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h! fl


ou may lr'onder lr''hy I rvould spend

a chapter discussing materials, since

heat, thev u'ill thil

if rapidly cooled. Metal

reinforcement must be used cautiousll, in

heated masonry, as it expands and contracts

I am also going to give you a set of plans and a list of materials to buy. I am doing it because some people just rvon't fbllolv
Ard if you are one of them, and want to modifv, customize, or interpret as

CEMENT, CONCRETE, AND MORIAR The essential material for most masonry con-

you go,

question about materials mav come

up in your planning or construction process that cannot be ansrvered bv the people at the building supplv. masonrv suppl1., or even the refiactory supply store. I hope you will be

struction is cement. This bonds the other materials together. When sand and small stones are bound together, the product created is called concrete. Common mortar is sand in a cement (rvithout small stones) ll'ith lime
added to increase adhesion ar-rd flexibility.
is placed betrveen bricks, blocks, or stones

to answer it here.


Masonry Materinls
Brick. stone, concrete, and sand are masonry materials. Although masonry materials are strong, most of them are brittle. They are
stronger in compression than in tension (that

bind and bed them.

Pou'dered cla-v ma1. be added to make the mortar easier to work, but it decreases the mechanical strength of the mixture, u'ithout
increasing its heat resistance unless the mortar

is, pushed together as opposed to pulled apart), and will lail if exposed to vibration or shearing forces. Though resistant to

is primarilv clay, rvith little cement present. At that point the mortar is weak, but heatresistant. For concrete, heat resistance is dependent on the qpe of cement and the tvpe


of aggregate (filler) used. \A/hen the cement is resistant to high temperatures, it is called refractory cement; mixed with an appropriate aggregate, it becomes refractory concrete or mortar. When cement cures by taking up water, sets under water, and is resistant to water when set, it is called a hydraulic cement. Most other types of cement are air drying, although some refractory mortars
are heat-setting.

Specialized aggregates are manufactured from

ir rhc c

raw materials by subjecting them to heat (as is the case with perlite, expanded shale, ancl





:35 &


Straight cements don't have a great deal of strength when bridging large gaps; they require a filler material, or aggregate, to correct this potential weakness. The aggregate bridges the gaps and provides many of the
qualities of the finished product. These could

The most common type of cement is Portland cement, so-called because of the resemblance it bears to a type of limestonc quarried near Portland, England. It is produced by burning clay or shale and hiehcalcium minerals to produce cinders that rrrc

aad no lcrr 62 ?yttna I

$rnod i-[r,jc: irE nfr r


then ground very fine to make a wettabt. powder. The hardening of Portland cemen: and the concrete and mortars made from :: occurs as the result ofhvdration: the ceme::
takes on water. For general masonrywork, the advantagc.


omsr rs h ,afnilff bty


include compressive strength, a low coefficient of thermal expansion, uniform grain size, light weight, or high thermal insulation
performance. Choosing an aggregate requires balancing physical properties desired against
the cost and local availability ofthe aggregate.



errn brd

ofPordand cement include its high strengrelatively low cost, widespread availabili: and versatility. It can be used in concre::
and a variety of mortars when modifiec r, other ingredients. Its limitations in o\ i: building are its slow acquisition of srrenc-: as it sets, the loss of strength developm;::

"t{"{sO}n I{anmm,


Common aggregates are mined in their final form (sand, gravel) or are produced by a simple mechanical process (crushed stone).

m h*n*,r lhg, qp{ m o[L!!E!

Concrete gets its strength



its agregate. Sharp aggregate


that is yaried in size mahes

stronger concrete.

&r prue dfu.r-" fficrry



*m trrh



round aggregate small aggregate added

sharp aggregate*

iii --'lkb mipb-




if the cement is mixed with too much s'ater or is prematurelv dried, and its relativeh'lou' tolerance for heat. Cured, Portland has ftill
strength up to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit


Sack-mix mortar is useful for laying block the ash pit rvalls, and sack-mix concrete

r.nar-be used for the foundation slab.



also be used as the cladding of a household oven. When determining horv many bags to purchase, read the label carefully: it takes a

r235 degrees Celsius), half strength at 750 clegrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius), and no strength at 1,150 degrees Fahrenheit (625 degrees Celsius). Strength tl.oes not

t'(turn vhen it

cools. Even at temperatures in

the moderate range (700 degrees Fahrenheit,

370 degrees Celsius), repeated c,vcles ofheat

are not u'ell tolerated. Portland cement con-

lot of bags to pour a slab. Also, be sure vou don't or.,erload your pickup truck and vour back-arrange a delivery if vou can. The major concern about sack-mix concrete is the aggregate. Often these are
rounded gravel and quartz sand. This lear,es

tains silica compounds and breathing cement

the concrete u.ith fairly low tensile strength

relatively poor heat tolerance. Sack mixes are fine for a slab on grade, adequate
as r.vell as

dust is best avoided. Also, Portland and all other hydraulic cements will suck moisture tiom your skin, even rvhen the cement is in a \\'atery phase. This may lead to chapped or er-en broken skin.

for the cladding or the hearth slab of a home oven, but are best avoided for cladding or hearth slabs of ovens larger than 32 x 36
inches, or ovens used ever1,


of size. Refractorv concretes are better in

these applications.

