoid that the arch support will splay so I added a metal support to the arch. Too much rests on this support and - even though I have been told that it shouldn't be a problem - I fall back to "engineer-over-design" mode.
The next stage is to add high temp mortar to the outside of the dome. This gives the dome a higher capacity to retain heat. In total, I add about 1/2 inch of high temperature mortar. The arch supports are clearly seen in this picture.
The outer mortar being applied.
Applying the outer mortar.
The chimney is attached.
Next the styrofoam form is removed from under the entrance arch, then...
... the styrofoam forms are removed from under the dome.
Small gaps are chinked with high temperature mortar.
The next step is to add a high temperature ceramic fiber blanket to the outside of the dome.
The ceramic blanket is cut to size...
... and wrapped around the entrance arch and the dome.
The next step is to build the enclosure. The entire dome is framed using 3 1/2 inch wide metal studs.
The completed framing.
Half inch backer board is then attached to the framing.
Backer board installation.
Before installing the top of the enclosure, the entire enclosure is filled with loose vermiculite as insulation.
The top is screwed on and the edges are sealed with fiberglass tape covered by thin set,
The oven enclosure is just about ready for the outer stone facade. But first...
It is starting to get chilly here in North Idaho (down to the high 30s at night). Maybe a fire will help keep things warm. Time to start curing the oven,
There is a lot of water in the mortar that needs to be driven off. If you heat the oven too fast, the mortar will shrink and crack. So there is a week long schedule for firing starting with a small fire of newspaper and gradually working my way up to a full fledged burn. The normal cooking temperature for a pizza requires a steady state oven temperature of 700+ degrees F.
The Day 2 burn includes some kindling to increase the temperature in the oven.
An IR temperature gun is used to check the oven temperature.
Aiming for an average temperature of 300F. The burn temperature is a bit low with an average of about 265F.
After checking that there were no temperature "leaks" (i.e. no external spots were increasing significantly in temperature), the roof trusses were installed.
The oven enclosure is a hexagon (six sided) so the roof ends up as a dodecagon (twelve sided).
The center post (made from 2x12 wood rings) supports the trusses.
The end of the trusses are capped with 1x4 pine. This will eventually be covered (probably with tile).
The twelve roof panels sheaths are added.
Completed roof from the front
Twelve paneled roof.
Tar paper is then put down. The next layer will be some fire proof roofing material. Tile shingles? Spanish roofing tile? Metal roofing? I'm not sure yet and a may (or may not) get to it before winter hits.
I will need to extend the chimney pipe another couple of feet. The 8" twin walled pipe is on order.
I made a temporary door using a backer board inner layer and a plywood outer layer. I have spoken with a friend of Jason's about a design for a insulated iron door.
Got a cord of birch from Jason and Jamie. It is too wet for this year's burn so I will need to split it and let it dry over the winter.
The first pizza - mushroom, olive, garlic and and soy "Canadian Bacon" over spaghetti sauce covered with cheese,
The temperature for this attempt was pretty low (350F instead of 700F). This gave me a chance to figure out how to get the pizza in, turning the pizza, getting it out, etc... The next pizza will be baked at a higher temp.
The first pizza! (four months after breaking ground)
Jason's friend Jamie made the oven door complete with thermometer.
The oven door in place.
The next stage is to built the frame for the grill and sink.
The frame for the sink (and a sitting bar) is made out of 6" cement blocks filled with rebar and cement.
A similar frame is built for the grill.
A form is built for a 3" concrete counter around the grill.
I found a piece of used granite at ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) for a very (very, very) inexpensive price. The people at Monarch Marble and Granite tell me it is probably "Antico Bianco" - a Brazilian granite.
It was large enough to cut out a counter and a sitting bar. So for 30 cents on the dollar I got a great granite counter top. I then added a stainless steel over-the-counter sink and a handpump (connected to a small cistern) and "voila"!
The outer facade will have to wait until next spring but it should be fun!