VITA TECHNICAL BULLETIN
Double-Drum Sawdust Stove
JEFFREY L. WARTLUFT
describes an inexpensive home-made stove for burning loose
Constructed from empty oil drums, the stove
can heat a room 20
for 6 to 8 hours without tending.
Wartluft is a VITA Volunteer who is a forest products technologist
United States Forest Service. While
working on the design for the
stove, he researched old VITA plans from Afghanistan and compared
stoves he had seen while in Chile as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
been published as Forest Service Research Note NE-208, 1975,
this bulletin was taken.
testing results, comments, suggestions and requests for further
VITA Publications Service
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VITA TECHNICAL BULLETINS
Technical Bulletin is one of a series of
that offer do-it-yourself technology
on a wide variety of subjects.
Bulletins are idea generators, intended
not so much
to provide a definitive answer as to
user's thinking and planning. Premises
are sound and
testing results are provided, if
Users of the
information are asked to send us their
and comments based on their experiences.
incorporated into subsequent
thus providing additional guidelines for
and use in a greater variety of conditions.
In the United
States, sawdust traditionally has been burned in large furnaces
industrial heating, in smaller furnaces for home heating, and in fireplaces
in the form
of compressed logs. In other parts of
the world, loose sawdust has
for years in inexpensive double-drum stoves.
These stoves are well
heating cabins or workshop areas.
double-drum sawdust stove has other advantages.
It is inexpensive to
uses recycled components; it burns inexpensive fuel; and it heats
a long time
with minimum tending.
these stoves heating homes in Chile and reviewing plans(1) for the
types used in
Afghanistan and England, I fabricated an experimental stove
(Figure 1) at
the Forest Products Marketing Laboratory in Princeton, West
Then I learned how to use the stove by
firing it with several kinds
having different moisture contents.
Waste as a Fuel,
11 pp. 1956.
experimental double-drum stove was made from a 55-gallon steel drum and a
drum, plus about $25 worth of other materials, including stovepipe.
for fabrication are tin snips, hammer and anvil, rivet tool, drill
metal-cutting saber saw, and equipment for brazing with bronze.
(Figure 2) consists of two drums, one inside the other.
the outer barrel supports the inner barrel.
A drawer opening
false floor provides draft, and the drawer catches dropping ashes,
holes in the
of the false
and the inner
up to the
fitting lid covers the outer barrel.
Under this lid are about
3 inches of
clearance to the top of the inner barrel.
Two 6-inch diameter
exit from the outer barrel, allowing smoke to exhaust.
supported by three legs to keep excess heat from the floor and
floor and drawer were fashioned from 20-gage sheet metal.
curved front were fastened with rivets.
The false floor rests on
1/2-inch steel rods, which were run through holes on opposite
sides of the
outer barrel, and were brazed to it.
of the lid and one on the drawer were made of 1/2-inch steel
rod, bent to
shape, and attached by brazing.
joints of stovepipe were brazed to the outer barrel, one near the
top of the
stove and the other directly beneath it.
These two horizontal
into a common vertical pipe. The upper
horizontal pipe is
fitted with a
damper. The vertical pipe is fitted
with elbows, straight
or ceiling thimble, and a vent cap to suit the individual
larger stoves can be fabricated with heavy-gage sheet metal
gage). The relative sizes of the
components should be roughly
to the dimensions of our experimental stove.
should be placed at least 24 inches away from any combustible
wall or floor
material.(2) It should be set on a
fireproof floor pad that
least 18 inches in front of the drawer opening.
A wall thimble
wall pipe should be used where the pipe goes through the wall or
roof. The flue pipe should not have
long horizontal sections,
as they favor
condensation of flue gas. The
condensates leak at the joints
Coal and Wood Stoves Safely. National
Fire Protection Association
HS-8. 12 p. Boston. 1974.
to sawdust, bark residue from sawmills and planer shavings from
can be burned in the stove. The
limiting factor for fuels is
moisture content. Though fuel having
more than 100 percent moisture
(oven-dry basis)(3) will burn, most of the heat is used in evaporating
moisture. Fuel below 60 percent
moisture contents works well. Fresh
shavings, and bark typically have moisture contents ranging from 50
percent. The best source of fuel is
sawdust or shavings from dried
(3) The water
in the material weighs as much as the dry material itself.
Fuel can be
stored in a bin or in plastic garbage bags.
If a bin is used,
barrel is either removed and taken to the bin for filling, or a
is used to transfer the fuel from bin to stove.
How to Use
wooden mold, 3 feet long, tapering from 5 inches to 2 7/8 inches, is
used to shape
the fuel charge.
To fill the
stove, place the small end of the wooden mold in the hole at the
bottom of the
inner barrel. Then tamp sawdust or bark
around it until the
is full. Wet fuel should not be tamped
as much as dry fuel.
remove the mold, leaving a vertical hole in the center of the fuel
lighting the fire, open the drawer and damper.
Then crumple waste
it down the hole in the fuel, and place the lid on the outer
Place additional crumpled paper in the
drawer and light it; move
the drawer in
so the flames will ignite the paper in the hole.
Once the fuel
is burning, adjust the drawer and damper to obtain the desirable
burning and output of heat. Closing the
damper forces hot air
lower in the stove before leaving through the bottom stovepipe.
heat is transferred to the room and less is lost through the pipe.
Do not open the lid while the fuel is burning.
Oxygen thus mixed
with flammable gases can cause a
sawdust and a good draft, one charge of this stove can heat a room
square for 6 to 8 hours with no tending.
Wetter fuel heats less but
longer. During the first 2 hours of
burning, there is enough heat at
the center of
the lid to boil water or cook with. As
the heat on
the lid is distributed more toward the rim.
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