I've always been intrigued with this concept and wanted to build my own however, most of the example videos online featured either 50 cal. or 20 cal. cans which, from my viewpoint are too small or too narrow for a realistic wood stove (sorry guys), and I've never seen one that uses all 3 types of fuel; charcoal, propane and wood. So I'm going to attempt to combine all 3 in this stove project.

I'd been waiting for something other than a 50 cal or 20 cal to use as a foundation for this project to stay true to the concept, when I stumbled on an ammo can at a swap meet that I'd never seen before. It was just the right size and apparently was used for storing bomb detonators. The can measured 14" high x 10" wide 17.5" long. It was more than three times the size of a 50 cal. and twice as wide as a 20 cal. For me the perfect size.

DISCLAIMER: The use and size of this type of ammo can for the stove is based on my opinion only. I am not an ammo can expert and show no disrespect to those who choose a different size can as was stated in the comments below. I chose components that would work for me.

Step 1: DESIGN

Picture of DESIGN

I wanted my stove have the best features of all of the examples I'd seen which included:

-A camp/survival stove that burned charcoal, propane and wood

-Adequate space for burning 3 types of fuel

-Removable top for grilling

-Large, hinged front door for feeding fuel

-Secure door latch

-Detachable legs to raise it off the ground

-Stable legs so it won't tip over

-Removable ash pan

-Multiple internal grills

-Adjustable height of the grills

-Adjustable air damper on the door

-Spark arrest-er on the door damper

-Internal baffle for improved efficiency

-Removable smoke stack in pieces

-Spark arrest-er on top of stack

-Adjustable air fume in the stack

-Flip-up side table

-Carrying handles on front and back

-Set of fire and cook tools

Possible future add-ons:

-Shis-ka-bob rack

-Swivel side mount for drying rack or flashlight holder.

And all of this needs to collapse to fit inside for easy storage and transport. Well I've got my shoe horn ready!


Picture of MATERIALS and TOOLS



1ea. 14" high x 10" wide 17.5" long Ammo can (your size may vary) $25.

2ea. 3"x3" Steel hinges (top) $6.

Grills & Support:

1ea. 18"x24" Sheet of diamond stamped grill screen (grills) $20.

3ea. 12"x 14" Sheet metal (baffle) $10.

1ea. Scrap barbecue grill top (grill) $0.

3ea. 60" U shaped wall shelf supports (grill supports) $12.

Ash Pan:

1ea. 4' length of scrap metal stud material (ash pan) $0.

1ea. garage door handle (ash pan) $0.

2ea. 1/4" x3/4" bolts. $0.


2ea. 4'x 1" scrap electrical conduit (make 4 legs) $0.

4ea. 2"x 4" scrap metal (leg base) $0.

4ea. 2" scrap angle iron (leg supports) $0.

4ea. 1/4" crown nuts (secure legs)

4ea. 1/4"x 3" eye bolts (secure legs) $5.

1set JB Weld adhesive (glue crown bolts to leg supports) $5.


3ea. 12"x 14" sheet metal (door) $10.

2ea. 1-1/2"x 4" steel hinges (door) $6

1ea. 4" ceiling electrical plate (door air damper) $4.

1ea. drawer handle (door air dampler) $0.

1ea. 4"x 4" metal screen (spark arestor in damper) $0.

1ea. 1/4"x 3/4" bolt (door damper) $0.

1ea. 1/2"x 3" scrap steel (door handle) $0.

1ea. wooden knob (door handle) $0.

1ea. 5'stove gasket and heat adhesive glue set (fireproof door and top seal) $10.


1ea. 4'x 1/2" scrap electrical conduit (makes 2 handles) $0.


1ea. 3" stack tube base (attaches to top) $5.

1ea. 5"x 5" scrap metal (stack base collar) $0.

1ea. 5'x 3" metal hot water heater tube (cut in 4 pieces) $6.

1ea. 10"x 10" window screen (spark arrestor) $0.

1ea. 10" metal wire (attaches spark arrestor) $0.

1ea. 3" round scrap metal (stack flu) $0.

1ea. 1/4"x 6" bolt (stack flu handle) $0.

Propane Component:

1ea. Ozark Propane backpack stove (Walmart) $20.

Side Table:

1ea. Old Coleman stove top $0.

2ea. 1-1/2"x 4" steel hinges (side shelf) $6

4ea. leftover grill support 1ea. slide bolt lock $0.


