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      So I made a Reflector oven today...     

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mwd1976
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02/09/2008 06:31PM
And I though I'd take you folks along for the ride.

First I drew up some super detailed and technical plans for my creation:


I used a high tech new CAD program for this :) Note the complete lack of dimensions. You may want to add this option to your drawings.

I then headed to Home Depot and picked up a 3'x3' piece of light gauge aluminum (or as the English say: al-you-minny-um) a few small brass hinges, some rivets, and a little hand bender thingy. The hand bender thingy was near the gutters and flashing. I'm pretty sure that's its proper name.

Now it was time to start putting those expensive drawings to use.
First I laid out the sides. I added 3/4" to what I decided my finished dimension should be. I would have consulted my drawings here, but the lack of dimensions limited their usefulness. I did this to accomodate the 3/8" hem I would bend around the edges to add strength and also hide any sharp edges.



don't forget to file all the edges down. This stuff is sharp!

Next I clipped the corners to allow the hem to fold over on itself.


I then proceeded to use the hand-bender-thingy to bend a 3/8" hem


I hammered it flat using a block and a hammer (also known as a hand hitting thingy)


after repeating a few times I had both sides done.


I would later cut this down a bit because it was too deep. Turns out dimensions on a drawing are a good idea. Who knew?

I came up with the idea to use some "Z" clips to hold all the parts together. To make these I first cut a strip about 1.25" wide by 6" or so long. I then hemmed the edge over like I've already shown. I inserted the hem into the bender thingy and hammered the remainder of the strip down using a block. The result was a fancy handmade Z clip



Pretty slick huh? Is genius too strong a word? Ok...Yeah it probably is:)

Now I cut these into about 1.25" lengths and riveted them to the sides, the tops of the clips even to the lines I had drawn where I wanted the top, baking shelf, and lower reflector to sit.


Now it was time to make the shelf and the bottom. I made these the same size so they'd be interchangeable. Because I am using pretty light gauge stuff, I had to add some strength to these. I added 1.5" to my finished dimenision to account for the hem and plus a 90 degree bend. Leaving this 90 degree bend adds significant stregth the the pieces.


Once I did that on all four sides of both pieces I had my shelf and bottom reflector. Now on to the top.

It was essentially more of the same, but I added a hinged back panel so I could control temperature and also access the baked goods. This way I could rotate them and burn them to a crisp evenly.


The 90 degree bends on the shelf, bottom, and top slide into my fancy "Z" clips (patent pending :) that are riveted onto the sides.

Ths is what holds the whole works together. It seems stable enough.

I can set it up in about 20 seconds, and it breaks down pretty flat. I set out to build something that required no tools or hardware to assemble, and I think I did ok.





Will it work? I have no idea. I have never used one, nor seen one in person. I guess I'll have to wait a couple months before I can try it out.

I hope my techincal jargon wasn't over any of your heads:) All told I spent about $40 or so on this project including the hand bender thingy, rivets,and hinges. This was meant to share some ideas and possibly inspire some of you to try your own as well. Hopefully you'll see something that can be improved upon. Any and all comments are welcome. Cheers.
 
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mwd1976
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02/09/2008 07:31PM
Sorry the pictures and words are a little scrambled. Hopefully you still get the jist of what I was trying to do:)
 
02/09/2008 07:33PM
Thanks for the detailed report and photo's!

Looks like it packs down pretty small. I've always been interested in building a reflector oven, just never got around to it. I think you might of motivated me to give it a try!

BTW- I'm running the same CAD program you have, but mine is only version 3.0 :(
 
02/09/2008 07:35PM
You are a great sheet metal man !!! Good luck with some tasty meals up there. Izzy
 
dogwoodgirl
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02/09/2008 08:44PM
"I hope my techincal jargon wasn't over any of your heads"....um, nope. 3 words...."hand bender thingy"!!
 
wetcanoedog
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02/09/2008 10:57PM

WOW!!!--super high quality work--looks like a pro job..no wavey
or out of line parts..nifty Z clips..the back door is a good idea
that i have not seen on the plans in the older outdoor books..
that has Pineapple upside down cake written all over it..i bought
a reflector last summer and spent more than a few $$$ for it..that
looks just as good--we will be looking forward to the photos with
the results of you cooking adventures--
 
02/10/2008 12:08PM
It looks like a great job. I might have to try to make one. My only (probably dumb) question is, does the shelf have to have holes or slots in it to let air flow? You know kind of like an oven rack.
 
mwd1976
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02/10/2008 12:14PM
Thanks for the compliments everyone.

I'm glad I didn't lose ya Dogwoodgirl;)

Duckcall, I don't know about the slots. Most of the ones I've seen pictures of don't have them, so I wouldn't think so. Maybe someone who has actually used one can chime in.

