Built a Classic Adobe Oven

Weekend project: Sunset's classic adobe oven

Modeled after mud-brick ovens used around the world, from the Southwest to Mexico, Italy, and France this looks like a great project for the handy person. I love fresh baked pizza and bread and have been after my husband for a while now to built one of these. So naturally when I found the "How To" via Sunset, I just had to save it here and share.

Building it takes about two days of grubby work; it speeds up building to have two or three people making the thick-walled adobe shell, the mass of which stores the heat of the fire.

The reward: wonderfully rustic pizzas, roasts, vegetables, and crusty loaves of bread from your own backyard.

Getting started

Find a safe, level location in your garden for the oven. Building code requires oven to be a minimum of 10 horizontal feet from any combustible surface, such as fences or walls. Also, check with local officials on property line setback requirements.

We built our oven on a 6- by 8-foot base of red concrete stepping stones ― an optional layer. The rest of the base is stacked but mortarless, which allows for easy disassembly at some point in the future.

Materials and tools

You'll find most of the materials you need at a home center or building supply yard, except for the cardboard barrel, often used by movers. (You cut it in half lengthwise and use it to form the oven's curving top.) Look in the yellow pages under Barrels & Drums for a local source.

  • 14 concrete building blocks (8 by 8 by 16)
  • 14 concrete cap blocks (8 by 2 by 16)
  • 68 firebricks (2 ½ by 4 ½ by 9)
  • One 28- to 30-gallon cardboard barrel
  • One empty 1-quart can
  • 6-foot square of 6-inch wire mesh (used to reinforce concrete driveways)
  • 10 feet of 30-inch-wide chicken wire
  • 4 feet of rough-sawed redwood 2-by-4
  • 2 feet of redwood 1-by-3
  • 16 1 ½-inch deck screws
  • 3 feet of 6-inch-wide aluminum flashing
  • Eight large wheelbarrow loads of adobe soil (heavy clay garden soil)
  • Three bags Portland cement
  • 1-foot square of ¼-inch galvanized wire mesh
  • Exterior latex paint
  • Optional: 24 precast 1- by 2-foot concrete steppingstones

You'll also need a tape measure, hacksaw, pencil, circular saw with masonry bit, wire cutters, saber saw, drill, screwdriver, large wheelbarrow, hoe, shovel, sturdy rubber gloves, sponge, small piece of scrap lumber or plywood, old towels, and plastic tarp.

Image and Instructions courtesy of Sunset

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