Tag Archives: swan valley wineries

Pizza oven – Build your own

Build a pizza oven

Building a pizza oven from used solid bricks can be a very rewarding project.

This pizza oven building project was started in May 2010. Here you will find all the steps to build  a workable oven that cooks real pizzas and marvellous bread.

The pizza oven is a traditional dome type whereas the tunnel type of pizza oven is easier to build. If you have any questions feel free to make comments.

Step 1.

The base

First of all determine what type of base you require. This one is made from delta core concrete, light and strong and transportable. I got it home with my 6×4 trailer . This means I can pick the oven up with my forklift and place it anywhere I want. Most people will choose to build theirs in place.

oven base
oven base made by deltacore

The base is 1500 x 1200 mm and 150mm deep. You will need to add two tension bars across the base to give tension in that direction.

Step 2.


Determine the diameter of the oven. This one is one metre inside diameter.

Pizza oven base
Pizza oven base

Here I have marked it out and placed the outside base layer of red solids in place. These are glued to the concrete with a mixture of clay, lime and cement. Remember you are building a brick oven not a mortar oven. To do this keep the gaps between your bricks less than 3mm.

Pizza oven base
Pizza oven base
Pizza oven base board
The Pizza oven base board
Pizza oven base cutoff saw
Pizza oven base saw

To set the base out I drew the one metre diameter on a 6mm sheet of cement sheet with the entrance of the pizza oven door too. Under the sheet went a 25mm layer of high temperature ceramic insulation. To cut and shape the bricks I used a friction saw, with a masonry disk. Old bricks are easy to cut and if soaked in a bucket of water have a reduced amount of dust.

Pizza oven base insulation
Pizza oven base insulation
Pizza oven base insulation
oven base insulation
oven base insulation
The oven base insulation is under the cement sheet.
oven base insulation floor
More oven base floor
oven base floor
oven base floor
oven base floor insulation
The oven base floor insulation
oven base floor bricks
oven base floor bricks
oven base floor bricks
The oven base floor bricks

Here is the first layer in place, ready for  the next layer.

Step 3.

Finish the floor.

oven base floor
The oven base floor bricks
oven base floor tiles
oven base floor bricks

The first layer and the floor finished.

Here I have used clay floor tiles, in hindsight not a good choice as they crack under heat stress. A later version has ceramic furnace tiles in place of these. NB that under the floor tiles is a layer of 50 mm brick pavers sitting on top of the cement sheet. Next build I will place 50 mm of insulation under the brick pavers.


The photographer
Who is the photographer



The builder.
The builder.



Step 4.

Making the door and form work.

Red Tile floor
The Tiled floor

You will require two pieces of steel, one for the door and the other for the flue entrance. I bent these the hard way with a hammer.  In the centre of the photo is the form for building the brick dome. The door is 550mm wide and 260mm high.


Shep watching on.
Shep watching on.
Tile floor – Planning

The former is a piece of sheet metal angle welded to a steel rod. At the centre is a washer welded to the rod. SDC11232

Can you see the pin in the centre of the floor, next to the cup? Its a bolt through a piece of plywood and stuck to the floor with masking tape.

pin in the centre of the floor
See the pin in the centre of the floor

Here the second layer is stuck to the first layer. Looks like the last brick need to be cut to finish this layer.

The former
The former
Second layer in place
Second layer in place
third layer in place
The third layer in place


Third layer in place.

The fourth layer nearly finished.
Fourth layer nearly finished.

Note the small pieces of brick used as wedges.

The fourth layer nearly finished.
Fourth layer nearly finished.

Step 5.

The chimney

A mock up early in the build.
Early in the build.
A mock up of the chimney early in the build.
Tricky bit over the door
Starting another layer

A mock up early in the build.SDC11257 SDC11258 SDC11259 SDC11260 SDC11261 SDC11262 SDC11264 SDC11265 SDC11267

Good brick work
Half way there
The builder – Duncan
Duncan – the builder
The builder brick layer – Duncan
Another layer finished.

Note the inner top bricks are getting towards being vertical, meaning the mud between the bricks has to dry before moving the former.

Step 5

Finishing the dome

The final part of the brick build. In this step I have place a disk of sheet metal inside through the door up under the dome. It is held up with bricks and wood. On top of the sheet is some sand formed into a dome and the remaining bricks placed onto the sand.

Build nearly finished
Nearly finished, just need to add the flue.
The build nearly finished- looks good where it counts

Once all the bricks are in place the sheet is remove and it all stays together.

The inside finished.

See the good brick work
Good brick work
The finished dome before the mortar seals it
Another cup of tea on the hearth

The first chimney in place. just needs mortar.

Another view
Picked up with the fork lift

Step 6

Firing and drying

See the first small fire


Chimney redesigned #2

Chimney No. 2.

