Introduction: Woodburning Stove From Sheet Steel

Picture of Woodburning Stove From Sheet Steel

This is a guide for how I made my stove. It is not the only way.

I am not a professional metalworker but a guy with some tools and a workshop .The final outcome was very successful and I have received many positive comments about it.

The flat top gets hot enough to cook on and/or boil a kettle and the output it approximately 4-5kw when it's fully up to temperature. Perfect for heating a small room. I've only ever used it when camping outdoors or in my yard but the plan is to use it when winter camping in a bell tent.

I am making this Instructable to show people how easy it is.

Almost everything was fabricated from the sheet steel for this (apart from the flue pipe which I bought in especially) and the whole process took me about 10 hours in total spread over a few evenings.

Tools and Equipment needed:

  • Sheet of mild steel. I recommend at least 3mm (1/8th) steel and no thicker than 6mm (1/4) unless you have industrial machinery.

I used a sheet of 4mm mild steel 1200mm x 625mm that I had lying around so based my design on that but what ever you have access to. I guess you could use thinner but my stove holds its heat really nicely and doesn't deform with heat so I wouldn't want to make it any thinner.

  • Angle Grinder is your friend.!

I got quite good with an angle grinder doing this project and its a brilliant tool if used carefully.

  • Jigsaw Puzzle!

A good quality jigsaw is a great purchase as it needs a bit of grunt to cut through the steel - and always good quality blades, even if your machine is cheap, spend the money on good blades. Cheap blades are a false economy. I have a Bosch GST 150 230v jigsaw and only ever buy bosch blades.

  • File - good quality large flat file for taking off burrs and a round or half round for internal curves are essential.
  • Emery paper / Glass paper - get fabric backed for metal as it lasts a million times longer.
  • Perseverance! - most important tool - metalwork requires a lot of manual labour. Especially this method as I am not using a plasma cutter or any industrial machinery to cut my steel. When I started I didn't quite realise how much effort it was going to take and how heavy the finished stove would be!

Step 1: Step 1: Design

Picture of Step 1: Design

So I designed my stove on Google SketchUp. I love this software and it is amazingly easy to use, even for a novice. Everybody should have it and best of all, its free!

To start with I drew the whole stove then calculated how big I could make it.

I already had a sheet of 4mm mild steel that was 1200mm x 625mm so I made it as big as I could out of that.

My plan was to make the front, sides and back like a 'net' of a cube and 'fold' them in to create nice smooth corners, rather than weld the plates together and have to spend hours grinding away to get a good finish.

I would then seam weld the top on and fit a baffle inside to improve the burn (see 4th image) and then fit a bottom with bolts so it is removable for cleaning

For the legs I originally planned on using some more sheet steel and making some little angled legs that could bolt on but I ran out of steel and also had an old school-type chair lying around so decided to cut that up and use the steel legs from that.

Step 2: Step 2: Grinding/Cutting

Picture of Step 2: Grinding/Cutting

Ok, so actually starting making here!

To enable the sheet steel to bend evenly you need to grind a groove on the inside, kind of like scoring card to fold it.

I cut the strip 1200mm long x 250mm high from the sheet that would be the main body and marked it out.

The box finishes up at 500mm long x 200mm wide x 250mm high

To bend it at the corners I used the angle grinder but I suppose you could use a large hack saw if you needed but its worth getting yourself a grinder for this build as it save alot of time.

firstly I used a fine 2mm cutting disk (sold for cutting stainless steel but great for a fine slot) to cut a groove then used a normal cutting disk (approx 4mm thick) to widen the slot. I cut about 3/4 of the thickness of the steel to weaken it enough to get a good fold.

For the door opening I marked the curved top and used the thin grinder again and a jigsaw to cut right into the corners and finish it off.

Step 3: Step 3: Folding and Welding

Picture of Step 3: Folding and Welding

Main Box Body: When it came to bending the box I realised it was tougher than I originally thought. I didn't want to cut away too much steel in case it split. It actually did split in one corner but I wasn't too worried as I was planning on welding it all from the inside anyway.

I ended up using a blow torch to heat the area to be bent first to soften the metal then used brute-force and a bit of elbow grease to form the box.

