Stainless Steel Garden Incinerator - Patio Heater From Recycled Scrap.




About: no longer active.....

Project:  To build a replacement for the ugly rusted and burned out oil drum we have been using for a incinerator.

Lets face it when it come to recycling we all end up with bio mass that unless you live beside your recycling plant just become a nightmare to get rid off, my nearest center is 5 miles away in a different council district, the one I should be using is almost 12 miles away so anything that I can safely burn gets burnt.

I wanted to make something that would do for burning paper cardboard and garden waste. but would be nice enough to be used a heater.

We have been using an old 45 gallon steel drum as a make  shift incinerator which is almost burned out and rusted to bits. its good point was it had a large capacity for burning, but this was also its bad point was that the large capacity meant you just bunged big stuff in and it tended to go out as it was badly loaded or be very smoky.

I had an old washing machine rusting away in the yard that was due to go for scrap, they have stainless steel drum that well ventilated and look nice and make a perfect incinerator as stainless steel will not burn up like a steel barrel will do over time.

The washing machine drum has a smaller but reasonably good capacity, this will mean it must be loaded better and should hopefully burn much better.

This is a simple and easy project to build if you can scavenge the parts.

UPDATE: Some people have asked what type of washing machine has the stainless steel drum, they are found in the front loading automatic machines. I have added a pic to step 1 of the next victim to be gutted from parts. I will do a detailed instructable of what fab and groovy stuff is to be found in them. 

If you cant find a washing machine a tumble dryer should also have a stainless steel drum that will do, it will probably have a larger capacity also.

Materials used.

Stainless steel washing machine drum.
1" galvanized tube (scavenged from an old farm gate)  20 x 6mm flat steel could also be used.
The rim from an old bike wheel.
M6 nuts, bolts and washers.
Self taping screws.

Thanks for looking and i hope that this gives you some ideas for your own design.


PS. I didn't plan this out, it was a case just wandering around the yard and sheds and using what ever turned up.  So it just kind of happened, sometimes that kind of approach works just as well as the long drawn out plan.

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Step 1: Preparing the Drum.

You will need to find a busted up and scrapped Automatic washing machine that is a front loader.  Or if you cant find that a tumble dryer should also have a stainless drum.

I gutted the stainless steel drum from an old washing machine that is due to go for scrap.

I used a hand axe to crudely hack the drum free form the plastic tank it is mounted in, this was my quickest option rather and undo just way to many screws.  what ever you choose to do be careful as fingers and eyes don't grow back.

Once the drum is free, you will need to cut it free from the aluminum casting that houses the bearings.  The drum is riveted to the aluminum housing at 3 points they will show no resistance to a angle grinder.

Step 2: The Legs

I wanted something that was about waist height for ease of loading with garden waste and rubbish as it would be primarily a incinerator.

20mm x 6mm flat bar could also be used for this and is quite cheap to buy if you cant scavenge it.

I cut 3 lengths of 1" galvanized lube to 600mm.

Mark the pipes approx 30mm from the end and squeeze flat in a vice and bend to 90*

Mark and drill a hole in the center of each flat end as shown, this is where the legs will attach to the drum.

Step 3: The Ring.

The ring is simply the rim of an old bike wheel with the spokes cut out.

I had already robbed the hub from this wheel for some other project.

Step 4: Assembly.

The legs where bolted on to the drum using the 3 holes where the rivets where.

I marked the legs approx in the middle and drilled small holes to suite the self tappers.

The rim was attached to the legs with self tapping screws, the holes for the spokes can be used but you may need to drill one hole in the rim.

I only had a 20" wheel rim so i needed to give the legs a little bend out to make the incinerator more stable. a larger diameter rim will leave the spread the legs out more and make the base much more stable.

Step 5: Job Done. I Love It When a Plan Comes Together!

I now have a nice shiny incinerator that will not burn away or rust to bits.

I'm quite chuffed as how this turned out as I started of just wanting to build something, with just a rough idea in my head.

If you are looking to build a patio heater of fire pit thingy.  shorter legs would be better. (if i can lay my hands on another one of the drums I will make a nice fancy design and post the results)

Shorter legs will leave your incinerator with a lower center of gravity and less likely to get knocked over.

When playing with fire be safe and take precautions.

Thanks for looking, I hope my idea inspires your own design.


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    124 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 5

    Saw this pop up in one of my RSS feeds the other day and remembered I just happened to have an old washing machine lying around and decided this was the perfect project for me and my boyfriend. After several hours of getting the damn inner drum out we could all finally sit back and marvel at our shiney new fire bowl. We made the base out of what was actually attached to the outter drum - just flipped it over and voila..perfect! Not only that, it's spins around too - pointless but cool!

    6 replies
    Dr QuiBlackSheepBrit

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    Nice Idea, your pulley is the perfect size to make a base.

    I wonder how the aluminium bits and the bearings will cope with the fire?

    Keep up the good work.

    SIRJAMES09Dr Qui

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Aluminum melts at about 2000 Degree F...

    if the fire inside gets that hot, that Aluminum is going to be the least of your worries....

    But, when the Aluminum breaks down, and it will eventually, I do not see a problem replacing the hardware with a heavier steel.

    BlackSheepBritDr Qui

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    I'll let you know when we finally get a chance to try it out. Very excited though, awesome idea...keep em coming!

    Dr Quirimar2000

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction


    Old washing machines are great, there are so many cool and useful things that can be made from one. there are so many high quality parts used in their construction.

    The toughened glass window makes a beautiful glass fruit/punch bowl,  we had one full of fruit on our table and got complimented on the lovely fruit bowl and where can I get one? we had to laugh when we said you get them at the skip site.

    bilhamDr Qui

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I inherited an old 50's era washer with my last house. I salvaged the bakelite agitator and made a very cool lamp out of it.

    Agitator Lamp.JPG
    Dr Quibilham

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction


    That is so beautiful, our old machine had one of those but it was very plain, that one is just so stylish the lamp shade really sets it off.

    Well done.


    Dr. dBDr Qui

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yep! Although the newer designs are probably more efficient and/or effective, the old styles were often MUCH more elegant and decorative. The one I tore out of Mom's washer back in the early '70s (also a 1950's washer!) was about the same shape, but white ( well, off-white after several decades of dirty duty up against four kids and any number of pets...) I think the black one makes the more fashionable lamp, although white-ish might scatter (agitate?) the light better...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    There are some of these that are horn shaped, I did a very good passive megaphone with one of them. It was so good that was stolen at the first use...!

    Dr. dBrimar2000

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    However, where do we find a capacity conversion chart from "pounds of laundry" into "pounds of cheese"?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I love this, I'm guessing with it being stainless steel it'll stay nice and shiny unlike some other incinerators you can buy.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    Modern washing machine inner drums have a steel drum with stainless coating and will rust after a few fires . A easy way to test is to use a magnet to test . If the magnet sticks to the drum then it is steel with a coating :)


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Actually that isn't reliable, martensitic and ferritic stainless steels are magnetic. Better to just scavenge several drums and replace the rusty ones :P


    4 years ago on Introduction

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