Bellows for Igniting Fire




Introduction: Bellows for Igniting Fire

About: I'm a programmer from Siberia and the leatherworking is my hobby. I think the everyone deserves really high-quality goods and I'm trying to make them)

Spring has come and the whole summer is ahead - which means a lot of country trips, meeting with friends, relaxing in the wild or camping. And, of course, this is an indescribable aromatic cuisine on the grill or on the fire. And nowhere in all this diversity can you get away from the fire!

In the wild, this is an opportunity to cook food and warm up, in a camping it is a cozy atmosphere and songs with a guitar around the fire (in Russia, an integral point for summer evenings). And you can't live without food at all: coals for grilling, tandoor ovens, Finnish candles for cooking food in a frying pan - all this requires fire!

Therefore, I would like to tell you about a device that greatly facilitates the campfire life. We are talking about bellows for kindling a fire.

The bellows are used to obtain a continuous air stream and are used mainly in blacksmithing and glass-blowing, as well as in some musical instruments (bagpipes, accordion). They have been known since ancient times, they were used in ancient Egypt.

The technical meaning of the device is that air is drawn into the inner space, and then leaves it in a continuous flow, which allows you to kindle a fire easily and without any difficulties. Regardless of the weather. Even in conditions of insufficiently dried firewood or coal. Easily and naturally make any fire in no time!

Let's get started :)


  1. Plywood 9mm

  2. soft leather 1.5-2mm thickness

  3. Sander

  4. grinding machine

  5. boron machine

  6. furniture stapler

  7. screwdriver and drills

  8. wood glue

  9. stain

  10. varnish for wood

  11. a pen

  12. scissors

  13. grinding knife

  14. glue for leather

  15. creaser

  16. hammer and nails with a large head

  17. double-sided thin tape

  18. copper tube

  19. Super glue

  20. ruler and compasses

  21. pattern building paper

Step 1: Plywood Blank

Using a milling machine, we cut out all wooden parts from 9 mm plywood. You can use a material with a thickness of 10-12 mm, that will be great too. The structure will gain additional strength, but it is worth considering that the weight will increase slightly.

I do not recommend taking thinner plywood, in order to avoid additional difficulties in the assembly process. In addition, there is a great risk that thinner plywood will break during use, we tried 6 mm - it broke :(

Step 2: Grinding

It is very important to grind everything well. The better the material is processed, the more pleasant it is to work with it, and the smoother the paint and varnish fall on it.

For this I use a grinder and discs with a grid of 180, 320, 500 or 600 (here I do not pretend to be an expert, if you think that you need to grind with other discs, so feel free to do it, the main thing is a smooth result!)

It is not necessary to sand the edge strongly, since almost all edges will be covered with leather.

Step 3: Handle Preparation

We make approximately the same bevel on the handle pads.

This bevel is not difficult to do, but it is very important for the aesthetic appearance.

I do this at an angle on a sander using 80 grit discs and belts. After shaping, I create smoothness using the higher number discs from the previous point.

Step 4: Marking the Place Under the Nozzle

We mark the trapezoid of a larger size. as shown in the photos.

Step 5: Drill Approximate Nozzle Hole

In this step, we drill a hole with a drill bit much smaller than the nozzle, about 3-4 mm.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. it is more convenient to drill with a thin drill, less chance of drilling through in the wrong place

  2. can be drilled from both sides

  3. the walls remain quite thick, the part does not become brittle

  4. drilling a thin hole is easier than drilling a large diameter hole at once

Step 6: Gluing Wooden Bases

Read the instructions for your glue carefully! The quality of the connection of parts depends on this.

We only glue the handle strip to the short base.

To the base with a hole, on one side, glue the overlay on the handle, on the other side, first a large trapezoid, then a small one. Thus, a place is formed for the nozzle and fastening the bases to each other. We use clamps for high-quality gluing.

Step 7: Shaping

It's time to finally shape the handles and grind all over again.
For bends and small corners on the sidewalls, I use a drill with a flexible shaft and grinding attachments.

By sharpening the handles, you can immediately adjust their shape to make it more comfortable for your hand, later this will not be possible.

Step 8: Add Some Color

I used a special wood finish for the beautiful color and durability: a brown water based stain. This stain needs a protective layer to avoid coloration of the hands during further use.

If you use a non-aqueous protective coating, it protects well from moisture and does not stain your hands, then it is not necessary to varnish further, and you can skip the desired item.

Step 9: Finishing the Nozzle Space

We expand the space for the nozzle, reaming it to the diameter of the existing copper tube so that it fits snugly. In my case, an 8 mm drill is used.

Step 10: Building a Pattern

The pattern is built quite simply, do not be alarmed. I tried to show everything in the photographs in as much detail as possible.

In addition, I prepared a drawing for those who have the same dimensions and plywood thickness of 9 mm as mine :)

The main thing is not to forget to make an additional 1 cm margin on each side. This stock will bend.

