These past two days have been really productive. Since returning from Florida, I’ve been able to work without any waiting around for supplies. You can see from the images that I cut the insulation and laid that down on the concrete hearth directly. It is a strange material- Like heavy compressed Paper Pulp. I cut it using the band saw of our dear, generous neighbor (Greg). Next I laid down a 1/4″ layer of sand and fire clay with some water to bring it to the consistency of a mortar. This allows for some fine-tune leveling of the oven floor.
You can see the pattern is Herringbone, meaning that it will be less likely to cause problems with a pizza peel passing across it, since none of the seams last for more than 9″ (the length of a single brick). I am not sure if my bricks have more damaged edges than average, but I feel like there are a lot of little channels created by the seams around less than perfect edges. Maybe I’ve never noticed this on other ovens because the floor is always somewhat hidden inside a chamber.
Next I charted the layout of the first course of bricks and the oven opening and then cut down the outside edge of the floor to fit the base of the dome. I did this so that the blanket insulation can come all the way down to the hearth floor, decreasing even further any heat loss.
Buttering my first course of bricks was a bit nerve racking but I think I am getting the hang of it. The inside edges look pretty clear and square, which is all that matters. The work will become more and more technically demanding as I progress toward the top of the dome. I was careful to keep the mortar wet after it had been applied and packed it down into the cracks between angled bricks so that there are no air pockets.
Next I finally got to make use of my sand pile by filling in the oven chamber and shaping it with my profiling tool. It looks pretty good, though I am worried about not being able to see exactly how the second course lines up with the first– that is the drawback of the ‘blind’ approach.