Introduction: Collapsible Wood Burning Camp Stove (On a Budget!)

Picture of Collapsible Wood Burning Camp Stove (On a Budget!)

The Firebox ( is a folding stove that folds down into almost nothing but still functions as a great stove for camping, backpacking, bushcraft, etc. The only problem is the cost: $50+ for stoves of this design. This is my version of a stove coined "The Firebox Replica" by a few Youtubers. Total cost: about $7

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools


  • 6 3"x5" Tie Plates (can be found at hardware stores for around $1 a piece)
  • Coat hanger or thick wire


  • Rotary tool (with cut-off wheels)
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Container of water (to cool hot plates)

Step 2: Cuts

Picture of Cuts

I was planning on creating a prototype, change a few things, and then create a good version fully documented but the prototype turned out better than I expected. Read captions on picture as a guide and red lines are cuts that need to be made. I suggest you mark them with a sharpie marker and ruler so cutting lines are much easier with the rotary tool. If you don't have a rotary tool a hacksaw with a metal cutting blade or a jeweler's saw should be fine but may take ages.

Step 3: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Slot the pieces together (bars before front and back plates) and you're ready for the first burn. :D

Note: The issue of heating galvanized steel has come up, potentially releasing harmful fumes into the air. This coating can be removed or reduced by heavy sanding or heating in a campfire (these do reduce corrosion resistance).* A high temperature heat paint can be used after to protect metal plates from corrosion.

* As suggested in comments. I personally have not followed these techniques and it is up to you to do your own research on the topic then decide what you will do should you follow this guide.

Better Note: Use non-galvanized or stainless steel plates.


TrollFaceTheMan (author)2014-08-30

As Blacksmith I can Confirm that Using Galvanizes Steel for a small stove like this is perfectly fine...

Yes, you can get Metal Fume Fever from Inhaling the Fumes produces during the "Burn Out" Phase, but unless your doing that inside, or have you face directly above the stove the whole time (Which I would doubt because it would be pretty hot...)

You shouldn't have to worry about the Metal Fumes... But if you are that concerned please, just throw the whole thing in a Bonfire, and leave it for a couple of Hours to "Burn Off" the layer... Then you should be fine...

Trust me, I have used Galvanized steel Many times for Crucibles, and have Heat Forged it plenty of times without any issues...

Understand, chances of you getting harmed by heating it are minimal... And even then, mainly it would be caused by Misuse and Miscare, which can easily be avoided...

dbbd1 (author)2017-02-02

I'm a little confused in some of the pics, the bowtie-shaped piece is higher (sitting higher above the shelf) than in others. Was it lowered later, to work better? Or am I missing something?

mvan osch made it! (author)2016-12-07

wonderful stove. Had to order the tie plates in the US. It was well worth the hassle. thanks for sharing

spark master (author)2016-01-12

We are going to have a lot of dead campers here. My kid's Scout troop regularly use Galvanized steel garbage pails to make turkeys for the big out door thanksgiving feast. Cooks fast and quite yummy. Seriously tasty bird.

Jladou (author)spark master2016-07-20

Them trash can turkeys are some of the best birds you'll ever have

nolte919 (author)2016-05-05

I love this idea. Any idea on the weight? According to Home Depot's website each plate weighs 0.16 lb. With some back of the envelope calculations, I get 14 oz for the whole thing.

kenburg made it! (author)2016-01-05

Thanks much, I followed your plan mostly but expanded some the existing holes using a 3/8ths bit instead of cutting out the triangles. I boiled 2 cups of cold water in just under 5 minutes. It was 39 degrees outside.

loondog (author)2015-11-27

I used this last night for the first time and it rocks .

Lunatec made it! (author)2015-05-29

I love the idea, i just used a different design.

DanielR68 (author)Lunatec2015-08-15

Any chance you can set up an instruct able or perhaps send me the picture of the parts? Thanks!

Lunatec (author)DanielR682015-08-21

I originally intended to do an instructable but it seemed so similar to this one then I decided not to. I am new to instructables, should I do a separate one? Anyway, 5 3x6 tie plates and tools are all you need. The first image is the template with the front on the left, the sides in the middle (you need two of these but I only show one) and the right one is the back. Below are the floor and the top support. I have more images if you would like them.

knock point (author)Lunatec2015-08-26

There is no reason you couldn't make your own instructable of your design. we're all here to learn. I would reference this one though. Both designs look awesome. Has anyone tried both? I'd like to know if one works better than the other.

