Build A Do-It-Yourself Tiny Woodstove

There’s nothing like creating your own heat to warm your home. It’s virtually free (with the exception of the time it takes to gather and prepare your wood). Traditional homes can be heated by wood but take much more resources to heat. Wood stoves are ideal for tiny and small homes because they can be heated quickly and don’t take an excessive amount of wood to do so.

For a small home only a small wood stove is needed to heat it. There are many small wood stoves available built by manufacturers. These are a great idea if you have budgeted for such an expense. If you haven’t, or would prefer to build one yourself, here are a couple of alternative traditional wood stove ideas. Enjoy.

Mailbox wood stove

Believe it or not you can use a mailbox to create a wood stove. While I’m not sure how big of an area it can heat, it’s certainly a low cost alternative to buying a traditional wood stove. Naturally the paint that comes with the mailbox is going to burn away after it’s first use since your mailbox wasn’t intended to keep you warm. Give it a solid coat of high-heat paint to keep it pretty and to prevent rust. Cut a 4″ hole on the back to accommodate the stove pipe fittings. A rack can be mounted above the woodstove for cooking, heating water, etc.

Another method is to mount the mailbox sideways to have the flat surface facing upwards for cooking and the front lid to swivel sideways like a traditional woodstove. Holes can be drilled on the side to allow for good airflow. Be sure to drill them near the bottom and not the top to avoid allowing smoke to pour out. Give the back a slight tilt to allow smoke to escape more easily. For mounting the legs, you can get creative as you like. Square tubing is an option, but anything else you can get your hands on that you feel looks nice and will be long-lasting is a good idea. Lastly, be sure not to use a galvanized mailbox. The zinc fumes are toxic when heated.

Propane tank wood stove
Have an old propane tank lying around that could be put to goo use? Turn it into a wood stove! First of all, using a propane tank to create something that will have fire in it can be dangerous. Be sure there is absolutely zero propane remaining in the tank before you even consider using the tank as a wood stove.

I have seen many different styles of propane tank to wood stove conversions. All involve cutting metal so you’ll need the tools to do so. You can mount the propane stove vertically with a door cut and hinged on the side. This method is good if you’d like to place the stove on bricks or something similar because no legs are required. Others cut the end of the bottle off and then reattached with hinged and mount it horizontally. My favorite is the style shown in the video below. The tank is mounted sideways with a door cut along the length. This allows the wood stove to be mounted close to the wall to save space and also the curvature of the tank is above the door so smoke can continue to draw upwards while the door is open.

Ammo box wood stove

An ammunition box can make an excellent DIY woodstove. The H83 style ammo box is a good choice because it is air tight and has thicker metal to put off more heat. Any larger ammo box will probably work. A small grate can be added inside to keep the wood off the bottom and allow air to flow through. Legs can be bolted or welded onto the box. The pipe fitting can be mounted to the back of the box or the top which requires less room for the stove inside your home.

Please note these above ideas are just that, ideas. Use these suggestions at your own risk. If you have built a homemade wood stove or have ideas not mentioned here, please share your story in the comments below.

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26 Comments → “Build A Do-It-Yourself Tiny Woodstove”


  1. Derek Diedricksen

    Jan 02, 2012

    My fave are those ammo box ones- a few videos up on youtube….I don’t have the tools/equip to make one, but would love to try at some point. Good stuff- and happy new year…

    -Deek

    Reply

  2. Linda

    Jan 05, 2012

    interesting that they are all shown OUTSIDE.

    Reply

    • Dan Dalton

      Nov 29, 2013

      Interesting that you should point that out. Did you bother to notice the words “do it yourself”? Did you notice these are built for small environments at low cost? If you build one, shouldn’t you test it outside and take in action pictures in better light? If you have nothing but snide comments to offer, shouldn’t you go away?

      Reply

  3. Becky

    Jan 05, 2012

    Now my husband can make two woodstoves…he has two of them just storing odds and ends at the moment, I think he got them from the catalog of Cheaper Than Dirt…

    Reply

    • Becky

      Jan 05, 2012

      Two ammo boxes, that is…we also have an old propane tank…this is wild stuff…:)

      Reply

  4. Dan Mcmahon

    Jan 07, 2012

    Just a few days before this post popped up I had just written a post about burner building on my blog.. I built about 15 of them from old propane bottles over the last ten years.
    http://dmc-makerofthings.blogspot.com/2012/01/fire-gas-bottle-burners-and-making-of.html
    cheers. Dan.

    Reply

    • Laird Herbert

      Jan 20, 2013

      Dan – after countless hours searching for small stoves – and trying to order 4kw – 7 kw stoves from Europe – you’ve inspired me! I’m going to give a go at making my own. I assume you have a plasma cutter? Thanks for the great link!

      Reply
  5. Omigosh! I love that mailbox stove!

