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Picture of ultra light pot stand for alcohol stove
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I already have an alcohol stove, but I needed a way to securely hold my cook pot at the correct height.

I searched the internet for pot-stand designs, but most shared the same flaws.
  1. Most folding wire tripod designs allow the pot to easily slide off. This is because the base of the pot rests on narrow supports, with no barrier around the sides of the pot to prevent sliding and tipping. A smooth metal pot resting on a smooth metal tripod provides very little friction to hold the pot in place. This is especially troublesome for tall narrow pots, resting on even narrower pot stands
  2. The designs that are more secure and stable usually only work for one pot of a certain size. Some of these are cylinder or cone shaped sheet metal designs that double as windscreens. They work great for one pot, but cannot usually be used for any other pots. This means the user needs to have a separate pot stand for each pot in their collection.
Like most ultralight backpackers, I have one pot that I use most, and a few other pots that I occasionally use when I'm with a larger group. I wanted one pot stand that would work with all of them, but that would also be fitted to my main pot in such a way that the pot would not slide around.

What I settled on was a triangular wire frame with small bumps that hold the pot in place. The bumps are spaced to loosely hug the base of my pot and prevent sliding. Larger and smaller pots can also be used as well, although they will not be quite as stable because the fit won't be perfect. Larger pots rest on the bumps like a typical tripod design, while smaller pots fit inside the bumps with a bit more room to slide around.

 
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Step 1: Materials

This is a very inexpensive project if you can get your materials as cheaply as I did. Shop local for the best deal. You can buy all this online, but it' ridiculously overpriced and you pay a lot for shipping. If you have a local bike shop and a hardware store, you should be able to find all this locally.

Materials:
  • 3 stainless steel bicycle spokes.
    • I used 16 gauge
    • (I paid 60 cents each for these at my local bike shop)
    • You might want to buy a few extras to practice bending. they're very cheap.
  • 1 foot of 3/16 inch brass tubing
    • (about 1 dollar at the local hardware store)
  • 1 medium sized steel binder clip (basically free)
Required Tools
  • heavy duty pliers. two pairs preferable. one should be needle nosed.
  • heavy duty wire cutters (your pliers may have built in wire cutters)
  • Scissors or tin snips
  •  
Highly recommended tools (mostly for making a bending jig, which is hugely helpful getting accurate bends.
  • mini tubing cutter (I paid $3 at the local hardware store)
  • electric drill and assorted drill bits
  • flat wooden block (a 2x4 about a foot long works fine
  • small wooden block (any thin flat wooden piece with a straight edge is fine. about 2"x4", at least 1/4" thick.)
  • a few wood screws
  • 1/8 inch (approximately) metal rod
    • for bending wire around. Drill bits work fine for this, and they fit conveniently in the hole you just drilled.

Step 2: Take some measurements

Picture of Take some measurements
Find out your pot diameter.
Add 1 cm.
Multiply diameter by 0.866
This will give you the distance between the "bumps" B

Measure your stove height. Add 4 cm.
This is your pot height P

If you are planning on storing your pot stand inside of your pot, you should measure the inside dimensions.
To estimate W, add 2 cm to B.
To estimate H, add 1 cm to P
The exact width and height will depend on how tight your bends are.

All 3 pieces of bent wire will be exactly the same. I've shown a diagram of one with measurements.

Step 3: Make Bending Jig

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The pot stand is constructed of 3 identical bent wire pieces, so a jig helps them all to have precisely spaced bends, and it keeps the bend radius uniform. You could probably do this project without making a bending jig, using strong pliers or vice grips, but it would be much harder to get identical bends in all your pieces.

Note: I'm describing the jig I made, but it could use improvement. If you had a fairly large piece of wood and enough pegs, you could probably construct a bending jig that would allow all bends to be done at once, without having to flip the wire over for each end. I have included a diagram of an improved jig as well.

The bending jig is made from a small block of wood screwed to a larger block of wood. 3/16 inch Holes are drilled in the larger block and rods inserted in the holes. I used drill bits as pegs because they fit exactly in the hole they create, but any metal rod, bolt, or screw around 3/16" would probably work.  Wooden pegs are probably too fragile, but you are welcome to try. If it works, leave a comment.

