Make and Sell Fireplace Bellows as a Home Business

Learn how to make fireplace bellows using (mostly) scrap materials and basic shop skills, and then turn a profit.

| September/October 1983

Noticing that the coals in the woodstove were ash gray, I reached for my trusty bellows. After just two strokes of the handcrafted puffer, the embers glowed a cheerful red. And—warmed by the revived fire—I resumed totaling up the profits of my homestead bellowsmaking enterprise, a business that's contributed both physically and monetarily to my comfort.

Now I'll admit I'm pretty danged enthusiastic about my little cottage industry, but I'm not at all miserly about it. In fact, I'm here to tell you that anyone who delights in the feel of genuine wood and leather, enjoys building practical tools that also please the eye, and doesn't mind making extra money while indulging in these inclinations is a prime candidate for a successful home business selling handcrafted fireplace bellows. You won't have to "blow" (sorry about that!) a lot of your cash getting started, either, since most of the raw materials can be had for the asking, and many of you probably own all the tools you'll need. It's a good bet that—in very short order—your own distinctive line of puffers could be blowing fires to life in fireplaces and woodstoves throughout your neck of the woods, and putting cash into your pocket in the process.

Some of you have already seen MOTHER's previous articles on basic bellowsmaking. However, if you're going into the business, you'll need to offer your buyers a broad selection of styles and sizes. Mastering the following techniques will enable you to build and market quantities of these windy wonders, and to do so in less time than you'd ever imagine.

Tools for Making Fireplace Bellows

The first step is to check your toolshed for the following: a jigsaw, a saber saw, or a band saw, a brace or a drill and some 1/2" and 5/8" bits, and a rasp or a file (a four-way rasp is helpful). You'll also need a hammer, some sandpaper, a sturdy pair of scissors, and some general-purpose glue. For openers, you might want to borrow whatever tools you don't have on hand, and then later purchase your own with the proceeds of your early sales.

Once the necessary implements are gathered together, search your pile of scrap wood for boards 3/4 " to 1" thick and a minimum of 6" wide and 14" long. (If the planks you find are worn and weathered, that's all the better, because I'll tell you exactly how to give the most ragged piece of barn siding an appealing finish.)

Getting the Fireplace Bellows Materials

When you have your tools and boards located, it's time to grab the phone book, hop into the old buggy, and head for town, stopping at every furniture upholstery shop along the way. Introduce yourself to the proprietors of those establishments, spend a couple of moments chatting about the coming cold months (a perfect lead-in to a description of your business), then ask them about their scrap piles, consisting of those leftover pieces of high-quality leather and vinyl that were just too small for use on another project. The original customer already paid plenty for that material, but its scraps usually end up stuffed in big boxes, ready for the dump.

4/21/2016 5:08:42 PM

The first page has a tile "Slideshow". Click that tile and go to images 8, 9, 10.

5/29/2013 1:50:22 PM

Is the construction diagram, pattern layout and boot pattern still available for this project?

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