View Full Version : Wood-burning stove from propane tank...need plans.

01-31-2008, 01:53 PM
A fellow brought me a 250-gallon propane tank to make into a wood-burning stove for his shop. The tank has already been used for something else, so it's free of gas and the residual smell. It appears to be in good shape with some surface rust.

He hasn't given me any plans for the stove, and said to use my imagination. He did say he wants the tank to stand upright, though.

I'd really like to see some plans or detailed pictures of successful tank-type stoves before I begin, to save having to redo any part of the job later. I tried Google, but didn't find anything relevant. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


01-31-2008, 02:15 PM
I have seen one converted and have thought of making a small one for the shop.
The one I saw just had two doors cut in the side and refixed with hinges the upper door was larger and the lower just for axis for the ash pan. Didnt see the inside construction as I couldnt get near it for the heat it was giving off it worked fine though.
You would have to fit some cross bars to hold the wood above the ash pan and some bars accross the upper door to stop any wood falling out when the door was opened.
Also have to make a vent outlet in the top and perhaps some legs!!


01-31-2008, 02:22 PM
So what are the dimensions of this tank?
I'm doing a small one right now out of an abandonned 30 gallon air compressor tank. It is a stand up, trying to get the pot-belly stove affect but minus the inefficiancy of the originals. Obviously a work in progress.
I can shoot some pics and email them to you for some door and leg ideas, that's as far as I've gotten, as it's not on a top priority list right now.
But input is input.

01-31-2008, 02:40 PM
I have always liked the idea of passing some 3" pipes through the top half of the firebox welding them in solid front and back making a simple heat exchanger.To that I would then run a duct box down the backside of the heater to a squirrel cage blower and pull cold air off the floor blow it through the exchanger and out the front.I would also line the inside with firebrick so there is some mass to the fire box making it more efficient.

I have a wood furnace in the house that has a cleanout door and ash box in the bottom,that's a real nice feature to add too.

Heck if you wanted to get crazy you could even build in a water loop and pipe hot water to radiators in other areas of the shop:)

01-31-2008, 02:57 PM
Talking of heat exchangers I have a wood burner in my living room a scandinavian one - morso squirrel and you could get it fitted with a back boiler made of glass. I was a bit puzzled by the use of glass but if it is always filled with water and shielded from great lumps of wood thrown in on it. I never chose the back boiler one as I had already cast the hearth I wish now I had got it as the gas central heating packed up the other day!!

01-31-2008, 04:48 PM

01-31-2008, 06:59 PM
The tank is about two feet in diameter and about six feet long. It's a 250 gallon tank.

I'm thinking about cutting it into two pieces about 54" from one end, installing a plate in the bottom, and adding 12" legs for it to stand on. That would make it about 66" tall.

I like the idea of some ducts through the upper part. Even without a fan they should add to the heat output.

Two doors sounds good, one for wood and the other for cleaning out the ashes.

One thing I'm not clear about is some sort of smoke shelf or baffle near the top. What's the best way to do that? Or is it necessary?

How about dampers? I was thinking I'd put some near the bottom, maybe just below the grate for the wood. Do I need something on the flue as well?


Your Old Dog
01-31-2008, 07:22 PM
One thing I'm not clear about is some sort of smoke shelf or baffle near the top. What's the best way to do that? Or is it necessary?

How about dampers? I was thinking I'd put some near the bottom, maybe just below the grate for the wood. Do I need something on the flue as well?


In my old shop I had a homemade woodstove my dad picked up for me. It was made of 1/4 plate, had a large door on the front to feed the wood. Make sure you are able to just place the logs in so that you are looking at the ends of the logs as you open the door. It's much easier to manipulate and pack that way. The ash drawer was missing so I sealed it up with a plate with a couple row of holes and a slider in front of the holes. This allowed me to control the air getting into the furnace. I cleaned the ashes out by removing the great every month.

