Outdoor fireplace to Smoker/Pizza oven? Am I crazy?

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by chocolyle, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. So I had a brain storm this morning, what if I was to make our outdoor fireplace into a smoker/pizza oven?

    The fire place was built in 1944'ish and it makes a great fire for us and the kids but it is starting to need some TLC. We love to make our own pizza, but 14" sized pizza stones for the home oven are too small and too slow! I have a smoker, but it is a cheapo from Home Depot. Too much of a pain to use.

    Here are some pictures of what I have and dimensions:


    My thoughts:

    The current total outside depth is 30", firebox depth is 21", 25" tall not including the arch of the firebox and 30" wide. I was thinking of cutting out the back wall, and doing and extension of 12" inside for the firebox. Then raise the "shelf" lip you see in the picture, reline the interior with fire brick and add a shelf front to back on the new lip. Something along the lines of blue store. The blue stone is what I would cook pizzas directly on and smoke meats in pans on. I would also set it up to have metal doors I could remove for pizza, leave for smoking with adjustable vents on them.

    For the "New fire box my thoughts are for the blue stone, not to extend all the way back. The fire would be below the stone and heat would go up the rear and out the chimney. Does this make sense? The internal extension of the firebox by 12" would allow more food to be cooked at once and the new rear would be angled up to the current chimney.


    We do use the FP for sitting out at night and s'mores, eventually we will also put a patio around the FP.

    I have access to a concrete saw and a source for everything else, does this sound like a great idea or just nuts? Any suggestions?
  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would study oven designs and talk with a stone mason or two before cutting into that thing.  My first concern would be suddenly making that thing unstable and subject to collapse during the conversion.  Would hate to see you get hurt.

    It appears you're thinking of building a "white" oven where the fuel is in a chamber separate from the cook chamber.  Air flow through ovens and fireplaces is a tricky thing to get right; hence the need to speak to an expert.  You might talk to a chimney sweep as another resource. 

    Would be cool to pull it off, though! 
  3. mossymo

    mossymo Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well,there you go...[​IMG]  Thank you Mossy.
  5. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  6. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, this thread got me to thinking and researching, too.  And I found a bunch of pix.  The "black" ovens look pretty simple.  What I haven't yet seen are plans and a discussion of airflow through the "white" oven rigs like Chocolyle is proposing.  I do know it's complicated to get one to draw correctly.  That's kinda what my first reply was about.  And safety during the conversion.

    I'd love to build one, but I'm positive my wife would break into my safe, select a firearm of mine she could handle, and shoot my obsessive hiney! [​IMG]
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Hope you get it figured out. It sounds like a great idea.
  8. africanmeat

    africanmeat Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You are not  crazy it is good idea for short smoke  because     it is difficult to control the heat , and you have to build a smoking rack with a holding pan so you don't oil the bricks so the pizza want stick to the bricks

    I do smoke  chicken in my pizza oven first i heat the pizza oven good to 700 til you can feel  the heat on the wall outside  remove the ash  close the door let the temp drop to 300

    put the chicken in with Todd A-MAZE-N for 3 hours it will be haven



  9. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  10. Thank you for the replies!  Sorry for the delay, lot's of projects going on here.

    White oven vers. black, I did not know but now I do, I can now sound smart!. As for making mine into a white oven it is not needed, I just thought it made more sense. I have a cheapo smoker that I would like to get rid of and my thought was that if I had something like this I would be more prone to smoke more often.

    I have a Brinkman side smoker, I did the baffles and all of the mods but I can only keep it going decent with charcoal briquet's. I hate charcoal brackets. I use lump charcoal in my Weber for normal grilling and would like to use the hardwood firewood, I have lots of, in a smoker. I also was a professional pizza maker for years and would love to have a good pizza oven again. Two birds, many stones but a simple and cheap/easy conversion if it would work.

