In a one week burst of activity, I brought Kris’s masterpiece home with me and mounted it at the mouth of the first courses of brick. With that in place, I had a lintel to bridge the oven opening and could resume adding additional courses to the dome. Yesterday I finally finished.
I know it looks stupid, but I did it on purpose. It took me nearly half a day to grind the front bricks down 1/4 inch to level the metal floor with the brick floor. The bricks are structural only: they get covered by METAL, thanks to Kristopher. And thanks to the mass of this new addition, the lower quarter of my intestinal tract currently sags into my left-scrotal region.
After laying the second layer of bricks for the dome, I realized that I needed to start cutting each brick to fit perfectly. Each brick must accommodate the vertical arch of the dome, but also the radial curve of the circle. The wheel of the angle-grinder was too small to cut through a brick, so I had to rent a tile saw from deer hunter Doug. They say always have the right tools for the job, and they are right. Doug’s tile saw rocks at cutting rocks. At first I tried to cut each of these angles in two separate passes through the saw. I ended up just cutting the bricks smaller and smaller, and yelling horrific, echoing profanities into the cold universe. In other words, ME CAGO’d EN just about everything. The next day Cara and I spent some time working out my geometrical insecurities. We drew out the angles to fit the bricks into their dome-shape, and made the job much easier. From that moment on, the water-lubed, diamond-bit blade and I were matrimonious.
In all of this matrimonial talk, I forgot to mention that my fingers just about froze during the process. Water shoots everywhere. So what else can I share? Sara Kendall, the inheritor of this whole refractory factory, is helping me write down things tonight, and is impatient about adding more content. Let’s see….problems I had? There was one big problem, now that I think of it. A design oversight. The lintel at the oven mouth didn’t extend far enough back into the dome for higher bricks to catch and support themselves. So I had to shape a new appendage of sand and build a simple vaulted catenary arch in back of the door jam. Oh how simple it seemed after compound angles! Vaulted bread ovens would be so much faster to build. The downside was cutting bricks to accommodate the transition between dome and arch.
Next up, FIRE!