Introduction: Small Wood Burning Tent Stove

This is STRICTLY for use in a tent already fitted with a chimney, or outdoors.  DO NOT use this in an RV, modern, non military tent, or anything else that may catch fire.  I am not responsible if you set your self, friends, and family on fire.

That being said:  My goal was to build a cheap wood stove to pack with my 10ft military hex tent.  This tent comes with a chimney built in, but most the stoves I have found cost almost as much,if not more than the tent.  Another issue is that they were commonly cast iron, and so, not really something you pack around.  Neither is a 60lb tent, but you get where I am going.

I read a few online directions (none here, unfortunately), and set to work.

First I needed a metal vessel that was highly heat resistant.  Some of the directions I found used an old metal barrel that was cut down, and had the ring style lid re-fitted to the shorter barrel.  I wanted/needed something smaller, as my tent isn't as big as these stoves are built for.  So I looked around.  I remembered I had taken home an old fryer oil container from work. These are decent gauge metal, food safe, and what many restaurants use to store their hot oil after  closing time.  Being small, and having a similar removable top to the barrels I had seen, I was go!

Tools/supplies needed:
-1 decent sized round and fire/heat resistant metal container.  An old metal barrel would be good if cut down, but the removable lid is essential for cleaning and such.
-Drill with 3/16th inch bit and 3/8ths inch (or larger) bit.  All cut start holes are the large bit, all nut/bolt holes are the smaller.
-Pliers (or other way to bend metal)
-Saber saw (also commonly, and incorrectly called a jigsaw) with fine metal blade.
-2 small hinges (Zink was warned against, due to disflavoring, but it was all I could find)
-A sizable bunch of nuts, bolts, and washers.  get more than you think you need.  70ish is good.  DO NOT use aluminum rivets or fasteners. These can catch fire at pretty low temp and gain heat fast.  Next thing you know, you have bad news.  Go steel or MAYBE brass for looks.
-Some scrap metal. At least a 2x3foot piece so you can make mistakes.
-1 4 or 6 inch stovepipe flange.
-1 matching size stove pipe.  (6 inches is better for larger stoves, but match your tent opening.
-1 door latch. I used a lid latch that needed to be moved during the build, but plan ahead, unlike I did.
-Appropriate wrenches and screwdrivers
-Small metal grate (mine was 99 cents at the thrift store) Get creative, as this is just to act as a lower burn grate.
-A handle.  I have the hole, but have not put one on yet

Step 1: Safety

Because my vessel had been an oil container (as a barrel might have been BTW), I figured I should burn it off BEFORE doing any work.  I am glad I did this.  Had I been thinking, I would have had more than the lid and a hose (terrible idea for a grease fire) at hand for emergencies.  I DID go get my chemical fire extinguisher after I had this thought, but a bucket or two of dirt would have been good too.  BE that as it may, this was an exciting step. I filled the thing with junk mail and old newspaper, and set it ablaze.  Glad I did this, as you can see the fire burning the oil build-up on the outside of the container.  I did this twice.  The first one left some non-chared residue in the bottom, so I did a second burn out just to be safe.

Again, make sure you have adequate fire suppression for this step, and notice I did all of this in my already established fire pit.  I did not want to burn my home down, and I don't want you to either.  I WOULD recommend doing this with any barrel you acquire.  You never know what a bit of grain dust could do, or how flammable that chocolate syrup is.

Step 2: Cutting Stuff

Ok, well, after reading the other directions I saw (these will be noted at the bottom BTW), and looking at my immensely smaller container, I decided a loading door, as large as possible, would be beneficial.  Even with this, wood must be cut to less than 1 foot lengths, and be not much bigger than 3inches around, as it simply will not fit in the door.  The same was decided for the draft door.  It needed to get as much air in as possible to make sure a decent fire could be built.  Next time I will make the draft door larger, and keep the feed door size, I think.

So measure, and draw a few "maybe lines".   I then get bold.  I cut out the opening for the draft door and the feed door.  Draft door is 2x7 inches, feed door is 10x5 inches.  This allowed space for overlap, so the door would steal on the feed opening, and I could build a decent slider for the draft door.

I also cut the feed door, and draft door cover, as well as the draft door slider.  The draft door cover/slider cover was 3x8 inches (I will go at least a half inch larger next time), and the feed door was a bit over 13x7.  I cut over so I could trim down if needed.  THe slider for the draft door also got cut, and re-cut, and re-cut, and was a process to make it fit.  Make sure the slider is at least 1/2 inch larger than the opening and 3/4 inch smaller than the slider cover.  This will give you room to bolt on the slider cover, and for the slider to cover the hole.  Also, cut this piece long so you can turn one end up as a "handle".  I tapered this end for a nice curl and easier fit.

