Stainless Steel Garden Incinerator - Patio Heater from recycled scrap.

Picture of Stainless Steel Garden Incinerator - Patio Heater from recycled scrap.

Project:  To build a replacement for the ugly rusted and burned out oil drum we have been using for a incinerator.

Lets face it when it come to recycling we all end up with bio mass that unless you live beside your recycling plant just become a nightmare to get rid off, my nearest center is 5 miles away in a different council district, the one I should be using is almost 12 miles away so anything that I can safely burn gets burnt.

I wanted to make something that would do for burning paper cardboard and garden waste. but would be nice enough to be used a heater.

We have been using an old 45 gallon steel drum as a make  shift incinerator which is almost burned out and rusted to bits. its good point was it had a large capacity for burning, but this was also its bad point was that the large capacity meant you just bunged big stuff in and it tended to go out as it was badly loaded or be very smoky.

I had an old washing machine rusting away in the yard that was due to go for scrap, they have stainless steel drum that well ventilated and look nice and make a perfect incinerator as stainless steel will not burn up like a steel barrel will do over time.

The washing machine drum has a smaller but reasonably good capacity, this will mean it must be loaded better and should hopefully burn much better.

This is a simple and easy project to build if you can scavenge the parts.

UPDATE: Some people have asked what type of washing machine has the stainless steel drum, they are found in the front loading automatic machines. I have added a pic to step 1 of the next victim to be gutted from parts. I will do a detailed instructable of what fab and groovy stuff is to be found in them. 

If you cant find a washing machine a tumble dryer should also have a stainless steel drum that will do, it will probably have a larger capacity also.

Materials used.

Stainless steel washing machine drum.
1" galvanized tube (scavenged from an old farm gate)  20 x 6mm flat steel could also be used.
The rim from an old bike wheel.
M6 nuts, bolts and washers.
Self taping screws.

Thanks for looking and i hope that this gives you some ideas for your own design.


PS. I didn't plan this out, it was a case just wandering around the yard and sheds and using what ever turned up.  So it just kind of happened, sometimes that kind of approach works just as well as the long drawn out plan.

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Saw this pop up in one of my RSS feeds the other day and remembered I just happened to have an old washing machine lying around and decided this was the perfect project for me and my boyfriend. After several hours of getting the damn inner drum out we could all finally sit back and marvel at our shiney new fire bowl. We made the base out of what was actually attached to the outter drum - just flipped it over and voila..perfect! Not only that, it's spins around too - pointless but cool!
Dr Qui (author)  BlackSheepBrit5 years ago
Post a pic of it.
Hopefully it's added a pic this time!
Dr Qui (author)  BlackSheepBrit5 years ago
Nice Idea, your pulley is the perfect size to make a base.

I wonder how the aluminium bits and the bearings will cope with the fire?

Keep up the good work.

Aluminum melts at about 2000 Degree F...

if the fire inside gets that hot, that Aluminum is going to be the least of your worries....

But, when the Aluminum breaks down, and it will eventually, I do not see a problem replacing the hardware with a heavier steel.

I'll let you know when we finally get a chance to try it out. Very excited though, awesome idea...keep em coming!
That is so cool!! lol. And it came with its own base!!! You lucked out!
rimar20005 years ago
With that washing machine drum you can make a MCG (Macro Chease Grater)!!
Dr Qui (author)  rimar20005 years ago

Old washing machines are great, there are so many cool and useful things that can be made from one. there are so many high quality parts used in their construction.

The toughened glass window makes a beautiful glass fruit/punch bowl,  we had one full of fruit on our table and got complimented on the lovely fruit bowl and where can I get one? we had to laugh when we said you get them at the skip site.
bilham Dr Qui5 years ago
I inherited an old 50's era washer with my last house. I salvaged the bakelite agitator and made a very cool lamp out of it.
Agitator Lamp.JPG
Dr Qui (author)  bilham5 years ago

That is so beautiful, our old machine had one of those but it was very plain, that one is just so stylish the lamp shade really sets it off.