Hey Beavers, is your CAD version 3.0 the one where you use a pointy stick in the sand? :)
 
Soledad
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02/10/2008 08:32PM
Thanks for that inspiring project report! Must be nice to have skills. Good job with all the details and pictures. Maybe I'll send them to my dad and he can make one for me. ;)
 
dogwoodgirl
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02/10/2008 10:39PM
 
quetico152
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02/11/2008 09:09AM
mwd,
I worked for a HVAC company for a couple years, and i dont know the real name for youre "hand bender thingy", but what we always called them were "hand breaks." surprisingly thats even shorter than youre made up name.
 
mwd1976
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02/11/2008 09:14AM
My dad actually used to own an HVAC company, and I grew up making stuff like this. I made some pretty killer dustpans by the time I was 11! I actually thought of trying to run up there to make this (my bro still works there) but I thought I'd try and make it with readily avaiable parts and tools so everyone could try it. It definitely would have been faster! A jump shears and a nice box and pan brake would have been helpful:)

I think it's called a hand former, I believe a hand brake is actually the big flat pliers type of tool. The names are probably pretty interchangable though.

I was mostly in just a goofy mood when I wrote it and tried to keep things light and from getting too boring. In retrospect, I should have put the real name on here, the folks at Home Depot might look at you a bit funny if you asked where they kept the "Hand bender thingys" :)

 
moose plums
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02/11/2008 10:18AM
Nice job, and it WILL work great! I love mine.
 
quetico152
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02/11/2008 10:35AM
mwd,
I worked for my dad too, and i used to make goofy stuff all the time as a kid, just the same as you. And im pretty sure all HVAC places have different terminology for everything, cause we called the big flat pliers "duck billed pliers". and dont ask me why, cause i dont know.
 
aebrooks
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02/11/2008 04:05PM
so this post got me thinking that someone must have put some plans on the internet on how to build a reflector oven... so here they are if anyone is interested. i think i'll give it a wirl.

Reflector oven plans


 
mwd1976
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02/11/2008 04:19PM
In my search I never came across those plans. Tuns out my "Z-clip" wasn't as original as I though :) Oh well.

Looks like a fairly simple plan, I'd maybe still hem those edges for some strength.
 
Grandma L
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02/13/2008 08:53PM
mwd1976, Now that you are so successful with a reflector oven, would you consider making an oven/baking unit that will use the burner of a camp stove as the heat source and be more like a small but "real" oven to put a small cake pan into?
 
kanoes
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02/13/2008 09:03PM
here ya go grandma. :) coleman
 
snakecharmer
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02/13/2008 09:59PM
Sure, but does it have a self cleaning option? :- )
 
02/14/2008 08:07PM
MWD,
Nice post, Good winter project!!
 
kanoes
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02/14/2008 08:31PM
what the heck. last winter, this occupied an afternoon. less than $15. not the fancy rear viewing window though. a somewhat modified plan. 10" pan fits. the handle thingies are there to be able to move it....and still keep it balanced...its an x y thing.
 
Grandma L
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02/16/2008 05:44PM
Thanks, Kanoes for your "Coleman" suggestion but it is a little big, bulky and not to good for traveling. Though, the reflector ovens are great but I was hoping to find and alternative for "burning-ban baking". I spent an hour putting together a baking system to use on a single burner stove. I used a heat reflector around the flame, defuser under the pot of dough, nesting pots for an "oven" lid and made great biscuits in about 15 minutes. Since it was only in the 30ish degrees today (on my deck), I was amazed it worked so well. The pizza box cardboard I used as insulation between the "oven" lid cover pots seemed to really help hold the heat.
 
mwd1976
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02/16/2008 07:01PM
GrandmaL,

Have you ever done the "bakepacker" style baking? Where you essentially steam bake something in a ziploc bag? I've made muffins that way, I just haven't played around with it much. I put about a half inch of water in my larger pot, put a smaller pot lid inside it spaced up on some rocks, and muffin batter in a ziploc. Cover the large pot and start boiling. I think it took about 20 minutes to make my muffin glob:)

Or you can use the real deal...
http://www.bakepacker.com/
 
Grandma L
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02/17/2008 07:38PM
mdw - Yes, I have done several version of the "steam jacket" baking. It works will for some things. Though, sometimes the dough stays too moist on top or the steam condenses oddly. Steam is good for biscuits but not so great for my favorite chocolate cake. Since my arthritis now limits our mileage, I have put my focus on cooking and this winter, into baking techniques. Thanks for your response.
 
mwd1976
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02/20/2008 02:39PM
Hey Grandma L

In researching the jello mold oven on this site, someone mentioned a stove top potato baker. Looks like it's similar in concept to what you came up with.

potato baker

I would imagine you could bake about anythng in it as long as it was small enough.

for $15 it might be worth a try.
 
snowman
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04/29/2009 09:27AM
Bump...I like the look of the above post for the Potato Baker, Anyone ever try it?
 
lostreef
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05/08/2009 10:54PM
Here's some reflector oven plans similar to the one Rutabaga sells.



reflector oven plans
 
Savage Voyageur
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05/10/2009 09:09AM
Good job MWD, I would like to make on some day. I liked to door in the back to view the food. I don't know how it will work with the solid food shelf though, most ovens have racks so the heat will travel through and bake the top also. If you find that the bake times are too long you can always remove the shelf and add some rods. Check out kanoes oven.
 
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