Saturday, October 18, 2008

First Flame!

Two big developments to report. First, I picked up my chimney from RCR Fabrication in Santa Cruz this week. I think it came out really great. It's a little bigger than I had been envisioning, but that's totally on me since I designed it. It's made from mild steel so that it will rust and patina - much more fitting than the stainless steel ones that are standard. There is a functional 8" Simpson DuraTech chimney pipe in there still, it's just wrapped and hidden with the steel.

However, the really big news is that for the first time ever, there's a actual fire in my wood fired oven! I just started the curing cycle as of 30 minutes ago. For the first few days, all that gets burned is kindling, and then the fires will gradually get larger and use hardwood logs. Today I just have to burn one pound of kindling each hour, for five hours. Wooooo hoooooo!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On with the stucco!

This week Tim the tile guy finished with the grouting of tiles, and the stucco contractor got the scratch coat of stucco on. The plan is to let the first coat of stucco dry for a week or so, and then "cure" the oven. The oven elements still have some water in them, which needs to be carefully driven out with a burn schedule that runs about 5 hours a day for 4 days. I've heard of people ignoring the curing schedule, and most often the result is a cracked oven. So....I'll be getting a nice warm coat on and hanging out in my yard for a few evenings after work. By curing the oven before the stucco is complete, we'll be able to see if there is any cracking of the stucco, and make changes as necessary. Here's a few pictures of the stucco scratch coat on the oven and kitchen:

My nieces Maddie and Lucy wanted to see pictures of the Texas state flag on the hearth. Below is a picture of that tile, and also one of my favorites - a crazy looking skeleton lady wearing a hat.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

First Post - Oven nearly finished

The purpose of this blog is to document my gastronomical adventures with my wood fired oven. I've spent the last six months or so building my outdoor kitchen/pizza oven - really my first big DIY home improvement project. That being the case, it certainly went much slower than I would have hoped (at some point I figured I would have the oven up and running in June, here it is October!) but the end result will be something that is not only functional, but that I am quite proud of. Some specifics and background in case you're curious:

The oven was purchased from Mugnaini in Watsonville CA. I did research before I bought, and the Mugnaini ovens came highly recommended as a "pre-cast" oven. The fact that their offices and warehouse are literally a few blocks from my place of employment were definite factors as well. They make a wide range of ovens - the one I bought is a Prima 100, which they say is their commercial quality oven, for a residential installation. They allow for a wide range of installation options, but I settled on their brand new (at the time of purchase) steel frame installation. I didn't feel comfortable tackling a masonry installation on my own, and the bids I got to simply do a box to hold the oven (no roof, no finished exterior) ranged from $7-9k. From a budget perspective, this was really a non starter, so I started exploring steel frame construction on the internet. I seem to have a habit of finding how-to DVD's of low production quality for my other hobbies (aviation related) - lo and behold I stumbled onto Willy the BBQ Coach and his set of DVD's. His BBQ 101 DVD had some of the absolute worst production quality ever committed to DVD (the first seven minutes seemed to be a hand held video camera taping a TV playing the video), but none of that really mattered since the information on steel frame construction was well presented, easy to understand and well thought out. So with that, I decided I would buy the steel frame installation from Mugnaini and then do all the framing myself. What Mugnaini delivered to me was the oven, a platform for the oven to sit on top of, and a steel stand to support the platform. That was about...March-ish. Roughly six months of evenings and weekends later (special thanks to my wife here for putting up with all this!) I had got the project to the point where I could hand it off to the tile and stucco contractors. As of today, the tile guy is nearly finished, and the stucco contractor should be here either late this week or early next to do the first coat of stucco. As my wife will attest, I'm terrible at taking pictures - not the technical part - I'm competent enough to click the button and all that - but I simply forget to take them pretty much all the time. Below are some photos, but missing are the really early ones with lots of framing detail and such. So it goes....

Here is where it all started:

And here's the arbor that covers the outdoor kitchen being built:

The arbor has been stained/sealed, and framing has begun. The house has been painted. This view is of the back of the oven - the rest of the kitchen is on the right along the big wall:

Here is the oven with the framing finished, and the dome wrapped in an insulating blanket. 24 gauge galvanized steel sheet has been wrapped over the barrel roof in order to better support the cement board that will be added:

Cement board has been added, the grill and side burner have been dropped into place to test fit one last time.

The counter tops have been tiled with a terra cotta tile. There's some tile on the front of the oven that I later decided to have removed. The appliances still fit!

The mantle has been tiled but not yet grouted. I found some jumbled lots of 2"x 2" talavera painted tiles on eBay. There's a couple of odd ones in there (like the Texas state flag) but I like that it's unique and quirky.

In the upcoming days I'll be getting my custom chimney back from a metal fab shop, and hopefully the stucco guy will get started on the scratch coat.