Masonrv cement is a Pordand cement modified


adding lime. This allou's mortars made TRANSIT MIX

fiom it to grip more rightlv to brick, stone, or block, and it makes the working (tror,velling) qualitie s of the mortar better. There is no incrcase in hcat resistance.
SACI(MIX This product comes premixed and bagged, and is sold at hardlvare stores, lumber1.nrd5, and bv masonrv suppliers. It is available as

Transit-mixed concrete is the kind that is delivered in big trucks, coming from a central

plant. It is great stufl, but the minimum orders are too big fbr rnost oven u.ork, even for slabs. Sometimes vou can pay an extra fee to
have a small order delivered, though.

CALCIUM ALUMINATE CEMENT Calcium aluminate is a cement that is similar

either mortar or concrete mix. All vou add is n'ater (directions on the bag say hor,v much) and elborv grease ro mix up small quantities. Sack mixes are more expensive than home-blended cement products, but volr may save enough in aggravation (moving sand, dealing rvith half-used bags of cement) to make them u'orthwhile on an oven job.

in use to Portland, but which avoids some of its problems. It is made of bauxite (ore
that contains alumina) and limestone. This cement reaches good compression strength in one dav (it is ah,vavs rveaker in tension than Portland). It is sold both for this early strength quality and for its heat resistance. It is the heart of refiactory concretes, and



F =





buying it in the tbrn'r ol calciurn aluminate cement and making vour o\\'n refiactor)'
concrete is cheaper than buving proprietarv brands of refracton' concrete. The most extensive line of this cement is from LaFarge Calcium Aluminates, Inc.,

of the same strength and heat resistance. Calcium aluminate cement costs three to
fir'e times as much as Portland cement and is much harder to find, but in appropriate applications it rvill not add as much in cost

*'ith an office in Virginia (f -800-5248463) that can refer to local distributors or ship directly. Their least expensive cement is Fond.u, at 38 percent alumina. This product is resistant to heat of at least 950 degrees Fahrenheit (5L0 degrees Celsius) r,vhen made into concrete with quartz aggregate, i,500 (825) u'ith traprock, 1,900 (1,150) r.vith vermiculite, 2,000 (f,200) with expanded clavs, and 2,400 (1,300) u'ith crushed firebrick. Progressivelv more heat-rcsistant and e xpensive cements are ar.ailable, u'ith higher alumina contents, but for oven construction, all calcium aluminate cements should have less than 45 percent alumina, so that thev rentain rcsistant to thermal cycling. Of the aggregates mentioned, the most common one used in heat-resistant oven slabs and claddings is traprock, a u'idely available crushed basalt. Using LaFarge Secnr 4l (41 percent alumina cement) the mix q'ould be:

it u'ill add in longeviw and convenience. A rvord of caution: e\ren a little of this prodas

uct in uncured or dust form may drastically accelerate the setting of Portland cement products, creating so-called flash setting. Don't mix them.*

*Retiactorv concretes tbr ovens are covered in the

American Socieq' fbr Testing and Matcrials C 401 chssifications. u'hile refracton' mortars must lnect AsrNt (l 199, Medium-duw

Fireclav is a heat-resistant clav that is available in a dr-v por,vder fbrm to use as an additive to mortars. It imparts little of the refractorv qualitie s of firebrick to mortars made lvith non-reliact<)rv cernents. Its chie f benefit is the plasticitv it to mortars,

. .

cement-94 pounds
traprock, 3/+ x 3/s inch-230 por'rnds fine manufactured sand (traprock)-I88

. \\.ater-not to exceed 41l: gallons

all those materials is not possible, consider a premixed alumina concrete
like LaFarge's,

If getting

allorving them to be smoothl,v buttered into place. It reduces the tensile strength of conve ntional mortar si gnifi cantl,r.', but this is not much of a concern because mortars are not relied on fbr strength except in compression. Thick (mortar consistencvr suspensions of fireclay u'ith a little fine crushed firebrick or pottery grog (crushe.1 ce ramic) and a small amount of Portlan,,l cement (to thicken them) can be used to se t brick used fbr dome and arch constructions that are exposed to high heat anci compre ssive fbrces. foint lines in that case shoul.-l be narron, (approximateh' t/r inch). Naturallv occurring fireclav is the basic ingredient in common firebricks; its resistance to heat and its dimensional stabilitr come from its relative lack olminerals thli s'ould serve as flux for its f'urther fusion
he at re sistance increases



is cheaper in 1'our

rvith its alumin "

location than a proprietar-v castable reflactort'






nruch iibout the uses and technical of the products, and the product names

There are man\r t\pes of commerci,rl rcfi,rc- rre otten not helpful. Ask for the name of torv cements, ntortars, and concrete, knou'tt .r1 clqinccrillg representative lyho can help

b1,aconfusirlgrangeclftradenamesbut,rs- r'ou (in person or by phone) and get the signed to groups b,v their properties ancl mirnuflcttirer'scatalogsanddatasheetsonthe
uses. Drv-sl-ripped castable refractorie s the largest group,

