7. The Final Layer

The final layer.  The oven is complete!  The final layer. The oven is complete! 

So at last we reach the final layer.  Once the insulation layer is dry you can crack-on and finish your oven.

The last layer uses the exact same technique as the first layer so you should be an expert by now. Using the same proportions, mix a batch of sand and clay together applying the good old puddling technique described earlier.  Again, the amount you need depends on the size of your oven but remember that this last layer will require more than the first layer due to the greater surface area you need to cover.  You will also need some spare mix to extend the chimney (if like me you didn’t make it tall enough first time round!) and to keep for filling cracks.  Make “bricks” as before and gradually build-up the final layer. After you have inserted the last brick, pull-up a chair, open a cold beer and sit back and admire your work.  Well done, your oven is complete!  

Next time I am going to provide some pointers on firing the oven so you can get the best use out of it when cooking. 

Finished oven from the front.

Finished oven from the front.


64 thoughts on “7. The Final Layer

  1. Hi Simon,
    Thanks for your comment. I am going to copy your oven floor design using flat fire bricks on a sand base, but it’s the dome which will be different as I will be using the old fire bricks/tiles as the heat absorbers. The bricks/tiles will be arranged with the smallest end creating the dome interior surface and the other end skinned with your ‘finishing mix’. (Like plates in a dryer, or like the bristles of a curved brush).
    It is difficult to discribe the original layout of the old oven but when the bricks/tiles are in place the oven dome resembles a hedgehog (it’s spines being the brick/tiles) and I will need a clay mix to fill in the wedge shaped spaces between the bricks/tiles, then a finishing mix to seal the whole thing.
    If there was a way to make attachments to this site I could send a photo of the old oven when I was dismantling it and send a sketch of the proposed new oven.
    Hope this makes more sense.

    Regards Tony S

    • Aha – got ya! I totally understand now. I can’t think why using the sand clay mixture would produce any problems. It will dry and hold the bricks in place bu remember it does not set like cement or concrete. It is rock hard but becomes soft again if any new moisture is introduced (e.g. rain!). How are you going to construct a chimney?



  2. Hi Simon,
    I have done a very quick sketch of the original oven and hope it makes sense to you. The oven base was round and the bricks I mentioned were set in a spiral starting from the base and ending up in the domed top. They almost all touched at the wall/inside of the oven but were splayed and that space filled with clay on their outer edge. I am looking for a clay mix that can take the place of the original clay filler.

    Hope this makes sense

    Regards Tony S

  3. An excellent guide to oven making. I have the fire bricks I took from an old bread oven in our farm house in France and want to reconstruct the oven outside. They are about 20cm by 10cm and 35mm thick and were placed with the 10cm x 35mm edge facing into the void of the oven (hedgehog style) if that makes sense. Then the wedge shaped gap between the bricks was filled with clay. To reconstruct I’ll use standard bricks for the fire base, as you did. Could I then use the puddling mix to go between all the fire bricks.
    On the original there was a 20cm insulation coating over the fire bricks of straw and clay because the oven was behind our kithen fire. Can you make any suggestions on the construction plans.
    Regards Tony S

    • Hi Tony I’m having trouble imagining what your oven looked like from your description – a photo would help. Could you not just arrange the fire bricks into the same floor pattern I use and then also copy my oven construction?


  4. Dear Nik,
    I think your clay oven set up is beautiful, enchanting. I have a corner in my yard much like yours that I will be building a clay oven in as well. (No experience, just very strong love of earth and fresh bread) Would you let me know how everything is going with the oven?
    Thanks so much
    Guinea Gumbo

  5. Pingback: Helping out with a Community Schools Project « The Clay Oven

  6. very informative nearly finished sand former .Have incorporated a sandstone arch into my plinth base which is hollow and heavily reinforced.this shall become the wood store more later .

  7. Hi Simon

    Almost there! I let the insulation layer dry for an extra week as I think the mixture was wetter than it should have been. I put on the final layer monday, however cracks have appeared as it’s dried. Is this normal? I guess I should just repair it like your recent blog.

    Anyway, uploaded the pictures (so far) including one showing the cracks. I’ll try repairing it today (I saved some excess mix just in case it cracked), ready for the first pizza party on Saturday.

    Cheers for all your help, Nik

    Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40445298@N04/sets/72157622395071166/
    See what I had to do with the space I had, hence the questions about how hot will it get near a fence. I’ve also built a shelter, which I can lift on and off when needed, although I’ve built a chimney in case I just want to leave it on all the time (i.e. too heavy to move!)

    • Hi Nik I think it looks amazing! Fill the cracks indeed but you might find you’ll have a few more appear after the proper firing this weekend. It’s an ongoing process so keep a bag of mixture handy to keep the oven looking great. I love the roof, and the chimney plug and the door. You have inspired me to steal those ideas from you! :-).

      Let me know how the food goes.

      Best of luck


      • Well since I stole the instructions from you, you are more than welcome. I got some “feathered” wood from wickes to do the roof – very easy just to nail onto the plywood structure that I made first.

  8. Great site. Forgive me if this is a repost, but I didn’t see my original post. I was wondering if you knew the inside dimensions of your oven (cooking floor front to back and right side to left side) and if you knew the external dimensions (front to back, including entry way and right to left).

    I am planning a similar project and am trying to interpret how the approx 7.5 “batches” of clay/sand mix interprets to size.

    Thanks and, again, great site! Thanks for creating such an informative site!

  9. Really nice site. Thanks for posting!


    Do you know how large the cooking area in your oven is? And what about the external dimensions of the dome and entrance? I am trying to figure out how your 7.5 batches of mixture interpret into actual size of the oven.


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