Lunatec (author)Lunatec2015-08-24

More pics

rurik_au (author)Lunatec2015-06-14

I love that desgin.

DanielR68 (author)2015-08-21

has anyone tested the actual peak temp coming from one of these stoves? ddw_az touched on the possibility of a stove made out of aluminum melting. Aluminum melts at 1200°F. This is just food for thought!

TheGeek1984 (author)2015-04-12

I decided to try this out with tea lights to see if I can use it indoors safely.

becket (author)2015-04-12

Really nice stove, bought all the materials yesterday and got started, hmm something didn't fit at all.
After reading again I noticed what was wrong.
We don't use inches over here :-)
So after some small changes to the stove it works pretty awesome
Thanks a lot.

We use metric where I'm from but hardware and wood is sold in inches and feet for some reason. Glad you enjoyed!

JayB7 (author)2015-04-01

very nice, thank you!

thecreator24 (author)2015-02-17

Okay thanks I never would of thought of stacking the cutting wheels great idea

thecreator24 (author)2015-02-17

On the cuts do you cut once or twice on them

I stacked two cutting discs on top of each other while cutting so that the width of the slot was as wide as the circles so that a second pass wasn't needed. Hope this helps. Thanks!

steve.teeters.9 (author)2014-12-10

Oh I also forgot to mention that I used aviation tin snips for all of the external cuts, it was a lot faster and cleaner and no need to buy cutting wheels as often. also clean up was better as there were no burrs left. just my 2 cents on that. thanks again for the awesome idea.

steve.teeters.9 made it! (author)2014-12-07

I made this stove on a couple different sizes of plates on the larger piece of metal i cut 3 different level slots for the bottom so that I could burn wood, or an alcohol burner or solid fuel, I am excited to use it and see how it works. Thanks for the project. I realize I haven't done my burn off yet just wanted to share a pic. also on the larger plates they make a bigger base to set a pot on.

Great idea! I'm currently thinking of a way to use wood pellets in the stove as a cheaper fuel and a higher base plate would be a good start.

GrammeyMom (author)2014-09-22


NightHawkInLight (author)2014-09-09

I love this project. Super clever design and materials usage. Well deserved first prize.

Thank you so much. I really enjoyed your instructable, planning on making a few pairs of shoes for myself after I get a chance to pick up some rubber spray. I was a bit shocked that my project was selected from the other finalists.

Sorcene (author)2014-09-08

This would be a great frame set up for the can alcohol stove that I made! I've been looking to make a good frame to use with it that will securely hold a pot over the stove without tipping...I think this is it! Thanks for this Instructable!

alergyfree (author)2014-08-08

Great Idea!!!

However,are those plates galvanized. We learned in welding class that heating galvanized meal causes it to give off highly toxic fumes. That being said I think maybe setting the completed stove in a good campfire to burn off the galvanize would be a good Idea.

Kiteman (author)alergyfree2014-08-10

Although it is admirable to try and avoid harm to others, it is best done in an informed, relevant manner, without using inaccurate, panic-inducing phrases.

"Metal fume fever" is caused by breathing significant quantities of the fumes generated when melting and/or rapidly-oxidising and/or vapourising quantities of metal in an enclosed space on a regular basis, not from just making the metal reasonably hot in the open air. That is, it is of concern to welders, brazers, and those who cut metal with torches, not folk doing a bit of cooking (else every chef, cook and barbecue enthusiast would be regular sufferers as well as the occasional careless metal worker).

Also, read your own reference: exposure is measured over a continuous eight-hour period, is easily avoided ("keep your head out of the fumes"), the effects are minor and short-lived (flu-like symptoms), and there are no known long-term effects.

Not so much "highly toxic" as "occasionally annoyingly irritant".

TrollFaceTheMan (author)Kiteman2014-08-30

Well stated Kiteman.

I haven't been able to find any internet resources stating that heating galvanized steel gives off toxic fumes, mostly that the coating peels from the steel at high temperatures. That being said, it doesn't hurt to burn it off (other than lose some of its corrosion resistance).

