A door is a useful component of any tradition wood fired oven for use in establishing the desired temperature, maintaining a temperature for cooking, and keeping the oven free from debris while not in use. A simple rectangle oven door is very simple to make with basic hardwood, a hand saw or circular saw, a cordless or corded drill, a screwdriver or suitable drill bit, and suitable hardwood screws. It is imperative that untreated hardwood be used in place of alternatives such as softwoods like pine. Softwoods will be susceptible to smoldering and catching much faster than hardwoods. Also ensure that the wood chosen is not treated with harmful chemicals such as chlorine as these may be released while the oven is operational.
Constructing the Door
- Obtain 3 pieces of hardwood 2.5inches wide by 12 inches long, and 3 smaller pieces of hardwood 1 inch wide by 7.5 inches long. These materials will create a door 7.5inches high by 12 inches wide. The exact measurements required will be dependent upon the shape and size of the existing oven door.
- Begin by placing the 3 larger pieces of wood together to create the body of the oven door. The 3 smaller pieces will be placed over this body to support and keep them together.
- Obtain 18 screws which are suitable for hardwood, an outdoor environment, are not coated in paint, and are less than the thickness of the door.
- Prepare a drill bit for creating the pilot holes. The drill bit used for the pilot holes should be suitable for the screw size used. Generally the bit will be slightly smaller than the threading on the screw. Additionally add a small amount of tape to the bit to identify how deep the pilot holes need to be drilled. This should be to about half way through the bottom wood. You do not want to drill all the way through the door.
- Because hardwood is hard, before drilling pilot holes should be drilled where the final screws will go. Place one of the small prices of wood in place centered over the door body, and mark out with a pencil the 6 spots where screws will go to hold against the wood. Drill the six pilot holds at the marked points.
- You may wish to use a countersink drill bit to countersink the pilot holes created for the screws. A countersink bit creates a slightly larger opening to the drilled hole such that a screw may be inserted entirely so that the head of the screw sits flush with the wood.
- Use a screwdriver or drill bit to screw in the six screws into the drilled pilot holes.
- Complete the same steps for the other two smaller pieces of wood to attach them to the ends of the door. This will complete the door construction.
- Finish the oven by sanding the edges. Sanding can be completed with either plain sandpaper or an electric sander. Alternatively the edges can be trimmer to a taper with a chisel.
Do not paint or seal the wood door with paint, clear lacquer, or waxes. While the oven is in operation the extreme temperatures generated will likely burn off or damage any sealant applied. Additionally before using the oven it is suggested that the door be soaked in water for around 10 minutes to first saturate the wood with water. This water will help prevent the door from being damaged or catching fire while in use. The application of sealant will additionally make the absorption of water into the wood more difficult.
Using the Oven Door
Usage of the door will generally occur while the oven is in use and cooking foods such as bread or roasts. An oven door is not recommended for use when cooking pizza. First allow the fire to build in heat while the oven door is open. Once the temperature reached is sufficient move the fire to the back of the oven and place the oven door in place. After 5 minutes recheck the temperature of the vault. At this point the oven temperature will have stabilised, become evenly distributed, and is ready for cooking.
Be careful not to close the door fully when in use but to leave a gap to enable oxygen to circulate within the oven. Closing the door will starve the fire of oxygen to such an extent that when the door is finally removed a small eruption may take place.