are sold to be mixed r'vith rva-

ter, then pourcd, pumped, tror'velled, or shot from a

gun. Refiactories mav be either hvdrauiic or air-dn ing. With each q,'pre of installatiort a r.rngc of propertics is
available, such as densitv and


prcducts \.ou plan to use. Anv castable u.hich is exposed to thermal cvcling should have an alun-rina content of 35 to 45 Buying refi,actory percent) and a porositl, of2O percent or more , to reduce ruaterials ca,n be cracking. Avoid using steel


snlespeople usua.lly



Forcernen t i n refractories


to higl-r heat (oven

d,on't know tuLach

heartl-rs or inne r domes). Put

insulltion characteristics, irrcre ased resistance

to thcrmal

sl-rock, abrasion, shrinkage,

about the uses and. technicnl

specif,cations of the prod.ucts, end the

the steel in an onrer cladding

or slab that

has srnaller tem-

perature cvcles.

thermal expansion, ctc. All ol- them hlr c strict mi-ring requirements (n()t too
much u atcr, avoid olcrrniring) that must be fbllou.ed to preservc their thermal


nrr.nues &re

often not helpful.

These include fiactorl,-11x6[s

o.cling endurance.
In general, castable refiactories do not shrink or expand

Ask.for the nanoe of nn engineering

repyesenta.tiye who

clarr-based mortars consisting of fireclav and fine

sand, hornemade clav mortars made of reht'drated dn, clay mixed 3 to 5 parts fine sand to one part cla._v,

rnarkedlv rvith air curing or shrink nruch aftcr fire curiug, although tl-rey do expand slightlr. u'hile hot. Refractorv

can belp yoa.

mortars rnade u'ith rcfractorv cements and the mortar 51xy ((f11"-to resist slumping. aggregates tend to re duce loosening of the FIeat-resistant ntortars also include r\\.o gen-

and the sarne clal' frortars r.vith 3 to 8 percent Portland cement added to heip

bricks in oven u'alls and don-res because of eral types ol refractorl. ntortars, both u,ith theirgooddimensionalstabilinr Lightweight pulverized firebrick as aggregare. C)ne rvpe castables contain lighm'eight aggregate and is based on calcium aluminate cement (conhave thermal conductirdties that are one -fifth r-enient since it sets at room te mperature and to one-half of conventional castables. canbridgelargergaps)andtheotherisbased Buving refractory materials can be frustrat- on rvaterglass, or sodium silicate, u.hich sets ing because salespeople usuallv don't knou' at temperatures of about J.,000 degrees F.



O O L S. A.r--

M ETH O l)


All heat-resistant mortars are applied in narrorv joints-never o\-er t/'l inch for calcium aluminate mortars and never over r/s inch for
fireclav or rvaterglass mortars. FIREBRICK

than standard firebrick, but more resistant to thermal shock. If thev lvear out mechanicalh.,

thev are simply replaced. If you are experiencing premature mechanical r,r'ear in the hearth ofa bread oven because ofgas firing
or excessive mopping, n-redium-dutv brick should consider.*

Firebrick is the solid equivalent of castable

refractories. It is available in full densitv or lighnveight (insulating) makeup in several 51,pes and grades. For ovens, it is fine to use
*Standard firebrick

probablv the most heat-resistant brick vou

standard lorv- durv "fireclav fi rebrick, " r'vhich


1.00 to


brick. This is manufac-

Brick or red brick is made gy pulr.erizing clav or shale (u'hich geologically is basicallv
old and compressed clay),

to -lsru c 27 or cl26l.

tured by adding firecla1, to ground firebrick (grout), sand, alumina, and silicate rock and is good to about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celsius), r,vhich is far above
the temperatures vou lvill ever achieve in \rour


it into a block, drving it,

is fused

and firing

it until

oven. Higher-percentage alumina firebricks are more resistant to heat and abrasion (good

for pizza hearths), but they have a disadvantage in bread ovens: the higher-alumina
brick is more conductive, and mav transfer to the bottom of the loaf. AIso, high-duw firebricks are
an excessive amount of heat

(vitrified) bv the action of mineral fluxes preserrt in tl-re clav The vitrificatior.r temperature is reached in six to eight hours. Faster heating might cause rhe green brick to explode. The temperature reached in firing in part determines the hardness and porositv of the brick. The density of the brick
derives from its collstituent materials and the lbrce with u'hich they are pressed to-


-:. :-


resistant to cycles of heating and

cooling such as those experienced by oven brickr,vork, and are rnorehkely to crack, spall,

gether. Uniform, high-quality red brick is easily available for use in ovens. Some Bpes of irregular bricks or used bricks may be more attractive lbr oven fronts or exterior
oven r.valls u,here aestheticallv appropriate. Brick is available in a varietv of shapes, including a bull-nose brick that makes an at-


and fail than standard firebrick: lorv-dury firebrick contains tin,v voids into r.vhich the solid material of the brick can expand 'nvhen


is heated.One modern design for a French

h-vbrid-sq4e bread oven specifies a firebrick

tractive lip on the front end of the hearth of a masonry oven. The rounded end is also
resistant to chipping.

hearth of 25 to 28 percent alumina. This

is approximately the percentage in standard

firebrick, u'ith a conductivitv about 75 percent that of medium-dutv firebrick and 60 percent that of super-dut,v firebrick. In Finland, France, and other European countries,
special materials are maufbctured

