Purpose of this blog

This blog will really be a true web log. I will post here about different wood-fired ovens as I find them.

If you know of any wood-fired ovens I should know about, you can send an e-mail to me. (If you build wood-fired ovens, I would like to hear from you too.)

There will lots of posts and lots of labels, since I plan to create one post for every appropriate web site that I find, and however many labels it takes to describe each one (usually at least the type of page and the location of the oven).

The accumulated information will still be found at the real Quest for Ovens web site links pages, but that is not updated as frequently as this blog will be.

If you are from outside the US and Canada, let me know what you find interesting about it. I see that I get visitors from India and Iran, and other faraway places. I'd like to know what draws you to this blog.

I received e-mail from the organizers of the BBC Two television show asking if the Saint Paul Bread Club could post a notice about their show Great British Bake-Off for amateur bakers. The information they gave me is now accessible through a link. (The organizers don't have a web page for the show itself yet.)

Please share this with any amateur bakers in Great Britain you may know, or post the link where they might see it.


Portable Oven Class Requirements

I teach a one-day class on building and using a portable brick oven.

I can teach this class wherever my class requirements can be met.

The key constraint is that I don't own the bricks to make the ovens used in class, and even if I did I don't have means to transport them. That means wherever the class is to be held, the host must provide the oven-building materials. I bring my knowledge and experience.

I taught this class in 2010 at Silverwood Park, the French Hill Folk School, and the 2010 annual gathering of the Minnesota Guild of Metalsmiths.

In 2011 I also taught at Tunnel Mill and the Driftless Folk School.

Evaluations from class participants have been uniformly very positive. (References can be provided if needed.)

Class Content

This is the class description as it appears in my class brochure.

Build and Bake in a Portable Brick Oven-Join David S. Cargo to learn how to build a portable stacked-brick oven. After the oven is built, it will be fired up while students learn how to make dough for flatbreads, pizza, and bread. Bake all these in the brick oven and then eat them.

The class typically is scheduled for 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., with a one-hour break for lunch from noon until 1 p.m. (Lunch is typically not provided in the class registration fee. Different venues might have facilities available for people to buy lunch or people might have to travel somewhere to buy lunch or bring it with them.)

Students receive a 21-page handout that has instructions for oven-building, plans for 3 different sizes of ovens, recipes, and a spreadsheet with a bill of materials for each of the three sizes of ovens.

A more complete description and the current class schedule can be found here.

Class Requirements


Class is typically offered on a Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Sundays are generally not available.) The class must be held outdoors, so the time of year should be when the weather is not likely to be too cold, hot, or wet.  (April through September are probably good.)


I aim for a minimum of five students and a maximum of 15 students. (Too few and I don't make enough money; too many and I can't give the students enough individual attention and they don't get enough hands-on experience.)


I aim to collect at least $150 per class, plus more based on the time and distance I have to travel. (If you want to negotiate a flat fee for me, we can discuss it.) The students should expect to pay $60. (I have filled classes at that price.) This can be compared with the $445 that people pay at North House Folk School for their oven-building class.


For the oven-building...

A flat and level space about 12-feet square is sufficient for the class. It is beneficial for there to be an awning or open-sided tent nearby to shelter students from the sun or rain.

For the bread-making...

A shelter with a couple of tables (2 by 4 feet each) and seating for the students out of the sun or rain.


The key requirement is at least 180 fire bricks (enough for the small oven design), typically the equivalent of Smithfield 9-inch straights, 9 by 4.5 by 2.5 inches. These are used to build one oven that will be fired as part of the class. It would be advantageous, but not required, to acquire a full pallet of firebricks (456), which is enough bricks to build the largest oven design or two small ovens. (There usually a price break on getting a full pallet.)

The bricks do not need to be new, but they need to be devoid of mortar.

Twelve insulating fire bricks (IFB) are also required for a small oven (or 24 for one big oven).

Fired clay pavers can be used for building ovens. Unless these are the pavers that are 8 by 4 by 2.25 inches,  the geometry of those bricks is not compatible with my construction plans.  It would be a different class with a different handout.

I have found that having some concrete patio pavers (10 for a small oven, 15 for a medium oven, and 24 for a large oven) are very useful for keeping the bricks clean. These are typically about 7.5 inches by 15 and a fraction inches (the fraction varying from 1/4 to 3/4 depending on the source). These are usually quite cheap (under $1). The same number of concrete construction blocks (8 x 8 x 16 inches) will also work.

A bag of sand to put down under the bricks is also typically used.

In addition, there is obviously a need for firewood (dry wood is very important). Oak is good, but any dry wood will work. The equivalent of a wheelbarrow full of wood is needed.  It needs to be in pieces no longer than 18 inches and no more than 2 inches in diameter.  Smaller (thinner) pieces are more desirable. A chopping block is also required, since large wood needs to be cut down to size.

A large metal container for putting ashes and coals in is also very important.

There should be a nearby source of potable water. State or local fire code may also require water for extinguishing fires.

Since we will be baking breads and pizza, the venue should at a minimum provide plates and napkins.


I cannot be in two places at once. While I am demonstrating the bread-making part of the class, there needs to be someone acting as a fire tender.

Student Requirements

Students should be told to bring work gloves, a hat, a portable chair, and a lunch (if lunch is not included in the registration). They should also bring notetaking materials.