    Reply

  6. Jim Gillam

    Jan 09, 2012

    You can see that the galvanization (zinc) has burned off the steel mailbox. This could be potentially toxic in an enclosed area.
    For safety and air quality reasons, I recommend using an EPA-certified wood stove.

    Reply

    • Tinman

      Mar 09, 2013

      Thank you Jim……..I’m glad someone has pointed out that burning the galvinization (Zinc) off the old mailbox is highly toxic to breath the vapors.

      Reply

  7. David

    Jan 09, 2012

    how about a wood wood stove? that would save on cleaning, just burn it out.

    Reply

  8. CosmoStarMan

    Feb 27, 2012

    A very useful outside wood stove can be made from an old Christmas tree stand. It might be better named as a small fire pit. The legs can be bent slightly to get the pan up off the ground and the pan holds the fire. Long sticks can be used and moved into the center as they burn down. The tree ring at the top will hold a frying pan, pot or a #10 can will just fit the ring on the large tree stand that I have. The screws that are used to tighten into the tree trunk can be adjusted to fit the outside of a #10 can or even larger size pots, etc. or help some pans to sit a little higher off the flame. When the flame is finished the coals will provide heat for a couple of hours. A #10 can of water (half full [6 cups] will boil in 15 minutes) will sit on the ring and provide warm moisture after the cooking is done. If that is too open a stainless steel bucket with air holes in it can be turned upside down over the burning fire and have a large air ring where the wood sticks can be inserted into the pan. The bucket will provide a heat radiating surface and a cooking surface. A stainless steel bucket with air holes in it can also hold a fire and a grill can be laid over the opening of the bucket for a cooking surface. I used a grill off of the front of an old fan over the top of my fire bucket. The fire bucket is also for an outside fire.

    Reply

  9. Mark Holmes

    Feb 23, 2013

    I’m game to try and build a propane bottle stove (or maybe a water pressure tank). But until my shop is setup, we needed something off the shelf.

    We looked around at a lot of small stoves to heat our 33′ 5th wheel trailer here in the California mountains. From Jotul to Morso, Sardine and the Kimberly, all were either too big or too expensive ($3500 for a Kimberly!!). We ended up buying a Hobbit stove from Salamader Stoves in Devon, England. It was delivered to our door in 5 days for much cheaper than all of the above options, plus we got custom paint and a secondary air input installed so combustion oxygen is mostly drawn from outside the trailer. The stove is about 12″ x 12″ x 18″, with a 12″ clearance to combustibles. It’s also aesthetically quite beautiful, and has been keeping us warm and happy this winter.

    It took about 2 months to finally find this stove, and it’s been absolutely perfect for us. Give them a look; the website isn’t great, but fortunately the stove is. http://www.salamanderstoves.com

    Oh, they also sell a *smaller* stove called the Pipsqueak if you really need something tiny.

    Reply

    • Ray Hardcastle

      Mar 10, 2013

      Many years ago, Mother Earth News (when they were not so political), They sold plans for a hotwater tank wood stove. I built one and it is an excellent stove that lasts many years.
      You need to be a fair welder but it’s a nice project. It is totally air tightand you can make it any size.
      I still have the plans to loan, but you have to promise to copy them, and return them.
      Thanks, Ray

      Reply

      • Hunter

        Feb 12, 2014

        Ray, a better idea is to offer copies that you make for a small fee. that way you don’t risk losing your originals.

        Reply
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  13. Cindy young

    Nov 09, 2013

    Not enough info for mailbox stove. How long is the pipe? Tilt what end in what direction ?

    Reply

  14. derek

    Dec 22, 2013

    I like how the OP just stole and posted the pics as his own. Classy.

    Reply
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  16. Jason

    Feb 13, 2014

    As for the worries about the flippin` galvanized tin giving off toxic gas that is absolutely true….About once. What I’m saying is, the zinc treatment burns and gasses off on the first good, hot fire. So to be safe, I typically do 2 or 3 burns to be sure to get all that bad coating off before I consider it safe. And even then, I monitor the heating device carefully at first. After that, the former mailbox or galvanized pipe or whatever is just metal w/out any of the galvanizing left.
    I’ve been experimenting with several different DYI “point-source-heaters” for over 35 years.
    I’ve never burned a building down, never caught a rug, curtains, wall, floor or any other portion of a building on fire. Never “Gassed” anyone either. All you need is good, common sense, go slow, think about what you’re doing and always ere on the side of caution.
    Prepare for the worst possible scenario and always respect fire o go off half/cocked on a dispirited tirade is just the sound of a clanging cymbal. If you do not agree with the man’s way of doing things then don’t agree. But for the love of God, cease your judgmental ways.
    Here’s a little wisdom summed up a saying a few thousand years old:
    “The empty vessel always makes the most noise”.
    Peace, Brother

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  20. donna

    Mar 24, 2014

    would be perfect for small greenhouse

    Reply

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