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Saving money, Saving time, in building brick ovens.

Before you start to build your own wood fired brick oven, or more ovens if that was the case, I’d like to share a few tips and ways for saving you more 1. Time and 2. Money plus handy insights about my custom jobs prices.

1. Saving time or energy

THE Best Tip For All Times:
It is not a space rocket science. At its hardest, it is simple putting mortar on bricks or making concrete slab. Should I mention also willingness to work and enjoying it all? Do not be surprised when I say that building brick ovens is not hard to do, without or with an University degree. By now, many people who have never held a brick in hands built nice ovens for themselves and eventually some even for others afterwards. Many people already cook and entertain, evidently so.

Basically; take it by building gradually, always focus only on the one stage that you do at the moment. If you got my plans, from the detailed photo sequence you will see ahead exactly what will be done, also when and how. Each stage/step on its own (e.g. the slab, inner walls, top slab, firebricks part etc.) is little job and easy to do planed segment. This way, stage by stage, the structure grows nicely.

Chris approached it that way:

Chris first time owner builder.   Built by first time builder.

Hi Rado,
I’ve been cooking for months now. I am sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. I finished my oven just after Christmas. It is working wonderfully. Your plans and CD photos were fantastic. I would do one bit then go in check the computer for the next photo and keep going like that. I have never laid bricks before but now I am almost an expert! We are very happy with our oven. It looks great in our yard, my friends are very impressed. I will attach some photos.

Kind regards,

First Time Building   Built by owner builder.   Own by first time owner builder who built it.

Here is another beneficial point – Not much measuring goes around. Only make initial lines on the ground slab for the inner and outer-decorative walls. After that the oven is risen upwards and all is done on the fist raw of blocks or bricks count (you can see on the DVD disk eventually, or after downloading our plans online, how I approach this.)

If stones are used for making the outer decorative walls then the depth and width lines for making outer walls can be 2″ – 5cm further apart, on each side, because some rocks might be larger/wider than ordinary house bricks. The photo sequence is detailed. To reach e.g. what is on the picture 355 in MTo disk, it can be done in 7 days but you do not need to do it in this timing. It is a worthy project for the future, in so many pleasing aspects therefore there’s NO need to hurry.

The work with concrete blocks or firebricks is faster, and there is waiting one and half day (or anywhere longer) for curing the ground and upper slab for the cement to cure. If you had a friend/s to help you, e.g. to lift the concrete blocks (these go into 4 rows, hip level) and to mix concrete, it’s only great, you can cook for them pizzas later.

I would help you with lifting of these blocks and mixing concrete for the slab but I could be miles away. You will enjoy doing more thinking over the DVD and clear details on the photos to see how everything fits nicely together. Look into the MTo sequence, especially the firebrick entrance into the oven and also its non refractory features. Notice only very little firebrick cutting is required and the visual and practical effect is the best.

What everything people enjoy doing:
Here is one Mosaic of an artistic looking barrel shaped garden oven: Mosaic on garden oven

And another couple of great designs where lots of money can be definitely saved:

Round contours Round contours on the oven, Antoni Gaudí’s like shapes.

Gaudí like shapes made oven but would fit Mediterranean style architecture as well.

It is not financially prohibitive to build an oven!

There is always a “f….n” great way … for it to be lavish, in every aspect desired. (it is my saying) Do you have a time?! The bare bones (read further below for saving money on material.)

Basically in the material sense it’s the cost of firebricks, concrete, cement, the common blocks and house bricks. I always search for these in advertisement papers, people sell really for fraction of price or give away to get rid off a great left over material from other building projects.

If you could “even gradually” source material this way then for $1K or much less than that a great oven can be built. That is complete oven and with included landscaping around the oven, even with outdoor chunky table with two benches to sit on -> the table you can see in MTo sequence was less than 20 bucks with all bolts.

2. Saving money on material (we always do this.)

Saving money and my prices:
Material cost and custom jobs when I build for clients; the total cost of the material can be reduced by 70% if you buy all from advertisement papers or online eg. from eBay. Here goes how – without or with accounting degree – we do this all the time because simply it is much worthy…

People sell for fraction of price, or giveaway, great left over material from other building projects. Phone early or traders get it (then they sell it for more money!) Otherwise in shops, if ordinary and new material is used the total material cost I have is $1350, but I buy common size firebricks for $2.10 each. Material cost for the whole inner refractory cooking part I have is 550$, as I said I pay 2.10 per one firebrick plus this is around my local area when I do not have -to have them delivered. It’s worthy to mention that even if you source firebricks at 5$ each, having the oven is still huge win, again, in so many practical, economical and pleasing aspects.

