Build a Cheap and Easy Stove-Top Oven

Use a 5-gallon shortening can and bat insulation to fashion a small box oven for the top of a wood stove.

| September/October 1976

When we first moved to our ranch out here in Now Mexico, we were so poor that we couldn't even afford a stove with an oven. Oh, we had a stove all right ... a good old upright, wood-burning model. And, with a roaring fire inside, its top was fine for frying and great for boiling ... anything that could be fried or boiled. But for baking breed, the Ashley was zilch. And after more than a year of nothing but skillet-broad, I finally got smart.

"After all," I asked myself one day, "what is an oven anyway but an insulated container in which air can be heated?"

"Why, nothing." I answered. "in fact, if you take away such technological frills as automatic buzzers, built-in thermometers, and self-cleaning cycles . . . that's all that it is!"

Once I found that I agreed on the matter, the rest was easy. So easy that, an hour later, I'd already built and was ready to test our now oven. Not a very fancy one, to be sure ... but an oven nevertheless. And what it lacks in "pretty", it more than makes up in economy (since about the only money I spent while fabricating our admittedly homely "baking box" was for the few cents' worth of gasoline I used while scrounging up the little beauty's materials).

The oven's body is a five-gallon shortening can, which we picked up free at a friendly hamburger stand. I sawed off one end of the container with a hacksaw, then reattached it with a couple of spring hinges and a few sheet metal screws. Voila! The spring-loaded hinges always close the door automatically ... thereby eliminating the need for even the simplest latch.

I next drove over to the county dump and, after just a few minutes of scrounging, found exactly what I needed to insulate the bake box: a large sheet of one-inch-thick fiberglass, complete with fail facing land absolutely free for the taking).

Keith Levy
8/16/2008 7:43:15 PM

The Stove-top Oven... Hi there, an interesting article and a conclusion I had come to myself... I live in a Housebus here in New Zealand and have a gorgeous Little Cracker free standing fireplace and also a gas burner... Do tell, is your oven steel, and if so how thick is the metal? Also, call me silly if you like but is the insulation on the inside or the outside? Greetings from Down-Under... Keith

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