A Perfect Brick Arch

This weekend I received photos two new oven photos from visitors to the blog. I was struck, in both cases, by how perfect they looked – very neat and tidy. Here are a couple of photos of the ovens, the first is from Dave Slater from Belmont in Surrey (UK), followed by Lisbeth Schelling’s (and family) from Tønder, Denmark.

Dave Slater’s Oven

Family Schillig’s Oven

I was particularly struck by the perfect brick entrance arches to both of these ovens. It seems the secret is to use a template or former around which the bricks for the arch are laid. This is a great idea and one which has been around for centuries, ever since people have been building arches.

Making a former is very straight forward. Just decide on the width of the oven entrance – this will be the the diameter of your former semi circle. Draw it on some flat wood board, such as MDF. Cut it out and then use this to make an exact copy of the first. You then simply connect both semi circles together with connecting pieces, the same length as one of your house bricks. Once constructed, pop it in place in front of your oven entrance and build your bricks around it. Once your arch is complete, pull the former out and, hopefully the arch will stay in place.

Have a look below at more photos from Dave and Lisbeth which demonstrate what I have described.

Thanks to both of them for sharing with us.

Dave’s former in place. You can see the simple construction.

Dave has drawn the brick locations on his former so that the arch is symmetrical.

Lisbeth Schillig’s arch former in place.


8 thoughts on “A Perfect Brick Arch

  1. All looks really amazing!!. ive just stared mine.. i have a question.. do you think it will ok to add a bit of cement dust to make my slopy clay/sand go off quicker??

    • Hi Shane. Sand clay mixture shouldn’t be too sloppy. Remember the drop test! You could try a bit of cement but I can’t really comment on the results having not done it myself.

      best of luck with the oven.


      • hi simon, been doing the drop test, and still a bit wet! been trying to dry it out in this great british weather!!..looking at all the pictures online my mix looks to sandy?!? it’s 2 sand 1clay.. it mite be because my clay was very red.. im not sure?! i just dont want my first layer to cave in and the wife laughing at me!!

      • Yes 2:1 Sand:Clay. You could leave it to dry out a little naturally if you think it’s too wet (cover it with a tarp for a little while). It is unlikely to collapse as long as you leave the first layer to dry enough before you remove the sand former. The biggest issue with a mixture that is too wet is you can get slumping, whereby the mixture, under the influence of gravity, slumps toward the base of the oven. This means you can end up with the layer being thicker at the bottom than the top. By all means try adding a little cement but be sure that it doesn’t completely go off before you have built the layer.

        Let is know how you get on.

        PS I feel your pain trying to build in this weather!

      • hi simon,
        thanks for your help! couple more question tho.. how high is your sand former and how high is your brick former?

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