Scroll down for images of the project - oldest images at the bottom of the page

In early summer of 2007 I saw an article about a “Kneading Conference” in Skowhegan, ME. Some aspects of that conference seemed really intriguing to me and so I called a friend who had talked about wood-fired ovens to see if he might like to take advantage of a day talking to someone with experience with the open fire method of cooking/baking. We built our oven in October, 2007.

This might be a good place to mention the great guys at Infab, in Lewiston Maine. They assisted with selecting the correct bricks, and mortars, and even designed the arches. I suggest you do business there when you get around to building an oven of your own. January of 2011 finds me beginning a small masonry heater for the bottle house so I was at Infab this morning and found they now have the mineral wool insulation you'll need for your oven.

For a basic Bill of Materials - click here

PizzAmore page

Don't expect "normal" pizzas when you come to eat here. We might now and then make one with tomato sauce and chopped steak but it's not a routine thing. More likely you'll be treated to our home made Pesto under Tequila chicken pieces with Fontina cheese. Or pulled pork and BBQ sauce, or maybe even Marmalade under that pork. Might even be a day for blueberry Foccacia with  freshly made Bailey's Irish Cream ice cream. Try it - you'll like it.

Donations to help defray costs associated with PizzAmore are graciously accepted. Just slip it under a serving dish or something.

You'll be surprised to find a pizza crust made from 8 grains, freshly ground within a day or 2 of the day we cook PizzAmore. You'll wonder how we make our crusts as light as any other crust. If you ask nicely you might even find out the secret. Meanwhile, simply enjoy the flavor of the pre-pizza sourdough and dried tomato flatbread, served with smoked fish from  Maine. 

Then taste the pesto chicken with Fontina. We grow the basil and parsley for our pesto. Perhaps you'll like the pulled pork (slow cooked with our personal rubs and sauces) and BBQ sauce with smoked Gouda, or the homemade cranberry-mustard chicken pie? We never know for sure what topping we’ll have the day you come. We do like to experiment a lot. Shrimp scampi and asparagus on goat cheese or Ricotta?


We serve a very healthy Tuscan style pizza so we don’t feel in the least bit guilty when we serve you our triple-chocolate ice cream for dessert. Made with heavy cream from Maine’s dairies, you'll think you’ve somehow been transported back a hundred years to Grampy’s farm and his hand-churned ice cream, made with farm-fresh eggs.

And as always, a selection of fine wines from Maine’s first and oldest farm winery:

Bartlett Maine Estate Winery and Distillery.


east complete.JPG (265586 bytes) East side finished

June 1st, 2008

This project is essentially finished now. Who knows what the next thing might turn out to be?


Bangor Daily News Article from July 2nd, 2008

Emma Gallimore on PizzAmore

Central Maine Morning Sentinel May 1st, 2011

front complete.JPG (181698 bytes) From inside the bottle house front complete1.JPG (259698 bytes) Closer view of front north wall complete.JPG (255336 bytes) North side of finished oven
east wall slate.JPG (352419 bytes) Finishing the east wall east wall slate 1.JPG (386522 bytes) East wall ready for grouting north wall slate.JPG (133107 bytes) North wall ready for grout
sunray pattern.JPG (584068 bytes)

By splitting the thick pieces I can make patterns with the matching slices. Here you can see the plan for the east wall, where the sun rises. The red is a 6-inch Mexican terra cotta tile left over from the hot-tub room floor project. The same pattern can be found in the bottle house floor.

east slate1.JPG (489408 bytes)

This wall is about half done

east slate 2.JPG (353649 bytes)

Closer view of the east wall before grouting

bench table3 5 08.JPG (167243 bytes)

A little dark, but the base is part of an old pea-vining machine from town. It's been here and there around our property for 30 years. Now it has a purpose again

slate loose.JPG (320250 bytes)

May 23rd, 2008. This is some of the slate I picked up in Monson for this project. You'll notice some thick slabs and some thin pieces. The thin ones are what's left after I split the thick ones.

front slate 1.JPG (159744 bytes)

This is the front of the oven with the puzzle pieces adhered. When I finish all four walls I'll go back and grout it all in

Bottle house stonework 4 7 08 aerial view.JPG (179991 bytes)

This view is from the garage roof. Look closely and maybe you can see the clay tile supports that now hold up the new tiled shelf in front of the oven.

bench table 2 5 08.JPG (274470 bytes)  

A new bench/table has been installed

bench table1 5 08.JPG (248917 bytes)

