Once you have your circle cut out, clean it up and weld it to the top of the patio heater, making sure your grate is in the bottom first.
Make a ring out of a 2″ wide piece of scrap, just big enough for your patio heater pipe to fit into. Cut a corresponding hole in the top of the patio heater opposite the door, and weld the ring in place. If you don’t have a hole saw the right size, just use the biggest one you’ve got, and grind out the difference.
I didn’t have any grinding wheels small enough to fit in the hole of the patio heater, so I sandwiched together a few of the cutoff wheel stubs left over from cutting up the bottle, as you can see here.
Make the lid: Make another stovepipe ring, this one about 4″ tall, and fit it into the dome lid, just like you did for the stovetop. It will be a little harder of course, due to the curvature of the dome, but I found that 2 offset hole saw holes got it pretty close and the same grinder ploy worked out well.
The patio heater thermometer is optional, but I find it very handy for making a good pizza. Mine was the garden variety than hangs from a rack in your home oven. I cut off the sheet metal housing, drilled a hole in the top of the dome lid, and glued it in place with some exhaust cement.
For the handle of the patio heater, I used a section of an old shopping trolley which I rolled up and welded on. It actually dissipates heat quite well. I’ve discovered that it’s not necessary and it can be touched even when the thermometer is reading 500°F+.
Handle the jandal: For portability, I added some handles made out of some 4″ tall sections of scrap. Bend them into a “C” shape as shown…
cut halfway down at the corners, and roll the middle section over using the same hammer trick as you did for the flue. Round off the corners, weld them to the sides, and you’ve got it handled.
For stability, I also put the foot ring back on the bottom by welding some tabs between it and the original top of the bottle, as you can see here.
Test fire: Before painting the stove I thought it might be a good idea to bake the old paint off. It didn’t work entirely, but did make it considerably easier to remove with a wire wheel. You’ll notice it’s a bit darker in the 2nd photo as the stove begins to heat up.
Also pay attention to how the door and flue operate when hot compared to cold. I noticed they were a bit tighter and I had to file a bit off of the door latch.
Painting and finishing: Once you’ve got everything how you want it, give it a good dose of BBQ & Stove paint. Once it’s dry, fire it up again before you cook anything in it, to cure the paint.
Cooking: Once you’re ready to cook, fit your pizza stone to the top. Mine had conveniently broken with a nice chunk missing where the hole comes up out of the fire pot. But then the lid wouldn’t close quite, so I had to fine tune it a little. I would recommend investing in a ceramic cutting wheel for your angle grinder if your stone needs any fine tuning. I thought I could do it with a few judicious blows of a rock chisel, but in fact all I accomplished was shattering what was left of my precious pizza stone into half a dozen more pieces. No worries, a bit of exhaust cement and it was as good as new.
In order to regulate the temperature for cooking, first build a good hot fire in the stove, and let it burn down a bit, you don’t want any flames shooting up into the upper compartment. The smoke imparts itself to the pizza quite well, so it’s best to use some nice hardwood for the fire. I’ve used both Macrocarpa and Eucalyptus Gum wood so far, and they both work great. Whatever you do, never burn any pressure treated lumber, especially if you’re cooking over it.
Start out by positioning the lid over the pizza stone so that the stove pipe is 180º from the hole in the firepot. Now adjust the flue to get the temperature somewhere between 400 – 500°F. If it goes over that and you’re not a fan of crispy pizza, close the flue down, and if that doesn’t do the trick, rotate the lid so that the smoke egress is closer to the point of ingress, and the temperature should drop low enough. You’ll get a knack for it, I wound my thermometer all the way around back to 0°F (~750°F) before I had it figured out.
When the temperature is right, get the pizza on the peel with plenty of cornmeal, open the lid, and slide it right onto the pizza stone. Give it about 5 minutes, more or less depending on your taste.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I reckon that this would also work well as a meat smoker with a rack in place of the stone. If you build one, try it out and let me know how it goes 😉
Thanks to Andrew Spencer for this great project!