Not all red bricks offer the same mechanical qualities, and nor all have been fired tcr
the same temperature. Some masons belier-e

hearths that are even less resistant

for oven to heat

that high-fired bricks are berter for exposlrre to heat because thev are thoroughlv vitrified and r,vill not further change shape or size . Others are adamanr that high-fire d



bricks are too brittle for use insicle .rn ove n.



could pop out of these bricks

=!F --F

bricks are too brittle for use inside an ot'en,

ind recomlnend lorv-fired bricks fbr


Iocations on the grounds that they u'ill be

nore resistant to thermal shock, though

lcss strong.

structure, sand could pop out ofthese bricks irt high temperature. Avoid these ir-rferior bricks bv l'rur ing dontestic otres. Finalh', the maximum heat resistance lbr red bricks and common firebricks is about the
same. Red bricks have a greater rate of expan-

Most of these opinions grew out of common and practical phenomena, related to rhe q'a), bricks rvere originall,v fired and to :l're historical lack of specialized firebrick in cokrr-rial America. When bricks lvere fired in rig open-air stacks or primitive kilns, some
'.iould be fired more than others. The higher:l Lcd bricks \\'erc more re sistant to \\'ctcr J.rn-rage and weathering, and \\''ere Lrsed on rhe outside of a chimnel' for that purpose. Tl're rest of the bricks \vere softer, and rvere -rsecl in the fireplace itself, l'here resistance :() \\'ater \vas not inportant. If exposed to crcessive heat, those bricks could rer.itrif"v to

sion, horvever, and are rnore likelr, to spall or flake u'hen unequally heated. This can occur


hot fire is built and the surface of the brick is heated too quicklr', or rvhen a jet of $'ater is spra-ved on the bricks. If an oven is


bricks used for oven enclosures

gently managed, there is little advantage lbr Iirebrick, except as I have mentioned.* BLOCK

Concrete block is manutactured b,v using

Portland cement to bind an aggregate ofsand and fine gravel, u'hich is fbrced into molds that produce the various shapes of block required. Some block is made in a shape that allou's it to run along in a lvall, but not to terminate a u'a1l or turn a corner. There are. hole\.er, blocks fbr ending u'alls and turning corners. Most blocks I'rave holes that run verticallv through thern, called cores. Blocks
are ar.ailable in a r.arietv of sizes fbr u'alls

outdoors should meet lsru c 62, grade SW, or ,rsnr c 216.

r higher temperature. Graduall,v the rule that soft bricks rvere

-:scd ir-r fireplaces developed, br-rt according

Greg Borchelt, an engineering consultant

:' ,r

the Brick Institute of Ame rica. there is

.:ttle or no functional advantage to using . rti bricks there; an1,u,ell-made brick r'r.ill -:Lr. In o\rens, relativel], light (and there: 'rc soft) red bricks u'ere historically used : ,r the hearth (and replaced frequentll,) - , prevent burning the bottom of the ::cad-not because thev r'r'ere particularlv -:sistant to heat. -\merican-made bricks are fired to 1,950 : I,900 degrees Fahrenheit (1,050 to 1,600
,r:Srees Celsius), but some lumbervards also


diiferent thickrress. or to rct

rvall as necessarY.

as spaccrs

in r


Blocks ma.v be made out of lighnveight to make them easier to la-v and

to provide some insulation value. Extra

insulation can be obtained by frlling the holes in the blocks u'ith lightr.r.'eight mineral products. A block u'all is usuall,v reinforced u,ith steel bars embedded in mortar or concrete and placed verticalh,, horizontalll', or both. Although blocks are usuallv mortared
together, mortar does not prorride much adhesion to the block, and unreinfbrced u'alls don't tolerate lateral force s u'ell.

-:irv common red brick from Mexico that .:e lot--fired, contain a lot of quartz sand,
-:r!'l are quite porous. Because these bricks -.,rv not have been fired ber,'ond the tempera:,-:e et u.hich quartz undergoes a change in




avoided for high-temperature use unless,




in higl-r-fired brick, an.v quartz present


Basalt is a dense ancl hard volcanic rock, crushed and sold as traprock and rnanufactured traprock sand. It is good fbr heat resistant, high thermal mass concrete u.hen mixed u'ith calcium aluminate cements.

been prer.iouslv heated. Quartz is a component of granites and is a r,vater-carried deposit



man,v other rocks.

