Barrel Furnace Build




About: Building things to pass the time and sharing the good ones with others.

I have a few stainless steel drums lying around the property. I decided I would take the prettiest one and make a furnace out of it.

This is the near completed first step of the drum furnace assembly.

I'm going to potentially add an additional radiator drum and cement in the imperfections for a better seal with this stuff:

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Step 1: DRUM and SAFETY

Barrel stoves are a fun project. I've seen quite a few of these running around on youtube or on prepper sites. I really have wanted to build one of these for a while. In order to do this instructable, you'll need to get your own drum and your own door kit.

Got the kit here:

A word about drums.

Steel drums are a great project starting material. But, for this particular indication, your drum selection should be carefully scrutinized. The best advice is to get a new drum that has never contained anything: The important thing is that the drum was not used to contain an explosive or flammable liquid. If the drum was used to store oil or paint or the like, you may want to choose another drum to cut. Nobody wants to get blown up. Even if you're using a new drum, ensure you fill the bottom quarter or so with water. Use water in between cuts and drill events to cool your drum. It will get powerfully hot if you don't do this.

Personal protective equipment Needed:

  • Safety Goggles
  • Face Shield
  • Gloves
  • Long Sleeve Shirt (no loose sleeves)
  • Fire Extinquisher (never hurts)
  • Bucket of Water.


  • Power Drill and Steel drilling bits
  • Stainless Cutting Disc and rotary cutting tool (SkilSaw or Grinder)
  • Pliers
  • Ratchet or Socket Wrench
  • Screwdrivers

Step 2: Rough in the Door

You'll want to make sure it looks pretty good. The issue with this particular drum is that it's nobby.

So there was only a very small margin for error. I used the the abrasive cutting wheel. It was a real nice tool. It throws some sparks though. PPE: Full arm coverage, and I recommend the goggles and face shield combo with ear protection. There are easier ways to cut this I bet, but I didn't have the most optimal tools or an oxyacetalyene torch so...

Also repeating PSA: Whenever you're cutting stainless or other metal drums: fill the bottom bit with water. Be VERY mindful of what the drum may have previously contained, as it might go boom and nobody wants that. Take some time between drilling and cutting to cool the metal with some water. Take your time and be really safe.

Step 3: Door Cut and Attaching

Here are more pretty pictures. With the door cut in, you'll be free to do your attachment drilling and anchoring. The kit is pretty great and comes with some nice bolts. You can probably see the convex shape of the drum head. In my case, I had to get a bit creative with the bolting and the socket wrench bend the steel in order to make a good seal.

Be extremely careful with the cut steel edges. It is incredibly sharp.

Step 4: Flue Insertion

Once the door was on, we attached the legs (not pictured). We leveled the door on the unattached legs and marked location on the bottom. Flipped, drilled, and attached legs.

Putting the unit back upright, we located the flue at the far end from the door. (This will become important later if you plan to do a second drum as a radiator).

Same procedure as before, use the flue insert, make the trace, get the cutting wheel and be super careful.

Step 5: Chimney!

Once the flue was cut it, and screwed on it was time to put on the temporary chimney.

Empty out the bits of metal and water that remain in the drum and get ready for your first test burn.

The test burn is very important. You'll be burning off the remnants of paint and whatever else may have been in your drum. It cannot be overstressed that this first burn should be long, and it should be done OUTSIDE away from any other flammable things. The smoke should be avoided during this burn. Once the first burn is done and the furnace is operating as you want it to, it can be located to it's intended operating location. Decent online guide to chimney locations. Definitely check your local fire codes before placing this type of construction anywhere within a structure. This guy is for my workshop.

Good luck! Be careful!

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    59 Discussions


    falling_stone Just a quick FYI, As a former firefighter these types of stoves really need to be lined with firebrick. The bottom can burn through rather unexpectedly in regular 55 gallon drums. I don't know about your stainless steel pressure vessel but I think you should get better mileage then a standard "oil" drum :D

    Like any wood burning appliance inspect it regularly, keep safe distances from flammables, and maintain the flue and it will last you a lifetime.

    Oh and yours is the nicest homebuilt woodstove I have seen.

    12 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    With my experiments - I was able to get metal to turn into dry crackly leaves that just crumble into flakes! I did this by burning super hot (1000++ degrees F) flames and made the metal glow super bright red for a long duration! Cool effects!

    this is a really good point and is not outlined in my instructable as this project is not 100 percent completed. the fire brick in the iron grates are very important pieces that have not yet been added to this project. Thanks for the important points!

    Another plus is that adding brick/clay will also add thermal mass so that the stove will continue to heat even after the fire has gone to ash.

    it's the ash portion that I'm struggling with right now. I'd like the system to be easily cleaned out and maintained. If the bottom is coated with a solid level of clay it will be more of a pain to clean. I'm thinking of adding an ash box to the bottom and lining the bottom with bricks arranged with the grid grating pattern.

    The Ash problem is not that big of deal. Get any covered metal bucket or pot, And a small metal shovel, that is all we ever used. To bring the ashes from the back use a Hoe to drag them forward. Heck you could then rake them into the shovel. Grates may look nice but they speed up the burn of the wood as ash and coals are what gives you good heat. Fireplace grates are there to lift the logs up so you get a pretty fire in a decorative fireplace, Andirons were there to keep your pots over the coals not to keep the logs over the ashes. (Sorry i am replying from my cellphone app and my typing is a bit lousy on it.)

    yep! My old man suggested it after I said that I wasn't interested in buying an expensive solution. He said "dude, rebard is freaking cheap"

    I figured you'd get a kick out of it.

    no worries, i value your opinion. I think I would like to get the wood up and off the bottom though for a more complete combustion. Will try a couple configs and report back.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    an Excellent point. I am thinking you could use the the fire clay they used in paint can furnaces. Mix it up and put it in the bottom and smooth it out and let it harden. Then roll the can to its side and do the sides. Maybe run some screws from the outside in to create anchors for the fire clay to adhere to.

    I live in Costa Rica and built a stove with the Volzang Deluxe kit.The barrel I used had a removable end which is where I put the door. I lined the bottom (drum horizontal) with firebrick. There is a couple advantages to lining with fire brick, the barrel last longer, retains heat longer and is easier to clean out as I matched the lip of the ash door to the height of the fire brick. I also put some firebrick across the back to also help preserve the barrel. I removed the remove tops gasket and replaced it with the same fiber glass material they use to seal the door of pellet stoves. The barrel stove does not leak any smoke. I also use stainless steel stove pipe as I get it very hot about once every 10 or so burn days as controlling the way the fire burns with the door vents causes a lot of water/smoke/ash build up in the pipe, when the stove gets very hot the pipe takes a lot of abuse, regular stove pipe won't last very long. If you get it too hot the build up in the stove pipe will catch fire and regular stove pipe will not withstand that much heat.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Who uses a stainless barrel anyways, i mean, can you send me one!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I do like having a few about. But I no longer work with that particular client so I only have the ones I'm gonna get. I hope you have good luck finding one!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I have a saw dust burner in my shop, it is protected from the sides and above with blocks. These dont touch the stove but act as a thermal mass and firebreak around the stove. I am going to be fitting a fan system which will circulate the hot air that gets trapped aboved the stove and direct it to where I am working using some fins. The temperature will be controlled by a stat which will switch fans on and off.