As they are, including all material, Swishy is built by me for $6,500 and Masterly Tail oven design (MTo) for 7,500 (only extra 30+ firebricks though if it’s of the original internal size – however this beauty can be done larger or smaller internally easily just by placing in or taking off a brick from a side. If the outside decoration walls are build out of stones instead of house bricks but on the same wall lines, or an unique material, it’s considered as art or crafting and the extra time counts for extra credit. Lately I take mostly crafting jobs or jobs close from home. If also landscaping/paving etc. around the oven is done by me then add 1,000$ if ordinary matters are worked with. The 1K price includes work. For putting together only the firebrick part the cost is $1000 (work only not material), 1-2 day-s maximum.

If needed browse also these pages for house bricks, blocks, firebricks and also wheelbarrows, cement mixers or all other tools and items. It is very common that a large industrial kiln or furnace is being dissembled or demolished, that you can buy firebricks in thousands for example for 10¢ each or even for 1 cent – in such a case GET THEM ALL!

Do your Maths – Always – if we need to spend money to save money the profits come late even with business skills and management degree in hand. It’s that simple. Savings start popping in too late. Take your time to source material first. Build pergola or make something else for what you saved!

Respond to the Saving money, Saving time, in building brick ovens. article:


  1. Dear Rado

    For several years I have searched the web looking for oven building ideas. My hope was that at some point I would build a wood fired oven in my back yard. I have looked at everything from Kiko Denzers earth oven to the Franken Weber and Alan Scotts design, with many in between. In the end I always find myself coming back to your website. Your plan is the one I choose to use for guidance. Please send me a copy of your cd. I am very interested in the equivalent materials information. Anything that will ease the construction process or lower the cost will be very helpful.

    The could be the year that an oven comes to my house. I will let you know how it turns out.

    I hope that the enclosed notes help with something from your wishlist.

    Joe, MA

    By Joseph

  2. Hello Rado;

    I am going to build a wood burning oven and am interested in obtaining your DVD with the instructions on how to build the oven. I just sent for these plans.

    A bit of background: I have built a ranch on 120 acres in North Texas. 80 acres is heavily wooded with with oaks, elm and ash trees. I raise goats and cattle on the ranch. My wife and I are nurses by profession. We heat our house with wood and always have a campfire burning. We are moving to cook with wood also. We do have an electric stove but it’s not it.

    Thanks for all the work you have to do with this and this website, we will get back to you with the results, will send photographs of our oven and some meals cooked in it.

    Best regards,

    By Anthony P. in Texas

  3. G’day Rado
    I have structurally completed my oven and only a tin roof, mosaic tiles with a seascape to be added as well as a shelf at the entry of the oven.
    When complete I promise to give you a complete rundown on the whole works.

    One could say I have over constructed the oven but I say it’s to my needs and has a near perfect heat sink on it, even after cooking for two days the outer roof and walls are only at ambient temperature.

    I love cooking and having my own oven enriches my culinary experience and tending to the fire is sort of therapeutic.
    BTW your DVD’S are worth their weight in gold to peoples like me with no masonry skills, thanks heaps for that.

    Kind regards
    Stan C

    By Stan

  4. @Joe,
    Joe, any time is the right time for building brick ovens. Or for cooking in these, avery time fits fine. Your disk was sent. Let us know when you receive it or when you start on your project. Good luck Mate.

    Hello Anthony,
    Must be ideal with your camp fires burning and the company. Nice size of property, together with what you do it is my kind of cuppa. Your disk is already on the way to you.

    G’day to you too Stan,
    Thank you very much for your nice words about my work. The oven sounds great to me. It’s wise to add an extra amount of insulation thickness or other materials. Why not, that won’t hurt it only makes the oven extra efficient; stays hotter for even longer. When you have the finishing touches done we will be more than happy to see the photos, also some of your meals as you sound PRO. Will go into the gallery, many people will see them.

    With compliments to you all.

    Good vibes,

    By Rado

  5. Thanks Rado.

    First of what will be many questions I am sure. Which oven is best the Swishy or the MTo (I have to say I am struggling to tell the difference at the moment)? I have a pretty interesting build in that mine will be built into a retaining wall holding back the garden (2 metres high), It is dug out already and I will end up with a hole in the wall at the lower level and then I plan on covering the oven back up with turf so the only thing you will have at garden level is the chimney. I will seal the external concrete walls that will be built first and have plenty of room to work in/fill with vermiculate.

