They say never work with animals and children. Well add stainless steel to that list, blimey it's hard stuff but I finished the stove...see here . Afraid I couldn't resist lighting it before photographing it, so it's not the shiny masterpiece it once was.
Aside from the problems of working with stainless steel (i.e. going through a lot of blades and cutting disks and wearing out a file!!) it wasn't too tricky to build. If you fancy a go you can download templates from here . Just print off the PDF choosing the no scaling option in the print options dialog.
First off I laid out the templates on my piece of stainless steel, before sticking them in place with a spray adhesive.
Then I did a final quick measure before doing any cutting. Last chance saloon, once you've started cutting it's too late to go back!
Next to make handling easier I rough cut out the parts with a jigsaw. WEAR SAFETY GLASSES - Eyes and flying metal bits don't mix.
I found that a normal HSS metal blade worked best, although they wore our fairly quickly. Things like progressor blades were too aggressive for the sheet material and caused the piece to bend horribly on some of the finer cuts later on.
After the rough cuts, I trimmed as close to the line as I could with the jigsaw. I then did the tricky bits like the slots before finishing the piece by filing down to the line. Best to get the slots right rather than crying into your beer if you've messed up a slot and wasted all that filing effort. Stainless steel is HARD!!
The best method I found for the slots is to use a heavy duty cutting wheel on a dremel at about 3/4 full speed and cut into the center of the slot just enough to fit the jigsaw in. Then used the jigsaw to cut the slot out *exactly* as marked. Note my nifty homemade "vice" to make working on the sheet easier! I basically drilled a big hole and put a clamp through my bench! For the larger air slots I first drilled the ends (see tips below) and then use the slot cutting technique before finishing with a half round needle file.
After a bit of research I decided to drill the holes so I could control the volume of airflow and it's position through the grate, rather than my original BBQ mesh idea. For drilling the holes I found a normal 10mm HSS bit and running the drill slowly worked best. Centre punch the holes first. Don't get the bit hot or the stainless will eat it. I always kept the bit cool enough to touch. Keep some water handy to quench it in if it gets too hot. I'm sure oil is better but the stainless is probably going to kill the bit anyway before you have to worry about rust! (BTW I used a proper punch not the nail in the background for marking the centres. Nails don't touch the stainless, I tried it!) I have used nails to help stop the piece sliding aound under the force of the drill.
For the bends I used a ball pein hammer and one of those mini vices, worked a treat but you need the hammer to get the bend nice and tight.
When filing the sides, leave cutting the tab slots till last. Without the extra bit of material they are too flexible to file easily. When your ready to cut the slots use the jigsaw and tidy them up with a needle file.
Once finished put the bit's together and tada!