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Author: Kyle Isacksen, Katy Chandler


89 pages

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If you've ever wanted to build your own earthen pizza oven then this is the book for you. Each section of easy to follow, step-by-step instructions is accompanied by clear pictures illustrating the most important points to help you build a cob oven from the ground up.

Part 1 includes some background on natural building, a cob oven diagram to scale, a full list of materials and tools, and advice for the build.
Part 2, the bulk of the book, takes you through the entire process from foundation to finish plaster. It includes:

  • Advice on site selection
  • How to identify and use locally harvested materials (like clay-rich soils)
  • Recommendations for store bought products from clay to sand to pigments
  • How to make and mix cob efficiently
  • Options for base insulation and laying out the fire bricks for the hearth
  • How to shape each layer of the oven from "thermal" cob to insulation to plasters and sculpting
  • How to make an attractive door and what to consider with a roof

The layout of Part 2 has directions on the left pages and pertinent, full-color pictures on the right from several oven builds over the years. The Appendix continues this format and includes helpful nuggets like how to fix cracks, repair plaster, and how to bake bread in the oven.

We focus on pizza in this book because we love pizza! We also love using our own homegrown ingredients and having people over to make and cook their own fresh pizzas in a beautiful wood-fired oven. It's a party but it's also a memorable experience for all. And, of course, cob ovens are also fantastic for baking bread, cooking casseroles, and roasting meats.

For Newbies and Veteran Natural Builders
The oven design in the book is the same one that we teach and build in our classes. It's a proven model that's efficient, durable, and attractive. For beginners and those new to natural building, a cob oven is a great starter project that will introduce you to a breadth of materials and techniques without being overwhelming. For more experienced builders or those who took a class but can't quite remember the whole oven process, this book will bring it all back to ensure you have a successful build.

Natural Building
Building with natural and locally-sourced materials is a way to connect with place and lower our ecological footprint. It's also great fun, lends itself to building community, and is accessible to just about everyone. We've found, through our teaching, that building an earthen oven can be an empowering and transformative process as well as a springboard into more natural building and simpler living.

About the Authors
Kyle Isacksen is a former science teacher, a community organizer, and a carpenter who's been teaching natural building in the US and abroad since 2010. He has written on homesteading, natural building, and appropriate technologies for Mother Earth News magazine since 2013. Katy Chandler is a former math teacher, a master gardener, and a permaculture designer. Their urban homestead and learning space was a Mother Earth News Homestead of the Year and has welcomed thousands of people over the years for classes, tours, and events. Check out their natural building website,, for more information.

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