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  1. #1
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    Building a pizza oven

    I was going through some photos my wife had taken last year and came across a couple of a pizza oven that we built at our place in Thailand last year. Whilst there are a few large gaps in the sequence I'll try and post 'em up in the coming days.

    The story so far - we'd finished building our house in Thailand to a basic standard in late 2013, and had moved back there in April 2014 to spend a bit of time fitting the place out and generally trying to finish it off.

    When we first got there we found the normal sort of debris field of builder's rubble that radiated in all directions from the house:



    Picking up the bits of broken brick and tile was never going to be an option so, having tried to at least get rid of the all the plastic rubbish, we got a tractor guy to come over and scrape the top few inches of soil into an area that we needed to fill in.

    We then ordered some fresh topsoil to go in its place. Here's the tractor guy flattening out the new stuff:


  2. #2
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    Having filled the land, one of the things I learned about landscaping was that you need to pay attention to drainage.

    Unfortunately we ended up with a bit of a bog at the end of our drive meaning that a decent run up was needed to stand any chance of getting the car to the house.



    These were the early stages in the development of the bog.



    I'd sort of hoped that it would just dry up and the problem would disappear, but it didn't.

    Unfortunately I can't find any pictures of what it looked like once the rainy season had started, but our local tractor guy was called out several times to pull cars out of it and so something clearly had to be done. More fill was clearly going to be needed.

  3. #3
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    Now, so far this thread has little to do with pizza, but bear with me, I'm getting there.

    Mrs. Roobarb rather fancies herself at being able to sniff out a bargain, and found another soil guy who seemed to be a few Baht cheaper than the first one and so struck a deal for him to fill the driveway area.

    Unfortunately rather than it being nice rich topsoil like the stuff the (marginally) more expensive first guy had sent, or even that stuff with little stones in it that is quite useful for dirt roads, what we were sent was solid clay.

    Again, sorry that there are no pictures but this stuff was big chunks of gloppy grey clay straight from the bottom of a pond somewhere. Not only was it a bugger to try to landscape, but as it in itself didn't drain our bog became more of small inland sea.

    The upside was that the kids had fun making little clay animals and things, and it got me thinking.

    Somewhere, a year or two back, Nawty had done a thread on TD about a rather suggestive pizza oven that he'd built from clay.

    With apologies to Nawty for nicking these two photos off his thread and sticking them on this photoless post, this is what he built:

    Step 1: Concrete rings, firebricks and a chicken cage



    Stage 2: Cover in clay and create the oven:



    As a rustic erection goes it was certainly impressive and for some reason the image had remained burned in my memory

    How difficult could creating something similar be?

  4. #4
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    Apologies to Nawty but a wood fire oven should be the focal point of a outdoor entertainment area, not just a utility. Build something nice you won't regret it. The picture I posted is of an oven at my daughter's home in Seattle. And good luck finding firebrick.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobarb View Post

    One of the vilest photos I've ever seen !



    Wasp

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wasp View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Roobarb View Post

    One of the vilest photos I've ever seen !



    Wasp
    Awesome..

  7. #7
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    I have photos of children rubbing it up if you want....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobarb View Post
    Now, so far this thread has little to do with pizza, but bear with me, I'm getting there.

    Mrs. Roobarb rather fancies herself at being able to sniff out a bargain, and found another soil guy who seemed to be a few Baht cheaper than the first one and so struck a deal for him to fill the driveway area.

    Unfortunately rather than it being nice rich topsoil like the stuff the (marginally) more expensive first guy had sent, or even that stuff with little stones in it that is quite useful for dirt roads, what we were sent was solid clay.

    Again, sorry that there are no pictures but this stuff was big chunks of gloppy grey clay straight from the bottom of a pond somewhere. Not only was it a bugger to try to landscape, but as it in itself didn't drain our bog became more of small inland sea.

    The upside was that the kids had fun making little clay animals and things, and it got me thinking.

    Somewhere, a year or two back, Nawty had done a thread on TD about a rather suggestive pizza oven that he'd built from clay.

    With apologies to Nawty for nicking these two photos off his thread and sticking them on this photoless post, this is what he built:

    Step 1: Concrete rings, firebricks and a chicken cage



    Stage 2: Cover in clay and create the oven:



    As a rustic erection goes it was certainly impressive and for some reason the image had remained burned in my memory

    How difficult could creating something similar be?
    Outstanding piece of history there.....

  9. #9
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Actually looks like an Indian tandoori oven.

  10. #10
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    Cooks pizzas in like less than 2 minutes and taste outstanding.....make the floor of mud too...extreme temps kill any bugs, and a little mud dust is good for you...

    hint.....dont use a wooden door like i did....catches fire rule quick

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nawtier View Post

    Outstanding piece of history there.....
    Yup, it's a bit of classic TD history. I'm sure - or at least surely hope - that I remember it for the merry banter on the thread rather than being curiously excited over the image.

    On saying that, and just thinking aloud here, if TD was ever to re-brand then the image could perhaps make a suitable, construction themed logo? It even has a little teak (like) door on the front.

    I'm sure it would help the site attract the right sort of advertisers.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nawtier View Post

    hint.....dont use a wooden door like i did....catches fire rule quick
    Ah, so perhaps the Teakdoor logo idea is not so sound then...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Humbert
    And good luck finding firebrick.
    Yup, well that was the problem. Looking closely, not too closely but closely enough, to Nawty's design it appeared that he had used bricks - firebricks perhaps - for the base of his oven, and I assumed this to be the actual cooking floor.

