Planning the location of your Wood Fired Oven is a critical step, and while we can’t tell you exactly where you should put yours, we do have several things you should think about before you make the decision, as it will be a very permanent one!
If you live in an area that is known for warm, sunny days with almost no chance of rain spoiling a great night of cooking outdoors, you can breeze right past this section! We live in Melbourne, Australia which is well known for its tendency to display all four seasons in one day… This means that while the weather report might be suggesting clear skies for the weekend, we definitely don’t count on it. Ever. If that’s you too, you might want to think about building the oven such that you can use it regardless of the weather conditions. This means positioning the oven so that the mouth is under cover – the dome can still be outside but the oven mouth is tucked under a veranda, which keeps it (and you) nice and dry regardless of the weather conditions.
If you’re in a region that experiences ‘freeze-thaw’ conditions, where the frost is so severe that it penetrates deep into the ground, this is something that you really must consider.
The refractory bricks and insulation that make up our Wood Fired Oven Kits are very porous, so they will soak up rain or melted snow that falls on them. The mouth of our Wood Fired Ovens is made up of hand-laid fire bricks, which gives our ovens their distinctly authenttic appearance. The downside is that the mouth of the oven is going to soak up any water that lands on it.
This is usually not a problem in itself – if you slowly fire the oven up after the oven has absorbed some water, the heat will drive the water out and the oven will return to its original state (if the oven is noticeably wet we strongly recommend you go back to Day 3 of the Curing Fires to gently dry it out). However, if your oven has gotten wet and experiences a deep frost, the water held in the fire bricks and insulation may freeze and expand, causing serious damage to the oven. Water freezing on the outside of the oven dome can also damage the roll-on render coating.
The only sure way to prevent this is to build the oven into an enclosure that keeps it completely dry, so that when the cold weather comes, it will have no adverse effect on the oven at all. If this is not possible, an alternative is to fire the oven thoroughly before the end of Autumn, then remove the flue and protect the oven with a suitable weatherproof cover for the winter. The key is to keep the entire oven completely dry in deep cold conditions. This will no doubt affect where you build the oven, so keep this in mind as you plan.
Our Brick Ovens in particular require brick or concrete block walls going all the way down to reinforced concrete foundations. When you assess your area, you may find that some locations might be significantly more difficult to build a stand in than others. For example, it might look great directly opposite the dining area, off the edge of the verandah. However if you have a 10 foot drop to the ground in that spot, it’s going to be a significant undertaking to build your stand.
There’s no escaping the fact that Wood Fired Ovens generate some smoke, particularly when they’re cold, as the fire is just getting started. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding on the oven location – there might be a place that works well for you that will also minimize the smoke wafting into your neighbour’s property. Remember, you can always extend the flue higher to get the smoke up and away from them (and you!).
While we have found that many local councils have no issue with the construction of Wood Fired Ovens and don’t have any rules around them, please don’t assume this is the case. Get in touch with the relevant governmental planning department for your area and check to ensure there won’t be any issues.
If you’re building an entire alfresco area then there’s no doubt the Oven will be the roaring heart of it! The rest of the alfresco should flow around the oven, with prep-benches nearby if possible. These benches don’t have to be permanent, they could be trestle tables, but they’ll prove very useful.
You’ll also need a reasonable amount of space in front of the oven, where you’ll be standing. Think about the oven tools that you’ll be using, they’re typically about 1.5m (5′) long and you’ll be using them a lot, so make sure you’re not going to be too cramped, or likely to hit your friends and family in the face with an oven tool…
Do a Test Fit
If you’re a bit nerdy (like us), you could draw up your alfresco in 3D using a CAD program like Sketchup. We have detailed 3D models of our Wood Fired Oven Kits available to download, which you can find on the page we have created for each Oven Kit.
If you’re more hands-on, and like to see things in full size right in front of you, we have you covered! You’ll find an ‘Oven Template Drawing Guide’ on each Oven Kit page, which shows you how to draw a full scale layout of that particular oven, on a piece of paper or cardboard. With this in hand, you can do a Test Fit of the oven in different locations to see how it will work there.
The Template also shows you where the Flue will start from, which should form part of your planning.