How to Make Your Own Stovepipe Adapter

Make your own stovepipe adapter for your wood stove, includes step-by-step instructions on building an adapter and how to install a damper.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
January/February 1978
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Learn how to make your own stovepipe adapter for your wood stove.
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Learn how to make your own stovepipe adapter for your wood stove using these helpful tips.

How to Make Your Own Stovepipe Adapter

The chances are good — if you become a real dyed-in-the-wool wood burner — that you'll eventually run across a situation in which you'll need to make a stovepipe adapter. We generally think of using adapters to connect one pipe to another of a different diameter, but — in practice — I've more often made adapters to satisfy my insistence that the crimped end of the stovepipe be placed down so that sooty condensate won't dribble out at every junction. In other words, I have often had to build a special adapter just to connect a six-inch stovepipe to a six-inch collar.

My neighbor recently encountered a situation that provides a good example. His range had a seven-inch stovepipe collar, sized for use with the crimped end up (the messy way), and his roof jack was sized for six-inch pipe. Thus, he had two problems: first, to reduce the pipe from seven to six inches, and second, to invert the whole thing so it wouldn't drip.

He bought a commercial adapter, and was able to put the stove into service. But since the adapter was also crimped the wrong way, so much condensate dribbled out of the joints in the pipe that a tarry deposit began to build up at the base of the pipe. It looked bad, smelled worse, and even caught fire a few times.

Build-up of creosote at the base of my neighbor's stovepipe, due to the use of an adapter employing the crimped end up. This homemade yet dripless adapter, fashioned by the author from a joint of eight-inch pipe, simultaneously inverts the stovepipe and reduces it from seven to just six inches.

Next he pounded the crimps out of the adapter and inverted the pipe. Now the pipe didn't streak, but all of the creosote leaked out where the adapter joined the stove. In his next attempt to solve the problem, he slit the adapter to try to make it fit inside the stovepipe collar, but that didn't work either.

Finally we made a proper adapter that fitted tightly inside the collar (preventing dripping) and that simultaneously reduced the pipe from seven to six inches. This type of adapter is easy to make with only a few simple tools:

1 . Obtain a piece of heavy-gauge commercial stovepipe, preferably galvanized, in a diameter one inch larger than the larger of the two elements to be connected.

2. Cut off the self-locking seam. The easiest way to do this without distorting the metal is to use a Bernz-cutter, available at most hard. ware stores (Note: The little turned flap on the other edge of the pipe need not be removed, since it will be on the inside of the adapter.)

3. Form the uncrimped end of the adapter pipe around the crimped end of the next pipe up, squeeze it down tightly, and mark at the overlapping edge with a felt-tipped pen. Remove the adapter from the form, match up the mark, and clamp securely.

4. Form the crimped end into a circle and stick it into its receiver (either the stovepipe collar or the uncrimped end of the next pipe down, as the case may be). You will find it awkward to expand the pipe all the way so that the fit is snug — since it is hard to get a grip — but do the best you can and then mark the position. Remove the pipe, match up the mark again, and then allow the pipe to expand just enough to guarantee a snug fit. Clamp securely and drill a hole just above the crimping for the first rivet (or sheet-metal screw). Drive the rivet and unclamp the crimped end of the pipe.

5. Test the fit. If your estimate was correct, the fit will be just right, and you can go on to the next step. But don't feel bad if you have to remove the fastener, re estimate, clamp, drill, fasten, and check again . . . usually it comes out right the second time. (The original hole will be blocked off, since the two sides of the seam will have shifted.)

6. Mark for the other rivets. Make the last mark two inches from the uncrimped end, to give clearance for the crimping on the adjoining pipe. The fasteners need not be spaced any closer than three inches.

7. Install a rivet next to the first one. Avoid the temptation to place the second rivet at the uncrimped end of the pipe to replace the clamp, because the finished adapter will not be lined up the same way it is at this stage. Remove the clamp at the uncrimped end of the pipe, realign the mark, and reclamp.

8. Install the third rivet next to the second one. Now you can do without the clamp at the far end of the pipe. Continue riveting in the same direction until all the rivets are in place. You'll notice that one edge of the seam protrudes farther at the end of the stovepipe than the other one does. This is because the adapter has a slightly conical shape. If you had started out by riveting both ends, the extra metal would now be distributed along the length of the pipe, and the seam would be puckered.

9. Finally, dress off the protruding edge at the uncrimped end of the adapter. Again, the Bernz-cutter is the handiest tool to use. Touch up the last rough edges with a file, and your dripless adapter Is ready to install.

It is worth noting that makeshift adapters can also be fashioned from tin cans. A No. 10 can, for example, fits six-inch stovepipe perfectly, and a hole can be cut in the closed end to receive five- or four-inch pipe.

A four-pound lard can makes a nice adapter for joining six- and five-inch pipes. None of these adapters is really leakproof, but then, neither are most of the ones that are found on the shelves in the hard

How to Install a Stovepipe Damper

1. Select a damper that matches the stovepipe in size. (It will be somewhat smaller in diameter than the pipe.) Remove the disk from the shaft, noting how the two pieces are held together by the tension of a spring. (Leave the spring on the shaft.)

2. Mark two holes diametrically opposite one another on the stovepipe, about four or five inches from the upper end.

3. Punch the holes lightly. (A 2 by 4 or small log makes a handy anvil.)

4. Drill the holes, using a bit smaller than the diameter of the damper shaft. (If you have no drill, punch through the metal with a nail.)

5. Enlarge the holes one at a time, using the damper shaft as an awl. This will ensure the tight fit necessary to prevent smoke from leaking into the room when the damper is closed.

6. Insert the shaft through one of the holes. Place the disk inside the pipe and thread it onto the shaft. Push the shaft through the bearing holes of the disk and on out the other hole in the pipe. This will require a bit of twisting back and forth.

7. When the shaft is all the way through the pipe and the crank is lined up with the receiver cup in the damper plate, twist until the crank rests in the cup. Release the shaft. The spring holds it all in place.


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