1ea. Box of 100 1/8" pop rivets $6.

1ea. Box of 100 8/32 x 1/2" round head bolts $3

1ea. Box of 100 Small flat washers $3.

1ea. Box of 100 Small lock washers $3.

1ea. Box of 100 8/32 nuts $3.

1ea. 5/16"x 36" all-thread (Fire tool) $3.

1ea. can of heat resistant paint matte black $6.


1ea. Stack of Wood (Free)

1ea. Propane canister (Walmart) $3.

1ea. Bag Charcoal (Dollar Store) $1.


Cordless or electric hand grinder

Cut-off wheels

Grinder wheels

Sanding discs

Set of drill bits

Metal hole saws

Cordless or electric drill


Screw drivers

Wrench set

Socket set

Center punch

Metal files

Pop rivet tool

Vise grips

Measuring tape


and a Big ass bench vise!

Step 3: THE BOX

Picture of THE BOX

Removing the Handles-
In order to pull this off, I had to remove the plates, latches and handles on both ends that were spot welded. I simply jammed a screw driver between the box and the plate and drilled the spot welds till they "popped". Repeat this till the plates fall off. Use a grinder or file to smooth any rough spots. I left the diagonal metal support on the left side for rigidity.

Trimming the Lid-The lid sides extended too far down over the top edge of the box so I trimmed about 3/4" off the side lip with my cut-off wheel and grinder. File all edges smooth.



I decided I wanted 4 different heights for the internal grills; one for holding the wood above the ash pan, one a few incehs higher for roasting or drying, one for the internal baffle (to improve effieiency), and one for a top grill to cook steaks or dogs. All of the grills are inter-changable so they can be used at whatever height I wanted. I like alot of flexibility in my designs.

I used "U" shaped steel wall shelf supports (uncoated) that measured 5/8" wide x 3X8" high and cut to 17" long sections. These were all pop-riveted to the side using 1/8' rivets and small washers, 3 or more to each support.

Step 5: GRILLS

Picture of GRILLS

Grills (Top to Bottom)-
Top- I found a new round 24" barbecue grill in the trash that was already coated to cook on so I trimmed it to size for the top grill.

Baffle- It's used to improve the efficacy of the stove and is made from 3 flat steel sheet 12"x 14" bolted together. I would rather have one thick sheet so it wouldn't warp as much but that wasn't available .

Middle- This grill is made of stamped steel in a diamond-shaped pattern and can be used for grilling, smoking, drying or whatever. It's a good backup for the other grills though not mandatory.

Bottom- Made of the same stamped diamond-shaped flat steel, this holds the wood or other fuel and has additional small pieces attached with steel wire for support.

Step 6: ASH PAN

Picture of ASH PAN

I cut out the opening in the box for the pan to slide. The pan itself is made from scrap pieces of metal studs I found at a job site. I pop-riveted 2 pieces of the metal stud side by side and left enough space at each end to cut and fold up flaps to close off the pan. The front door of the pan is made of scrap steel from the door cut-out and pop-riveted in place. A scrap garage door handle is used for access.

Step 7: LEGS

Picture of LEGS

The legs are made of 1" scrap electrical conduit, the ends squeezed flat in a vise then bent to a 23 degree angle at each end. They slide into slots on the bottom of the box and are angled out providing a stable base. The leg supports are made of thick pieces of scrap sheet metal and bolted to the base of the can. The angle that locks the leg is raised above the base piece the thickness of 1 8/32 nut. They are secured with some 1/4" x 3" eye bolts to the angle base. They remove to be stored inside the box.

Step 8: DOOR

Picture of DOOR

Cutting the Door-
Measure the door opening and check it twice, you only get one shot at this. Using a small grinder with a cutoff wheel. cut inside the lines and create a square opening. Save the cut-out for later. File all rough edges smooth.

The door is made from 3 pieces of sheet metal bolted together. It's larger that the opening to accommodate a piece of 1/2" fiberglass rope for sealing the door. The rope is attached with temperature resistant adhesive. The door is hinged to the side of the box with 2 steel hinges. The door also has a handle that slides to lock.

The Door Air Damper- Made from a 4" electrical ceiling plate, the damper has knock-out holes for air draft and pivots on a bolt to reduce or increase incoming air flow. The handle is a scrap drawer pull.