It is mandatory to have total control of the air input or a run-away fire can net you a chimney fire. I went to a fireplace store and bought the door sealing rope and installed it. The firebrick on this furnace was only on the floor and about 6 inches up the side. As for the baffle, it only has to slow down the smoke/heat a little my making it go around the baffle before reaching the chimney. With no baffle I had little heat. When I installed the baffle plate about half the diameter of the stove I all of a sudden had a great furnace.

I found out with each lighting you get the fire going real good and that cleans out the chimney and then you slow the burn rate down. Let it burn hot too long and you have the dreaded chimney fire. I had too big a chimney for my furnace, it was 8" and cooled off too quickly allowing cresote to form much faster in the top portions of the chimney. My next wood stove I used 6" stainless insulated pipe and after 4 winters of use, I kid you not, it was damn near clean when I removed it to sell. (I got propane ceiling mount shop stove now!)

Just remember, if you get too greedy and want to keep all the heat in the shop and not let enough go up the chimney then the system will soot up pretty quick. Same thing happens if you are too stingy with letting enough air in so the fire will burn longer overnight.

02-01-2008, 02:44 AM

02-01-2008, 04:52 AM
I turned an old water tank into a woodstove. I jigsawed the single door out, then fitted a piano hinge and a latch of sorts. The latch would hold the door completely shut, or it could hold it open a small amount without being free. That way it couldn't blow open on its own.

Building one again I would add an outside air inlet pipe with a butterfly valve to control the air. My thinking is that air should enter from a few points surrounding the 'ash pit', so that as much material gets burnt as possible. What would probably work is a round grid of angle iron or whatnot such that firebricks could be placed in a pattern on this grid, with air gaps between them. This grid would be removable to access the bottom for cleaning, and outside air would filter up through the gaps to feed the fire.The grid would have to fit through the door also :)

It might be good to have a baffle that sits at an angle, and just rests on a few points within the tank. This way creosote will tend to run off the baffle into the fire, and the baffle can be easily lifted and brought out for cleaning. Where the stovepipe enters the tank, the welded-in sleeve should extend a bit into the tank so creosote doesn't tend to run down the sides of the tank, especially above the door.

I'd be a bit leery of having a heat exchanger in there because as you draw heat from it by blowing air through it, it will cool and collect creosote. It would be good if you could somehow make this removable as well. Here's an idea, maybe hairbrained, but here goes- four short sections of pipe are welded into the bottom of the tank, oriented vertically, and near the outside wall of the tank. The two rear pipes are fed from a fan drawing room air from near the floor. The two front pipes are where hot air is going to come out, so whatever you do to direct the air is up to you. Inside the tank, two upside down U shaped tubes can be dropped into these welded-in pipes, and maybe there's a flange welded on to each leg of the U so it can only go in so far. The U's are two different heights, and both are bent over at the top, where a baffle plate is welded on. You put the taller one inside the tank, loose, then put the shorter one in, placing it into its tubes, then place the taller one into it's tubes. You now have two slanted baffles which double as heat exchangers, and both are removable. Neither one actually touches the sides of the tank, so no creosote can run down the walls, but the heat from the fire (and the smoke) is directed to flow around a bit before it goes up the stack. The firebrick grid fits within the array of pipes at the bottom, and you could easily have some supports welded to these heat exchanger tubes to carry a grate that you would build the fire on. The walls of the tank stay free of internal weldements that could interfere with cleaning or fire tending.

Just an idea at 2:00 am, but I can see it working well enough.

02-01-2008, 05:45 AM
This is the shop stove at the old farmstead of my wife's uncles in Alberta. It has been in use for as long as I have known her, 37 years.


02-01-2008, 08:31 PM
I've found that with a woodstove, you do NOT want a grate, best to have an area for the ashes to build up and just have the fire burning on a pile of ashes. Use a rake to pull the coals up when firing, especially in the morning. If you have a grate, a lot of unburned wood/coals will fall through.

Of course, the draft should be controlled by a computer. :-)


I heated my shop with this for about 15 years, and wish it was back. May reinstall it yet.