Years ago when I was a Boy Scout, I had a scoutmaster that had a cool little wood burning stove that he would use on occasion at different camping events. The cool thing about this stove is that it folds up completely flat, taking up almost no room in a pack, which if you have ever done much backpacking, you know that is a good thing.
It was one of those things that would pop into my head every now and again when thinking about backwoods stoves, and finally a year or two ago I decided to try and copy it. Going off memory, and the help of my dad we grabbed some stainless steel, and went to work.
Basically, this stove uses 4 pieces of steel that all interlock together creating a place to start a small fire, and a nice level place to rest a pot. I like to pile the stove full of pine cones, and set them on fire. Then it’s as simple as adding a pot filled with whatever you want to cook. If the fire dies down, you can just remove the pot, and toss in another handful of pine cones, and you are good to go.
The only thing to be aware of when burning pine cones, is that they are filled with a lot of pine pitch which helps them to burn so well, but at the same time creates a lot of soot on the sides of the stove, and the sides/bottom of your pot. Smearing a little dish soap on the outside of the pot before cooking will make cleaning it up much easier.
I drilled large holes near the bottom of two opposite sides, and smaller holes near the top of the other sides. This creates a chimney effect, allowing the fire to draw in oxygen from the bottom, and exhaust out the top.
We made this particular stove out of some fairly heavy stainless, so it weighs a good amount for what it is. My next one, I will try some lighter steel to see if I can shave some weight while keeping the function of the stove. Even being made of stainless, it still weighs less than a conventional stove where you have to carry the stove, fuel, etc, and this thing packs up much smaller than a regular stove.
If you have access to a bandsaw that will cut metal, you shouldn’t have much trouble making one of these. It could be done with a hacksaw too, but I think that would be a lot of work. We actually used a wood cutting bandsaw with a dull blade, and it cut the stainless very well, so that is an option as well.
The biggest tip I can give you if you want to make one of these, is to make sure all for sides are exactly the same size. Cut them out, and clamp them all together to get them as close as possible. If any of the sides are bigger than the rest, your stove will not sit level.