Upcycle Old Air and Gas Tanks

I have mentioned the usefulness of old air and gas tanks several times in previous posts and today I wanted to briefly discuss and give a few ideas where these often undervalued and discarded pieces of scrap metal can become useful tools and interesting art.  Below are five uses and ideas that I have seen or tried to complete fun and useful projects.

#1 Homemade Charcoal Forge


Several times throughout the years I have been mid-project when I found the need to reshape or form a piece of metal to specifically fit the project at hand.  Eventually I built this little charcoal forge in order to heat and shape metal for many different projects.  I cut an old air compressor tank in half in order to make the bowl of the forge and cut a hole in the bottom of the tank to allow for air flow.  The pipe coming from the bottom and bending toward the camera is where I insert a hair dryer or small leaf blower to increase the heat of the fire by forcing more air into it.  I have no experience with using other forges to compare it to, but it works very well for me.


#2 BBQ Pit

This is the only use in this post that although I have come close, I have not actually attempted this project.  Similar to the way I cut my air tank in half to make the forge pictured above, tanks can be cut both horizontally and vertically and hinges added to both sides in order to create a bbq pit that can be completely like many commercial pits that can be bought at big box stores.  Technically my homemade forge is nothing more than a bbq pit with no hinged top like those seen in public parks and campgrounds.  I guess the only thing standing in the way of my forge being a bbq is a grated surface for foods to be cooked on.  I have seen quite a few very well done tank bbq pit projects on Pinterest for those of you interested.


#3 Rollers

Though I have no pictures for this use either, I like to think it is pretty self-explanatory.  I once had to remove a boat from its trailer in order to use the trailer to transport another boat on it.  I was pretty stumped on how I would be able to easily re-trailer the original boat from the ground without a winch.  Thankfully a light bulb went off and I decided to try to use three old propane tanks that I had previously removed the valves an contents from as rollers to get the boat on and off of the trailer.  It worked great.  I actually left the boat on the tanks the entire time it was off of the trailer and just stabilized it with some scrap 2×4 lumber that I had around.  I would employ this method of moving heavy objects around again a few years later when I had to move some 4×8 sheets of thick metal plate from one location to another.

#4 Yard Art

flying pig 2

This flying pig has received some pretty good pub on my site already so I will not go on and on about it too long.  I really enjoyed making this because it was a gift for my mom who collects flying pigs.  Although I had not seen them at the time when I made this pig, I have since seen not only other flying pig builds online, but animals that span from sharks to elephants and other homemade forms that have turned out awesome.  For more info on this flying pig check out this link when pigs fly.

#5 Portable Wood-Burning Stove


I completed this heater/stove project after a run of very cold weather made working in my shop a pain.  At 1500 sq. feet my shop is far too big for this little heater to warm it entirely, but it works very well for keeping the most frequented part of it comfortable when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.  The beauty of old tanks is that they are easy to come across and come in a variety of sizes.  I could have used one of the bigger tanks that I have to complete this project and that would have produced considerably more heat, but I preferred to save the larger one for a later project.

The construction of this stove/heater can be a little more complicated than the other projects mentioned but is still quite simple.  In a nut shell, cut off one end of the tank with an angle grinder and cutting wheel and hinge it back on to the tank, cut a hole in the top for the vent pipe, and somewhere on the front or bottom cut a hole and weld on some pipe or tubing to allow for the flow and regulation of air needed to maintain a fire.  I welded on a hinged piece of round stock to the front of the heater and a hook on the side to keep the front of the tank firm against the rest of it so that heat loss is somewhat minimized.  I also cut a piece of the tank out of the top and welded on a flat piece of plate so that I would have an even surface to rest a small pot on.  I do not cook on this stove but I do like to boil water to make coffee.  I have been very please with this little wood stove and intend to make a larger one in the future.  Below is an action shot.


As shown in the photos I am often more concerned with function over aesthetics with my projects.  Many of my projects could stand a coat of paint or make up but I enjoy the build more than the beautification of projects so they often miss the final step due to impatience.

For anyone wanting to complete a project involving old air or gas tanks I would strongly suggest checking out these safety tips prior to beginning your project.

Below are links to the tools that I use to complete my propane tank projects.  They definitely make the projects a lot easier to complete.

Angle Grinder

Plasma Cutter

Welding Machine

Pipe Wrench

Heavy Duty Ratchet Straps

Chop Saw


If you found this post to be informative or entertaining I would greatly appreciate if you would like, comment, and follow, and share tool-school.com on social media.  Thanks for reading!


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