Thanks for the comment! I added the coating's concern in the last step.

Heating galvanized steel up releases zinc fumes into the air zinc fumes are extremely poisonous... When ever I go to forge something galvanized I either get my forge up to full heat, drop the piece in and leave until the coating burns off or soak it in vinegar overnight.

Kiteman (author)camping crazy2014-08-10

Soaking galvanised metal in vinegar is stupid and dangerous. It produces incredibly hazardous, explosive gases - you should only do it in a forcibly-ventilated fume extraction unit, well away from all potential sources of ignition, with staff suitably trained and equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment on hand...

... or you could check proper references and make an informed decision.

camping crazy (author)Kiteman2014-08-13

Obviously don't do it inside!! I knew about those gasses but on a windy day they are gone before you could strike a match let alone blow yourself up:) Besides online you should look stuff up before you take someones advice...I just put out there what works for me.

Kiteman (author)camping crazy2014-08-13

You don't seem to get my point...

camping crazy (author)Kiteman2014-08-16

No I get your point fine, you trying to tell me to check sources before I give out bad advice by giving me bad advice...I didn't catch on at first and believe it or not I found an article about explosive gasses caused by that so I believed you, good old wikepedia!! Btw there was a man killed by zinc fumes but he was quite exposed to them.

Kiteman (author)camping crazy2014-08-17

See? The ignorant panics are not confined to this site - I've found similar warnings about the "dangers" of welding galvanised metals, but there they were quickly put down by the experts behind the forums.

Regarding the "man killed by zinc fumes", the only references I can find are to people killed by zinc chloride fumes in enclosed spaces, such as a smoke bomb in a fire indoors, or the explosion and burning of a number of generators in a tunnel*. Where did you find the man killed by zinc?


camping crazy (author)Kiteman2014-08-17

I found it on a forum about soaking galvanized metal in vinegar, he was a knife maker who was making a knife with galvanized steel indoors, I guess by the time he got to heat treating it he had already take so much that it was just too much. I guess he was pretty exposed and some people were saying he already had a pulmonary illness.

Kiteman (author)camping crazy2014-08-17

I'd be inclined to believe a pre-existing pulmonary condition did away with him through the exertion of metalwork. If he was heating the knife indoors, though, it could have been carbon monoxide poisoning, from the heat source, rather than anything else.

camping crazy (author)Kiteman2014-08-23


The green smoke you see the first couple of burns can, and WILL kill you.

Build a big fire OUTSIDE, put the new materials in and burn them clean before grinding and cutting to keep any incidental heat from releasing the gases.

You may not get much more that a slight whiff, but even at that level it can cause damage in your lungs.

Kiteman (author)GrumpyOldGoat2014-08-10

@David / Grumpy.

Try reading the reference given. Note how it is only relevant in conditions that do not occur in camp fires, for periods far longer than any camp fire.

Note also how, far from "WILL kill you", the worst you get from continued over-exposure are temporary (up to four hours) flu-like symptoms.

The greatest danger from this stove is forgetting to let it cool before handling it with your bare hands.

GrumpyOldGoat (author)Kiteman2014-08-10

Grinding through the metal with a rotary tool will put one in close proximity of the fumes, and grinding will cause enough heat to cause the fumes.

While "kill you" may have been a wee bit strong, powered ventilation is a very good idea.

There is still an opportunity for harm. Especially if one has asthma or other respiratory issues.

Kiteman (author)GrumpyOldGoat2014-08-11

It's a matter of scale - the quantity released by cutting the metal with a rotary tool is tiny compared to that released by welding & brazing for a full working day.

Speaking as an asthmatic, I would cut the metal wearing goggles...


I found it in less than a minute by searching for "galvanized steel toxic fumes", I am not sure why you could not find something like it but here it is for you.

Nice design, just use safer materials.

Just a thought ..if you are concerned about corrosion after you burn off the galvanization, you could get some of the high temp paint made for BBQs

tw86 (author)2014-08-22

so far the taller size is working fine. But have not tried a big heavy pot yet.

tw86 (author)2014-08-18

My local store only had one of the 3×5 sized pieces so I used a few 3×8 sized. still looks good. Thanks for the idea.

About This Instructable




Bio: General outdoors person
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