So once the box is formed you just run a bead of weld down the inside of the corners - this doesn't need to be too neat as it is never seen so use this as practice for the more visible bits. I also welded the front together inside and out and ground that flat. most of this joint will be visible so it needed to look nice.

Baffle: Next, I cut the piece I would use as the baffle which went nearly the full length of the box from the back, leaving a small gap at the front of about 30mm for the hot air to be forced around for the secondary burn.

Top: I then cut out the top and welded that in place, from the outside - so these welds had to be solid as well as look nice. so take your time! I rounded the corners so I didn't keep catching myself on them and made the top bigger by about 50mm all round so the top surface was more usable. So the top piece is: 600mm long x 300mm wide.

I cut the hole in the top of the stove by drilling out in a few places around the circle then cutting it out with the jigsaw. This piece I then kept to use as the damper in the flue.

Bottom: I then welded some little tabs inside underneath for the base to fix to and drilled and taped them to accept some nice little countersunk allen-keyed bolts I had. The base sits flush inside the bottom. I didn't take any photos of this at the time but will try and take a few snaps of it finished.

Step 4: Step 4: Door, Hinges and Air Vents

Picture of Step 4: Door, Hinges and Air Vents

Door: I cut the door from some more 4mm sheet. its 10mm bigger all round to allow for a good seal with the rope. The fire rope was bought from Ebay and it came with the correct glue and its great, it gives a really good seal on the door.

I originally planned to fit a window in the door but decided it was too complicated for this box so I went for a large vent on the front. This hasn't been a problem really as if you want to see the flames you can just leave the door open and it still burns pretty well like that.

Hinges: for the hinges I cut some small tabs of flat bar and drilled them out to accept a piece of 6mm round bar. I used a piece of 6mm threded rod through both the hinges to line them up to weld then removed it and welded the round bar into the bottom ones.So the door can lift of the hinges leaving the pins in place on the box. (See second photo)

Vents: For the Bio-Hazard vent I marked the shape out, drilled out the corners of the shape and then just the jigsaw to cut it out. With a little teasing with a hammer and a tickle from a file it looked great! Sadly I was too busy smashing it to take photos as I went along.

I have since fitted a thin vent cover over it which rotates to reveal the holes and has a wire handle so it doesn't get too hot.

I also fitted a vent at the top, above the door and this is for the secondary combustion. this was very simple to make and I just placed the flat bar on the front and drilled through both pieces to line the holes up. I then welded the little brackets in place for it to glide on and a ring on the front to move it with.

Step 5: Step 5: Flue and Legs

Picture of Step 5: Flue and Legs

Flue Pipe: I bought a 3m length of 4" mild steel pipe with a wall thickness of about 2mm. It didn't need to be massively thick as a lot of the heat is absorbed into the body of the stove. I got this from a local metal supplier for about £50

for this stove I cut a length of 500mm and 1000mm and made a simple tab mechanism to join them with a pin.

I figured I would only need it to be about 1.5m above the top of the stove (about 2m from the floor), so long as its above head height that's enough.

Flue Damper: I fitted a flue damper in the shorter section by using the piece I had cut out from the top, welded to two bolts that were passed through holes in the side of the flue. This was a bit fiddly as I had to weld the bolts on, inside the flue. I then welded on a little lever to operate the damper from the outside.

I used an old 24" steel ruler that was rather bent and useless to make a collar for the flue to fit too. I was going to do the same pin join with that but its such a tight fit that I didn't bother. I rolled it to make a nice circle then welded it in place around the hole in the top.

Legs: I used the legs of an old school chair (example attached) and welded some nuts to the inside of the stove and then sent a bolt through the side so I can remove them for transportation.

Step 6: Step 6: Spray and Finish

Picture of Step 6: Spray and Finish

Paint: When I had finished the stove I sprayed it with Plastikote WoodStove Paint from ebay (LINK) which is heat resistant and lasts a good few years - the stove has been outside for the best part of 6 months over the winter and its still fine.

Before spraying make sure you file all the rough edges and lumpy welds and sand the surfaces with some Emery Paper to give a good 'key' for the spray.

The spray I used needed 'cooking' afterwards to cure it so I lit a gentle fire for several hours when I got it home. After that you can have it as hot as you like - I've had the sides glowing straw yellow and the paint still hasn't come off!