The exact size of the wooden blocks used are not important. The larger one should be at least 15 cm square, and the smaller block should be about 3 inches long on one side.

The important measurement is the spacing of the holes. See the diagrams for details.



Step 4: Bend the wire pieces

Picture of Bend the wire pieces
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In this step We will do all the bends except for the small bends at the ends of the wire that form the feet. The feet will not be bent until after the brass tubing hinges have been added.
  1. Cut the bent end off the bicycle spoke with the wire cutter.
  2. Line up the end of the wire against the small wooden block as shown in the diagram. The end of the wire will be about 2cm below the lower peg.
  3. bend the wire 180 degrees clockwise around the upper left peg. the upper right peg will not be inserted at this point
  4. Insert the next peg, and bend the wire back counterclockwise
If you are using the "improved jig", just keep on adding pegs and bending for the other bump.

If you are using my "merely adequate" jig, then you'll have to flip the whole thing over and use the same three pegs for the second set of bends. This may take some trial and error to figure out exactly where the bend should start. Buy a few extra spokes.

Step 5: Make hinges and clasp

Cut two lengths of 3/16" brass tubing. the length will be equal to P (see step 2). I used a mini pipe cutter ($3) that was right next to the brass tubing. You could probably figure out some other way to cut the tubing, with a utility knife or dremel tool, but the pipe cutter works very well.
  1. Flatten the tubing just slightly so the legs will fit in.
  2. Insert the legs into the tube
  3. Fold the two segments together and line up the horizontal pot support with your fingers or a pair of pliers or vice grips.
  4. Bend both feet at once with your pliers. this ensures that when you bend the feet the legs will be exactly the same length.
To make the clasp,
  1. Take a medium sized binder clip and remove the wire "handle" pieces.
  2. Cut off one side of the clip, right before the fold (see diagram below). you can use scissors, but it will not be very good for them, so don't use your nice scissors. Tin Snips would probably work better.
  3. File down any sharp corners.
  4. Squeeze with pliers from the sides to bend, as shown in the diagram.
    • This steel is very springy, so be careful, if the metal piece slips it will probably shoot across the room. You might want to wear goggles and gloves.
  5. Fold it so that there is just a slight gap for the other leg to click into.
Bend the feet for the corner with the clasp the same way you bent the other feet. be sure the clasp is on one the leg before you bend it.

Now trim off the extra from each foot with your wire cutters, and you're done!

You will probably have to adjust the pieces so it folds flat and is level. The wire is easy enough to bend.
Good idea!
Very nice and clear instructions!!
SgtHawk2 years ago
Thanks very much Professor,
I see your point on the stability. I probably will build a couple now that you have given me the itch. I might just better end up with pot specific stands.
Best regards.
SgtHawk2 years ago
Most excellent job, Professor,
I sometimes use a 2.25inch diameter aluminum can like a16ounce beer bottle which is very hard to keep stable. But I sometimes also use the good old kmart grease pot which has a large diameter. How do you think your design woud work if I made each secting about one inch wide but had about 9 sections so I could use 3, 6 ot 9 sections as required?
Also have you ever played around with windscreens? Have you ever played around with a relective insulated windscreen skirt that goes from below the flame to above the pot lid with only 3/8th inch clearance between the pot and the skirt?? Got any ideas on that?
Thanks for your time.
Regards,
Professor-Mousedude (author)  SgtHawk2 years ago
I think using lots of small segments would be less stable. A triangle is a very stable shape, but a 9 sided shape, with hinges at each corner, would be hard to use. But the only way to find out would be to try.

I use a windscreen. Just thin aluminum, not insulated. It extends about half way up the pot. Any higher and it would interfere with the handles.
http://www.antigravitygear.com/anti-gravity-gear-classic-wind-screen-6.html
kifany2 years ago
A very beautiful idea
RayKenn2 years ago
Nice job on the instructions - Thanks