The first chimney was OK but smoked on startup. After making the larger chimney #2, which was much better, I found that they all smoke on startup. It is the volume of smoke produced that the chimney can’t cope with even if you have a big fire. The answer is to start small.


Step 7

Insulating the oven.

Here I have used old fibre glass batts, however rockwool is recommended.

Shotgun chimney

SDC11294 SDC11295 SDC11296 SDC11297 SDC11298


Step 8

Adding the mortar.

Painful. The lesson with this is to place aluminium foil or some other non combustible on top of the insulation under the wire mesh. Also you need to place foundry chaplets in the insulation too so the mortar will not squash the insulation. Then if the insulation is compressed the chaplets it will hold the mortar away from the bricks. In this case the mortar over hangs the concrete base, which does not help. There is a better way.SDC11300 SDC11301

Mortar layer all finished.

Duncan, the  proud owner


The finished article.

Then allow some time  for the mortar and bricks to dry inside and out and then its pizza time.

One hot pizza oven
One hot pizza oven
Pizza oven running with woofs
Pizza oven running with wwoofs


Making pizzas
Just out of the oven

Organic chickens in the vineyard

Chickens in the Organic Vineyard

Organic chickens

Organic chickens in the organic vineyard are wonderful. I would like to forget using the diesel tractor ploughing between vines, the latest must-have in my organic vineyard maintenance is chickens. Leading the way in the Swan Valley Duncan Harris has introduced 15 chickens to his vineyard to help with the upkeep.

Duncan Harris, an organic vigneron in the hot climate grape-producing region of Perth’s Swan Valley has allowed his chickens to roam his vineyard.

“The chickens scratch and aerate the soil, peck, eat seeds and insect larvae. They are doing a lot of the work for me,” said Duncan.

Chickens in the vineyard are an asset to any vineyard whether it is organic or not. Generally  they are quite hardy and independent. A well tended vineyard and a source of fresh water and a safe place to roost is all that is needed during summer, winter and spring. Autumn is different!

Chickens are also home lovers, meaning that they return home every evening so they are easy to handle, compared with ducks. We had some ducks many years ago and they would not go home. Every day they had to be rounded up or foxy would visit during the early evening and night and have duck dinner. This must not have been pleasant for the ducks and was not for myself.

Our chooks are much more alert and a little wiser and survive the occasional fox visit.


During the late summer month’s chooks in the vineyard is not a good thing unless your vines are on high trellis. Chickens love grapes; to see them jumping is cute. But not economically viable to lose your crop you have worked so hard for.  Here the chickens are locked up behind the house in a large run until all the grape picking is finished.

In the late autumn chickens in the vineyard are wonderful. They move around cleaning up all the vineyard.


Our current flock of chickens were rescued from a local egg farm.

rescued chicken
rescued chicken

The pale combed feather-less things were thin and poorly, but laying eggs every day for a few weeks. Due to the lack of night lights and hi protein crumbed food they stopped their egg laying.  With the winter’s shorter days this makes their ovaries shut down and go on holidays until the spring comes. When the weather warms up, the days are longer and they become healthier.

When they first arrived they huddled together and did not know what to do when allowed out of the hen house. Although they did know how to scratch as they turned the wood chip mulch over in one morning. For some unknown reason they were very tame not scared of my hands and would eat food from them eagerly.

After 8 weeks their feathers had all grown back and they started to look like well kept healthy chickens. Now when I open the hen house door in the morning they run out and off exploring as though they have no time to lose.

organic chickens
organic chicken

We love our chickens, they are so inquisitive and cheeky, especially Wendy.  They take off in the morning to their favourite playground during the day. Sometimes the orchard, looking for grubs under the trees, the olives or the mulberry tree. Other days it’s down the vineyard, turning over the ploughed ground. They search for anything nourishing and living. Grubs and snail eggs get a work out besides the seed bank from the previous winter’s green manure crop.

During a spring long table lunch in the underground cellar Wendy came visiting, checking us out, saying hello and seeking any food scraps we may have dropped.

organic chickens in cellar
chicken in cellar


Some years ago we had an outbreak of vine weevils, however since the organic chickens arrived we have not seen another outbreak.

We were given a mother and some chickens by a couple who had to move house. The mother educated the babies and at night she would spread her wings so that they could all huddle underneath and keep warm. It was such a delight to watch and so educational to myself as all the chickens I have ever seen were all orphaned at birth and sent to the chicken farm to be raised into egg layers.

These  organic chickens are so tame they will eat out of your hand. They will even talk to you in their own peculiar way.  Have you seen a chicken smile? I swear that once you have something for them to eat they will come running and smile, cocking their heads looking up at you and saying thank you.

We love our chickens!