Introduction: Wood Gas Camp Stove for Backpacking

About: I’m a husband and father of 3 girls (all out of the house now) a 20 year LEO and former Army MP. I’m also a hiker/camper working on becoming an Adirondack 46 er. 31/46

Small, portable wood gasification stoves are becoming a popular option for campers and backpackers. They are compact, use readably available fuel that is already dead and on the ground (reducing damage to live trees for firewood) and reduce carry weight associated with liquid gas cannister stoves.

Unfortunately I don't have a new one of these on the "to do list" right now to show you folks an in progress step-by-step, but I can go through some photos of one I've already completed and try to explain the process...


For Parts/Tools:

An empty 1 quart paint can and lid you can get at any home supply store in the paint section.

A soup can.

A large canned chicken can for the pot stand.



Drill, bits, a step bit.

Tin snips

Can Opener.

Gloves and eye protection.

Note: A Dremel can help

Step 1: Gather Cans and Tools.

Gather all the cans you will need. Wash them out and remove the labels. For the outside can I went to a paint supply store and got an empty 1 Quart Paint can with lid. Only a couple of bucks.

For the interior can that the burning takes place in...find a soup can that will fit into the paint can. A soup can or canned fruit can work well.

The chicken can here is ideal to be made into a pot stand.

Be sure to use eye protection and gloves. I have sliced a finger or two on sharp metal.

Step 2: Prepare Outer Can

The 1 quart paint can... I marked the bottom with a sharpie into 8ths (divide the bottom of the can like pizza slices).

Draw lines up the side of the can off of those bottom marks so you have 8 evenly spaced lines up the side of the can. Then draw a line around the circumference of the can about 3/4" up from the bottom (hold the marker firmly against something of the right height and spin the side of the can against it).

I center punch those 8 intersections along the can bottom. Drill them with a 1/4" bit then step bit them to 1/2". I used a Dremel to debur the sharp edges.

I then used a can opener and cut out the bottom of the can. Some folks don't do that but I like the open bottom to stash the pot stand inside.

Take the paint can lid, center the soup can on it and trace the bottom with a marker. Make another circle inside that one (if you can envision that) and cut out the innermost circle by drilling a hold then cutting it out with the snips.

Then snip little "tabs" along the inside of the lid to the line you traced around the can bottom. Bend those tabs out and push the soup can through the lid so that the soup can fits tightly down through the lid when it's put back on the paint can.

The photo here shows the can pushed through a paint can lid.

Step 3: Prepare the Inner Burn Chamber

Like you did with the paint can, divide the bottom "pizza style" into 16ths. Extend the lines up the side of the can then mark the circumference top AND bottom about 1/2 to 3/4" from the edge. Punch those intersections and drill the rings of holes top and bottom with a 1/4" bit.

I drilled a grid of holes on the bottom as shown. Some folks cut out the entire bottom of the inner can and replace it with a chunk of steel grille that you find on disposable barbecues.

Step 4: Make Pot Stand

I made the pot stand out of that canned chicken can I showed previously.

I divided the bottom into 8ths, marked it up the side, marked the circumference in the middle, punched and drilled holes all the way around. I went big with the step bit. 3/4".

I used the Dremel to cut out the feed window by joining two holes. I then used the Dremel to cut out the can bottom...but you can use snips.

This stand stows inside the bottom of the paint can. The whole works should stack inside a 900ml camp cup/pot that is at least 4.25" or greater in diameter.

Step 5: Assemble

Now all you need to do is put the inner can into the outer can by "putting the lid on it"....tap the lid closed with a hammer (gentle).

Step 6: Use

Now load it up with twigs/sticks and light it up. Once you see the top ports emitting “jets” of flame put the pot stand on and brew up. Feed fuel through the pot stand window. Don’t need to go overboard. Small pieces of wood to keep the flames going is all you need.