Less dense and softer than olivine, this is one

i r.r

This is a strong, igneous rock containing 20 to 50 percent quartz) held l'ith other crystailine minerals in a granular arrangement.

of the minerals cor.nmonlv used in Europe in past \rears for building or lining ovens and fbr making urns) \rases) and ervers. Nthough it is closelv related to asbestos, there is no particular health risk in non-fibrous serpentine. SOAI'STONE




is moderatel,v dense and moderatel,v heat-




Olivine is a rock lbund u'ith basalt, serpentines, and soapstone in areas ofpast volcanic activit,v. It is often used as an aggregate in refractories and high-temperature concrete because it has verl. little thermal expansion and good resistance to heat. It is ver,v
dense-sometimes over 3.5 times the density of l'ater. Oven temperatures do not usuallt. require such specialized aggregates, but olivine sand is used by some manufhcturers of precast refractory oven componer-rts and it could be used to increase the mass of an1'
masonr\r laver. Because operations,




r,er\, dense and resistant to heat.


ens, but

is often used fbr the hearths of pizza or'it should be covered rvith firebrick

E\ E.i

in bread oven hearths, as it passes too much heat to the botton-r of the bread. It can be can,ed into beautiful dooru'a\rs and outer
hearths. STONE Stone,
as crushed rock is commonly called, is usuailv made by mecl-ranicallv crushing hard


con p)-ri suct




che.r Cfetc

it is used in fbundr,v


is u.idelv available.

rocks. The resulting stones are screened tc-r size, and have sharp edges that interlock u'hen used as aggregate. This makes concretes made lrom stone stronger than sackmix concretes rnade fiom rounded gravel.
F{eat resistance depends on the tvpe ofrock


The most common mineral on Eartl-r, qLrartz


silicon dioxide, r.r'ith

a de

nsitv of 2.65 times


that of lvater. \4rhen heated to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit (870 degrees Celsius) it undergoes a change in crvstal structure) with a l5 percent change in volume. This temperature
may well be reached at the inner surface

GRA\TL Gravel is a natural prodr.rct of generalh' rounded small stones that are sized according to the size of wire screen thev rvill pass through. Gravel is a common aggregate lbr concrete, but tensile and shear strength is

incre. PERI Perlit,


an oven) so quartz aggregates should




Basalt is a dense and hard volcanic rock, crushed and sold as traprock and manufactured traprock sand. It is good fbr heat resistant, high thennal mass concrete r'vhen mixed

avoided for high-temperature use unless, as in high-fired brick, an.v quartz present has been previously heated. Quartz is a component of granites and is a u'ater-carried deposit

in manY other rocks.

Less dense and softer than olivine , this is or-rc

n'ith calcium aluminate cenents.


of the minerals commor-rl-v used in Europe in

past \re ars fbr

This is a strong, igneous rock containing 20 to 50 percent quartz, held with other crystalline minerals in a granular arrangement.

building or lining ovens and fbr rrraking urns, vases, and elvers. Although it is
closelrr related to asbestos, there is no particu-


is moderatel,v dense and modcratel.v heat-

lar health risk in non-fibrous serpentine.


stable. OI,N,'INF,

Soapstone is very dense and resistant to heat.

Olivine is a rock found u'ith basalt, serpentines, and soapstone in areas of past I'olcanic activit)'. It is ofien used as an aggregate irt refractories and high-temperature concrete because it has verl' little thermal expansion and good resistance to heat. It is very
dense-sometimes or,er 3.5 times the densin' of r.vater. Oven temperatures do not usuallv require such specialized aggregates, but olivine sand is used b)t so-e manufhcturers of precast refractory oven components and it could be used to increase the mass of an1'
masonrv layer. Because


is often used fbr the hearths of pizza ot

ens, but

it should be covered r,r,ith firebrick in bread oven hearths, as it passes too mucl.t heat to the bottom of the bread. It can bc can'ed into beautiful dooru'avs and outer
heartl-rs. STONE



crushed rock is commonlv called, is

usuallv n-rade bv mechanicalh. crushing hare'l


is used in fbundrv

operations, it is u'idell' available. QUARTZ The most common mineral on Earth, quartz is silicon dioxide , rvith a densitv of 2.65 times that ofu,ater. When heated to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit (870 degrees Celsius) it undergoes a change in crystal structure) with a l5 percent change in volume. This temperature may well be reached at the inner surface of

rocks. The resulting stones are screened tcr size, and have sharp edges that interlock when used as aggregate. This makes concretes made from stone stronger than sackmix concretes made from rounded gravel. Fleat resistance depends on the tvpe ofrock


an oven, so quartz aggregates should


Gravel is a natural product ol generalh' rounded small stones that are sized according to the size of wire screen they u'ill pass through. Gravel is a common aggregate fbr concrete, but tensile and shear strength is




:rot as great fbr concrete made $'ith gravel rs it is for concrete made lr'ith crushed rock. ]ccause the stones do not interlock. Gravel -isually represents a mixture of rock tvpes. :.nd the thermal resistance and expansioi-t --ualities of the rock cannot be predicted. i-or these reasons it is probabl,v better to ,-se a knorvn tvpe of stone or crushed rock :r concrete that rvill be used in high-heat :rrts ofovens (such as a refiactorv concrete .:iposed to flame). Some gravels are quite -.r)nogenous and resistant to heat (like the ::mous grat'el in Devon that was used as ':qregate to temper the cla,v ovens made by

1.600 deerees Fahrenheit, rvhere it pops \\'ater \-eporizes, fbrming tiny bubbles.



can s'cigh trom two to twentv-fir'e pounds per cubic fbot (pcf) and is not affected by temperatures to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Perlite concrete as light as tu.enty-four pounds pcf are extremelv good insulators and retain compressive strengths of 200 psi,

about that olextruded styrene insulation. A mix of 1:6 cement and perlite r,vill give a 24

to 30-pound pcfconcrete. Adding expanded shale to the mix rvill make a heavier and

:re potters there).

