There are several wood stoves that you can purchase, each with its unique features, but nothing beats the utility you get from a DIY portable wood stove. Knowing that you made it yourself will give you a better understanding of how it works and save you money; you will also be able to diagnose it better, should there be any issues in the future.
When building a DIY portable wood stove, you will need a few power tools in your arsenal. While it is possible to make one without using power tools, they won’t be as safe. And what good is a portable wood stove that isn’t stable or puts your house at risk of fire?
This article will go over the tools you will need to make your portable wood stove, the process, and the materials needed.
Note: Wood stoves always present a fire risk – even more so if you made one yourself. Make sure you insulate your wood stove properly and seal off all points where brunt wood may leak from, and that you remain vigilant when using it.
What are Wood Stoves?
Wood stoves are essential appliances for homes in colder areas. Not only do they provide warmth to your home by burning wood (or other wood-derived biomass fuel), you can also use them for cooking. The build consists of a large metal firebox in which you add wood. This firebox is often lined with firebrick to ensure longevity.
Unfortunately, this means that the wood stove isn’t particularly easy to move around.
A vent on top allows the heat to travel to different parts of your home and one (or the same) for smoke removal. Commercial wood stoves may also have automatic features such as buttons to start a pilot fire or clean the tray.
Your DIY portable wood stove doesn’t need to have all these features, but make sure you include some air controllers to ensure that your stove doesn’t overheat.
How to Build a DIY Portable Wood Stove
You can either go with metallic or concrete wood stoves. While the latter is easier to carry and more portable, the former lasts much longer and is relatively easier to maintain. Today, we will go over how to build a DIY portable wood stove from steel sheets.
Tools You’ll Need
- Angle grinder with a steel blade (flat wheel)
- Jigsaw tool
- A file or an abrasive disc for your angle grinder
- A blow torch
- Welding machine with low-carbon mild steel rods.
Materials You’ll Need
You will need:
- Sheet of mild steel at least 3mm (1/8th inch) thick, but no more than 6mm (¼ inch). While thicker steel sheets would be better, they require industrial-strength power tools. We would recommend a 4mm (5/32 inch) mild steel sheet for best results.
- We used a 47 by the 24-inch sheet for our woodstove.
- Tempered Glass
- 10 ft pipe of 4-inch mild steel (1/16 inch thickness)
- Pen and paper. SolidWorks or Google Sketchup can be handy software here.
- Plastic chair with steel legs.
Building Your DIY Portable Wood Stove
- Before you begin cutting steel, finalize the design you need o Sketchup. We recommend a rectangular design for more burning space and putting the vent on the left-hand side. Instead of welding your sheet from different places, it would be a good idea to design your wood stove in such a manner that all you have to do is fold it from four sides.
- Keep three sides plain and one side, add a door for fuel addition and cleaning.
- Spin your design around to make sure it fits your needs and that you can use the length of the sheet you have correctly. If the design requires more material than what you have at hand, feel free to reduce its size.
- Now that you have a good idea of the dimensions you need to follow, it is time to cut the sheet. This is where you start making the DIY portable wood stove. Lay the sheet flat on the surface and hammer out any kinks in the sheet. Inspect it closely for any holes and weld them shut, if needed.
- Use a marker to mark your sheet. We marked a strip 47 inches long and ~10 inches high. This would be the main body of your stove. Once ready, start cutting. Make sure you are wearing protective gear while doing so.
- Once cut, mark it to create a box. Our box was 20 inches (l) x 8 inches (w) x 10 inches (h). Use a blowtorch to soften your marks and fold the sheet into a neat box. Be very careful here.
- To be sure that the corners will hold, run a bead of weld down on each corner.
- Choose which side would be the front and trace the type of door you want here. Make it large enough that your hand will go through comfortably without touching any sides. Use a jigsaw to cut the door’s shape. Leave room for hinges when cutting.
- Cut a piece of the sheet that would run the entire length of the box. This would be the baffle. Leave a small gap of about an inch at the front and weld a small wedge here to make the baffle easier to pick up. The gap will also allow the hot air to circulate better.
- Cut the top from the remaining sheet, weld it in place, round the corners for better visual appeal, and make sure that it doesn’t get stuck in anyone’s clothes.
- Cut a hole at the top for the flue pipe. Keep the circle you just kept to use as a damper. Trace the pipe’s diameter on top before cutting for reference.
- Pick up the piece you cut for the stove’s door. Cut a 5 x 4 inch square inside it to make room for the glass or the vent. You will need to use a fire rope and epoxy to seal the glass on the front. Feel free to turn the opening into a vent or skip this step entirely if this seems too complicated.
- Insert the damper you created into the flue pipe. Drill a hole in the pipe and connect it to the damper to operate it outside. Weld the lever in place and the damper to the lever.
- Insert the flue pipe into the stove body and cut it according to your flue needs. We made just one cut at the 4 ft mark for a bend. The flue pipe doesn’t need to touch the base of your stove. Hold it as high as you need to and weld it in place. Make sure you weld it all around to prevent smoke from leaking out.
- Pull apart the plastic chair and attach its legs underneath or beside the stove you just created.
- Use an old steel ruler or a ¼ inch thick steel strip to create handles on both sides to make your DIY wood stove portable.
- Sand the entire surface to give it a smooth finish.
- Spray paint the whole thing from the outside first. Give it an even coat and let it dry.
- Look inside to see if the spray leaked inside somehow. If it did, leak-proof it from there. You can also water-test the stove to check if it is leaking from somewhere, but it is a very, very difficult process.
And you’re done!
Light a gentle fire first to test the stove out. Again, if you see smoke leaking from any point, weld it shut. Now, you can make your grate by welding some thick mesh wire or 16-gauge (or higher) wire. If you follow our measurements, you should be able to place at least two medium-sized pans on the stove’s top quite easily on your DIY portable wood stove!
Let us know down in the comments what you think of the guide and how helpful it was. Happy cooking!