Also, if you used plywood of a different thickness, do not forget to take this into account.

Step 11: Protective Layer

We apply a layer of varnish to protect the wooden parts from moisture and our hands from stain :)

While the varnish is drying, we will deal with the leather.

Step 12: Cut the Pattern

Cut out the prepared pattern along the outer (blue) contour. There is nothing difficult, the main thing is to do everything quite carefully.

Step 13: Transferring the Pattern to Leather

Carefully transfer the pattern to the inside of the leather. First, we outline the outline (in our case, blue), then carefully bend the paper pattern along the inner (black) line around the entire perimeter and outline its outline too.

It is convenient to use the pen for leather. It is also convenient to put several weights on the pattern so that there is no displacement in the process.

After both lines from our pattern are transferred (photo 2), draw another line on the skin, now 1 cm inward (3 photos). This is an auxiliary line, to this line we will make a fold.

Step 14: Cut Out

Here, too, everything is simple. We cut along the outermost line. We extend the left and right edges by about 3-5 cm and cut with a margin, so that later it would be possible to bend and fit everything in place.

Step 15: Thinning the Bendable Edge

The grinding knife must be very sharp, otherwise it will stretch the leather and thinning will be very difficult. I had to sharpen a knife several times in the process.

Please note that we are only thinning the space between the middle path and the edge. In addition, there are areas in the center (where the handle will be) that do not need to be thinned, this is important!

Step 16: Bend the Edge

We fold and glue the edge.

We glue only those places that we thinned in the last step. The inner line will show you where the folded edge should go.

Step 17: Nail Line

Mark a line at a distance of half the thickness of the plywood.

I have 9mm plywood, that is, at a distance of 4.5mm from the edge of the skin, I need a markup.

In order not to bother with a ruler for a long time, it is convenient to use an adjustable creaser. It allows you to draw lines at a specific distance from the edge.

Step 18: Front Leather

We redraw the scan of our nose.

To do this, I first attached and circled the front end, where there is a hole for the nozzle.

Then I attached and circled the large trapezoid glued to the base, it is located between the base and the small trapezoid.

Top and bottom added 1cm for the hem. Then we draw a line 1 cm deep, to which we will bend.

Then we draw diagonal side folds at a distance of 1 cm and vertical side lines at 2.5 cm, but they will not stick to the skin itself, so there are no additional lines to where the fold is.

Step 19: Cut Out

Cut along the outer lines.

Step 20: Thin the Edge

We thin the edges with the same sharp knife for grinding.
But not everything, we do not touch the diagonal side lines, this is important!

Step 21: Bend

We fold and glue only the top and bottom edges.

Step 22: Nozzle Hole

Using a punch, we punch a hole for the nozzle.

You can make a slightly smaller diameter because the leather is soft and can fit snugly around the nozzle.

Step 23: Nail Lines

We mark the lines for the nails, just as we marked them earlier at the same distance of 4.5 mm (in my case, with the help of a creaser).

We mark only above and below

Step 24: Nozzle

Saw off the tube of the required length.

In my experience, 20-25 cm is sufficient.

Step 25: Valve

For the valve we need a circle about 10-11cm in diameter.

Infinite accuracy is not required, but it is still better to follow something that looks like a circle. :)

Step 26: Nail Line

This time, draw a line for the studs about 1 cm from the edge of the flap.
An adjustable creaser can again be of great help.

Step 27: Marking Places for Nails

Using a ruler, I marked the locations for the 8 studs. Although this can be done approximately by eye.

Step 28: Punch Holes in Valve

We punch holes with a diameter of about 2 mm so that the valve then freely slides over the nails

Step 29: Marking the Valve Attachment

When noting the valve attachment, it is very important to take into account some points:

  1. make sure you make marks on the correct side of the workpiece
  2. make sure the face of the skin is flat against the plywood
  3. try to mark the valve approximately in the middle with a plywood base.

It is very convenient if, in addition to the holes themselves, you also note the correct position of the valve. For example, by making a common mark on the valve and on the plywood

Step 30: Drilling Nail Holes

Using a very thin drill (less than 1 mm) and a very shallow drill, mark the holes for the nails. This will facilitate the installation of the valve. But here it is worth considering what size your nail diameter is.

Step 31: Installing the Valve

To install the valve, you need nails with wide heads of the required length up to 9 mm so as not to pierce the workpiece through!
I couldn’t find any suitable nails, so I took nails with a large head and cut them to the correct length.

Hammer in nails shallow; For good valve operation, a clearance of about 1 mm is required between the cap and the casing.

Step 32: Flexible Joint

We glue the folded part of the leather to the plywood base (without a hole in the center) with double-sided tape.

It is important to glue it carefully so that the remaining non-glued part covers the trapezoid and the end of the second plywood base well.

Step 33: Nail Holes

Mark and drill shallow holes for nails with a 1 mm drill or less.