    If I did a white oven, I would almost divide the opening in half. At about 30", 12 on the bottom and the rest on tip with a blue stone in the middle about 3-4" thick. I would make some doors for the bottom half and top half with adjustable vents in both. Open fully the doors for pizza, if needed, and closed/adjusted for smoking. The stone would not go all the way back, I was thinking about 2-4" off of the new rear wall for air flow.

    If this does not sound like an easy thing, then I could go to the black oven, make the top taller and blue stone all the way to the back. The lower section would only be for storage like most of the ones Mossy's link showed. How would a black oven fare with smoking brisket, pork but etc though?

    As the fireplace stands right now it has VERY good flow and a fire is very easy to get and keep going. The top is open with no damper and the short chimney is tapered to the top. I do currently keep a heavy piece of metal on top spaced with bricks to keep stuff out and keep the sparks down some.

    The overall height is 93", 46.5 from ground to the top of the opening currently. Firebox is now 30"w 21" deep and 30" tall. It would be expanded to 33" deep at the lowest (6-8" High) section and would taper inside to the top back to 21". The back of the fireplace is 6" deep and I could put a piece of steel in to support it if need for the expansion.

    Does anyone know of a conversion chart for airflow? What about all of the smokers I have seen with a side firebox, like the cinder block ones. Is there any planing I could use from those and convert the info? I could do a test of how it stands now and make a simulation of a white oven but how much would that change with the expansion? I would ask an expert on this but for all of the trade people I know, I know no chimney people. The plan is to do this myself and keep the cost way down.
  11. carbon

    carbon Newbie

    With an outdoor fireplace like that I would simply use it as a grill without much modification. 

    A black pizza oven requires a good amount of thermal mass and insulation, top sides and bottom hearth to be effective and to be able to cook with its residual heat for 3 days after initial firing.

    I built my pompeii style pizza oven from scratch using plans from Forno Bravo and I'm able to cook in it for 3 days after saturating the oven to over 900°F.  The oven gets down to low and slow temps on the 3rd day.  You can throw in wood chunks for smoke.
  12. Huh, maybe I need to just build a pizza oven? I did see something that was pretty basic and could get the main part done and slowly finish it off but still be able to use it.
  13. juddnz

    juddnz Newbie

    Hi Chocolyle.  I had the same idea and have spent a long time looking for some way of doing this  with little success.

    I have been doing some research to convert my outdoor fire into a pizza oven and came across this old post of yours.  I am interested to see if you ever managed to convert or build the pizza oven by incorporating it into the fireplace.  If you did, it would be great to see some pictures or a sketch of how you did it and any issues you found while trying to get it to work successfully.

    I will post some pictures of mine if I ever get around to doing it.

    For me, I wanted the outdoor fire as the primary focus and if i could turn it into an oven as well, then that would be great (but not the primary objective).  
  14. I gave up on the idea. After looking at it each way, responses received and input from friends in the field it just did not make sense.

    I will, eventually, build one of the units from Forno Bravo. They have free detailed plans and I will tie it into an outdoor kitchen and patio. I hope to be able to start it next year.

    In the mean time I have been using the Kettle Pizza attachment for my Weber Performer. This is the next best thing. A tiny learning curve but the pizzas come out AWESOME!!! Made in Massachusetts, I can not say enough how great the Kettle Pizza is. If you don't have anything for pizza making yet, they're deluxe kit is very good.

    Being that I used to be a chef and made pizza for many years I prefer wood peals for both making the pizza and a smaller one for the cooking portion. Also Forno Bravo has an excellent dough recipe

    If you have any questions let me know, I can send you my recommendations. *No I do not work for them.[​IMG]

  15. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    What a great suggestion.  Perfect answer for the occasional outdoor pizza.  Always looking for the new "tool" for the Weber OTG.  I see that it's suggested that you use wood to kick the heat temperature up to the 600+ range.  Would lump charcoal also do this?  Maybe I'll have to answer this one for myself and then spread the word here.

    Thanks.  Of course, my family doctor will not appreciate this, but the what the heck....

