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Gaines Crafters rock the Hobo Stove

Today, my daughter, wife and I made a hobo stove out an old coffee can.

First step was to locate an empty coffee can.  I discovered one in my basement the previous owners had forgotten.  I cleaned it out, shaking dead spiders from my hands and ripping old cobwebs off of my arms, then set the can aside.

I gathered my tools and my wits and set to work.

Tools:  Drill, bit, screwdriver, chunk of wood, can opener, almost dead battery, tin snips and the can.

I put the chunk of wood inside the can, leaving a bit out for me to kneel on (and cramp my leg and bruise my knee).

I started making holes in the can, near the top/bottom every few inches apart.  I was lucky not to drill right into my leg (I’m sorta clumsy).  With only about 3 holes to go, the drill started protesting and I heard the motor getting weaker.  Figured I’d forget to charge the battery, but oh well.  I coaxed the final 3 holes out of the machine and then it was time for the next step.

I wanted to let my little assistant carry the can back inside, but she’s more prone to tripping than I am and it had sharp metal on the inside so I settled for letting her carry the hammer I didn’t use.

I used the screwdriver to punch the holes a little wider, they were a little thin for air holes.

Next I grabbed the snips and set the can down on the floor.  The initial cut was rough and the snips slipped off once and almost de-manned me, but I dodged well enough.

I cut the door in the bottom/top of the can for a wood hole.

Almost done.

I took the can opener and cut open the bottom/top of the can.

That was it.  The only clean-up was to pound in the rough edge from the wood hole and it’s ready for use.

We were all ready for the lighting and hopeful boiling of water to show that it works, and we hit a snag.  The camera has ran away.

Tools for lighting: stove, firestarter, knife for shaving kindling, and a lighter because I lost my flint.

After my wife’s phone charged enough we went outside to get started.

I shaved some kindling off of some logs I had in the garage and settled that under the stove.


Next up was my daughter’s big moment.  She pulled out a piece of paper from the firestarter and put in at the front of the wood hole.  This of course took a few tries and a stern voice since she’s so young and tries her best to listen but her body doesn’t always do what her brain tells it to yet.


We finally got it all set to light, and I hit the clicker on the lighter wand.  It caught pretty quickly, and we had flames very fast.  So fast I singed some of my hand hair arranging things properly.


The smoke was intense and fast, I inhaled more than my share today, or did I?

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We put a pot of water on the stove to see if we could get it boiling and use it for smoke tea or something.  The water got hot, but the oxygen holes just weren’t big enough yet.  So, I poured the water on the flames and let it all calm down.


We will start again tomorrow, and maybe with bigger oxygen holes, and maybe a grill for the top, we can use it to cook on.

It was fun for all involved, and my daughter got a HUGE kick out of using the firestarters we’d been making.

Until next time, the Gaines Crafters are out.

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