I have a new project for this weekend. I want to make a woodgas backpacking stove. From what I've read, when built well & used correctly, they're an ideal piece of gear for the minimalist backpacker. You probably want to know what a woodgas stove is. Well "woodgas" is the hot gas given off by the burning wood. The stove itself, is a simple cylinder (soup can) in which the fuel (wood) is burned. The stove allows air flow (vents cut in the soup can) to facilitate the combustion. You rest your pot/kettle on top of the stove and voila, you're boiling water. Why the sudden interest in woodgas stoves? My recent call of the wild has me reading through all sorts of backpacking blogs lately (like this one, this one and this one). Another reason, is because it's just a really cool concept.
I should mention that I already have a perfectly operable backpacking stove; the MSR Pocket Rocket. It works great, weighs only 3oz, runs on isopropane fuel canisters and folds up into a nice tiny package. So why make a woodgas stove? The main benefit is the environmental aspect of it. Fuel (twigs/tinder) is free and abundant which means that I won't have to carry any fuel canisters with me. Other than that, I just want to make one because it sounds like a rewarding challenge. It's a cheap, fun project and I'll get to give it a test run in the park next to phattire headquarters this weekend.
On my lunch break today, I walked out on the production floor to find a piece of wire mesh for my stove. I soon found myself in the machine shop, dumpster diving for a scrap piece of heater cover material. We laser-cut 1/4" holes in 1/32" thick stainless steel sheet and brake-form it to create the heater covers installed in the PATH subway cars. The piece I found was rather large. Rather than spend time nibbling at it with a pair of tin-snips, I lopped it down to size with the hydraulic shear (KA-CHUNKA!). The rest of the stove will get built this weekend; I'll be sure to post some pictures.