Picture of HANDLES

The handle are an integral part of the design. I wanted ones that were low profile, easy to use and had multiple uses. By placing them on the front and back of the stove, it was easier to maneuver the box, and placing them below the level of the top allowed me to use wider pots that didn't hit them. The handles are made from scrap 1/2" electrical conduit and bolt to the side. They also double and glove dryers and a handy place to hang the fire tool.

I made the top removable by pulling the hinge pins on the back and some custom made top locker nails in front that slip through a hole in the front handle.

Step 10: STACK

Picture of STACK

The smoke stack is 3" air conduit pipe cut into 4 pieces with a fume and spark arrest-or. The base of the stack is designed to reverse for travel and secures with 1/4" custom made wing bolts to the box lid over a 3-1/4" hole. All pieces collapse to fit inside the box for storage and travel.



One of the design elements required the integration use of propane. As it worked out, my Ozark single burner camp stove fit snugly between the top of the ash pan and the bottom of the hot dog grill top. There's not even any rattle. This integration allows me to use a refillable supply of fuel in place of the other two types of fuel.



The stove has a flip-up side table for extra cooking surface made from the top of an old Coleman stove. The hinges have been mounted away from the box surface to allow for the proper fold up and down operation. The panel collapses and latches when not in use. The fold out hinge arms are made from scrap "U" wall support mentioned earlier and lock with a 1" eye bolt. I wanted a collapsible mechanism that was self contained.



The finished stove has a cooking height of 30", a stack height of 55" and a footprint around the legs 25" x 26". It sits sturdy on the ground and is easy to use. When collapsed, the box stores all of the legs, stacks and parts to be completely portable.



Time to fire her up. I used scraps of wood from the shop and got a small fire going. Surprisingly, everything worked as designed and I was boiling water in my camp kettle in no time. The fire tool is made from 5/16" all-thread cut in 2 with a hook on one end and a scraper on the other. It comes apart to store inside. I made sure I had a fire extinguisher and a pair of work gloves on hand for safety.

One change I made after the burn-in, the door hinges came with plastic washers that I knew would melt so after the burn-in, I ground off the hinge pin and replaced them with steel ones. New hinge bolts and they were back in business. I sanded all the old paint off and gave it a coat of heat resistant paint.

Final thoughts- I had a lot of enjoyment making this is stove and the design saw adjustments through its build process. I would not change anything major other than a few tweaks here and there. I anticipate plenty of warm nights and warm meals around the campsite. Although it was primarily made for camping, it will see extra use as a survival tool when the zombies come and a backyard grill for chicken next summer.

I'm happy to share this project with all of you. Please let me know if you have built one like this. I'd like to see yours.

Thanks for stopping by.


pdewispelaere (author)2016-02-29

I am impressed!

thetoolman (author)pdewispelaere2016-07-06


JuniorMint (author)2016-01-18

Any idea on what it's finished weight is? Excluding any fuels.

thetoolman (author)JuniorMint2016-07-06

30 lbs?

Niterider69 (author)2016-01-17

One of the best instructables I have seen so far (new member) clear pictures and instructions. I will have to keep an eye out for one of these big ammo cans.

thetoolman (author)Niterider692016-07-06


qpig (author)2015-12-19

wow! this is amazing! question: is it safe to use in a large tent, camper &/or converted bus? or just outside?

thetoolman (author)qpig2015-12-31

Sorry for the late reply. With the proper ventilation and safety precautions, you could use it inside a large camping tent or converted bus. I've seen other examples on the web of using this size stove in applications like you suggest but do your homework! Good luck. Stay safe. Fire burns!!

JuniorMint (author)2015-12-06

Quick question, you made a 3 sheet thick baffle to improve efficiency, can you elaborate a little on that?

thetoolman (author)JuniorMint2015-12-31

Sorry for late reply. I used 3 sheets of thinner sheet metal because I couldn't get a thicker one. Thicker is always better.

thetoolman (author)JuniorMint2015-12-31

Sorry for late reply. I used 3 sheets of thinner sheet metal because I couldn't get a thicker one. Thicker is always better.

JuniorMint (author)2015-12-06

Dude this is so cool. I am definitely making one for my canoe trips.

dean545 (author)2015-11-15

Put me down on your list of buyers as well.

Just Like You (author)2015-11-08

I really like it. I only had time to do the 1.5 minute top to bottom quick scan It looks great and an ammo box (or something of same quality and size) is something I'm going to be keeping on mind when I'm out n about. Great Job I can't wait to build my own!

thetoolman (author)Just Like You2015-11-13

keep your eye out for that can. good luck.

