con amore!... part 1
Should the words "let's build a wood-fired pizza oven in the back yard" be uttered by anyone in your immediate family... let me warn you! You are in for a very big project that is sure to become a family affair! (Thankfully, there's fun to be had and, at the end of it all, pizzas too!)
First, pick the spot and prepare the ground:
Next, collect rocks to stack and mortar together for the base (and be thankful for the career-day activity in grade 9 that taught your middle son basic masonry skills).
When it's high enough (or you run out of rocks and/or energy), construct the "heat sink". The theory here is that the air-filled glass bottles form a layer that holds the heat and reflects it back into the oven for maximum heat concentration. And it's kinda fun emptying those bottles of wine "for the cause".
On top of that goes a perfectly flat fire-brick floor -- now we're finally getting to the actual oven part!
Then it's sand-castle time! A huge pile of sand, firmly packed, becomes the mold for the clay that will follow. Be sure to over-estimate the amount of sand you will need, then double that amount. Trust me, you need a crazy amount of sand for this part!
To say the clay layer goes on next is seriously simplifying things. The clay layer, you see, is actually a 4 inch layer of clay, sand, and water, and the texture of this mix is critical. So there's more stomping... Lots more.
Throughout the process,it's necessary to pray to the weather-gods for cooperation because if things don't dry (as they didn't for us) and the rain (or hail) starts (as it did for us) you'll need to scrap plans for the final insulating cob layer and instead turn your energy to constructing a sturdy roof. Something that says "little chalet in the alps" would be appropriate... something like this:
Finally, make plans for another trip to the cabin (preferably with family labour force) to finish the job another weekend!