Grate: I made a simple grate out of some thick wire mesh but eventually plan on making a better designed one as it tends to bend in the middle and I have to flatten it every time I use the stove.

The finished product is great and have already have offers for it and at least 2 serious request for me to make people their own ones.

The top is large enough to get 2 medium sized pans on the go -cooking at different speeds as its hotter nearer the front. When up to temperature it boils a basic camping kettle in about 5mins - if you had a proper cast iron kettle it would be even better!

Hope you enjoyed my first Instructable and let me know of any questions and I'll try and respond!




tim_n (author)2014-06-16

Absolutely perfect. I've been looking for my next welding project and this is definitely it! I was going to buy a stove, but this is exactly what I was about to drop £250 for the stove and £250 for the pipe for. I was considering using one of my decommissioned "gas" bottle stoves but I'd not finished it off like this had - it's much neater. Also I might do it in Stainless.

GarlicCharge (author)tim_n2014-06-17

Ohhh stainless. didn't think of that. might get a bit pricey though. you could always cheat and use a chrome spray?... I was going to do a gas bottle stove to begin with but started this instead. Thats next I think. Thanks for the comment!

PG Hunter (author)GarlicCharge2015-12-15

I'll save you a lot of money with this reminder: Heat transfer is not good at all with stainless steel! It would take a long time for the thing to start heating your room and in the mean time your flue and chimney would be getting really hot.

tim_n (author)GarlicCharge2014-06-18

Very pricey. 2m x 1m mild is £83? and Stainless is £400. Fortunately a friend is a stainless steel kitchen fabricator. I'll ask for offcuts. Or I may just out and out ask him to make me one. He likes having a play. Will be a bit ugly with a mild steel pipe coming out the top, but fun nether the less!

GarlicCharge (author)tim_n2014-06-18

Do share if you make one! The steel I used was an off cut so didn't cost me anything either! free stuff is best! :D

tim_n (author)GarlicCharge2014-06-26

Free stuff is indeed the best. I have now sourced a free 2x1m 5mm sheet. We've cut two stoves from it by rejigging your design a bit for the sheet and fortunately my friend has access to a bender and a plasma cutter, so he's bent the sheet for me and is cutting the door out of the flat front bit (no one looks at the back of the stove anyway :)

He had photos, but they're on a potato phone so I'll take a picture of the main body when he drops them round.

I'll weld the rest myself with my stick welder.

The flue (again, free!) is 1.5mm thick 4" pipe which is good. We're doing 500mm section and 1000mm section. I think he's going to weld the joining pieces for me.

So hopefully some pics soon. He's welding the other stove himself on the tig.

GarlicCharge (author)tim_n2014-06-26

this is amazing! well impressed someone has actually made one. hope it goes well for you. do share your pics. good luck and happy stoving!

tim_n (author)GarlicCharge2014-07-17

Just to let you know the first stove is nearing completion. He's built off your design and added to it. We've got a nice stove grate that sits just off the floor allowing the ash to fall down using some angled steel and it comes out of the door hole. Really quite excited to see the finished product now...!

tomgriffiths87 made it! (author)2015-05-25

Whipped one of these up this week. Gave it a test run last night. Works well. I increased the size by 25%. Thanks for the inspiration. Pretty happy with how it turned out.


Hi tomgriffiths87

I'm glad you had a go. your results look brill! I like the legs. simple but elegant.

I think an improvement from the original design might have been an air intake lower down, under the level of the grate so air can come up through the fire.

Yours looks really good though. happy burning!


tim_n (author)2014-07-17

GarlicCharge - check these pics out :)

Also look at the ash grill... so pretty...!

GarlicCharge (author)tim_n2014-07-18

woah! this is awesome! I can't actually believe someone is making a stove from my plans!

btw, your cutting is much neater than mine!

watch those corners on the top, they look sharp! - I radiused mine to about a 50mm curve.