Esque (author)2015-11-06

Great tutorial and one of the best designed ammo can stoves I've seen. As others have said, my only concern would be those pop rivets. I've had wood burners glowing red hot before with surprising ease (And a little lack of attention to be honest!) so I'd definitely be interested in an update at some point. I've made hobo stoves before and simply used steel nuts and bolts with star type locking washers to hold everything together, never had any problems with those so could be a possible alternative maybe.

thetoolman (author)Esque2015-11-13

i'm thinking of replacing thr alum rivets with steel bolts. i'll keep an eye on them.

longp2000 (author)2015-11-05

I could never make one of these because I have been known to cut my finger hanging a picture on the wall, but it's really awesome and I am impressed with folks like you that have these skills.

thetoolman (author)longp20002015-11-13

thanks. don't cut your finger.

yugnats (author)2015-11-04

inspired me to make one! thank you for this :)

thetoolman (author)yugnats2015-11-04

go for it. i'm sure it will be great.

yugnats (author)thetoolman2015-11-04


BennyOne (author)2015-11-03

The whole project is great, but that air damper from a pancake box is totally ingenious. Nice work!

thetoolman (author)BennyOne2015-11-03


bwangleon (author)2015-11-02

So much greatness!!

This Instructable tops my list of the best of the best.

Put me down on your list of buyers if you can find a reliable can source.


thetoolman (author)bwangleon2015-11-03

Will do. How about a patch?

Alex 2Q (author)2015-11-02

Awesome project

Cheers Alex

thetoolman (author)Alex 2Q2015-11-03


thetoolman (author)Alex 2Q2015-11-02


jmwells (author)2015-10-30

Overall very impressive. I would consider changing out those pop robots though. If the fire gets to hot they may melt. They will tend to loosen over time, your grill may then fall into the fire.

thetoolman (author)jmwells2015-11-01


BrockGrimes (author)thetoolman2015-11-03

Depending on the rivets used.

The melting point of aluminum is 1220*f, steel is over 2000*f.

If you used steel rivets I wouldn't worry too much. Heat expansion might be more of a problem if using aluminum rivets. Excellent build I'm thinking of building one myself.

KeithT14 (author)2015-11-01

Hey I think chicago screws could make a good component for this project. very easy to install

thetoolman (author)KeithT142015-11-01

Never heard of them. where can I find them?

thetoolman (author)thetoolman2015-11-02

hey, I found them online but they are also made of aluminum. I think I'll do a 6 month check-up on the rivets and replace any that have failed with 6/32 x 1/2" round head steel bolts. They shouldn't melt.

thanks for the tip.

geodad6 (author)2015-11-01

One of the best instructables I have ever seen. Great detail, great instructions. I would love to make one but don't have the tools.... Seriously, you could sell these to doomsday preppers! Great Job!

thetoolman (author)geodad62015-11-01

If I could find a source for the ammo can I might start selling them.

jefferyshall (author)thetoolman2015-11-01

The place to watch for them is here: Government Liquidation

Big lots of them come up about once a year



CNU-405/E Ammo Can

thetoolman (author)jefferyshall2015-11-02

thanks for the sources

throwedoff (author)2015-11-01

You used what appears to be a 20mm cannon shell ammo can. I have used them for various projects before including subwoofer enclosures for my 4X4 off road vehicle. It got rather noisy cutting twelve inch diameter holes in one side of two of them with a jib saw.

thetoolman (author)throwedoff2015-11-01

by the way, you could use a small electric hand grinder with a cut off wheel.

thetoolman (author)throwedoff2015-11-01

I'm not sure, the box said something about electronic detonators. any idea?

christopher.leblanc.98 (author)2015-11-01

perfect for a fishing shanty (ice fishing)

You bet ya

StellaStargazer (author)2015-11-01

This is fantastic and the tutorial is great!


Pothuset (author)2015-11-01

Nice, interesting work.

thetoolman (author)Pothuset2015-11-01


hndyman (author)2015-11-01

I'm a little concerned about the rivets as well .But with there low cost and ease of replacement who cares? love this build plan on starting my own this week.

thetoolman (author)hndyman2015-11-01

Well only time will tell if the rivets will hold their own. If need be I'll replace them with steel bolts.

About This Instructable



Bio: Alan Walker a.k.a. "The Toolman" has been creative and worked with his hands all of his life. He has been employed in a ... More »
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