Homestead-Hearth • View topic – A Better Barrel Wood Heater/Stove.
Well wanted a how to project to put on the web site and wanted to replace our worthless broke down wood heater. I researched several things ad decided on a barrel stove since it recycles old barrels, easy project for dumb people like me and I kind of like the raw looks. Now I did not want the usual shop heater design or the barrel on barrel design, I wanted a long burn time only because I hate getting up 3 or 4 times a night to load the fire box or have it die because someone over slept and now people are freezing to death. I wanted safety, and I needed to be able to cook on it.
I looked and looked and finally found a place that had a great idea with some written instructions that left a lot to be desired so I thought I would take a shot of documenting the build so maybe another person as dumb as me could do it.
Tools we used:
(1) Phillips screw driver
(2) 7/16 wrench
(3) caulk gun
(4) cordless drill
(5) large drill bit to drill pilot hole
(6) jigsaw with a metal cutting blade
(7) felt tip maker
(8) cloth measuring tape (your wife likely has one)
If you look at (fig1) you will see a seam line on the barrel. This seam line is used as a reference for measuring to be sure the legs are centered, to figure the center line for the burner plates and flange for the stack and to center the door in front.
If you look in (fig2.5) I measured the distance across the legs and market the center with a line. This was to assure the legs got centered on the seam line of the barrel.
Then in (fig2) we measured the legs distance across, divided that in half and then from the barrel seam line measured the number we got and marked it. We then placed the leg on the barrel making sure the line that we market the center of the leg with lined up with the barrel seam line. This made sure we had it centered, we then took our marker and while holding the leg, market the holes in the legs for drilling the bolt holes to hold the legs to the barrel.
In (fig3) and (fig4) you can see the legs attached to the barrel, we hit them with a little paint because we had to leave it out on the porch for a few days because we had other stuff to do and did not want it to rust.
In (fig5) you will see the cloth tape measure I snagged from my daughter to do this project. It allowed me to measure around the barrel to find my center line for the top parts like the 2 burners and the flange for the pipe. We measured from the seam line around the barrel on one end and market the center line number, the repeated the process for the other end, then found something straight and over 4 feet long to draw a straight line. This is now our center line for the top parts.
We then measured the burner plates and flange to find and mark their centers to line up with the center line we made on the barrel. We then set the parts on the barrel and again market all the holes that needed to be drilled and also marked the large holes we needed to cut (fig6).
Now under the burner plated it is an option to cut the large holes out or not. We elected to cut them out to get the greatest heat transfer and figured if for some reason smoke came out we would simply use our high temp gasket caulk (fig10) to seal the plates.
So on to (fig7) you will see the parts laid out on top of the barrel so we could mark all the holes to be drilled and draw out the larger holes that needed to be cut. (fig8) shows the dots they are holes to be drilled; you can see the center line and the large circles are holes to be cut.
In (fig8.5) you will see the holes are drilled out and a pilot hole used to let the jigsaw blade in to cut out the larger holes
(fig9) all the holes are drilled and cut on top, we are now ready to move to the best part, assembly of it all.
To assemble all the parts we used the high temp caulk (fig10) to make sure there is a solid seal. Now it is not 100% sure this step is required but we wanted pretty air tight so we did not want to take a chance of having to redo it. The tube was only $10.00 and I thought that was a great insurance policy. So with the parts caulked and dropped into place we begin the fun of tightening numerous bolts (fig11) That is my son in (fig11) I was the brains and money man, he was the worker.
You can see the 1st part all bolted down and the black sealant oozing out a bit in (fig12) in (fig13) you can see all the parts bolted down and the inside of the outer barrel. Yes we just left the metal pieces we cut out inside the barrel because it hurts nothing and we will never see them again when it’s done.
The next part is to prepare the inner barrel. Making sure the top is cut out, from the side that is cut out we cut a “V” that was 6” wide and 6” deep. This is for the smoke to roll through (fig14)
Now we went and bought 4 2’ bolts, 8 nuts and 8 washers to make a job easier on us. The inner barrel needs space between it and the bottom of the outer barrel so we made little legs with these parts to hold it for us. The directions we found online wanted you to try to pour sand while holding it and well for less than $5.00 we solved having to redo do this several times until we get it right.
You can see the inner barrel slid into the outer barrel in (fig14) and (fig15) and the space between the 2 barrels will be filled with sand a little over half way up. The space between the 2 barrels on top is the path the smoke will take, notice the “V” notch is at the front, this forces the wood to burn from front to back.
Now we need to work the front lid for the door. To find out where the door needed to be we put dabs of silicone around the inner barrel, pressed the lid of the outer barrel into place, made sure we slid the inner barrel forward against the lid by reaching through the flue hole and shoving it forward, then we removed the lid and it left little silicone dabs on the lid to show the circle of the inner barrel. We then placed the door assembly on the lid inside of our silicone dab inner circle. Like before we marked the holes that needed to be drilled, and marked the large area that needed to be cut out. We also marked the vents under the door for air intake keeping it low since we would be using a grate inside to hold the wood off the bottom for a better burn. See (fig 17)
After we drilled and cut out our lid for the door assembly we used our high temp caulk (fig10) again and also when we placed the lid on the barrel we used the high temp caulk there as well. We then put our barrel ring in place then tightened it up, laid the barrel on its lags, reached in and slide the inner barrel forward and added two 80 pound bags of sand to the back and sides of the 2 barrels inside. This makes sure the inner barrel can’t move, it acts as a thermal mass and keeps the barrels from burning through and out. This gives you a greater slow burning more controlled wood heater. (fig 18) and (fig19) show it burning in outside and (fig20) shows one of the burner lids off while it’s burning.
I would say we could have added more sand and will next spring when I paint it with high temp paint; I can say it took all night outside to cool off from a small burn in fire so we should easily get my goal of at least 6 hours in between loading.
So how much do I have in it? The barrel kit, the 2 burners, the 2 barrels, the extras bolts, nuts and washers, and the sand the total is $190.00.
I would suggest for the inner barrel perhaps an old hot water tank, easy to get for free, thicker metal and will serve the same purpose.
Here are some links to places to get the barrel kits and burner plates:
Th original idea for me to do this came from this site: