Dry Stacked Wood Fired Oven & Grill


I think I’m going to be sore tomorrow morning.

This morning, inspired by my recent temp masonry grill setup which still pleased me greatly, I thought ‘how could I use the masonry I have been collecting to build a temp oven‘. If you ever have that thought, just know in advance that if you act on it, you will be sore and tired, especially if it’s colder than -20C the day you decide to do it.

Dry stacking [sans mortar] has its merits. I had my temp grill apart in about 5 minutes. No old mortar to clean off.  The ease of modding and tweaking a setup is another major perk, as is speed of build – from the time I started to the time I had a fire in an oven was 3 hours. The photo at the bottom shows the grill setup adjacent to the oven, also completed within that 3 hrs. It tripled-to-quadrupled my grill space. Quite the upgrade.

Turns out last winter’s research on how to build ovens paid off, and I improvised a design I’m quite pleased with, including a nice entry space and functional chimney. Chimneys are not tremendously simple to dry stack. Good fortune was on my side all around as I also conveniently had just the amount of building materials I needed, without having given thought to it in the speedy-morning-coffee-planning-stage. I had assumed I had lots. I did. Many, many thousands of pounds. My muscles remind me frequently. It’s okay though, I need the exercise after eating meat pies 3 times a day through the holidays.

So rather than having a big pile of free, re-purposed masonry in my way in the garage, I now have a big pile of free, re-purposed masonry performing practical cookery functions on my back patio. I so should have thought of this before.

15 Responses

  1. jeff says:

    so what was the first meal prepared in the makeshift unit?? looks good. real good!!!!

    happy new year


  2. Jeff – foccacia with herbs and oil + various dips. It was awesome.
    Happy new year to you too!

  3. Greg says:

    Ah, yes, the brick and slab stash. I have a good sense of how much ‘embodied energy’ those have for the times they’ve been moved around.

    Did you also play with Lego as a kid? That was the only toy that lasted all us childrens’ lives (and none of us choked on a piece).

  4. Kevin says:

    Greg – I know. I’m glad to see them finally put to a very functional and happiness-making use. Yep, I am of the Lego generation. I’m now a big believer in wood block building sets – one of my favorite toys my grandparents had in their home.

  5. looks far from “temp”! Looks great and functional too…always a bonus when something works as planned. Happy New Year!

  6. jeff says:


    interestingly enough, it appears that your wife may have gone to school with my older brother. Out in spruce grove. Dave Machin is his name. he graduated in 2005 from st thomas.

    This came to light through a good friend of my wife’s (jackie burko) who also knows your wife. I was talking about something I had seen on your blog and she knew of your last name.

    its a small world eh…


  7. jeff says:

    whoops not 2005 but 1995.

  8. Alan says:

    I love reading your posts. Great stuff man. I have a desire to do the same type of oven. I will
    send you some snaps when it is done. Good job!! Yummo.

  9. John – what it lacks in optimality it makes up for in intuitive simplicity.
    Jeff – small world indeed. Crazy that there’s not just one, but two connections there!
    Alan – thanks! Look forward to seeing your masonry project.

  10. This is fantastic. No problem with it tumbling in the summer when the gals are scrambling about? Do you have one of those infrared thermometers? That is what Colleen and Vince use to tell how hot their oven is. It can get past a thousand…way past.
    The bread would be divine.
    And then?
    Ar eyou cooking in it every night?

  11. Maki says:

    My hubby liked. He said it remind him that he needs to do something with his firebrick. Oy vey.

  12. Valerie – It’s not very tippy, so no great concern there. They’re more likely to hurt themselves climbing on a wood pile now! Don’t have an infrared thermometer – perhaps one day. They’re not as expensive as I thought. And yes, we’ve cooked every lunch and supper in it since it had its first fire lit. Despite its sufficiency, it certainly has motivated me anew to build a proper, larger oven.
    Maki – you’ll thank me after. ;)

  13. [...] temp oven and grill setup has been inspiring. It made my perhaps slightly ambitious project illustrated below feel more [...]

  14. [...] weeks researching my large-scale project, I stepped outside today, and chuckled at my error in my dry stack oven build. I think that’s an age thing. Laughing at one’s mistakes. So on to V2.0. The error: my [...]

  15. [...] the most humane. And for scalding I would like to try setting up a dry-stacked stove derived from Kevin’s work; the local, standard method is to set the scalding pot atop a tiger (propane) torch, not really a [...]

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