DIY Wood Burner Pot Belly Stove. Made From a Gas Tank




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My Goal: To build a wood burning stove to heat my shed so i can still tinker in the cold winter months without freezing to death.

I had priced professionally built wood stoves and found very few under £400 most where about £600, so I decided to build my own stove using nothing but scrap metal I had lying around.

I bought my stove in at approximately £35.  so it is well worth the effort.

This is a job that must be done well to prevent fires or carbon monoxide poisoning etc so a good working knowledge is need or else seek advice from those who have the skills needed.

Its better to be safe than sorry when it comes to building a stove, so take you time and build something safe to use.

Materials needed are as follows.

1 scraped butane tank, i got this from a hardware store i once worked in, it had been a shop sign after it had failed as a gas tank. so this would be its 2nd time recycled.

3   1" x 1" by 1 foot long box section for the legs

1" weld mesh.

15kg fire cement to line the stove

Scrap  1/2" re-bar to make the grate.

about 6-8" of 3" pipe to make the

10mm plate steel for the hot plates (this may be the tricky bit, I was very lucky with this part)

1 3" 90* pipe coupling to make the flue bend.

1 broken brass dart (optional)

1 steel hinge.

3-4 foot of 20 x 6mm flat bar

A METAL handle for the lid, the wooden one in the picture scorched up and fell off.

I would recommend 4" pipe for a flue if possible.

Tools needed are Welder, Angle grinder with cutting, grinding and flap disks. drill plus the usual spanners hammers etc.

This is a project from a few years ago so i don't have ever part of the process photographed.

Thanks for looking.

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Step 1: Cutting the Gas Tank.

I first started but removing the handles and the base ring from the tank and used a flap disk to smooth the welded seam round the middle of the tank.

I marked a line round the gas tank just about where the sides become parallel, I used a thin metal cutting disk in the angle grinder to cut the tank along this line,  this gave me the belly part of the stove and the lid.

A 3" hole was marked on the back of the tank about 2" from the top, The hole was cut out using a thin metal cutting disk to cut out this hole. this is where the flue bend will be welded to.

Step 2: The Ash Spout.

To make the ash spout i ground the end of the short cutting of 3" pipe so its profile was a snug fit to the curve of the tank and the spout was at 90* to the sides of the tank.

I then drew a line around the inside of this join to show me where to cut the hole in the tank.

I got a friend to weld the ash spout on using his mig welder as my skills had lapsed somewhat over 20 years.

The 3 1" box section where bolted on to the base ring in their desired positions, this allowed me to ajust the position of the tank on the legs before they where tacked on then welded up.

Step 3: Lineing the Insde

I first cut a strips of weld mes about 6" wide and lined the inside of the tank with them, they where tacked on with the welder.

The weld mes was added to give the fire cement something to key to as it sets.

I then lined the inside of the tank with fire cement to a depth of about 3/4 - 1" working the cement in well and trying not to get any ait pockets int he cement.

once i had the inside roughly lined i used a damp sponge to smooth out the surface before firing

Step 4: Cureing the Fire Cement.

The fire cement I used is a synthetic cement and needs to be fired before it sets

I used some left over weld mes to make a basket that fitted the inside of the tank without touching to cement lining

This would be suspended using steel bars across the top of the stove and alow me to fire the cement without the fire touching the wet cement.

Step 5:

The basket was filled with kindling and suspended in the stove so it was not touching the wet cement lining.

It now is ready fir firing.

Step 6:

The stove was taken out side and the fire was lit and allowed to build up very slowly, after about 15 -20 mind I started to build the fire up with small bits of wood, the fire was slowly built up over the next 2 hours, at this point I allowed the fire to die out and it was left until morning to cool

Step 7: The Grate

This pic shows the the fire cement lining after it had been fired and cured,  as expected i had a few air pocket that expanded during the firing and left a few hollows in the lining.

It looks worse than it is. I never did get around to filling these holes up and the stove has been running for almost 2 years now.

The grate was made from various lengths of re-bar welded together in a lattice, after 2 year it still shows now signs of burning out.

Step 8: The Hot Plates and Lid

I was very lucky that an engineer friend had this piece of 10mm steel plate 24" dia with a 5" hole in the center.  it was a profiler job that had gone wrong and was scrap to him.

I was again lucky to find a 6" round 10mm steel plate in my own scrap heap that was a perfect hot plate

The lid is fixed to the large hot plate with a steel hinge and 4mm bolts.

A small steel plate was cut to fit the ash spout as a damper.

Using the 20x 6mm flat bar a hoop was made that snugly fitted around the tank. this was then welded to the underside of the large plate to hold it in position, this joint was also sealed using heat resistant silicone sealer, this give a smoke free joint yet will be easy to remove i i need to do so.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

A bracket was added to the edge of the hot plate and a flat bar handle was bent to shape to lift the plate of the stove when fuel is added.