Well done.

Dr. dB Dr Qui5 years ago
Yep! Although the newer designs are probably more efficient and/or effective, the old styles were often MUCH more elegant and decorative. The one I tore out of Mom's washer back in the early '70s (also a 1950's washer!) was about the same shape, but white ( well, off-white after several decades of dirty duty up against four kids and any number of pets...) I think the black one makes the more fashionable lamp, although white-ish might scatter (agitate?) the light better...
deni2me bilham5 years ago
I think this looks way cool! Great idea!
There are some of these that are horn shaped, I did a very good passive megaphone with one of them. It was so good that was stolen at the first use...!
However, where do we find a capacity conversion chart from "pounds of laundry" into "pounds of cheese"?
PerenialPaul6 months ago

I love this, I'm guessing with it being stainless steel it'll stay nice and shiny unlike some other incinerators you can buy.

Modern washing machine inner drums have a steel drum with stainless coating and will rust after a few fires . A easy way to test is to use a magnet to test . If the magnet sticks to the drum then it is steel with a coating :)
bobdog roryos11 month ago

Actually that isn't reliable, martensitic and ferritic stainless steels are magnetic. Better to just scavenge several drums and replace the rusty ones :P

emmaw28 months ago

Make an outdoor living area comfy long after the sun sets or the leaves turn with outdoor furniture and a patio heater. In my opinion Heatstrip Radiant Heaters are known as one of the most incredible heating solutions for home.

SIRJAMES091 year ago

Old washing machine, or old dryer, = rock tumbler on steroids! :D

SIRJAMES091 year ago

As I too am big on safety, I was thinking( for a backyard/patio type heater) that maybe a cement block/cinder block base might be good...

As for deconstruction of the old washer/dryer, a sawz all works wonders! :)

And if you needed something to block the wind, the cabinet the drum was in would work great!

TY For sharing!

Cya! I'm going dumpster diving!! :)

mpoole41 year ago
Workstead3 years ago
If the spokes were left on the rim could you put a weight on the spokes to lower the center of gravity and reduce the chance of tipping?
Dr Qui (author)  Workstead3 years ago
You could do, but if you read step 3 you will see that the hub was already robbed from the wheel.
I made one of these many years ago specifically to be used as a small fire for people to sit around. (Some people call them fire-pits but as it isn't a pit or even a brazier I've never really been sure what to call it). Anyway, unfortunately it was a total failure for that purpose, it feeds too well. As an Incinerator it is incredibly effective. The holes almost seemed to be coincidentally or accidentally arranged in such a way as to provide maximum Oxygen supply. I'm pretty certain that if mine had been made with a lesser grade of steel it would have melted. One night I burned thirty or more three inch by fourteen inch logs in about five hours. Great incinerator though.
There are probably different brands or models that have a more suitable air-flow for my purpose that I haven't found yet but the one in this Instructable looks very much like the one I made. If the OP ever reads these comments I'd be interested to know how he/she feels theirs worked in that regard.
I made a small plant pond out of a Tumble-Dryer barrel that is still in my backyard, still holding water, twelve years on.
Dr Qui (author)  Unindoctrinated3 years ago
Hey agaian. I just noticed you said you made a "Plant Pond" I genuinely have to say whats that and can you post a picture of of a 12 year old mature plant pond as I would like to see that.
I took the barrel from a tumble dryer which only had holes in the centre of the back so I took the bulbous window from the door and siliconed it to the inside to cover the holes, buried it in my garden, filled it with water and put three plant pots in it with marsh type plants. They have thrived and as it is mostly in the shade it rarely needs topping up.
Sorry, unfortunately It is so densely surrounded by plants a photo would be pointless.
Dr Qui (author)  Unindoctrinated3 years ago
Ah i get the idea now.