We'll see who sits on it and who sits stuff on it. Either way is just fine with us

shelf tile1.jpg (653149 bytes)

Leftover tiles from the hot tub room will serve as a work surface here. I dropped them in as the concrete set up to save a step tomorrow in cementing them in. I'll be able to grout later today or first thing in the morning and be ready for a crowd late in the afternoon

April 20th, 2008

After a nearly intolerably snowy winter ( like a real, old Maine winter), spring exploded on the scene this week, culminating in a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in the 60s with just a light breeze swaying the maple trees with their plump buds. We lined up the lawn chairs facing the garden and several pizza lovers sat contentedly watching the daffodils slowly opening in the sunshine as the oven heated up. We made eight pizzas using a spinach infused multi-grain crust that people seemed to enjoy. Bartlett wines and good conversation, made even more interesting by an international guest list, rounded out the evening as we ended the party with Mike's brownies and homemade triple-chocolate and coffee ice cream. 

bottle houe stonework 4 7 08.JPG (314061 bytes)

I've begun laying a stone patio as an entry to the bottle house/PizzAmore

Shelf form1.jpg (682270 bytes) 

It's time to continue the project now that spring has arrived

Shelf form2.jpg (659711 bytes)

I decided that the landing for stuff going in and out of the oven was too small, so here I've built a form to enlarge it to 18 inches deep

Shelf form3.jpg (675039 bytes)

The concrete has been poured

Matt & Doug.JPG (306965 bytes)

Matt, in his "Ski Patrol & Apprentice Turner" hat, tends a pie in the oven while Doug assembles another one

Mike Bryan.JPG (123591 bytes)

Grampy Mike tries to entice Bryan with some pizza

As it turns out, this high-temperature oven can be fired slower and with un-seasoned wood to produce spectacular barbeque! We've used it several times to slow-cook beef brisket and pork loin. Fantastic smoky results and melt in your mouth tender meats. 

And we also use it for regular grilling using the Tuscan-style grill shown below. I don't think there's anything that cannot be cooked in this oven. Still working up the courage yo try baking my bread in it. I'll no doubt get to that as the season progresses. Drop back to see images of the results.

oven door.JPG (160429 bytes) A nice antique oven door I'm adapting to my oven now. The temperature gauge goes to 600 degrees F. What a deal at $35.00!!!Try finding one of these at your local Wally-World or Home Despot...(yes-I spelled it this way on purpose) oven door 1.JPG (202951 bytes) The first door I looked at when I went to the stove place was this one. It has a little door in the big door so we'll be able to look in at the fire without opening the door all the way up. This will be good when we're roasting meats and baking bread. Sadly, Bryant Stove has now closed. Builder cutter eater.JPG (377626 bytes)

Doug builds, Tim slices in the background, and Ethan samples a pie

wheel.jpg (701405 bytes)

A simple shaft collar on a bolt serves as a wheel to roll the grill in and out of the oven. Wheels are only on the rear as we lift the front using the handle to move it in and out

handle.jpg (151547 bytes)

The augur I used for the handle came from Marian's home farm and was saved from the dump years ago when the farm was sold. Every now and then one of these treasures ends up being used in the house for some useful purpose - often not the one it was initially intended for

3 peels.jpg (585694 bytes) We now have 3 semi-matching pizza peels made from recycled and leftover wood pieces. The mahogany and maple peels not only look nice but they work well too. 14", 10" and 7", just in case the 3 bears come to dinner
table side.jpg (729009 bytes) Knee top and a maple stump as the support of the tabletop grill top.jpg (204251 bytes)

A roll-in/out Tuscan-stylegrill allows us to also cook steaks, burgers and fish in the oven

grill side.jpg (207358 bytes)

