How to Make a Stove Hobo Style!

Article Posted: August 29, 2013

Hobo Stove

A hobo stove, or essentially a stove made out of a large tin can, may be one of the most important survival tools you could ever own. While working off of a flat, metal surface over a fire pit can be easier, with a hobo stove, you can easily carry it with you. You'll also have a device you can cook on which is much less noticeable to others that may be around you. This makes cooking with a pot or a small skillet or boiling water to purify it or for tea or coffee a realistic prospect.

Making a hobo stove is easy to do, only requires a large tin can and something to open and cut it with. While having a proper can opener as well as a simple triangle tip can opener and tin cutters makes life much easier, a lineman's tool or Swiss Army Knife can do the job.

Here's how to make a hobo stove:

The Stove

#10 tin can (2 lb. coffee can or the largest cans you find on the bottom shelves in the canned good sections in grocery stores)

Coat hanger or bailing wire

2 metal screws or 2 bolts (optional)


Remove and set aside the lid of the can and empty the contents. Clean and rinse the can and lid thoroughly and remove any paper labels and glue on the outside.

Drop the lid inside the can then using the triangle tip can opener or can cutting tool on your knife to punch several triangle shaped smoke holes around the eventual top of the stove. Bend the tabs inside the can to hold the removed lid in place.

On what is now the bottom of the stove, cut a 4" square section from one side to use as a damper. After that's done, punch or drill 2 holes above and to each side of the opening you created with the square.

Using pliers or some other tool, wrap approximately 1/4" of the top of the "damper" around the coat hanger or bailing wire. Cut the ends of the wire to appropriate lengths and bend in to be inserted in the holes, or bent in a circle to be held in place with the bolts or metal screws.


It doesn't take a lot of wood or even very large pieces to use a hobo stove. Even pencil sized pieces of wood will create a fire hot enough to cook with since the tin transmits heat readily and evenly across the top (so make sure the area around the stove is clear of leaves, etc.). Also, the double thickness top holds heat and prevents the can from "burning out" quickly. You can use the damper to easily control the fire so you can easily have the heat you need to cook with.

A hobo stove, while a time-honored tradition initially created during the Great Depression, is not only a great tool to have while camping or backpacking, it can be an essential tool when survival is paramount. A great little stove like this enables you to have hot food, but it also allows you to cook in privacy, with little to no smoke and almost no light to alert unwelcome visitors.

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