  16. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  17. I would not use lump in the kettlepizza, it will crack your stone! I hit over 1200 with the lump, Natures Own maple lump! Burnt the pizzas to charcoal, pun intended.

    Here is what I found:

    I took a spare/old grate, removed the flip up sides, removed the handles and put it in the kettle pizza attachment upside down. This sits in the kettle pizza the long way, KP opening grates run away from you, NOT across. I had a grate bend while making pizzas, not pretty and the neighbors now think I am nuts! Watch out for the flying dough!!

    Pizza stone, if you get the KP kit with stone, I hear it is pretty good. I have used the D shaped stone and Pampered Chef 15" round stone. The D shaped ones give you more space and can work but I found the round ones are way more easier and more consistently good pizzas.

    Always lit with a chimney starter!

    Kingsford, full Weber chimney, Oak has worked best and apple is very good too. About 12" long split, smaller pieces. I usually put in 2-3 pieces. So far this heats the longest, 3-6 pies depending on how well you keep up with the wood. I normally go about 2 pies, one right after the other, then re-load 2 more pieces of wood.

    Stubs briquette, same as above, less junk to dump after a burn but for the premium price it does not last very long, about 2-3 pies

    Start you charcoal and once fully lit dump it in the back, immediately put on the KP sleeve WITH stone inside towards the opening. No wood yet! Put on the top with the vent half closed. (I can not say I have seen this make too much difference.) Let the stone heat up for at least 10 minutes to 20. It will crisp much better on the bottom.

    Stone now to temp. carefully pick up the KP with top and add 2-3 pieces of wood, see above. Note: with the Weber Performer this is easy, lift up the kit to the side, balance and add wood. I would NOT do this with the Silver, Gold or others! I recommend gloves but I have not found the wood handles to be too hot.

    **The KP sleeve, grate, stone and Weber top are VERY HOT!! Be very careful with the above!!**

    Pizza peels, I prefer wood to make pizzas on with either coarse corn meal or bread crumbs. I also use a long handle small end wood peel for spinning the pizzas while cooking and removing. I must note that I have made pizzas for years and used to be a chef. This may be easier for myself than others. A little practice is all it takes. I can spin the pizza 180 with out touching it and no additional tools. It is also a very good way to clean the bottom of the pizza before removing after it is done.

    For peels, pizza wheels, (cutters) and pans. Locate a restaurant supply store, especially one that sells used stuff! I picked up 8 14" pizza pans for $2.00 each, 4 times thinker than the new ones @ $12.00 each. They just needed to be cleaned. There is a huge quality difference in cutters too. We try to make pizzas once every week or two, the money you save is astonishing!

    Dough, check out Forno Bravo, they have a great recipe that is very simple. If you use there's or anyone else's, I highly recommend to get a good digital scale. Your dough will be perfect each time. Cup measurement is not precises at all, a cup of flour is not always a cup. You can accidental pack more than a cup in. 500 grams IS 500 grams! We learned this the hard way. Last make the dough the night before, it really makes a difference or locate a local pizza shop that makes thin crust pizzas. They usually will sell their dough, most places small (14") doughs are enough.

    Sauce, I find whole pealed plum canned tomatoes, drained and then crushed by hand to be very good. Crushed canned tomatoes are also very good for kids pizzas.

    CHEESE!! WHOLE MILK LOW MOISTURE! The cheaper skip milk Mozz is garbage! Unless there is a need or all you have, they extra couple of dollars goes a long way!! The exception to this is Fresh Mozz. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Last, be daring, try a provolone, bacon and peanut butter pizza! If you like peanut butter and have not had this, you will thank me latter!
  18. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Good stuff.  I was actually thinking of building an outdoor oven.  Sounds like a lot of fun.
  19. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Forno Bravo has some nice ovens but you can do much better price wise. There is a guy in Rutherford that has the shell I got for about $1700 no tax no shipping. Once you get ready let me know   

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