: \PANDED CLAYAND SIL{LE --rp:rnded clal', slate, and shale are lightri ght. insulatin g, heat-resistant aggregates :'-rde bv rapidly heating clav and shale that

stronger insulating concrete, but be sure to avoid heavier aggregates and extensive power mixing, which can crush the perlite

- ,ntain carbon and sulfur (especiall), iron :',rite, or fbol's gold). Gas is generated at .--;h a speed that it expands the mineral as re material becomes glassv. This material . used in such huge quantities by makers : iightr,veight concrete block that the,v :-l usuallv give 1.s11 as much as vou can

Perlite is not expensive. Because the little rounded balls of perlite run into cavities like water, most of it is used to insulate the cores of block walls. That makes it eas,v to get, but means that perlite sold in bags at masonrv outlets is often coated n'ith silicone, u'hich reduces its adhesion in concrete. This isn't a problem *'hen perlite concrete is used nonstructurall)r as insulation, but locate a source of the nonsiliconized material to use it in a load-bearing element. *

*Perlite should

conform to


.q.srr,r <:

is also avail-

able in a rigid fbrm,



in a small truck, or sell it to lrou ,:caplv At 90 pounds per cubic fbot, con..-:te made rvith this material can provide


od ler.els of compressive strength (2,000 :rnds per square inch, or psi) rvith a ther-ii conductivity that is less than half that of - rventional concrete. It can be combined

lightn eight aggregate made expanding mica. It forms into little rvorms
is a

and flakes that are similar to but much smaller than styrene packaging peanLrts. The


::h other lighnveight to further J:ease insulation values.

worms are very light and sofi and resistant to heat; the,v fill cavities almost as well as perlite. Vermiculite is less easily available, as
some of


is contaminated rvith small per-



centages of asbestos. IJse a mask r'r'hen vou

::iite is a lightrveight insulating aggregate - :t1e bv heating volcanic glass quickly to

pour ltny particulate masonry product.**

should conform to asru c 516.



Mnsonry Tools nnd Method'

is not feasible or appropriate to describe all the techniques ol masonrv construction crete, sand, and other materials and fbrmrvork in this book. thev are needed. Good, basic books are avail-


over the wheel r'vhen the handles are lifted' A rvheelbarrow is good for mixing concrete and mortar by hand and for carrving con-





able at the libran' or car-r be purchased at a masonr\r suppl,v yard, lumberl,ard, or bookstore. Consult one of
those texts as a supplement to this book. What vou do need to know. horvever, is r'vhat tools ).ou 1r'ill need.


trarlition of


wearing vnTrta?/bonrds (witb a tnssel

on top to signify n

trail of fnlling off the boord.)

goes ba,ch. to

It is conr.enient to ha.i'e three trorvels on an oven job: a triangular traditional bricklal,'er's tror.vel, a flat concrete finishing trorvel, and


notched tilesetter's trorvel. lrhich is used to score the surface of the sand and clal layer on u,hich the hearth
bricks are set.

Although a mechanical mixer ma\r be used to mix the mortar and concrete for an
oven, the small quantities re-

cerelnonies of the
m.idd.le a.ges, wl,ren
rnnsTns were vna.d,e

quired mav also be mixed bt, hand in a trough or u'heelbarrorv. The entire amount of concrete and mortar that

of their trod.e.

Along with vour trowels a ofplwvood measuring 18 to 24 inches on each side *,ill come in handv as
fe'iv pie ces



mortarboards from u.hich r.ou can trorvel up mortar as necessarlr.


Apparentlv the tradition


goes into an oven is rather small, and its use

of w aring mortarboards
trail ofmortar lalling off the board) goes back to the gradua tassel a

is spread out over several davs. Therefore,

is not too much to mix bv hand.


on top to signift


ation ceremonies of the middle ages, SHO\EL

Cements and aggregates are usuallv measured by the shovelful, using a square or round shovel that can also be used to slice into a bag of cement or to clear away the topsoil for a foundation slab. You have to have a shovel, and it is best to have both



masons rvere made masters of their trade.



IOINTING TOOL Youdon'tneedoneoftheseforinteriorbricklvork. Get a mason's or tilesetter's sponge instead. Tooling joints is a good idea fbr exterior bricku.ork, as the compressing and sliding action helps seal the mortar against types. \\'ater) and forces the mortar into a tighter WT{EELBARROW bond u'ith the brick. }ointing tools are availThis means a concrete t,vpe of rvheelbarrow, able in several profiles, so be sure to choosc rvith a metal or plastic pan that is balanced one that makes a pattern 1'ou like.

l a-a:;



,-: 1r




ilesetters finish off grout lines bv su'eepinS

tir:c u'alls are laid. This is not critical; .r thick pcncil and a straight edge mav serve ls ri e 11.

:rem gently rvith a damp sponge after t}-re j:out has partiallv hardened. You cirn clo the 'rirle tling r'vith the mortar in interior brick'. ork joints. Just don't r-r-rake the sponge too ' ;t. u'hich r,vould make a mess of the joint
-:r.1 brick and also



,,r'ooclen mallet

to tap brick



ir-rto pl.rce.

l'ash some of the


THR-EE POUND FLAT{MER Use l three-pound hammerlrith a brick set to cut bricks to size . and to rnake half-bricks for corners. A three-pound hammer u'orks better and is safbr than an ordinarv carpenter's hammer for this job.

strength out of the mortar.