Step 34: Nailing Our Joint to the Base

Since we never got short nails, we will have to trim the existing nails again. Then we carefully hammer them into the prepared holes.

This time, the nails must be driven in completely.

Step 35: Temporary Assembly

We glue the leather and one of the plywood bases onto double-sided tape. This will help determine where the leather should be attached to the base with the staples.

The folded side of the leather is attached to the short base!

Step 36: Fixing in the Area of the Handle

With a furniture stapler, we attach the skin quite tightly in the area of the base of the handle. At this point, there should be no fold on the skin.

The leather is attached to the back of the grips!

Step 37: Nozzle

We make sure that the copper tube is even, if necessary, carefully align it with our hands.

The aligned nozzle must be inserted into the hole so that it protrudes slightly from the inside for further adhesion.

Step 38: Fixing the Nozzle

We fix the nozzle with superglue from the inside, then pull it out a little. Thus, the copper tube and plywood should bond well.

Step 39: Putting It All Together

It is convenient to use a compass to mark even holes on the nail line.

The next step is to carefully drill the thin holes for the nails with a 1mm drill or less, this will allow the nails to be hammered in and help prevent the plywood from splitting.

The tighter the nails sit, the better.

We collect everything approximately to the point of the flexible joint.

It is very convenient to coat the junction of the leather and plywood with leather glue during the assembly process. This increases the service life of the product.

Step 40: Front Edge

Mark on the inside of the leather where the plywood base ends.

Step 41: Form the Fold

Trim the tip at an angle to form a neat fold.

Step 42: Finishing the Perimeter

We hammer nails into the joint and the end part.

Step 43: Finishing the Flexible Joint

We mark and drill holes for nails so that the flexible joint has as little opportunity as possible to move incorrectly.

We hammer in already uncut nails, the length should be up to 20-25mm.

Step 44: Add Some Glitter

Finally, we polish the leather with a mixture of carnauba wax.

This will add shine and prolong the life of the leather.

Step 45: Finish

Done! You are gorgeous!

Now it will definitely not be difficult for you to make a fire in the fireplace or light a fire in nature and grill meat regardless of the weather. This thing greatly simplifies life and allows you to get more pleasure, instead of wasting time on the unpleasant but important procedure for making fire!


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    1 year ago

    Well done! The bellow looks very clean and well crafted. I am going to have to make one for myself.

    Ivan Beldiagin
    Ivan Beldiagin

    Reply 1 year ago

    It is perfectly!
    I myself have been using these for more than a year! It's also fun entertainment for boys of all ages :)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Congrats on 1st prize!

    Very impressive! I love how detailed and awesome this is.

    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    1 year ago

    Really good Instructable, incredibly detailed with some very specific leather working information.


    1 year ago

    Many times I've seen these in movies and magazines, and never knew how they worked. Now I know. Thanks for sharing such a detailed instructable!


    Question 1 year ago

    Extremely well done and explained. Thank you!!!
    I would like to understand better how the air valve works. If the leather is nailed all around the air can only go through the area between one nail and another. Once pulling the handles apart it creates a vacuum, so the air is sucked inside. Correct?

    Ivan Beldiagin
    Ivan Beldiagin

    Answer 1 year ago

    Thanks for the feedback.
    The valve is not firmly attached and may slip slightly over the nails.
    When the handles are pulled apart, a vacuum is created:
    Air is trying to enter through the nozzle, but it is thin and it is difficult for air to enter through such a small hole.
    At the same time, the valve rises slightly on the nails, revealing a large inlet. In addition, the valve is quite soft and deform, opening the opening even more. Through it, air enters very quickly and without interference.
    When the handles pushed, the air inside presses on the valve and presses it tightly against the plywood. Due to the large size of the valve itself, it is pressed very tightly and the air has only one way out. Through the nozzle.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank You.


    1 year ago

    This is impressive! Thank you for sharing your work :)

    Ivan Beldiagin
    Ivan Beldiagin

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much:)
    I still have a lot of ideas, but I just don't have enough time to create instructions for them)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Well then I'll wait! Looking forward to seing more from you!


    1 year ago

    What a wonderful instructable! I don't think I've ever thought about the intricacies of a bellows before now. Wonderfully photographed and explained!

    Ivan Beldiagin
    Ivan Beldiagin

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for your pleasant review.
    I try very hard to make my instructions really repeatable. I really hope that they will be able to inspire someone or even rush in something :)


    1 year ago

    Great idea! I like the long nozzle. It allows you to get right into the coals, without scorching the leather.

    Ivan Beldiagin
    Ivan Beldiagin

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much.
    These are not the first 'Mechs and many mistakes have been taken into account. :)


    1 year ago

    This is so good. I think this is the first homemade bellows I've ever seen. Very impressive results, and great details showing your process. Well done! : )

    Ivan Beldiagin
    Ivan Beldiagin

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks a lot.
    Reviews like yours are very motivating to develop further.