My oven is a bit smokey. What should I do?

I just got done building the Mattone Barile oven and the 1st and 2nd break in burns were done as per the instructions but there was a lot of smoke that comes out the front of the oven. I did not build it with the opening restricted. Do need to put in some type of plate in the front to force the smoke up the chimney? I have a cap on the top that I got from you.

I also have the door but not sure I should be using to control the smoke coming out the front opening. Any insight you can give would be great.

Thanks -


Hello Jim!

Thank you for your question! Yes - the Mattone Barile series ovens are designed to give the end user the option to either close-off the front of the oven or leaving it open.

The benefits of leaving the opening… open… is it gives the user the ability to cook larger foods like turkeys or layered foods (meat / veggie smoking racks). It is also great for BBQ’ing foods as the larger opening allows for greater arm movement (ever try to BBQ in a prefab oven w/ a smaller opening - burn your arm one time on the oven opening and you won’t BBQ in a prefab again). This “open” type of cooking is also called Argentinian as the Argentinian Grills on the market allow for BBQ over Wood char.

The benefits of closing the front of the oven a bit is twofold… First, it helps retain more heat in the oven… and secondly, it forces almost all of the smoke out the chimney.

If you want to close off the front of your oven (which most customers do), it’s super-easy! Our instructions show how to do this during the construction process on Pages 21 - 23 (BrickWood Ovens Installation Instructions), but since it sounds like you’ve already built the oven, you’re stuck.

Just kidding :grin:

Actually, it’s very easy to add an oven closure once the oven is built. Simply clean the Inside / Front of the oven opening with a firm metal brush to remove any soot and give yourself a nice clean area to apply fresh mortar. Grab 20 good-looking brick (firebrick or clay) and prepare a fresh batch of high-temp mortar (or buy a 10lb pail of pre-mix high-temp mortar)… At this point, you will need to refer to Pages 21 - 23 of the oven instructions and you can easily close-off the front of the oven in about an hour or two…

Easy Peasy!

Thanks for your question!

Thanks for getting back to me so quicky.

I am stuck in that I finished off the front with thin brick already and really like the way it looks. I might put in a 3 inch plate at the top of opening. Paint it black so it is not that noticeable. I guess making the chimney opening bigger is not an option.

Hello Jim -

Beautiful oven! LOVE the color combo!

I see why you wouldn’t want to add additional masonry front to the oven.

I liked your suggestion about a decorative metal frame, but before you do that, let’s look at this from another direction… let’s discuss your firewood.

Most smoking issues (in all ovens -not just BrickWood Ovens), can be directed to the type of wood species and exactly how seasoned the firewood is. Sometimes the firewood isn’t as seasoned as it should be (it looks / sounds well seasoned, but there is still moisture in the wood). This can result in higher than normal smoke levels.

We were confounded a couple of years ago with the same issue. Our usual firewood supplier delivered a cord of moist firewood - and the oven produced more smoke than normal. Later that year, we purchased the a new cord of well-seasoned firewood and that did the trick. The new wood burnt clean and almost smoke free. You will also notice that as your oven get’s hotter, you’ll see very little smoke.

Like cooking in a wood fired oven, it takes a little bit of practice… but you’ll be a wood-burning pizza oven Jedi in no time!

Our suggestion - keep firing the oven as normal, work with the oven door to direct the smoke… try a different species of wood… and always make sure your wood is good and seasoned.

Here in the Birkenstock capital of the country, we have a great resource from the Washington State Airwatch Agency and they have created a fantastic PDF on everything firewood. From cutting to curing to burning - they cover it all! Burn Dry Firewood PDF

And in closing, why on earth haven’t you sent us more pictures of your beautiful oven for our Photo Gallery?!? It’s super easy to send up to 20GB of pics and videos, so please be sure to send us as many as you can!! BrickWood Ovens - Submit Pictures.

Thanks Jim!


Yes, that is the case and I should know better having cut firewood for a living in my youth.

I went through my pile of hardwood and picked out the fully seasoned ones and had much better luck. A guy up the road sells “gourmet firewood” - cherry, apple, hickory etc - might try that as well.

I hope to have the landscape done and submit final pictures soon. I do want to send some of how we got the cooking platforms in place on the base unit for anyone trying to do this without any help.

Thanks for your help and moderating this forum - Jim