(C) Copyright 2017-2022 Paul Mobbs & The Free Range Network; released under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (Version 4 International).
Created: June 2017.
Updated: January 2022.
Length: ~900 words.
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This illustrated guide to the Stick-Fire Grate described the design handout created by Paul Mobbs for the Free Range Network (but feel free to improvised based upon these plans!).
The emphasis in the guide is sizing the grate to meet your requirements – from a small lightweight grate for a single small saucepan, to a larger great made with heavier steel for group camping.
The diagram above outlines the components which make-up the fire grate. For this guide, these were all bought from a DIY store for just under £10. With the exceptions of the threaded rod, you could find most of the bits in a skip.
The angle steel section used in the grate shown in this guide was 15mm (roughly ⅝-inch) across each side, and 0.75mm (three-hundredths of an inch) thick. How broad or thick you decide to make your grate is a trade-off between strength and weight. The broader, and more especially the thicker the steel the less likely it is to bend – but it will be heavier.
As a test, if you can hold the steel section in your hands about 30cm (12”) apart, and it doesn’t flex noticeably when twisted, then it’s probably stiff enough to use to make the grate. The same is true of the depth of the grate – which determines how much threaded rod you need. Ideally the depth of the grate should be at least two-thirds of the width of the largest saucepans you intend to use with the grate. any less and they will be unstable.
As a general rule, the top of the grate needs to be about 2.2 times wider than the length of the legs – or alternately the legs need to be less than 0.45 times the length of the top. This is so the legs are able to fold underneath the grate top.
Irrespective of the width of the grate, the legs should be no more than 10cm to 12cm (4”-5”) long or the grate will stand too high in the air. Any higher and the small stick fire won’t provide enough heat without burning a lot of fuel.
Due to its overall proportions, and assuming you sized it correctly, one of the big advantages of this grate most over commercially available small wood-fuelled grates is… it can take two saucepans! If you’re cooking outdoors, using two saucepans makes the whole task of outdoor cooking a lot easier.
So how does the weight of this big hunk of metal compare, for example, to something like the standard Campingaz single-pan stove?
The standard Campingaz stove comes in two parts: the regulator, with the gas tap and burner; and the removable cylinder, which contains the fuel. The regulator weighs around 200 grams (7oz). The standard CV300+ cylinder, when full, weights around 350 grams (12oz); and around 100 grams when empty. Therefore the whole package is somewhere between 300 grams (11oz) and 550 grams (19oz).
The Stick-Fire Grate used as an example in this guide – 26cm wide, 9cm/12cm deep, with 12cm legs – weighs in at roughly 275 grams (10oz). Of course the great advantage of the stick-fire grate is that you don’t have to carry the fuel – you pick up some sticks when it’s time to stop.
Finally, as part of his ‘Ramblinactivist’ YouTube channel, Paul Mobbs has also created a short visual guide of how to build and use the ‘feral’ grate:
Click here to view the video.