Introduction: Building a Simple Barrel Stove

About: I have a passion for DIY and love to fix just about anything. Join me in my mission to learn to do it all out here on our new Michigan Farm.

In this instructable I will show you how to make a very simple and inexpensive wood burning stove from a 55 gallon steel drum. This can be used in a garage, pole barn, workshop, cottage, cabin, or home for heat throughout the winter or a pool heater with a simple conversion.

Step 1: Step 1 - Gathering Components

You will need a few products to get started. First, you will need a 55 gallon steel drum. You can get a sealed lid or removable lid barrel, that is your choice. I prefer the sealed lids for rigidity. You can find these on craigslist, local scrap yards, or industrial parks for next to nothing. If you are going to build the double barrel stove you will need two barrels. The second thing you will need is a barrel stove kit. You can get single or double barrel kits from Vogelzang or U.S. Stove. Links below for the barrel stove kits and optional accessories.

Volgezang kit
U.S. Stove kit

Double Barrel Kit

Cast Iron grate
Barrel stove hot plate kit
Paper log maker

Step 2: Step 2 - Attaching the Door

The kit comes with a door assembly that is all one piece. The best thing to do is pick the best end of your barrel, stand it upright, and then set the door assembly on the end. Open the door and use a marker to trace the inside of the door opening onto the barrel. Obviously, make sure it is centered on the barrel end. If your barrel has two bungs , use the larger one for the bottom and the smaller at the top above the door.

This is where some power tools come in handy but I am sure you could do this with a hack saw and a drill if needed. First drill a hole at one of the corners of your marked area. Then, using a reciprocating saw, jigsaw, hacksaw, or grinding wheel cut along your line until your door hole is complete.

Place the door back on the barrel and check to ensure it properly fits. If so, mark each on of the holes around the edge of the door and drill with an appropriate sized drill bit. Secure the door to the barrel with the included bolts and nuts.

I have a video on this build here -

Step 3: Step 3 - Attaching the Legs

I found it best at this point to set the legs upright on a flat surface and then place the barrel on the legs. Adjust as needed so that the door is straight and then use a marker to mark the screw holes for the legs. Flip the barrel back up on end and use an appropriate sized drill bit to drill the holes for the legs. Secure the legs to the barrel with the included screws.

Step 4: Step 4- Installing the Flue and Damper

Now that your barrel is sitting level on the legs you can position the flue assembly near the rear of the barrel on top. Ensure it is centered and then mark the holes for the screws. Drill these holes with an appropriate sized drill bit and attach the flue assembly with the included screws.

If building the double barrel stove you will install the secondary leg supports next and connecting flue brackets between the two barrels. then install the final flue assembly on the top of the second barrel at the front end.

Stove pipe - You can find stove piping to attach here on Craigslist or new at your local hardware, farm store, or big box home improvement store.

Step 5: Step 5- Paint

Now that your stove is all put together it is a good idea to start a quick fire inside and let it burn fairly hot until any paint or grease is burned off of the surface (I skipped this step and you can see that the paint di not stick well on mine the first time). Once cool, wipe down the exterior of the barrel and use BBQ paint of your color choice to paint the entire barrel and stove piping.

Step 6: Step 6- Adding or Making a Grate

There are a couple of options here.

First option - You can purchase a grate on Amazon and have it shipped to you. These are awesome, cast iron, and heavy duty.

Cast Iron Grate -

Second option - I used two pieces of 3/4" black pipe (gas pipe) and some hardware cloth or wire mess to make a inexpensive grate with things I had lying around.

Third option - Look for an old BBQ on the side of the road and grab the grates from it. Standard gas grill grates will fit perfectly from side to side in these barrels and leave about 2-3 inches under them for ash and air.

Step 7: Step 7- Enjoy!

You have now built your very own wood burning stove for under $75 that can be used for heat in your shop, outbuilding, cabin, or home (in some cases). I also converted this into a pool heater and use it to heat my garage using a boiler type system, you can check the links below for the build videos.

Pool Heater

Outdoor Wood Burning Garage Heater

Barrel Stove Build Video

For more videos, DIY projects, and how-to's check us out at