Homemade Wood Stoves for Tents

By Mike Schoonveld

A wood stove in your tent on a cold night can be the difference between a comfortable night’s sleep or a miserable experience. Having one in your tent in wet weather can also ensure a hot meal rather than cold potatoes. You can buy a manufactured stove suitable for use in a tent, but making one on your own is a satisfying DIY project, can save you money and ensure the stove is custom-made to your needs.

Container Conversion

You can make a simple wood stove suitable for a tent with a metal container designed for some other use, such as a metal 5- or 10-gallon bucket. You can also use a worn out propane cylinder – a 20-lb. one is large enough for a small to medium tent. Use a larger one if the stove needs to be bigger. A really large tent may require starting with an empty, steel 30-gallon drum. You must fabricate legs, a door and an attachment point to connect the chimney pipe.

Sheet Metal

Commercially made stoves are usually constructed of sheet metal, which can be cut and trimmed with a handheld cutting tool, then welded to form the stove. You can purchase the same material and cut, trim and weld your own stove based on a manufacturer’s design or your own custom design. The basic components are a firebox, legs, door and chimney fitting. If space is an issue, make the stove collapsible so it can be transported flat and assembled at your campsite.

Cooking/Heating

If you want your tent stove for heating purposes, any shape of stove will work. If you want to cook on the stove, you’ll need to include a flat space over the firebox on which to set your cookware. Most cooking-only stoves are made smaller than heating stoves since you don't need a large, long-burning flame for cooking. You can also make a stove that serves both purposes, with a large firebox for heating and a flat surface for cooking.

Safety First

Wood burning stoves are safe when used in a tent if you take several safety precautions. The stove should sit on a solid surface to prevent tipping, and the construction should be tight enough to prevent sparks or embers from escaping the firebox. The chimney pipe should be fitted with a screen as a spark-arrester to prevent sparks or embers from exiting the flue out the top and falling on the canvas. You should sew a fireproof stove jack into the tent material where the stovepipe exits the wall or roof.

© Demand Media 2011