But I Want To Follow Directions!!

I was reviewing recent posts at the brick oven list and there was a post from a fellow just starting his oven building journey. He’s going to be building a 5’x7′ oven based on Alan Scott’s plans and was frustrated that the number and type of blocks the plans called for is a little off.

My first reaction was ‘join the club’ as I found many inconsistencies with my oven plans too. In the end my oven build required the knowledge within the plans, Alan himself, the brick oven list, my own experience, knowledge from product suppliers (minimal) and the opinions of a half dozen friends and family members.

Does this mean the plans are no good? I don’t think so. Maybe they are just mis-named. People have an expectation that ‘plans’, especially plans which cost up to 10% of the price of materials, should be very clear step by step instructions. Clear pictures, no inconsistencies and on Right Way to put the thing together. Alan Scott’s oven plans are not that type of ‘plan.’ I see them as more the compiled wisdom and best practices of a man who has built over 100 of these ovens and has been around long enough to see them in action for many years. Ideas change over time and Alan’s views on oven construction have changed over time as well.

Dealing with inconsistencies in the plans were a pain in the butt, no doubt. But in the end it was an advantage too. I now know the purpose of every component of the oven because I had to make a conscious decision of how to build each piece.

Now could the plans due with a new revision? You bet. But I suspect Alan is more interested in building ovens and learning from the build experience than going through the work of revising the plans. When I read his book on oven building I got the sense that Dan Wing was the catalyst for getting all Alan’s thoughts into a format where a book could actually be created. Perhaps “Brick Oven Plans 2.0” is an opportunity for enterprising copy editor with a passion for bread…