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Picture of Better than a Bellows: A Fireplace Blower
Who doesn't love a fire in the fireplace? But we all know that fires burn low now and then due to inattention, so sometimes you have to fan the flames and get the fire going again. The classic way of doing this is via a bellows. But bellows are a lot of work, get holes worn in them, and don't provide steady air flow. This instructable will show how to construct a simple blower that will do a better job of rekindling the fire than a manual bellows.

Here's a video comparing the efficacy of manual bellows to the blower we'll make:



The overall plan is simple: take an old battery-powered air blower that's used to blow up air mattresses, attach a flexible tube to its exhaust, put a metal nozzle on the end that will go into the firebox.
 
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
Materials:
1 - battery-powered blower like the kind used to blow up air mattresses. The one I had laying around the house was the Coleman 4D Universal Quick Pump that you can get for less than $15 on Amazon.
4 - D cells for the blower, $7 at Home Depot
Fabric Tape: Duct tape or Gorilla Tape
2 - hose clamps 1" or so, about $0.70 each
18" of 1" ID plastic tubing a couple of bucks at Home Depot
9" of 3/8" copper tubing

Tools:
Flathead Screwdriver
Copper Tubing Cutter

Step 2: Cut Tubing to Length

Picture of Cut Tubing to Length
This will be for the nozzle end. About 8 or 9 inches worked for me. If you have a deep firebox, you might need a longer nozzle. If you have a shallow firebox, like a Rumford, you can probably also use less plastic hose. Use a tubing cutter for the smoothest edge.

Step 3: Wrap Tubing with Tape

Picture of Wrap Tubing with Tape
The tubing's about 3/8" in diameter, and it has to fit snugly into the 1" diameter plastic tubing. There's probably better ways of doing this: flare joins or such, but I took the simple and stupid way out and just wrapped it with tape until it was the right diameter.

Step 4: Connect the Tubes

Picture of Connect the Tubes
Insert the copper tubing wrapped in tape into one end of the plastic tubing. Secure with a hose clamp.

Step 5: Clamp Hose to Blower

Picture of Clamp Hose to Blower
Use the other hose clamp to attach the free end of the plastic tubing to the exhaust of the battery-operated blower.

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!
and you're done! Keep it by the fireplace and use as needed. Keep away from the open grate, as the blower and connecting tube are plastic and don't respond well to stray sparks.

As to price: the total materials for this blower is about $25. The cheapest bellows on Amazon are in the $20 to $25 price range. As to getting the job done, there's absolutely no comparison, go back and see the video in the intro. Since this is an air mattress pump, you could easily take the tubing extension along on your camping trip and use it to pep up the campfire after inflating your air mattress. I'm also sure other types of blowers, including AC powered ones would work as well around the home fireplace. So look around the house and see if you have a pump kicking around in the bottom of a closet and make your own blower!
abellows19 months ago

Wow!
Great. I share it to my friend, who working in the same industry. It helps him a
lot. http://www.avbellows.com/fabricexpansion.php

meddler3 years ago
I am going to build a flower pot charcoal forge. I was thinking of using a blow dryer for the bellows, but I believe this is a much better solution.
ibrent (author)  meddler3 years ago
Really interesting thought! I've built a flower pot charcoal bbq (small brown egg, as opposed to the big green egg) so I know something of what you're using. My guess is that the blowdryer is more of a high volume/low pressure device whereas the air mattress pump is a higher pressure/lower volume device. We're had nothing but good luck with the blower in our fireplace so far, so I believe it will work well for you. Please keep me posted. Thanks for the comment.