I want to build another one now! :P

tim_n (author)GarlicCharge2014-07-18

The advantage of having someone who's an industrial metal worker with all the tools, presses and a CNC machine at my disposal! My cuts and welds would be much worse than yours! Just check them out on my latest instructable (involving bacon)

That's my welding and cutting. Very wonky!

kylemoe (author)2014-06-13

Using an uncertified stove will nullify your insurance policy

GarlicCharge (author)kylemoe2014-06-14

You're absolutely right! Yes, all stoves for use in a UK home need a HETAS registration document and in many areas need to be DEFRA approved. This stove is intended for outdoor use i.e. when camping. When I mentioned a small room, I was thinking more of a workshop scenario where insurance might not be a problem.

doodlecraft (author)2014-06-13

Love it! I think every home needs a woodburning stove! Awesome!

VentureScout (author)2014-06-13

Cool, keep up the good work

Thanks guys, really appreciate it. Hope it inspires others to get building!

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-06-13

this is very nice, great metal working.

cobusvz (author)2017-05-04

Great design! I'm now busy planning a stove based on your design.

natedogg56 (author)2016-08-02

Hi there, great instructable! I'm looking to build a bigger version of this fire - 50-75% bigger and am basically wondering if you think I'll run into any problems by simply scaling it up? I guess I'm thinking about efficiency, and draw from the chimney especially. I'd hate to build it bigger and then find I'm not getting enough air circulation or draw from the chimney. Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks again for putting this up!

GarlicCharge (author)2016-03-10

The sizes I did were down to the size of material I had. I had a little left over but not a lot. The biggest consideration is the folded sides as they determine the width/length of the initial sheet. I hope this makes sense. you could always make each side individually and weld them, therefore you could use any size of material and you may be slightly more economical. GC

ellco (author)2016-01-27

Whats the situation with the metal expanding as it gets hot? Do you make any allowance for this ? I'm just at the thinking stage at the moment but was wondering if this expansion would be a problem or not.

GarlicCharge (author)ellco2016-03-10

Hi Ellco. I've not really noticed a problem with expansion to be honest. I've had it hot enough to get the sides to change colour but they have not warped. I seam welded all the joints, rather than spot welds so I guess that has helped to stop it warping or moving. The only problem is that in recent times I have found it harder to light. I put this down to rust/crud collecting on top of the baffel which is really hard to get to and clean. My stove now lives outside so it probably gets a bit of water down the flue and onto the baffel. it also needs a re-spray as the top has lost most of the paint as that gets the hottest - but again, that hasnt warped at all, still dead flat for putting the kettle on. Hope this helps. GC

IanJ15 (author)2015-10-07

I grew up in a house with a wood burning stove and I loved coming home in the winter and reading a good book by the stove. I don't know if I'm ambitious enough to try and make my own wood burning stove as i have never worked with sheet metal before. However, I loved the post the step by step directions give me confidence that I may be able to do this later. Just as soon as I work myself up to it.

JamesR35 made it! (author)2015-09-02

Hi made one , with a slight twist on the secondary burn idea . I made a rear chamber that draws air from the bottom and feeds it just below the baffle . The front has 2 lots of air intakes , one is below the grate and the other is about half way . All vents are adjustable . This burns well with some ash left when finished .

GarlicCharge (author)JamesR352015-09-02

I love the checker plate look and the spring handle! brilliant. I have been toying with a rocket stove-style adaption to increase efficiency so will do an update when I get round to it. well done mate!

GarlicCharge (author)2015-07-27

Hi James

when I fitted the baffle I just estimated it but make sure it is not below the level of the top of the door. on mine i bent the front edge of the baffle up because I felt like it was too low to start with. the holes on the front are half way between the top of the door and the underside of the stove top and they kind of line up with just above the baffle. I hope that makes sense and good luck!

JamesR35 (author)GarlicCharge2015-07-28

Thanks will give it ago over the next couple of weekends and let you know how it turns out . Thanks James .

DamonS1 (author)2015-02-11

hi GarlicCharge. I am going to have a bash at your stove, i was just wondering what sort of nut you used through the front vent to connect the biohazard (circular) disc and the arm to allow movement? did you also weld these at the back to prevent them coming loose?

i was looking at carriage bolts if i can find them small enough, rivets or just normal nuts ?

thanks for you help, it will be appreciated.