. :\-EL

lis job requires several 6'pes of levels. Test :..lir-idual bricks fbr ler,el (the eve can lie) ,rtl-r a plastic or metal torpedo level. The

r:gser the bubble, thc better. Typicall,v these :" els are the length of a brick, so thev can :: placed on a brick ll.hile it is tapped level ',:th the trorvel handle or a x.ooden mallet. lhe tbundation fbrms ma,v be leveled u'ith a ',.rter level, a builder's optical level, or eten


A brick set is a big blunt chisel that is used to score or stress bricks ur-rtil thev break along the line. A brick should be placed on a piece



ofl'ood or a somen.hat vielding


surface (soil,

rth a four-fbot level taped onto the edge



"r'hen and protective lenses are a must.



hit. Flving chips are clritwl?t

. :traight

piece of 2 x 4 lumber; the slab is small deviation liom ab-

.:rall enough that



',rlute ler,el n'on't matter that much. A nl'o: ,ot and a fbur-foot ler.el u.ill come in handv : 'r leveling and plumbing the block rvalls as :rer- are laid.

You need a hack sa\\r to cut reinforcing bar.

Basic Corpentry Tools

Carpentrrr tools are necessar\r on this maror-t11' job to build forms for concrete, to make braces, and to build forms or centering for brickrvork. A circular sa\\', some sawhorses, hammers, tool belts, squares, measLlr-

find it conr.enient to lay out 'qllare, ler.el, and plumb lines to guide con.:ruction with brick and block. This is done i ith sturdy, colored string, stretched be:'r'een stakes or betrveen bricks set at each
\l.rr-ri. people .:'rd of a course of bricks to be laid.

ing tapes, r,r'ood cl'risels, and so fbrth are all



chalk line is convenient for la,r,ing o.r,

r,r'all bricks on the


Nolr' that I'r'e previeu'ed the basic eiements of a rrrasonrv oven and the tools and materials required to build one, it's time to
start construction.

rattern ofthe

hearth bricks,




Exclwsiya offownd.otion slab, insalation, encloswre, wnd roof

tl {t


Hearth slab: Six 90-lb bags of sack mix or equivalent concrete-see text Oven cladding: Ten 90-lb bags of sack mix or equivalent

Hearth forrn: One shee t of 314 " CDX plyrood; four 8' lengths of l" x 4"


Bricks Concrete block For base 38' high nt beartb: Fifty-three blocks 16" x 8" and two blocks 8" x 8"
H ea r th : Ninety-six standard-dury fi rebricks Oven: One hundred trventy-five best-quality red bricks ( l0% less if using firebricks, I0% more if using modular-size bricls)
Owter arch and flue fhroat: Fifiry best-quality red

Portland mortar to lay this amount of block and filty bricks (four sacks mortar mix approximately) Portland fireclay mortar to lay one hundred twenty-five bricks OR Refractory mortar to lay one hundred twentyfive bricks wirh r/+" joinr lines (Fireclay mortar willl require one sack Porrland

bricks Chirnney: flue tile and red bricks to suit Outer hearth; bullnose brick or stone slab to fit Below owter hea.rth: Sixteen red brick splits or

For block base: Two

2" x 2"


" angle iron

cement, one sack fireclaS and thre e f 00-lb sacks of fine mortar sand)

64" long
()ven doorway: One 2 " x 3" x r/+" angle iron

22" long

Reinforcing mesh Oven cladding: 6' x 7'approx. of 6" x 6"


Below open rolls healy-duty

house-hold foil

Reinforcing bar
Hearth slob: 6O' of


" bar (20' lengths

Blocbwnl[s: (optional) I2A'


1lz" bar





M en d. o cino,
C oliforni

Hrur. HouRs oN \ITNDING RoADS up the scenic route from San Frar.r cisco, Chris Kump and Margaret Fox work day and night to turn out memorable meals at Cafe Beaujolais in the North Coast town of Mendocino. Chris grew up in a chef's family and didn't start to bake until he rvas in college, although he remembers visiting Lionel Poilane's basement oven in Paris as a bog and always held the visual and gustatory memory

rf I

ofhearth-baked European bread up against the bread that u'as available to him on the North Coast. At first Chris and Margaret tried to bake in the restaurant's ovens, but
they might, it rvasn't great bread. Chris learned about Alan Scott and began negotiations for an oven, but was inhibited by the cost not only of



the oven, but of a building to put it in and the $.ages of the people who would bake in it. Then, in a farmer's market in a little village in southern France, Chris sarv a plume of smoke coming out of a shabbv trailer with a line of people outside it. In the trailer was a brick oven, and in the oven
was a batch of the kind of real bread that Chris had to ltave at his place . He came home and said,


he can cook bread like that in a trailer,

to build the oven!" Chris got back build the biggest oven Alan had done up to that time (4 x 6-foot interior) and to do it as a student rvorkshop to offset some of the cost and increase