    Pictures would probably be able to get the story across better and I will send some though when I get time.

    Thank you


    added by Rado:
    Hi Nicholas,
    Yes the project sounds interesting and I can imagine it will look nice. You can build your oven in the existing wall why not. Look here is one brick pizza oven built-in this wall, perhaps it is the same way you plan to go about your project (while the oven was being built).

    Both ovens Swishy and MTo perform exactly in the same way. The MTo however is 2″ wider internally and the firebrick part is much easier to make, there is a LOT less firebrick cutting with htis design (I build only Masterlies.) It also doesn’t have the metal angle in the entrance and from my perspective the arch entry looks much better. There are also other practical non refractory features developed into MTo design you will notice.

    The new 3 Gen. MTo is coming up – register for news and updates newsletter as the new pages link will be sent out to people in the next issue. I am already creating the sequence pages and re-sizing many its photos.

    Will be happy to see your oven pictures when cooking, it is always so. Always thirsty for news about what’s going on around the planet regarding traditional cooking by using the heat from wood fire. So thank you for that Mate.


    By Nicholas

  6. Hi Rado, your news letter came just in time I have just boxed my foundation would have poured it yesterday but it came on to rain. We to are doing the bottom out of concrete blocks what we call in New Zealand series 15. The blocks are 200mm high 150mm thick and 400mm long my dimensions are 1400mm across the back and front and 1600mm down both sides with old red bricks doing entry to wood box and oven and the chimney. I was going to pour refractory concrete for the slab under and around the fire box with 75mm gap for vermiculite insulation. I have only 70 fire bricks currently so have revised your plan and going to put them on edge in the sides of the oven and on there flat on the roof and red brick solids on the floor. That way 70 fire bricks is just enough. That will make the wall and roof 75mm fire brick 75mm refractory concrete 75mm vermiculite and 75mm reinforced Portland cement concrete rendered with sand clay cement mix and the whole lot top with a corrugated iron roof same as your plan pretty much. I have concern about the red bricks on the floor will they retain enough heat was going to put clay tiles loose on top 25mm thick. Will wait your new design and comment before going further thanks heaps.
    Dave and Julie.

    added by Rado:
    Thanks for the note. The layers are fine.

    Regarding the floor; if you could would be better if the floor, at least in the area in surface around the center where food/pizza is placed on, was done out of firebricks. I reckon if laying the floor bricks flat, if you could place a few of these red bricks (all can be like really damaged seconds) under the laying flat firebricks. That way you create more volume in the dense floor. This way the floor absorbs and retain more of the heat. Just a thought if you wanted more variety to cook or bake.

    What everything do you plan to cook/bake?

    By Dave

  7. Hey Rado, nice to hear from you. I bought your CD’s about 3 years ago and went with the design. It was a great project and with your help came out really nice. I cooked several briskets in it. We’ve since moved and I built a new oven that will hold 4 more full size briskets (i like to cook for people at work). I am doing two on Sunday for Memorial Day. My latest oven looked lonely in my backyard so I’ve surrounded it with a outdoor kitchen that seats about 30 people. I will send pics when done completely. Thanks for your help. Mark

    By Mark

  8. Thank You Rado

    I am happy to report that our oven is finished and we are amazed at how well it works. It does everything we had hoped it would and much much more.

    I will send pics.

    We are in a remote spot in a very sparsely populated agricultural area. People love the oven. As in the time before time, it is building and nourishing community.

    We call it King Canyon Bakery.


    By Chris

  9. Thanks for your email…..
    Was just laughing out loud at your question of whether or not we had built our oven…
    We live in the cold cold north… it’s spring here… but it still snowed a couple of weeks back… melted in one day though….
    We will most likely start our project in July or August… which is why I am extremely interested in seeing your new design….
    We still have the option of choosing how we want to build…
    Hope we can see it before we break ground.

    By Ryan & Laura

  10. Hi Rado, hope all is well !

    I am waiting for the plans for the new pizza oven you were telling me about, as I think it will better suit me !

