How to make a fire bellows

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How to make a fire bellows
The bellows stoke a fire. (Irene1601/iStock/Getty Images)

Fire bellows are basically a substitute for a fan to push air, at a low constant pressure, into a burning fire to increase the temperature of the fire. When the bellows push air into the fire, it increases the available oxygen, increasing the rate of combustion of the fuel, increasing the fire's temperature. The fire bellows normally used for a household fireplace are small and hand-held.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2 pieces of hardwood (oak, maple or such), 30 cm by 45 cm (12 inches by 18 inches) and at least 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) thick
  • Saw (preferably a jigsaw)
  • Clamps
  • Paint or stain
  • Lacquer or polyurethane
  • Paintbrush
  • 1 square metre (1 square yard) of leather
  • Leather glue
  • Drill with 1.2 and 6 mm (1/2 and 1/4 inch) bits.
  • 7.5 cm (3 inch) long copper tube -- 9 mm (3/8 inch) outer diameter with a slight flare at both ends to 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) outer diameter

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  1. 1

    Cut the wood into two identical spade-shaped pieces. Round off the top point (as is seen on a deck of cards). Make the base straight instead of being slightly flared out. This will be the handle.

  2. 2

    Paint or stain the wood as you wish. Lacquer or polyurethane both sides. This will help create an airtight seal. Allow the pieces to fully dry.

  3. 3

    Cut the leather into a curved strip. It should be long enough to fully wrap around the outside of the curved portion of the wood pieces plus 5 cm (2 inches). Each end of the strip should be 3.1 cm (1 1/4 inches) wide, while the centre should be about 30 cm (12 inches) wide. There will need to be a curve to the leather corresponding to curve in the wood pieces. This curve is hard to predict, therefore, using a template made of scrap cloth or newspaper is recommended.

  4. 4

    Fold the leather in half and bend it in the shape of the wood pieces. Place glue on the outer 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) of the flat side of one piece of wood. The glue should not go across the handle portion (bottom of the spade).

  5. 5

    Fit the leather strip's edge onto the glue outline on the wood. The ends of the strip should cross at the top, away from the handle.

  6. 6

    Drill a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) hole in the centre of the piece of wood with the leather skirt already attached. Cut a 3.7 cm by 5 cm (1.5 inch by 2 inch) flap of leather. On the same side as the other leather piece glue, one side of the flap of leather just above the hole. When the bellows are opened, this will flap open, allowing air to enter.

  7. 7

    Glue the other piece of wood to the free edge of the leather skirt in the same manner as Step 5.

  8. 8

    Clamp the two pieces of wood together. Pull the leather strips away at the top. The wood should just about touch. Using the 6 mm (1/4 inch) bit, you will drill 5 cm (2 inches) down into the centre of the division in the wood.

  9. 9

    Drill a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) hole 2.5 cm (1 inch) into the 6 mm (1/4 inch) hole at the top.

  10. 10

    Place glue around 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inches) of one end of the copper tube. Fit this end into the 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) hole at the top of the bellows.

  11. 11

    Wrap the ends of the leather skirt around the copper tube. Cut any excess leather way. Take a 7.5 by 30 cm (3 inch by 12 inch) strip of leather and place glue on one side. Wrap the strip around the top of the bellows, with 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inches) covering the leather covered copper tube and 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inches) covering the wood with the glue side down.

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