Dear Rado,
Greetings from the Philippines!

Thank you for helping me build my old fashioned brick oven. The CD you sent was very detailed. It clearly showed me not only how to properly build an oven. More importantly, it illustrated all the principles involved.

I used your CD’s and an American Masonry Book to build my own version of a brick oven atop my fireplace. Both feature inlaid pipes though which i pump water to heat it for bathing, washing, cooking, etc. We have been enjoying both for about three years now. Thank you for your very helpful CD. Now I am helping another friend build his masterly tail oven.

Oven and fireplace in Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm in Philippines.

On the pictures is my wife, Violaine.

As you will see on the photos, I improvised:

At the corner of The Bee Museum I built a brick fireplace.
Picture # 1 (2/22/07). I built a brick fireplace at the northwest corner of my bee museum with the help the American Masonry Association’s Handbook on Building fireplaces. My innovation was to put pipes in it to heat water.

On top of fireplace was built the brick oven.
Picture # 2. Then, I built my brick oven on top of it. I triple reinforced the flooring with a heavy steel plate, water pipes, steel reinforcement bars and refractory cement insulated with a layer of vermiculite.

I built a large dome proportional to the fireplace and bee museum.
Picture # 3. I built a large dome so it would be proportional to my fireplace and bee museum. All firebricks and mortar are SK-36.

Oven with triple brick arch design brick dome.
Picture # 4. I did a triple arch design, one reinforcing the other, to strengthen the face of the large oven.

Oven reinforcements used for the cladding.
Picture # 5. Here you can see some of the reinforcements used for the cladding. Notice the wall of white insulating bricks behind the bricks that make up the back of my oven. I wrapped the firebrick core with cladding, ceramic wool, vermiculite and insulating bricks. The pretty lady is my wife.

Finished cladding on the oven.
Picture # 5A. We just finished cladding. Note the pencil mark on the plywood template. We added an extra layer of vermiculite this thick. We also installed insulating brick on top of the vermiculite.

Ceramic blanket wool insulation.
Picture # 6. Here, you can see the finished cladding, ceramic wool insulation and water pipes. These pipes are connected in series to the fireplace water pipes.

First we fired up the fireplace.
Picture # 7 (9/4/07). First, we fired up the fireplace. Notice no smoke and good draft.

Then we then fired up the oven.
Picture # 8. We then fired up the oven. Note that both are smokeless and have very good drafts. They share a single chimney.

Meal from an old-fashioned brick oven
Picture # 9. We have enjoyed our old-fashioned brick oven & fireplace for three years with many close friends. This is a picture of a typical breakfast, the morning after. We have cooked everything in our brick oven: soups, stews, bread, fowl, pork, beef, lamb, overnight roasts and more.

The oven's wooden door caught fire and burned.
Picture # 10 (10/21/10). I think we overdid it. Left the door on overnight. The heat from the oven crept through a crack between the brick and heavy stainless steel flash-plate. Bypassed the ceramic wool insulation. And seared part of our door. I think we were doing about 1000F. While cooking the pizzas, I was not able to put my hand inside and used implements with very long handles. Good thing we made an extra door, see the last picture!

The ovens firewood storage.
Picture # 11. Firewood storage – Please read the description in the last paragraph.

Improper brick oven curing, too big drying fire.
Picture # 12. Improper brick oven curing. My son put all the small pieces of firewood that we had stored in our very big fireplace underneath, to break-in our oven as we shopped for crusts and toppings. Measured it with my laser thermometer rated at 1100F maximum. My thermometer could not read the temperature. It went off the scale! Good thing I overbuilt it.

Cooking in fireplace is also an art.
Picture ## 12A. Fireplace cooking is also an art. My wife stews with the help of her cast iron wok and a fireplace crane.

I am thinking of tapping our chimney and making a cold smoke cabinet. In your gallery, one person has already done it. To smoke fish, meats, cheeses and more!

Our bonus is: we have lots and lots of hot water (for bathing our smoke scented bodies) 3 to 4 days after we use our oven. For quick water heating, we use our fireplace. Moreover, because of the extra layers of insulation, we can cook in our oven 2 to 3 days after we use it, without any extra firing.

I cannot compliment you enough for your excellent work in helping people like me open up a new dimension of cooking, eating and sharing that we never could have imagined. It also helps that I planted 7 hectares of hardwoods 30 years ago. Each typhoon that passes contributes to our firewood stores – now for many years. See picture # 11 (10/22/10).

Name of oven: Ilog Maria brick oven & fireplace
Location: Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm, Silang, Cavite, Philippines
Coordinates: 14° 11.35N 120° 58.06E 1100 feet
Website: www.ilogmaria.com

Joel F. Magsaysay