    So I had mud aplenty, I could probably rustle up a stand somehow, but was coming a little unstuck on the firebrick front. As you rightly point out, they are not the easiest things to find in rural Thailand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nawtier
    make the floor of mud too...
    Well thanks! Unfortunately when I built the thing last year you'd gone walkabout and I'd convinced myself that I needed firebricks. In retrospect using a mud base is actually pretty logical, and if I'd worked it out at time I would now have had a 'Nawty oven' in my garden.

  14. #14
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    I did use firebricks...i know a firebrick fractory in fact....i then used the mud to fill the gaps and uneven surface only, so only thin layer of mud....it worked a treat...as for aesthetics...bet mine made more dinnerside conversation than his...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobarb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Nawtier View Post

    Outstanding piece of history there.....
    Yup, it's a bit of classic TD history. I'm sure - or at least surely hope - that I remember it for the merry banter on the thread rather than being curiously excited over the image.

    On saying that, and just thinking aloud here, if TD was ever to re-brand then the image could perhaps make a suitable, construction themed logo? It even has a little teak (like) door on the front.

    I'm sure it would help the site attract the right sort of advertisers.
    Recall that thread some years back...
    Suggested to Nawty that he try termite mound mud - an outstanding and formidable substance for this sort of application [kiln type].

    Best of luck with the extra project.
    Just get the pizza right - should be humble, not exaggerated.

  16. #16
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    WTF!!! That's it???

    I was really looking forward to a Pizza oven.

  17. #17
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    And i did look for termite mounds...found some, just not enough

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by thaimeme
    Recall that thread some years back... Suggested to Nawty that he try termite mound mud - an outstanding and formidable substance for this sort of application [kiln type].
    Yup, I looked around and did find some, but the trouble was this:

    Quite often I have to sort of forge ahead quietly with a project as explaining what its all about to Mrs R is a lot tougher than actually just doing it. This is especially so when we are back in the village as she is then left trying to explain the the rest of the family what her husband is up to. The end result is the similar, they stare for a while then turn to each other, mutter 'Farang Baa', smile and move on. Not explaining my actions to my wife simply means that she can agree with her family rather then entering into a long discussion about it.

    So the thing is this, having seen some very suitable termite mounds around the village, I realised digging them up and taking them would cause something of a stir, questions would be asked of the family who wouldn't have a clue what it was for and before long the whole place would think me even loopier than they currently do.

    Actually, something of a missed opportunity perhaps?

    Quote Originally Posted by thaimeme
    Best of luck with the extra project.
    Thanks...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nawtier
    I did use firebricks...
    Ah, I though so.

  19. #19
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    WTF!!! That's it???

    I was really looking forward to a Pizza oven.
    Easy boy, easy.



    It's coming...

  20. #20
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    ^ Heh...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobarb View Post
    I realised digging them up and taking them would cause something of a stir, questions would be asked of the family who wouldn't have a clue what it was for and before long the whole place would think me even loopier than they currently do.

    Actually, something of a missed opportunity perhaps
    Always a plus if the locals think you loopy, tends to keep them away and stops your beer fridge being emptied all the time

  22. #22
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    I showed the local chang who does my cement and tile work a You Tube video of how to construct a wood fire oven...withing 30 seconds his eyes glazed over and he walked out. A proper wood fire oven is a big, difficult project and finding someone to do it has kept me from building one.

  23. #23
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nawtier
    I did use firebricks
    find a local place that uses a furnace and get the old bricks when they overhaul and rebrick - though maybe not the local crematorium

    Quote Originally Posted by Humbert
    I showed the local chang who does my cement and tile work a
    did he do your supablock ? I am thinking about getting some brickwork done

  24. #24
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    OK, I get the feeling I need to press on with this thread

  25. #25
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    Where were we? Land filled - clay in soil - lemons to make lemonade - clay to make pizza ovens - Nawty's edifice - lack of firebricks...

    Lack of firebricks.

    One learns many things from TD, one of which is that 'Google is your friend', so I googled Firebricks in Thailand and came up with a bunch of threads asking where to find them over on the other channel. None of them seemed to have reached any real conclusion which I'd assumed was because nobody knew the answer rather than because of excessive moderation and banning of people posting anything that might pass as knowledge whilst the threads had progressed.

    Whilst trawling the net (probably about page 2 of the Google search) I also came up with Siam Refractory's website - The Siam Refractory Industry Co., Ltd. - which is in English and talks all about the wonderful products that they make.

    The only issue was that they had such a huge range of industrial stuff, with pictures showing massive blast furnaces and the like, that I felt I may be somewhat little league for them.

    Explaining that I wanted 20 fire bricks for a pizza oven could be complicated as the discussion would quickly move into areas of alumina content and stuff that would drive my extremely rudimentary Thai into rapid meltdown. I did of course have the photos of Nawty's oven available, but I felt that sharing them might not help my overall cause, indeed depending on who I shared them with, could complicate things hugely.

    For reasons explained previously, the pizza oven project was still at the Skunkworks stage and involving Mrs. R would only happen when things had advanced a little. For that reason the pizza oven project got put on a back burner for a month or so until I'd worked out the firebrick issue.

    In the meantime we'd kept busy grassing the newly filled soil, and I'd made a little herringbone pattern red brick terrace thing on the other side of the house using a pile of those otherwise useless little red building bricks that seldom meet approval on this site - yes, the ones left over from building our house:



    Again, the start of this project greatly enjoyed by the Thai family who couldn't understand why I would dig the thing out, put down gravel, then sand, then stack all the bricks on their sides. What was wrong with concrete I was asked. In fairness, by day 2 my brother in law got the idea and finished the thing off for me, doing a very good job of it I thought.

    All in all it worked out rather well, and soon several of the brighter family members were realising that there could be method behind my madness:


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