GarlicCharge (author)DamonS12015-02-11

Hi! glad that someone else is taking on the challenge!
If i remember rightly, i used a standard bolt/machine screw through the front, cut down, with a nut welded on the back. I made sure I welded the nut to the bolt and not to the door so the whole thing could spin freely. I think I may have then welded the bolt to the front as well but i'm not sure. I suppose a rivet would also do, but i only had Aluminium rivets and figured they might soften with the heat.
Good luck and feel free to ask any more questions.

MurS1 (author)2014-10-02

Awesome looking stove bud! Just out of curiosity, what do you figure the final product weighs? Thanks for the design/instructs, can hardly wait to begin!

GarlicCharge (author)MurS12014-10-20


not weighed it but I recon it weighs about 10-15kgs without the flue and probably another 5kgs with that.
good luck with your build!

tim_n (author)2014-10-19

Done! Just needs painting and some dry wood!

GarlicCharge (author)tim_n2014-10-20

This is so good! mighty impressed. It looks much better than mine. she's looks little sad these days. been sat out in the rain too long. still works well. took it camping this summer and it kept us toasty warm!

JON-A-TRON (author)2014-07-09

Dude, you're a pro! I love the use of the cheap metal chair legs.

nitesurfer (author)2014-06-21

Boy you sure made a great first ible... what a great project! I have been wondering whether you could build a stove from steel plate as opposed to cast iron and u have answered everything i need to know with some pretty awesome detail.

Keep up the good work and thanks a lot for sharing

jakwagenaar (author)2014-06-18

Wow! This is awesome. Thanks for sharing, it is a bit nippy here in South Africa at this point in time and I have been thinking about something just like this as my next project. Not really understanding the physics behind this concept, I would really appreciate an explanation from somebody regarding the baffle plate that is welded into the firebox.

GarlicCharge (author)jakwagenaar2014-06-18

As far as I know it increases efficiency by forcing the hot smoke around the plate (rather than all the heat going straight up the flue) and meets with cold oxygen from the top vent creating a secondary combustion, thus burning off more of the bad stuff and creating more heat from the same amount of fuel and creating cleaner smoke.

With mine, as the hot smoke is forced past the top plate, that gets really hot for cooking but if you just want more overall heat you could have more baffles in more of an S shape and insulate the stove with fire bricks.

Just a bit of googling and I found these websites which explain it in a more scientific way.
I hope this helps


jakwagenaar (author)GarlicCharge2014-06-18

There is no substitute for logic. Thanks for your very clear explanation and your effort in finding some nice websites for my further education. Be blessed. Jak.

jakwagenaar (author)2014-06-18

Wow! This is awesome. Thanks for sharing, it is a bit nippy here in South Africa at this point in time and I have been thinking about something just like this as my next project. Not really understanding the physics behind this concept, I would really appreciate an explanation from somebody regarding the baffle plate that is welded into the firebox.

bonnyjishop (author)2014-06-17

excellent Job well done! If this doesn't inspire Nothing will ! Can i just add to that when checking for anything on ebay I always check the price on too and your paint is nearly 1/2 the price it is on ebay

GarlicCharge (author)bonnyjishop2014-06-18

Thanks. I didn't actually buy that particular one, it was more for reference and I don't think I payed that much for it either! But yes, check your prices!

kurnous34 (author)2014-06-14

turned out nice!

TheDivineImpulse (author)2014-06-14

a nice stove... you should put more steel plates inside of it to make the smoke loose its heat you have a big pipe that can suck lots of smoke

craftclarity (author)2014-06-13

I only have one further thing to add—I bet you'd get more attention for this if you used that beautiful image of the stove in the garden as a lead image...

Done! Thanks for the tip!

Ghost Wolf (author)2014-06-13

You said it got so hot the sides turned straw yellow. If that's the case why not put fire bricks in there? Would it help?

GarlicCharge (author)Ghost Wolf2014-06-14

Thought about that but this would have left a really small internal space for the fire so would have ended up getting less hot overall. Swings and Roundabouts I guess! May try it with the next one! :D

Fan Blades (author)2014-06-13

Just try to get your insurance company to agree to this.

About This Instructable




Bio: My mantra has always been: "I'll have a go at that!" and why not? Humans have lost too many practical skills so lets get ... More »
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