I'm going in touch u'ith Alan and they decided to

the excitement. They named the ner'v bakery the Brickery. The Cafe already had a walk-in cooler in an adjacent shed so the Brickery construction was a renovation and addition on that shed, creating both the bakery and a prep room for the Cafe. The face of the oven is on the short r'vest 'lvall of the bakery room) with the mass of the oven outside. The south r,r'all of the bakery has r,vindorvs looking over the organic garden of the Cafe, down toward the Little River cove. The room is oblong and open, to allorv free use of the peel, ash rake , and hearth mop. There is a skylight to reduce glare and the room is full of natural light, with a concrete floor, a homemade proofing cabinet, one sink, and two Formica-co'r'ered counters. The proofing baskets are stored in a set of shelves over the counter and the sink, the bagwette pans on another

shelfnear the proofing box. The Brickery runs on a nventv-four-hour

cycle , six days a week; most

of the bread is naturally leavened. Until 1996, the levuin was made in the


i l



Er i-\l !i.iV i;

* I

lt il


l(wrup ond Margaret

en rl i ci n

Fox, M

o, Cal iforn i a.

il $/{//l

I ir(a:

morning-doughs containing 30 to 35 percent of this lepainwere made up at night by the restaurant staff, well after the bakers had gone home, and this dough had most of its primarv fermentation in the rvalk-in cooler. Dough mixing by the cooks led to some variabilitv in the doughs and rvas a strain on the restaurant stafI, distracting them from their primary duties. Because there
are three or more naturallv leavened doughs prepared each day and because they use aL o.atzlyse to achieve a well-hydrated dough, this evening rvork took




1996, thel'changed to a dough process similar to that described by Nanry Silverton, and they changed the timing of their retarding step from primary fermentation to proofing. Nor,v doughs are mixed in the early morning by the bakers, after the firsr bake of loaves is in the oven. Onlv the leavens are mixed in the evening, a_r'rd this chore is relatively brief. By 11 a.rnr., the doughs have had their primarr fermentation, rounding, and shaping; after one hour at room temperature, ali ofthe proofing baskets are put in the cooler, to be taken out and baked the next morning. Aside from the naturall,v fermented breads, the most popular

up to t\,vo hours.



bread at the restaurant is a yeasted Austrian Sunflower Bread that contains ten kinds of seeds or grains; these require soaking to soften and are mixed together and wetted in the evening so the dough may be made up, and baked the next day.

rme nte d,

For a number of years, the Cafe Beaujolais oven was fired with fireplace logs first thing in the morning, after the wood had dried overnight in the cooling oven. This delayed baking for several hours, the heat on the hearth \r'as uneven when baking began, and the wood sometimes overdried. An or.ernight firing program was developed in l996,inwhich the oven is lnaded tstill with fireplace-sized wood) at the end of the baking day, but not lit. That sood is dry (but not excessively) by the time the evening staff comes in to mix the leavens. They light the oven; when they leave it is burning brightly, allowing them to place a draft door over the oven doorway, with room at the top for smoke to exit, but with control of incoming air (with adjustable air intakes on the door). This gives a burn of about six hours, allowing more
bakes the next



much use ofa supplemental gas burner berween

bakes. The oven has a portable gas jet that can be fued in the oven for fifteen

to rwenty minutes to raise the temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius) if there is a pause in the baking and there are several loads
still to go. The overnight burn also allows baking to start as soon as the oven is cleaned out and rested for halfan hour, baking the retarded loaves shaped
the day before.

Altlrough the hearth heat is now even. the re is a tendency for the hearth to be a little overheated relative to the dome. Since the first bread baked each day is a load of baguettes, thjs extra hearth heat has not been a big problem: ttrey are baked in perforated stainless steel pans that hold them up off the hearth a little. By the end of the morning there is plenry of bread, not iust for the restaurantl but for wholesale clients (stores) and for retail customers nho buy bread from the restaurant secretary.
and Margaret could What are the things that really work about this operation) First of all, Chris not have had a first class restaurant without first-class

bread, and now they have it. Secondly, the restaurant has to have a secretary, and it is not too much of an interruption for the secretary to sell some bread

in the middle of the day-but it would be too much of an interruption for the baker to sell it all. Also, the restaurant is staffed at night, and the baker


Lonpes on a poel



sprayed with nratey, then dusterl with seeds before they

nre bahed.


can be home when the leaven is mixed fbr the next day.

All of the staff get

to have some control over their work hours, even though bread is available by mid-morning. Wrhat are the things that don't work so wellf Well, the Brickerv is only about a break-even proposition. The market in Mendocino is small and the labor is hired, so a typical one hundred and fifty loaf day may not break even. Tl-ris is made up on the weekends and in the summer, but only barely. It would also have been nice to create a seasonal n-rorning and lunch place centered around the oven, a service room for coffee and bistro food, but the construction cost u,'as just too high. A trial some years ago of oven-bake d pizza for lunch just rvasn't profitable without the ambiance and seating to go with it. Overall, though, everyone at Cafi3 Beaujolais is pleased rl,'ith the Brickery. They love the bread they sell and eat, they don't lose money, they are fascinated by the process) and evervone gets some sleep at some time of the day or night.

for ', lirr : .-cle c:r:



rion ,



bur' 'r-: make :