A long time (15 years?) ago, I stumbled upon the fornobravo.com website their recently released DIY Pompeii oven plan. Within no time I knew that I had to build a wood fired pizza oven! To make a long story short, I began researching the design, making modifications and drawing up my own plans, following along at Forno Bravo as others embarked on the same journey. The only difference? They got “permission” to build their ovens and I spent the better part of 15 years working on other projects, dreaming of building mine and being jerked back to reality with the words “Absolutely not, no more big projects until all of the other projects are done!”
Enter Covid-19 and the fact that 15 years have passed (yes, I played the I am getting old and have waited 15 years card) and I am going to be locked down all summer. Somehow I got the green light (or at least a partial green light). I immediately jumped into action, quickly revising my plans with the latest advice from the forums and hoped to secure materials, so as to pass that point of no-return where my green light could not be changed to yellow or red!
One problem! Covid lockdown made getting just about any building materials here in Pittsburgh impossible, especially hard to find items like fire brick and refractory mortar and insulation. Moreover, at 49 years old, I have cut more than enough tile, stone and brick than I care to remember and don’t need to pat myself on the back for cutting a few hundred fire brick to size for a Neapolitan style oven dome.
I remembered that during planing Forno Bravo toyed with the idea of selling pre-cut firebrick. A quick call to them revealed that these brick kits really never came to fruition.I did find the flamesmiths.com website, a US branch of the Melbourne Firebrick Company. The website showed a Pompeii style pizza oven kit. I was skeptical of availability given Covid, the fact that it was from Australia, and it being VERY niche product. Honestly, I assumed it was a website advertising something that didn’t really exist or have any availability! I called the US number on the flamesmiths.com website and left a message.
Enter Ben Guilford, the president and owner of the Melbourne Firebrick Company. Shortly after leaving the voicemail, I was greeted by a call from Ben at his office in… Melbourne! Not only was he extremely kind and eager to answer my questions, he told me that he had just shipped several D105 Brick Oven kits to his New Jersey depot and could have one at my doorstep as soon as I was ready!
The D105 Kit: I will not go into a lot of the kit detail (the flamesmiths.com website has all of that) other than to provide my decision process. Quite simply the D105 follows the same design principles as the free Forno Bravo Pompeii oven plans, incorporating most of the community improvements and Ben’s own improvements over the basic design.
Hand crafted: So the kit is basically just pre-cut medium duty firebrick and the other raw materials that I would have to source individually anyway. The only real difference between my original plans and using the kit, is that somebody cut the firebrick for me and put everything else I needed in one convenient box! So I get the hand crafted oven I want and don’t have to chase down materials or mindlessly cut hundreds of brick!
Cost: I spent close to $3,000 on the kit delivered to my driveway in a HUGE well made shipping crate. The premium for the convenience, especially given Covid availability and pricing? I did a quick back of the napkin calculation and came up with $1800-$2200 with problematic lead time to boot. To me, spending $900 for the convenience and time was a no brainer!
As the summer passes I will update this page with construction details and photos.