We use the glass window from the washer as a fruit bowl, we even have had a couple of compliments of "oh what a lovely glass bowl where did you get that", that when you start laughing and say what it is.
Dr Qui (author)  Unindoctrinated3 years ago
They work well if you allow a good bed of ash to accumulate and this will cut of the air and slow the burn down, also hot ash will hold heat. rake the ash out to the sides so the holes are blocked and build a fire in the hollow.

larger pieces of wood will give you a slower burn once you get a good hot bed of ash going, add small pieces to keep the fire going.

The one I made works well as an incinerator until a bed of ash starts to build and then it does not draw as well

The general rule is if you want to incinerate keep it clean and if you want a heater be lazy and let the ash build up.

I find the my wood stove runs very hungry until a good bed of ash has built up, the only ash that gets removed is anything that has fallen into the air intake. i find it uses much less fuel once a few days worth of ash have accumulated.
OCMichael3 years ago
I am fascinated by the idea; it occurs to me that the opening in the top would be able to accommodate a nice, heavy-guage Stainless Steel Salad Bowl, perhaps with some brackets to suspend it to allow smoke from the firebox to escape. Place some well-soaked aromatic wood in the salad bowl and set up some ducting and you would be well on your way to creating a nice, high-capacity Barbeque Smoker. Any culinary "Mac Gyver' types out there interested in giving it a try? If you do, please let me know how it works out! <GRIN>
Dr Qui (author)  OCMichael3 years ago
I don't think it would work all that good probably way to many air holes to make a controlled burn of your wood shavings you are trying to almost starve the burn of almost all the oxygen so you get the most smoke with no heat.

I did see the answer to you question on a UK TV show only a few days ago. it was Channel 4 and the show was River cottage diaries i think, they used an old an old vintage look all metal cased upright fridge freezer (It looked like a 50's American style with the all the non metal bits gutted out of it out of it and a few air holes drilled in they where using it to test smoke a range of cheeses. it was perfect as it had ready made wire racks in and they where on mental rails for the height adjustment.

there have been many easy build home made smokers featured on river cottage over the years so it worth a Google.

Have fun with your experiments

kkeely3 years ago
I used mine last weekend and it held up fine. The only issue is that 90% of the heat went straight up. Any ideas on how to "deflect" the heat outward? Or make it radiate more heat?
Dr Qui (author)  kkeely3 years ago
Well I have an old enameled lit form an old style Washing machine that fits over the top of the drum, i use it if I'm burning stuff that may blow out of the drum.

To radiate heat be lazy and let the ash build up and it will slow the burn down and hold the heat longer, or get a line the inside with a strip of sheet metal to block of some of the holes.

hope this helps.
Great repurpose project. Featured it on my blog today (blog focuses on repurposed and recycled projects). Have a look if you get a chance. Would love to know what else you have.
Love the project! Included it in a post on my blog today for repurposed washing machine drums. Have a look - my blog focuses on repurposed and recycled projects, so I'd love to know what else you have.

tyep4 years ago
Here is mine. I showed up at the dump, and someone had already dismantled a dryer and left the drum laying there, so I scooped it up, grabbed a refrigerator rack for the top, bolted on some tent poles for legs and it's working fine.
Dr Qui (author)  tyep4 years ago
Nice one.
My Dad used to repair industrial washing machines and dryers and for ages we had a giant drum at the bottom of our garden, it has made a fantastic incinerator over the past few years, I just put it on some bricks, if the wood is dry it burns super hot and you don't get any smoke at all really.
asteadman4 years ago
Love it!

Local repair shop gave me a dryer that was too far gone for them to deal with.

Tore it apart today and got myself a new fire pit in about an hour.

The drum housing was weighted with some monster sized lead weights. Made for a great temp base to hold the pulley assembly (now "stand") until I decide wear it's permanent home will be.

Thanks for a great project!
lovejasmin4 years ago
"Fingers and eyes don't grow back", ahhh, should be a slogan on the next OSHA workplace safety posters. *tips hat*
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