Side view showing the recycled wood augur as a  handle

102411.jpg (658425 bytes) French fries bake in a cast iron skillet 102412.jpg (648557 bytes) Our first dinner from the new oven! Fries, tuna steak and peas from the garden. (Ok, I admit the tuna wasn't from our garden). Yes - it tasted mighty good table top.jpg (355604 bytes) Knee table for lounging while waiting for pizza to be prepared
10248.jpg (610433 bytes) A half hour into the first burn 10249.jpg (554125 bytes) An hour after the fire is lit you can see the ceiling of the oven turning white. When the entire ceiling is white the oven is at 1000 degrees and is ready to cook pizzas. In this image you can also see the fire exiting into the flue in the front of the oven 102410.jpg (816762 bytes) Here's the oven all clad in cement board. It will likely remain this way until the spring of 2008, when I'll have decided on the outer finish material
10245.jpg (693727 bytes) The rear of the oven with insulation 10246.jpg (611172 bytes) I've heard the an 'upside down fire' really works well for getting the fire going. Large logs are put on the bottom and smaller ones added to the pile, with paper in the center 10247.jpg (560958 bytes) When the paper is lit the fire quickly catches and moves down to the larger pieces
10242.jpg (708942 bytes) 8" of rock wool (Also known as mineral wool) will keep the heat in the oven instead of allowing it to cool to the air 10243.jpg (908364 bytes) Front view of insulation 10244.jpg (708497 bytes) Here you can see the cement board that covers the insulation
brace2.jpg (681271 bytes) A view of the steel bracing from the front of the oven. The steel won't be visible once the front arch opening is established. That may mean in the spring. We'll see how things go this week. What you see from here to the bottom of this page represents a week's work steel frame1.JPG (820120 bytes) I've figured out the roof and containment of the insulation. The lower part is wood. the upper part steel studding so as be fireproof. I've somehow managed to size it so that 3'x5' sheets of cement board will fit nicely to make a watertight outer covering for the winter. It will also allow for a simple tiling job on the outside if I decide not to use fieldstone. The oven roof slips just under the eaves of the bottle house so the water falling from the bottle house roof should keep right on going down the oven roof without a deluge in our laps as we cook. hopefully anyhow 10241.jpg (425010 bytes) All the steel supports are now in
peel5.jpg (419031 bytes) A closer look peel6.jpg (620988 bytes) With the Spalding Enterprises logo right side up brace1.jpg (689587 bytes) I decided to add some structural steel support for the lateral forces that the ceiling arch might produce. Probably unneeded, but... 
peel2.jpg (684907 bytes) The handle and center section of the peel are made from old African Mahogany, saved when the Masonic Hall in Tewksbury, Massachusetts was torn down years ago. I keep finding small pieces of it and using them in unique ways. I forgot to rotate the image so you may have to tip your head to see it. Ill probably include another shot later and in the right direction peel3.jpg (433848 bytes) This just shows that the glue has squeezed out nicely between the sections of wood, indicating a good joint. After it dries I'll take it down to the proper thickness, then shape and sharpen the edge. peel4.jpg (670309 bytes) A couple of hours of shaping and sanding; a coat or 3 of mineral oil and the peel is ready for action. Here it leans on another important kind of heating device at the house
10205.jpg (710889 bytes)The oven can be used any time now. 1 week after deciding to do this we have a useable cooking tool. Naturally it'll be a long time before the outer walls are finished. So long as the weather is the way it has been this month I'm sure I'll at least begin that part of the project. It'll be nice to have an idea of what it will look like when done. I'll also do something about a temporary roof so the oven can be insulated before winter sets in. Insulation helps retain the heat so it can be used to cook for longer than when the fire is actively being fed 10211.jpg (818777 bytes)Blue tarp is now down, chimney installed  and the oven is out in the open. I'll start a small fire tomorrow to begin curing. Next weekend we'll be cooking in it peel1.jpg (658319 bytes) A few scraps of framing wood (mahogany and bird's eye maple) and we'll soon have a nice wooden peel to place pizzas and stuff into the oven.
10203.jpg (712404 bytes)Here you can see the cast flue run from above the oven. It's also a good view of the top of the oven arch 10204.jpg (620592 bytes)This view from the inside of the oven is of the exit hole for the fire in the arch top. The exit hole is in the front part of the oven, connected to the horizontal flue run, and the chimney is set up on top of the arched ceiling at the rear of the oven, thus getting the smoke away from the front entry of the oven. By building the fire in the rear of the oven and having the smoke and fire exit at the front, the heat is better absorbed by all the mass of the firebrick and refractory. The better heat retention, the more efficient the oven when cooking whatever we decide to cook 10206.jpg (683342 bytes)Doug scrubs excess mortar from the back wall after installing the firebrick back wall of the oven
10199.jpg (657769 bytes)A secondary arch now reduces the opening to the oven to contain the smoke and heat. A further reduction occurs when the facing of the oven goes on - in this case in the spring of 2008, unless the weather holds long enough for me to get stone laid, but that's highly-doubtful on October 19th. Oh, look-Bill is helping out again. We used a strap clamp to hold this arch in place because I forgot the stack of bricks to hold the skew on this arch. Now I'll have to install that after the fact - much harder then - drat! 10201.jpg (701264 bytes) I used a half section of 12" "sono-tube" as the inner part of the flue form. It's set up like a horizontal periscope. One end looks down into the oven and the other end looks up into what will become the chimney 10202.jpg (641213 bytes) Another view. the box portion is the outer shell of the form and will come off in a day or so, depending on time constraints more than the time needed for the castable refractory to cure. The inside parts of the form burn out in the initial firings of the oven. I used 4 50# bags of "Noxcrete" castable for this poured flue run
10196.jpg (697875 bytes)A rubber mallet adjusts a few bricks before the arch support is lowered. These are #1-A arch firebrick. Note the short blocks under the legs of the arch form. After the arch bricks are mortared in these blocks are knocked out, allowing the brick arch to snug up using gravity 10197.jpg (672163 bytes)After mortaring each arch run the arch form is immediately removed to allow the arch to drop into its natural form. Usually this works fine, with a minimum of adjustment. Should bricks need moving, use a rubber mallet so as not to damage the brick surfaces. Angle iron and long clamps hold everything together while the mortar cures.  10198.jpg (672608 bytes)To snug the arch runs to the previous ones, a long clamp and a bit of persuasion does the trick. That's not blue sky through the flue hole-it's blue tarp because it started raining early on 
10193.jpg (703824 bytes)Perhaps the best thing to do on a project that might take a few days is to begin by building an enclosure to keep the weather off. I was glad I did this early this day because before long we had a steady rain that might have made it both difficult and unpleasant to work. The temperature was fine though 10194.jpg (701509 bytes)This shows our form for the main vault arch, and a note reminding me and you to always remember that you'll want the smoke to exit the vaulted ceiling somewhere. By cutting 3 bricks in half and using the 3 half bricks in the top 3 rows of the front 2 arch runs you provide such a place for the smoke. Later images will show how this interfaces with the chimney, which will be in the rear of the vaulted arch. This also shows the 'skew' bricks on top of the side walls. The ceiling rests against those and on top of the walls. On a 36"x36" interior oven the skew is simply a 45 degree slice off a regular firebrick 10195.jpg (685863 bytes)Bill helps out...