I squeezed a piece of 1" chrome tube in the vice until it was just flattened enough to slide the flat bar into once the vice is undone the pipe spring back to shape an the handle is firmly fixed in place.

The stove was then sprayed with BBQ paint  to give it that expensive store bought look.

I made one fatal mistake here, you really want to buff all the gas tanks original paint off down to the steel before you paint.

I didn't, the paint is pretty fire prof but eventually will start to burn off and lift the BBQ paint where the paint was buffed of the BBQ paint is holding perfectly

Step 10: The Dart (optional)

I bet you wondered what the dart was for.

I found this broken brass dart in a box of bolts and thought it would make a nice handle for the damper plate.

I counter sunk the plate and used a countersunk screw to fix the handle to the plate.  This allows the plate to swing without catching and allows for a a good seal when the damper is closed off

Step 11: The Finished Stove Installed and Working

The stove was mounted on a 2' x 2' concrete slab that had been painted with floor paint is would be my fire surround.

Pictured here with the all important teapot on the boil, i have since got a better teapot with a flat bottom that boils quicker, the stove is perfect for heating the shed and can boil a pot of water in about 10 mins if the fire has been well stoked.

The stove was fitted with a 3" flue made from cuttings of 3" pipe, it worked well for a bout 18 month and then it clogged up completely. and the only way to unblock it was to go onto the roof and poke a long stick down the flue.  I

felt that my luck was eventually going to run out when i was on the roof and decided to close down the stove untill a new flue was installed before I fell of the roof and broke my neck.

If you build you own stove try and go for at least a 4" flue and design in some way that you can use rods to clean the flue from the ground.

I am now in the process of replacing the 3" welded flue with on made from 4" pipe that will be made in sections so it can be removed for cleaning.

I will update the instructable when i have the new flue installed.

Thanks for looking at my post.

Step 12: Cosmetic Improvment.

After i discovered that the wooden knob i used on the lid had scorched away to nothing i repaced it with a cast metal handle which makes it look much nicer.

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41 Discussions

Dr Quiastral_mage

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

A spanner is what us British call a wrench. What are you trying to say when you say "wat" and "u" ?


5 years ago

Fantastic!! Thanks for sharing. I hope your neck is better :)

1 reply
Dr Quigworld

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Thanks and glad you liked it. Unfortunately the neck injury is with me for life , but I'm learning how to deal with it :) and the pain is not as bad as before.


5 years ago

Don't worry to much about the welding on the flue-bend. Those sewer pipes are castiron which is notoriously hard to weld.

1 reply
Dr Quiomnibot

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Believe it or not that 90* bend is made of steel, engineering has been going on at my house for almost 90 years and I found that in a scrap pile is the corner of one workshop that has a sloping earth fool, the kind of place that would send a health and safety inspector into a coma, a place where you can find real old oddball sized things like that, I remember thinking it was cast iron and did a drill and file test on it but it turned out to be steel, my welding was indeed that bad my first in almost 20 years at the time and trust me i sucked at welding with a stick welder. The weld was done in a poorly light workshop with a very poor shield on a welder I was not used to, no wonder it's buttery. I have slightly improved now since getting my own welder and a auto change mask,

Dr Quicamping crazy

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Its and old school design, in fact my old Primary school had a real big one that once you where old enough you where aloud to load the coal into it :) its a design over here the probably dates back to WW2 and they where used to heat Nissen huts etc, the one in my primary school used to glow red at times because we would have filled the thing to the neck with coal and would have kept the whole school toasty warm (all 13 of us)


5 years ago on Step 7

rebar steel and fire pit steel has different chemical make - ups. i.e. chemisty is different in rebar vs. fire pit steel.

1 reply
Dr Quiastral_mage

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Why go buy fire pit steel when you have scrap rebar, it's only a fire grate, not exactly rocket surgery.


5 years ago on Step 11

try this out. go to a 12' round duct pipe. then be fore it get to the roof . use 2 45% turns with a 1 foot straight piece. the hang it the horizontal part abut a foot to foot and a half down from the roof then go thro the other side of your shed? why let all that heat go out first.

1 reply
Dr Quiastral_mage

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Sounds like to much hassle, i insulated the roof and now the stove makes way heat that you just fill it, light it and its enough to heat the place for about 4-5 hours which is more than enough time for me to be in the shed before I need to go rest


5 years ago on Introduction

This is an awesome project, and it was written up with a good sense of humor!
I really enjoyed it, and I will build one similar in the near future.

1 reply

8 years ago on Step 11

Very nice, well done. I've been looking around the net for wood burning stoves made from discarded gas bottles and I have found a few examples. I shall probably make one with a front opening door taking your comments about it being easier into account. Can you tell me why you lined the inside with fire cement? I have not seen another gas bottle wood burner made like this with fire cement so am intrigued.

Cheers and take care.

Kevan, Staffordshire, UK.