Have you ever wanted something so badly that you said you could “taste it”?  In the case of the wood-fired pizza oven that I had wanted from the day we first bought our lot in the Hammock in 2004, that was me–figuratively and actually.  I was given books and DVDs about cooking in it and even tips on how to build one.  My husband read how-to articles online and I kept trying out pizza recipes.

We had our Hammock home built and we moved in October of 2010.  I kept talking about the pizza oven, but other activities took precedence.   I think it was a combination of grass and plants dying in the shade, the county telling us where we couldn’t put a shed, a fire pit that we loved but wasn’t within easy reach of the covered porch and comfortable seats that our friends appreciated, and last but far from least–my eternal request for John to “please, pretty please, build one for me”.  Just after Hurricane Matthew, the stars aligned.  We had finally discovered that we had the ideal location at the end of the back porch where we could happily watch the fire under cover in comfortable seats, close to the outdoor table, and best of all–we were offered, free for the taking, original Birmingham firebricks from the Old Brick Road.  No more excuses!

The base

Mixed and poured concrete dried slowly, then the walls of the base

Our dog, Jazz, thought that it might be a doghouse for her

Now we are getting serious

Stuccoed and taking shape

Inside, sides and back

Ta da!

Just a few finishing touches

The hardwood door is lined with tin, salvaged from an old shed roof.  The handles came from Marine Salvage in St Augustine.  We found the rebar.  Neighbors donated the pavers for the surround and on the ground, most of the concrete blocks and the red firebricks.  I guess we owe a few meals.  We purchase the firewood locally for $20 an SUV full.

I don’t want you to get the idea that this pizza oven was free to build.  The refractory cement and smooth fire bricks for the base were sourced from Cash Building Material in Jacksonville and required 3 trips to complete the project.  The stucco, concrete blocks, mortar, smoke pipe, flashing and sand for the pavers all added up to a tidy sum, but nowhere near the couple of thousand dollars it would have cost to buy all of the materials, let alone the cost of the labor (love paid for that more than incidental cost).

Check back for Part Two

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