It was now early fall of 2008. Dad and Mom went back to SC shortly after the dome was completed and now it was time to close everything up before winter set in. We were in the Berkshire foothills and our part of the area is known to get cold early on. I knew I wouldn’t have time to get the stone veneer done especially with my work schedule ( I was reeeeally busy back then ) and didn’t want to rush through the stonework. I dried the oven with a small fires over the course of a week then insulated the dome with a couple layers of rockite insulation. It is a fire-proof mineral wool and comes in batts. I use it in tandem with loose vermiculite insulation in all my ovens. Below is about the size for a drying fire but this one was an oven preheat for cooking…..
I was fortunate to have Rod Zander as a neighbor. He is master builder of Masonry Heaters and soapstone counters. After a few drying fires my dome developed some cracks..They opened up when the oven heated up but always closed tight when cooling down. I was a bit worried about it even though I knew this would happen after reviewing many oven builds. In his calm way, he explained it was normal and the oven would probably outlast me. ” They all do that, Matt,” he said slowly,”don’t worry about it”. I’m pretty sure he meant it was because I built it correctly and it wasn’t the nervous twitch I had developed…….right Rod?
Now that all was right in the WFO world again, it was back to building.
Because I didn’t have a lot of time and the approaching weather, I asked my good friend Brandon if he would frame the walls and roof. He is a very talented craftsman who calls himself a ‘remodeler’…believe me, that’s an understatement. We figured out a roof pitch that I was looking for and he went to work. So, while I was finishing projects for clients, Brandon framed the walls and roof. Once that was done he tar papered the whole thing for the coming winter season. This is the only picture I have of the oven at is stage. I think this was early November…it’s going to be snowy this year!
Thanks to Brandon, the oven was safe from moisture and piles of snow that fell that winter. When he was framing, I asked him to build an access opening in the rear gable end so that I could add the loose vermiculite in the spring and have a way to service the oven if there was ever a problem. I would hate to have to tear work apart to get in there…
The finishes are a part of the build that is free from the confines of functionality. That’s the wordy way to say your oven will work no matter how you choose to finish it. The finish on an oven is completely up to the individual. It can be simple or elaborate, modern or rustic, let your creative side go wild… go ahead, run with scissors!! Think outside the box and have fun with it….now is a chance to do something different!Of coarse, even if you build the most boring oven ever, it will make delicious pizza!
If you look at the lower right, there are a couple pieces of fieldstone that I dry set. My original plan for finishing was like an Adirondack style..large and bouldery but no mortar showing. I was also going to start the veneer wider at the base and gently curve it to vertical…JF, similar to one of your fireplaces..you know what I mean. For everyone else, this is what I’m talking about….
http://hammerheadstoneworks.ca/project-gallery?psmash-gallery=11&album=1&gallery=3. Visit John’s site to see more outstanding stonework.
I had been wanting to build something with that taper since seeing it on an old stone building in the ‘Dacks many years before and now was my opportunity to actually get to build like that…..or so I thought.
As often happens with the best laid plans, a wrench got thrown in the works. Sometime during late winter, we decided to move to SC…it wasn’t an easy one to make either. And so, I needed to simplify my finishing plan on the oven. Darn!
I have a friend that I met on a huge project about 3 years earlier who’s brother had opened a stone-yard in NY and I thought I would see what they had. I wanted a simpler plan but I wasn’t eliminating the stonework! They had some stone that they were bringing down from Canada which they were splitting into veneer. I liked the stone because it had a broad spectrum of color….grey, reds, rust and earth tones. I got what I needed and decided to only do a foundation of stone around the sides and back with a full veneer on the front of the oven. The siding would be cedar shakes and Brandon had the idea to stagger the courses..it looked great.
I wanted to do a look that was more rustic and the stone was flat faced from being split. So I worked the stone with my chipper to create a ‘rock’ face. Because it was fieldstone, the outside line didn’t need to be chiseled much. I just selected shapes that fit together and ‘chinked’ some of the wider gaps…I hate seeing holes in stonework whether it’s a veneer or a dry wall.
There were a few larger pieces at the yard that ha not been split up yet and I bought those to make the lintel above the wood box and the shelf for the oven opening. You can’t see it in this picture, but I sanded the top of the shelf stone to replicate decades of use.
I was planning to build a traditional arch but I came arcoss another stone in the pile that was just large enough to span the opening of the oven. It wasn’t very thick, maybe 3.5″ or so but I got the idea to do a solid lintel with a carved arch. I like how it turned out…it reminded me of some ancient ovens in France that I saw online.
Something you should consider when your oven is being built is to widen out your opening starting from the oven arch. This way is easier to use the peel or oven tools. It also opens up your field of vision and creates an appealing detail. But it wont affect the performance if you choose not to. I don’t remember the exact dimensions of what I did but I think my oven opening was 18″ and it opened up to something like 22″ or 23″. I didnt use any formula…it was by eye and what looked right to me.
The siding was now completed and at this point I was wrapping up the veneer. The oven was being used even though the stonework wasn’t done..after all, we were moving! That’s me tending the fire. Note the smaller kindling on the shelf. I like using it to get the fire burning hot for larger wood and establish a nice coal bed.
Things were really starting to look good and we loved how things were coming together.
About this time another great friend entered the scene. Tom was going to install a metal roof and flash the chimney. And that will be my lead-in to the final post of the construction walk-through series……