Rustic Cyberpunk

Coffee & Cabins

Cabin Life: The Wood Stove

5 min read

Last year, I was taking time off in the afternoons and evenings to work on the wood stove design. I've finished the first iteration and uploaded it to Github as part of my ongoing Cabin Life project.

stove front view
Front profile view of the wood stove showing the door and interior fire grate

The overall stove size is 24" (~61cm) wide, 20" (~51cm) high to the cooktop, and about 14" (~36cm) deep including the stovepipe flue attachment, 4" (~10cm) in diameter, at the rear. This is the largest volume I'm comfortable utilizing for the stove alone in my cabin. Github now has 3D view rendering of .STL files so it should be easier to visualize the individual components. The final dimensions may change slighlty as I assemble the components.

I opted to design the entire main structure in 1/4" steel plate with the top cooking surface in 1/2" plate. I feel the thicker top plate should resist buclking under the heat and retain a more even temperature for consistent cooking.

I looked at a myriad of other stoves of similar size and came to the realization that they use a lot of valuable internal volume to enhance the fire display through the front glass. That's great for appearences, but I'm looking at this from a more utilitarian and practical standpoint. I may add a glass front at a future date for aesthetics and lighting, but this isn't a priority. It's also an additional expense that I can't afford in an experimental prototype.

side view
Side door view with the door hinge.
rear view
The top surface is as flat as possible to maximize cooking area without interfering with the rear flue pipe, when installed

The choices I've made best reflect the anticipated heating and cooking needs of my cabin life, once I've established a foothold. This stove is intended for the main living cabin where I'll spend most of my time. There are neccessary alterations, I'm sure, but this is reasonably close to the final iteration of my stove.

damper mechanism
This assembly controls both primary and secondary air flow on either side of the stove with a single lever each. The half-circle offset makes it more inclined to close than remain open, which adds to the stove's safety. The friction between the plates is what allows it to remain open.
damper installed
Damper mechanism installed
air inlet cutouts
Cutouts for the air on either side mirror each other

The design is intended to minimize the time spent with the door open when the fire is being started. Once the flue is warm and the dampers are lowered, the fire should last a good while. The embers should also be warm enough in the morning that adding a fresh log would start the fire again without adding more kindling.

door handle
A single piece of bent steel rod with a spiral wire handle to reduce heat transfer to the hand

A lot of stoves also use a series of pipes with drilled holes to heat and introduce air for secondary combustion, but I'm not sure if I'll follow something similar. I thought this can be done simpler with just a horizontal channel, but until I make the prototype and fire it up, there's no way to make sure this was a good call. For now, I'd like to try the "slot" arrangement in the prototype to see if the burn characteristics are acceptable as-is.

The stove promotes internal circulation where the primary air is aimed down from the top of the fire, and the secondary air is aimed upward from behind the main combustion. This should create a horizontal vortex which should aid in drawing out the gases out of the rear flue. It's a downdraft type with the exhaust products exiting lower than the combustion point. I haven't seen it being used as often, but I think it should work in this arrangement.

grate placement
Location of the fire grate within the stove in relation to the flue and front door
air baffle and secondary inlet
Location of the rear baffle and secondary air inlet in relation to the front door and flue
primary and secondary air
Primary and secondary air intake cutouts in relation to the front and rear baffles

I opted not to have a separate ash tray. In my experience with wood stoves, I've found these to be cumbersome and messy to operate, especially in smaller stoves, while introducing an additional point of failiure. The steel grate should provide adequate airflow underneath the fire, while allowing enough ash to accumulate and protect the bottom surface. Every day, I can scoop out some of the excess ash. This will be part of my morning routine. The grate is a tad overbuilt for its purpose, but this is a simple matter to rectify during actual construction. I may end up increasing its height to give additional clearence below for better airflow

Some of the design choices stem from reducing the cumbersome, tiny log sizes needed in other, similarly sized, wood stoves. I dislike the idea of waking up at 4AM just to stoke the fire because the stove couldn't handle typically larger logs which burn longer and fit just fine in bigger stoves. I also dislike having to further process wood once they're of manageable size to bring into the cabin. The stove is designed to handle full 16" logs. I feel this is a good compromise between a large-enough fire to cook and stay warm, and a long-burning one.

The side air inlets also allow me to reduce the distance to combustibles. A smaller cabin won't have the luxury of extra side space and the addition of extra heat shielding will also detract from the aesthetics of the interior. The inlets, in effect, add side heat-shielding. I want to make this space-efficient while remaining safe.

exploded parts view
All of the components of the stove in relation to each other in exploded view

My welding skills have improved somewhat, but I haven't tested them in practical use. That goal seems unrealistic in the midst of this panedmic, but I hope to get in some more stick time and collect resources for tests once the fog of war has lifted.

I'm considering whether I should build more of these if the design proves to be effective. Although I'm not nearly as familiar with welding as I am with carpentry, I'm sure I can practice enough to turn making stoves into an additional source of income. Even if that isn't viable, it's good to have a few spares in case I'll need to give them away during emergencies. Being able to cook and stay warm with availble natural materials is a good fallback option either way.

Winter is only a few months away.