Step 3: Fitting Stuff

Now is the harder part of this easy afternoon build.  I drilled holes in my slider cover, and bent it to fit roughly over my draft door opening.  I made sure the overlap was as even as I could get it.  I then marked through the drilled holes onto the container.  I also curled the tapered end of the draft door slider to make a handle of sorts.  Note:  This gets HOT during use.  Have a hot pad ready.  My door is still stiff and hard to use when hot.).

I assembled this slider cover over the slider door and finger tightened the bolts and nuts.  It did not slide.  As I said, about fourth cut and trim, it finally slid.  I then tightened the bolts with wrenches and checked again.  Still sliding, we are good.  Bend or cut and tap excess bolt length. 

I also pre-fitted the feed door.  I did this in much the same manner, but I did one hinge at a time.  You will notice these bolts are not cut in my pis, as I expect to adjust them after some use and then trim them.  On the door, I drilled the appropriate hinge fitting holes, and made sure to put the head of the screw on the INSIDE of the door.  This is to eliminate as much space/gap as you you can.  I bolted the hinge on the door.  I then re-checked the spacing for the attachment to the vessel.  I marked, and drilled and finger tightened the bolts, this time with the head out.  Same process for the second hinge. It fit perfectly because I measured and built it to it's self.  A good tip when building silly things like this.

Step 4: The Top

Part of why I chose this design, was to maximize heat production while minimizing floor space in my small tent.  Also, I liked the "cooktop" provided by this design, as I like my eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee for breakfast, as do my campmates. This, and the tent design, are what prompted the placement of the chimney (good news about a detachable top is that you can rotate the exhaust chimney to suit different spaces and uses.).  I found a flared adapter and traced it.  I cut the hole daringly, and then re-cut it a touch bigger.  Best to start small and get bigger, as the other way just doesn't work. 

One advantage I read about, perhaps in one of the two write-ups I will site at the end, is that this kind of flange allows caused "bad oils and such" to drip back into the fire and be not only neutralized, but feed the fire as fuel, rather than coming out the top as smoke and even worse things.  This flange is male on both ends, and allows about a 4 inch long pice to go into and out of the stove.  I also purchased a matching 3 foot stove pipe. This should be long enoughto make it out of MY tent, but I can always get a longer one if I find it is too short.

I drilled holes through the flared part of the flange, and throughout the top.  This is how I fixed the chimney to the lid.  Next time I will try to figure out a way to do this that doesn't stick out during transport. Maybe a detachable chimney.

Also, I had to take one of the original four lid latches off to fit the feed door.  I decided this was going to be my door latch, as I had not planed ahead.  Other options I came up with were: another slider and keeper, a hook and eye, a small turning latch with handle....figure it out.  I like this one, because it was available, and it pulls the door tight to avoid excess smoke, and encourage a good seal.

Step 5: Finish Stuff

Well, the whole thing is basically together at this point.  We ran with that.    Again, in the interest of safety, we did two test burns, in the fire pit.  The first went off wonderfully, and the second the same.  You can see the pics for the before and afters.

With the lid off, we loaded a bunch of paper, and some small sticks, as well as leaves and other white man fire fodder.  It lit after the lid was on, and through the feeding door.  We found that the draft door worked best fully open, and the cooking surface heat may suffer because of this.  We also learned that almost all of the parts get too hot for even a restaurant worker to touch without hot pads.  Keep some with your kit.

This is not as efficient as I would like, hence the noted mods I would make in the future, but I am pleased with it.  The second test burn was done with the full chimney on.  The draft and the exhaust seem incorrectly balanced,but it will be worth and early spring camping trip trial, and most likely many after that.  I suspect it will smoke up the tent... not for asthmatics. 

Some notes:

The two plans Iooked at the most, during think time, were:
and .  I thank those builders for their inspiration, and gladly point you towards their builds for further ideas.

Also, I scored, fortuitously, a small metal grate for the bottom of the burn chamber.  I bet you can too, but, as I said, be creative.  What you want is some air flow under the fire, to make it a better burn balance.  also this will let the ash fall out of the way and keep the burn hot.

There are some pics of before/after first and second test burns.  I bet you can figure this out.

Also, and again.  I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU BURN YOURSELF, OR FAMILY, OR TENT, OR ANYTHING ELSE DURING *YOUR* VERSION OF THIS BUILD.  I have tried to warn you of all the hazards I noticed, but I am not perfect.  Be smart.  

This is my first instructable. I hope you can make one better than mine with this information.   Also, I have proofed this many times, and that does not change my spelling or grammar errors totally.  Please forgive me. Thank you.

Total cost:

1 afternoon, and about $35 in stuff.  Remember, I got the vessel for free.

Metal Challenge

Participated in the
Metal Challenge