My Golden Arch

After way too much fretting that the corners of the firebricks for my oven hearth aren’t perfectly square (and how many things in life are perfectly square?), there was only one thing to do: get over it and get on with it. So task number one yesterday was to lay the hearth no matter what. It’s a little gappy at those pesky corners, but it will do.

The next step was the arch that will form the opening to the oven. I arranged bricks on a piece of cardboard, then traced them to make a template for the arch.

The book advises using the template to cut a plywood form that will hold the bricks in place while building the arch. Having neither power tools, nor skill with power tools, nor readily-available help, and being a rather impatient woman, I took a different approach. It turns out that corrugated cardboard is amazingly strong! I pieced together my form from two cardboard arches separated by styrofoam and stuck together with screws and picture-hanging nails. It wasn’t elegant, but it worked. Just call me the queen of kludge.

Pebbles hold the bricks at the proper angle.

I held my breath as I removed the form, and I was thrilled to see that the arch stood on its own!

Today I will fill the gaps in between the arch bricks with mud and let it set for a day before beginning work on the oven dome.

One more thing: Zainab and Meedo (Arabic Bites) tagged me for a meme where the assignment is to list seven songs that are on your current playlist. I’m taking the lazy way out and just listing seven songs I remember that played on my Pandora Radio mix while I was working on the oven yesterday. (Yes, I do spend much of my time hopelessly stuck in the 70′s.)

  • Wild Horses ~ The Rolling Stones
  • When Johhny Strikes Up the Band ~ Warren Zevon
  • Roxanne ~ The Police
  • Knocking on Heaven’s Door ~ Bob Dylan
  • Into the Mystic ~ Van Morrison
  • Mother and Child Reunion ~ Paul Simon
  • Heart of Gold ~ Neil Young

Now, anyone who has built or wants to build their own oven, consider yourself tagged. What is your working music?

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Oh, I am so jealous of you! I want my own wood-fired oven too, but I guess that’ll have to wait until I manage to stay in one place for more than three months, and have a garden. I think it’ll take a while.

  2. says

    I don’t have a hearth oven nor a nice backyard with a garden, but…. a playlist I can do!
    Wilco- She’s a jar
    Jethro Tull-Song for Jeffrey
    Steve Earle-City of Immigrants
    Joy Division-New Dawn Fades

    Oh ok, I think I will go build an oven!
    Ta! (nice Miche ; ) )

  3. Dave says

    Great job!
    What an amazing thing the arch is. It reminds me of all those things we learn in school that we thing we’ll never use.
    Look forward to the next phase.


  4. says

    You are so brave and resourceful. And what a beautiful bread posing before your arch. I can’t wait to see the breads that will come out of this oven, I’m holding my breath!

  5. Henry says

    We’re building a wood fired oven in our backyard too up hee in Canada (! Laying bricks and blocks and mixing mortar (like dough) does require some musical guidance, eh? . I listed ours the other day as: Antonio Carlos Jobim (Desafinado), Don Ross (First Ride), Frank Zappa (Peaches en Regalia) and Bill Withers (Lovely Day). My family have enjoyed reading all of your conventional oven adventures and we’re all awaiting the offerings from your “ancient” oven.

  6. says

    Our house had a brick oven outside when we bought it four years ago. What’s not to love about a house with a brick oven? We have mastered amazing pizza, but now I look forward to baking along with you, as soon as you fire yours up! It is soooo much fun — I want a bigger one already!

  7. Abbey says

    I love your determination! The scoring on your bread is very cool! When I have a ton of rolls to shape, Alabama Song by The Doors has a great peppy beat to keep me working. Or, if I’m not in such a rush, Sexy Sadie (The Beatles) has a relaxed but steady beat–just perfect.

  8. shimpiphany says

    wow! looks great – and like a big one too – is it a 32″ floor?

    my advice to you is make sure your outer floor bricks are on a VERY solid foundation of sand, because once all that oven mud starts putting pressure on them they will lift up on the inside and create uneven gaps in your floor.

    take it from someone that learned the hard way.

    keep going. it looks great! especially the base.

  9. says

    Thanks for all your wonderful comments, everyone!

    Jeremy, Henry, and Abbey, thanks for sharing your music choices. Wilco – love them. Bill Withers – love him too. The Beatles – definitely!

    shimpiphany – thanks for your words of experience! I think my sand bed was pretty solid, but I guess we’ll see. The oven is 31 in diameter. I was very lucky to have had someone to build the base for me.

    Jeremy – it will still be a while before there will be any baking in this baby!

  10. says

    Well, I see that it is coming along! Your oven opening looks very nice. When the whole thing is put together, a little uneveness, a bit of imperfection will simply add charm, sort of like the bread we bake. The perfect ones just sort of look weird.


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