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An outdoor wood stove is one way to heat a home. This solution is often used in rural areas where firewood, the fuel source, is readily available. Making an outdoor wood stove is an extensive DIY project, but if you are familiar with heating systems, distributors and wood stove projects, it might be for you.

An outdoor wood stove is a bit different from the indoor variety, however. Make sure you know what you’re doing, otherwise a situation similar to the photo above may not be as unlikely as you think.

Building the Wood Stove for Heat

The first step in installing a home outdoor wood stove, also called an outdoor furnace, is to build the fire box. The firebox is the area where the wood is burned, and it is created from plate steel–usually mild steel because it handles heat well. The shape and size of your outdoor wood stove or furnace will be determined by your own needs. Weld the steel plates together to form your box using a MIG welder with filler bars.

A fire box has an opening where wood is loaded inside. This must be accessible from the outside and is often part of the shed where the firebox is housed. These doors are built in several ways. One way is to cut a small slot large enough for a few pieces of wood in the side of the firebox. Cut a matching door panel and attach it with a hinge to the firebox.

Or a sliding door built using a plate of metal can cover the opening. Metal rails are welded on the top and bottom edges of the door opening, on which the door will slide back and forth. This door should be on the outside so it does not become clogged with soot.

A 3-inch steel pipe installed on the top of the outdoor wood stove fire box is used for a chimney.

Building the Shed for the Wood

This entire unit must be housed in a shed made of corrugated sheet metal and cinder blocks. This protects the fire box from the elements and insulates the wood stove so no heat is lost outside.

An outdoor wood stove shed is typically about 8 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide, just large enough to encase the stove with a layer or two of insulating, fireproof material like brick or ceramic blocks. An access door is needed to reach the stove. This is built with a solid panel and hinge.

The fire box is set inside on a foundation of poured concrete or cinder blocks. Insulate the shed with fiberglass or use ceramic bricks to line the outside of the fire box for safety. The shed must have a door to access the furnace and a hole for the chimney as well.

Water Jackets for Added Heat with a Wood Stove

The most complicated part of the outdoor wood stove design is the water jacket. This is a system of pipes that surrounds the firebox. Water is fed through the pipes using a pump system. The heat is generated from the water jacket itself. This is necessary to create any kind of heat, the steam from the water jacket is what actually heats your home.

There are many uses for an outdoor wood stove or heating furnace, and each affects how you will design the water jacket. If you are using the furnace to heat water, the system must be hooked up to your home plumbing system. A pipe from the outdoor furnace to your home delivers the hot water. If you are using the furnace for heat, a transfer unit and blower carries the heat into your home. In both cases, the water is sent through an underground heat pipe that is insulated by the soil.