Wood pellets are a green solution to home heating. The pellets are pressed out of biomass such as sawdust that might otherwise go to waste. You can buy special wood pellet stoves to burn them. You can also adapt your fireplace or regular wood stove to burn wood pellets. But first you need a wood pellet basket insert. You can purchase one at a fireplace supply house, or make your own from expanded steel.
Measure the length, width and height of the inside of your fireplace or wood stove where the wood pellet basket will sit. Subtract 4 inches from the length and call it "L." Subtract 4 inches from the width and call it "W." Subtract 5 inches from the height and call it "H." Subtract these numbers so there's room between the fireplace or stove and the finished pellet basket.
Cut a sheet of expanded steel to a rectangle using measurements from Step 1. Use tin snips or a circular saw with a metal-cutting blade. The width of the rectangle will be H. The length of the rectangle will be twice L added to twice H plus 2.
Draw a line parallel to one short side of the rectangle and 2 inches away from it. Draw another line parallel to the first and L inches away. Draw a third parallel line W inches away from the second. Draw a fourth parallel line L inches away from the third. It will also be W inches away from the other short side.
Lay the steel rectangle on the edge of a hard surface. Use a hammer to bend it 90 degrees at each line. When you are finished you will have a rectangular basket with a 2-inch flap overlapping one corner.
Thread a length of baling wire in and out of the holes along the flap to attach it to the side. Twist the ends of the wire around the steel to secure it in place. Now the flap is stitched to the side, holding the basket together.
Cut a rectangle of expanded steel for the bottom of your basket. Use tin snips or your circular saw with a metal-cutting blade. One side will measure W + 4 and the other side will measure L. Draw a line parallel to one W + 4 side and 2 inches from it. Draw another parallel line 2 inches from the opposite side.
Lay the rectangle on the edge of a hard surface. Use a hammer to bend it 90 degrees at each line. Now you will have a shallow U shape to use for the bottom.
Set the basket on the bottom piece. The legs of the U will be on the outside and will serve as the legs of the basket. Stitch the bottom piece to the sides of the basket using baling wire. Thread the wire into and out of each hole in the steel, catching the two adjacent pieces of steel. Do not skip any holes. The number of stitches will depend on the length of each side. Twist the wire ends around two or more times to reinforce it. Your wood pellet basket is ready to place in your fireplace or wood stove, fill with pellets and light.
Instead of stitching the basket with baling wire, you could weld it.
Do not use zinc-coated, galvanised or any other type of coated steel or baling wire. These coatings can give off toxic fumes when heated.
Tips and warnings
- Instead of stitching the basket with baling wire, you could weld it.
- Do not use zinc-coated, galvanised or any other type of coated steel or baling wire. These coatings can give off toxic fumes when heated.