The Camp Cook Stove
Two years ago I decided to make a wood cook stove. I have had the opportunity to live for many years in remote areas where wood was the only fuel available for heating and cooking. As a result of this experience with many types of wood heaters and wood ovens, I had some firm design criteria in mind. The most practical and durable type of construction in my opinion is welded steel.
The first item of design consideration is the fire box. It had to be big-big enough for a two foot log. Actually the fire box came out to two foot square or eight square feet. Compare that to your current stove. Also, I have never been a believer in the modern tendency to have a small fire box, and then make it even smaller by filling it with firebrick. The firebrick eventually always cracks, and can be very difficult to replace. I did, however, put a second layer of steel with a small gap around the sides and bottom of the fire box.
Now about the oven. It always seemed to me to be a losing battle to put the oven on the side of the fire box. It is virtually impossible to get the heat evenly distributed in such a lop-sided arrangement. No, I thought to myself, heat rises naturally, so why not put the oven on top of the fire box. To keep the bottom of pizzas or breads from burning, I put three layers of steel between the fire and the oven contents.
Also, I wanted a large oven. Mine is 12 inches high by 20 inches wide by 35 inches long. Big enough for 12 loaves of bread, 4 chickens or 6 large pizzas. In addition, the oven with my design is at a convenient working height; you don't have to be constantly bending over to check it. Further, I made two doors so items can be accessed from either side. As the stove was also designed to heat a large house, when the oven is not in use, the two large oven doors can be left open to help circulate the heat.
Again, in the attempt to get away from bending and perhaps help with efficiency, there is one air controlled spinning knob high on the stove with two down draft pipes running to the bottom interior of the fire box. Although the stove will easily hold a fire overnight, I am not convinced this down-draft system is worth all the extra work. The next stove might have a simple spin control in the fire box door.
A stove chimney must be regularly cleaned to be safe, so there is a screw fastened plate on the bottom of the stove pipe box to facilitate cleaning.
So, how does it work? Overall, I would say very well. I had it installed for one season in a large shop and it is presently working as an outside oven. It takes about half an hour to bring up to a baking temperature of between 300° - 400°. It cooks much faster than an electric or gas oven, so you must frequently check your items. There is a thermometer on both oven doors to keep you posted on the temperature.
I think my design projections were met. It will heat a large house and do all the baking for a large family's meals. Plus, the top surface is still hot enough to fry on. The stove is large enough for a small commercial operation, or it would be a simple matter to make an even larger one. And the result always has that special wood-fired taste simply unobtainable with any other type of stove.
Mike Camp designs sells the plans for these unique stoves. Call to inquire.