There's quite a few pictures out there of various conversions of LPG cylinders into woodburners - ranging from the ultra-rough & ready to the very elaborate and impressive; but I've struggled to find any sort of step by step guide as to how to to convert a cylinder into a working stove.
My other half had asked me about putting in some sort of stove into our living room, and as I happened to have an gas cylinder gathering dust decided it would be a perfect time to make my own stove, and make an Instructable as well.
This stove probably fits into the "rough & ready" category of designs: it's simple, but effective, and made use of parts I had lying round - but with anything like this it's easy to customise to get the look you want
It's also worth saying up front that the end product was intended to be used as a bio-ethanol burner so doesn't require a stove pipe and working chimney - if your version is to burn anything apart from bio-ethanol (which is fine to burn without ventilation) then you'll need a vent pipe. It's also a bit of a work in progress and will be added to over time - but you can get the idea
But First: A Word About Safety & Legal Stuff
This is really important - MESSING ABOUT WITH LPG CYLINDERS CAN BE DANGEROUS - It is not safe to just cut into a cylinder and start working. I'm not going to go into the different ways of doing this as there are plenty of decent tutorials on safe ways to de-gas and flush out a cylinder to make it safe to work with. If you don't make the cylinder safe before you start you risk killing yourself.
Suffice to say that before I started I made the cylinder safe and made sure all the gas was properly flushed out, as I like my eyebrows as they are
There's also the issue that in some countries (including the UK), strictly speaking the gas cylinder "remains the property of the gas company". That said, if you've bought the thing, if you want to cut holes in it that should be your choice if common sense dictated laws. But something to consider none the less
On top of that - some home insurance policies don't cover DIY stoves, so take that into consideration
Things You'll Definitely Need
- Angle Grinder
- Some sort of paint stripper or paint stripping tool
- Tools to fit your choice of legs / feet / base
- Stove Paint
Things You'll Probably Need
So on with the build.....
Step 1: Trim Off the Excess Metal
First thing you'll need to do is grind off the bits of cylinder like the handle at the top that you won't need. This is just a simple bit of work with an angle grinder to trip off then tidy up where you've cut the metal.
Although I was planning to cut off the base as well, for now I left it on so the whole cylinder would stand upright during the next few stages
Step 2: Cut Out Your Cut-out
This is the main point where, if you haven't flushed out the cylinder properly you have an ideal opportunity to blow yourself up.
Mark out where you plan to make a cutout in the cylinder, and drill holes into the metal. I was going with a nice simple square cutout, so a drilled hole at each corner was enough.
From there it's a case of slowly and carefully cut out the opening. Bear in mind that by the time you get to the final length of cutting, the weight of the bit of metal your cutting will start to cause the cutout to sag inwards slightly.
Once you've cut out the section, use your grinder to tidy up any sharp edges so you don't cut your fingers.
If you need a vent at the top for a pipe, now is the time to cut it out. I'm not fitting one for reasons I'll go into later
Step 3: Get Stripping
OK, so your project is taking shape, but here's where the "fun" begins*
Unless you plan on going for an ultra-rough & ready approach, you're going to want to paint your stove, and for that you'll need specialist heat resistant paint or your spiffy paint-scheme will just burn off the first time you crank up the heat.
Sadly you can't just slap on the specialist paint straight on top of the existing paint (as that's not designed to resist heat), so you've got to strip all the paint off the cylinder.
How you do this is up to you - paint stripper will work fine (though is messy), or you can use a grinder or drill attachment such as an abrasive wheel or disk as I did. The downside is that it's dusty and noisy, but fairly effective. The name of the game is to get back to bare metal ready for later, so get stripping
* It doesn't
Step 4: Bottom Inspecting
I deliberately left the base of the cylinder attached so the whole thing would stand upright while I stripped the paint off the sides & top, but now it's time to cut off the base and then strip the paint off the bottom end.
This is exactly the same as before really: cut off the bass and tidy up the cuts, then get the wire disk out again and grind the paint off
Step 5: It's All About the Base
So - you should now have a cylinder, stripped of paint, with a chunk cut out of it. But how do you make it stand upright again? It's time to add a base
What you use as a base is entirely your choice - you could use proper stove legs, pipe, bricks or something else. However I had a couple of old rear brake disks from a Volvo 850 lying round, and hey-presto, it would be the prefect base. So while I was taking the paint off the cylinder I used the wire disk to take off all the rust & grime and get back to bare metal
In order to attach the disk to the cylinder I made sure the cylinder was properly upright (with a spirit level), then plopped on the disk, and drilled a hole through the disk and into the cylinder to bolt the 2 together. That ensured that the whole thing would be straight & level, and is a good enough way of attaching the 2 together if you've not got a welder handy.
However - since it was a good excuse to get the arc welder out, I also welded the disk to the cylinder as well - because it's fun :o)
Step 6: Painting
Almost there now - Time to get your paint of choice out and get painting. Be aware that a lot of stove paints are pretty strong stuff, so do this in a well ventilated area or outside.
Also be aware that a lot of stove paints need to "harden" via mild heat (basically lighting a small fire in the stove) - if your paint of choice needs this to be done then follow the instructions on your stove paint of choice; and if you can, do it outdoors due to the smoke / fumes that get burnt off.
Step 7: Light My Fire
So that's about it for the Instructable - it's time to install it
In my case, we don't have a working chimney, so the plan is to use the stove for burning bio-ethanol which is safe to burn in an unventilated fireplace / burner and apparently kicks out a good amount of heat. This means I don't need to worry about a vent pipe at the back up the chimney - so the omission of this stage isn't a mistake.That said I may fit one later for cosmetic reasons
I'll do the "How to make a bio-ethanol burner element" as a separate instructable at some point (once I work out how to do one that's suitable), but the final step is to put your stove into place, light your fire, sit back and bask in it's warmth. Shame it's almost summer in the UK now, but I'll be using it in anger come the winter