    I am linking it to a pumice lined chimney stack on the outside wall of the house, which is being constructed on Tuesday and will have two 175mm flues, one to sevice a log burner for the house, the other to sevice the external pizza oven. I was hoping to link the base of the oven to the bottom part of the chimney work, adding two soot doors and access to clean the flues. So what I am really asking – is there any way I can have a peak at the dimensions, plans – so I can build the base before the chimney stack goes up ?

    Thanks Rado,

    Regards, Geraint.

    By Geraint

  11. Hi Rado,

    Thanks for the email. I’ve subscribed to your mailing list tonight, and look forward to seeing the new design.

    Quick question – Will the slab size for 3GMTo be a lot bigger than the MTo slab?

    The reason I ask, is I’ve already laid the slab using MTo sizes, and if that means I can’t use 3GMTo, I’ll continue with the MTo design…but if I can still use 3GMTo I’ll wait.


    added by Rado:
    Hello Carl,
    Actually the new 3GMTo will fit on the MTo slab perfectly, you can continue with your existing slab you’ve made. Plus, if you start with the outer walls exactly as per Original MTo width, then you can also add a bit more insulation thickness in sides and at the back if you would like that. So this is also positive (the 3rd Gen. MTo is a little less wide as I built it – which can of course be changed very easily.) Not only the inner cooking part, but now also outer walls can be easily adjusted like with Lego. Just by adding on or taking off a brick/block or two from a side. Or left all as is. Then the main focus can be on the outer visible to eyes decorations.

    Good vibes Mate,

    By Carl

  12. Hi Rado,
    I am from India. I am very fond of cooking especially fast foods last I made burger @ home. Now I want to make veg pizza @ home so plz wish me all luck for pizza to be good for tasting and looking.

    Hoping that your wishes are with me…..

    added by Rado:
    Hi Kushi,
    Thanks for your nice comment. I wish you all the best with your pizza cooking and other meals for that matter. I hope it’ll go real well, I am sure it will; your pizza will look and taste fabulous. Let us know how it went Mate.

    By kushi

  13. Hey Rado,
    Really love all the info provided!
    Great website!
    Just wondering if its possible to create an oven thats mobile??
    Interested in having a wood-fired pizza catering biz.
    Want to be able to build myself.
    Thanks would appreciate any ideas. Just curious what the base of the trailer would require to maintain heat.

    added by Rado:
    Hi Kris,
    Down this page there is mentioned on a portable mobile oven. Look at the insights perhaps it is the same thing what you plan to do:
    true craftsman and mobile oven on a trailer

    By Kris wants mobility

  14. Dear Rado,
    Glad to see your excellent website.
    We are specialized in producing refractory products many years in China; we can supply almost all kinds of refractory brick with high quality and reasonable price for you.
    If you have the interests about fireclay brick, financing, FOB freight, please contact me.
    Any questions please tell me.
    Waiting for your prompt reply.
    Best regards.
    Tao / Sales Manager
    Zibo HITECH Material Co.,Ltd
    Phone: 86-18953362350
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    Website: www.

    By Tao

  15. Hi Rado, you have a great site with excellent information. I grew up in Italy where a bread oven used to be a must for almost every family. I remember when I was a little girl, my mother and grandmother would join together every two weeks to make bread, and lots of it. I have wonderful memories. I moved to the US when I was younger and never had a brick oven. Would love one, but we are planning on selling our house in about 5 years, therefore would like to build a smaller one just for pizzas, one that could be built on a sturdy wheeled metal base so that we can take with us when we move. I was wondering if you have any plans for a lightweight oven that would fit our need. Thanks!

    By Lina

  16. Hello Lina,
    Thank you for your lovely words! I must have been born to a very similar family then. In my grandparents’ we used to occupy ourselves in a same way when it comes to preparing foods, cooking or baking and even drying fruits. Not to mention gathering mushrooms in the nature, berries and herbs in nature.

    The oven could help you sell a house if this oven is build as a main feature somewhere, or one of the main features. Or contribute to a better sale of your property. People notice it, or get the idea. We have an article on that.

    If you intend to take your oven with you as you move to another home, it makes logic to make the oven portable, or at least somewhat/semi portable. Yes it should be lighter in mass sense. You seem to know what you intend to do in your oven and use it, that will save you money as well, plus will add to quality of life (well, this is how I see these matters anyway.) I would suggest a high quality already pre-made oven, or a kit. There are a good quality commercially made ovens available, such products that last. Then to make it efficient so it does variety of meals properly (which is the purpose), an extra mass can be added if needed, and again ALSO a quality light weight insulation on top will be placed.

    By Rado

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