How to build an ultra-light backpacking stove

Step by step instructions with images, on how to build a small camp stove with chimney, using can food cans.
A budget-friendly small stove for backpacking. It can use different types of fuel sources, such as wood, candles and tony alcohol-stoves.

Preparing the parts for the backpacking stove

  1. Use three empty, clean, cans.
    You can use any size, but two of them have to be the same size, and the third with a slightly wider diameter.
  1. The two cans of the same size will be cut differently. We will call the chamber can “A”, and the stove base/top “B”, and the ash catcher “C”. Remove the paper from the cans.

Making the base/stove top

  1. Work on the base/top first (can A).
    Mark opposite ends for proper alignment of the big round cuts for the chamber part.
  1. Align can B with one of the marks you made previously on can A.
    Place it about a 1/4″ from the top edge of can A, and use it as a guide and draw a circle around it.
  1. When you draw the circle, draw it in such a shape that the can will fit through the hole, once the hole is cut.
    Draw a similar circle on the opposite side, at the same distance from the top, as the first circle.
  1. Make holes on top of can A, either using a thick nail, or you can drill the holes.
    The purpose of the holes is to let more heat reach the stove top from the chamber
  1. The stove top completed.
    The reason not to remove the whole top is, that you can use smaller cups on the stove top.

Making the chamber

  1. Start cutting out the circles.
    Use a thick nail, or drill, to get the cut started.
  1. Cut out both circles.
    You can use metal sheet cutters or a power tool for cutting.
  1. Cutting completed. I suggest you file or sandpaper all cut edges so they won’t be sharp.

Assembling the backpacking stove

  1. Place the chamber (B) through the holes in the base/stove top (A), as shown in the picture.
  1. The chamber opening should be very close to the base/stove top, about 1/4″.
    That will give enough room for the chimney at the other end of the chamber.
  1. Mark the edges on the outside bottom of the chamber, inside the base.
  1. Separate the two pieces (A and B) again. The marks you made in the previous step should look like in this picture.
  1. Draw cut lines, the way it is the picture.
    Also, draw a small circle in the middle, roughly about 3/4″ diameter.
    The first cuts are to create stoppers to lock the to parts (A and B) together, and to create openings for ash to fall in the ash catcher.
    The opening in the middle is also for ash to fall in the ash catcher.
  1. Cut out the hole in the center, and along the cut lines you made.
    But do NOT cut along the first lines you made in steps 13 and 14!
    The pictures in steps 18 and 19 show what it should look like when done.
  1. You are basically making “teeth” sticking out from the original lines you made in step 13 and 14.
  1. Cutting completed. There is a hole in the middle, and a set of teeth sticking out from the two original lines.
  1. Put the two pieces A and B together again, and bend the teeth you made, over, so the chamber locks into the base.

Making the ash catcher

  1. Next, make the ash catcher. It has to have larger enough diameter so the stove base fits inside it.
    If the ash catcher is too tall, mark how much need to be cut to make it fit.
  1. Cut the ash catcher to size.
    As earlier mentioned, file or sandpaper down any sharp edges.

Making the chimney

  1. This stove needs some kind of chimney, be it either a short or long one.
    I made mine of an old bath tub curtain rod.
    If you don’t have any pipe, you can roll a short chimney, using the material from another can.
  1. Once you have a chimney, draw a circle on the top back of the stove chamber.
    Draw it the same diameter as the chimney
  1. The circle for the chimney cut-out completed.
    Next, cut out the hole. Be careful you don’t make it bigger than the chimney!
  1. Draw a small mark at the bottom of the chamber, opposite from the chimney hole.
  1. Cut a small hole at the mark from the previous step, same size and shape as the bottom end of the chimney.
    The bottom end of the chimney has to be shaped as shown in the picture in step 22.
    That will ensure proper chimney function, and gives needed stability to the chimney.
  1. Insert the chimney in the chamber. It should fit snug, and there shouldn’t be any large gaps between the chimney and the chamber, where the smoke could leak out.

The completed backpacking stove

  1. All done!
    This chimney was designed to be stabilized by tying the top of the chimney to another structure.
  1. If you have a short chimney and the stove needs to be free-standing, you can add a support piece in the back under the chamber.
  1. You can make a lid for the front opening from either a top or bottom of a can. Bend one of the edges, the way the pictures show in this and the next step.
    The hole in the middle is an air intake, and also meant to use a stick or rod on to place or remove the lid
  1. The lid can be slid sideways to adjust air intake.
  1. Here is another design for the chamber bottom, a removable crate.
  1. The advantage with the removable crate is that you can use a small alcohol stove or candle in the base, as a fuel source, instead of using wood.
  1. The completed and assembled chimney stove.
  1. The top of the chimney is supported to another structure with thick wire.

Watch this stove in action, in these two YouTube videos!

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