We discovered that by using a small floor jack and a short 2x6 under the arch form we were able to gently lower the form, rather than just yank out the shims and drop it. That way we also had the option to raise it back up if we needed to make adjustments

deer.jpg (80935 bytes)A deer came to visit in the rain this morning 10191.jpg (692562 bytes)This was how I chose to cut the firebricks in half, where i needed those 10192.jpg (673869 bytes)This is actually just a little too much Super 3000 for adhering the bricks together. Unless you have an erose surface, all you need is enough to just cover the brick. That way they fit better all along the way
3 4.JPG (689646 bytes)Getting dark out early nowadays. Perhaps you can see the cantilevered shelf towards what will be the front of the oven - shown to the right in this shot.  3 5.JPG (647808 bytes)A view from inside the Teahouse, of what will be the wood storage compartment. The shingles under the form supports will be pulled out, thus allowing for the plywood forming the slab floor to be removed easily. I left the face of the base open to allow easier access to this area.  17 1.JPG (684745 bytes)The floor and lower tier of the walls are laid out dry for fitting purposes. I've decided to use a product called "Insblock 19" as a way to isolate and insulate the floor of the oven from the cement slab supporting it. This product, as I'm using it, comes 1"x12"x36" so 3 panels costing a total of $22.50 seemed like a good investment. It feels soft, but rigid, so it makes up for any unevenness in the cement surface. It will change the overall height of the sidewalls so I'll have to decide how high to make those before beginning the arched ceiling. 
3 1.JPG (684990 bytes)The block base is complete now, and with the mixer up in the Kubota, this pour will be as easy as the base slab was 3 2.JPG (690457 bytes)Another view of the pour 3 3.JPG (643120 bytes)The pour completed
6a.JPG (702403 bytes)You may notice that the bottle wall seems to be getting shorter now 7.JPG (701933 bytes)The slab is done now 8.JPG (145372 bytes)And the 4th bottle wall is out. Later I'll decide what to do with that wall as the oven goes up
4.JPG (718620 bytes)Mixing concrete 5.JPG (710644 bytes)Spreading the goo 6.JPG (695085 bytes)Pouring
1.JPG (735060 bytes)Around 2:30 this afternoon (October 13th, 2007) we decided we wanted a pizza oven, so we hooked up the trailer and wandered off to get some supplies. By dinnertime we had the big burning bush transplanted out of the way and the lower slab form in and leveled   3.jpg (655547 bytes)The bush has been moved to the west wall of the garden gate.





Return to Doug's Main Page Contact Doug