The sweet taste of homemade Maple Syrup.
Maple Syrup is made by collecting sap from Maple trees and then figuring out a way to remove the excess water. One of the most popular ways to do this is by using an evaporator to heat the sap, boiling off this water as steam.
In this article I will go through how I turned a filing cabinet, metal bed frame and a few stainless steel serving pans into a DIY Maple Syrup Evaporator. Not only was this project alot of fun to build, it was also ALOT cheaper than anything I could find on Craigslist.
Understand the Basics of how Maple Syrup is made
While making your own syrup is a relatively easy process. There are a few things that you will need to know before getting started to ensure no important steps are missed.
- How to collect sap from Maple trees
- How to process the sap (remove the excess water)
- How to “finish” the processed sap and create actual syrup
In my option those are the (3) basic steps that must be done to make your own homemade maple syrup.
Now, there are many different ways to do each one of those steps (some better than others). But at the end of the day. You will have to collect your sap, process the sap to remove the excess water and then finish the sap.
Chances are if you found this article you already know most of the basics and are looking for an easy way to Process the Sap. So for now, we will ignore the other two steps and continue on with how to build your own wood burning evaporator.
Step 1. Building your own wood burning Maple Syrup Evaporator (parts list)
When looking for an evaporator. I quickly realized…these things are not cheap.
New “budget” models were going for close to $1,000!
Even looking on Craigslist for a used model was no luck. They were either old and beat up or asking more than I was looking to spend to get my feet wet in a new hobby.
So I finally decided I was just going to have to build my own. Parts list below:
- Filing cabinet for the main body
- Metal bed frame for the angle iron
- 4″ stove pipe for the chimney
- Oval-to-Round adapter
- (2) Stainless Steel serving trays
- (1) Stainless Steel warming pot
- (2) Fire pit racks to keep the wood off the cabinet base
Here are a few photos from the build.
Step 2. Cutting up the cabinet and installing the chimney
Now that we have all the parts. It’s time to do some demolition work on the cabinet to get it ready for the chimney installation.
Remove all of the pull-out cabinets. They will not be needed but save one for scrap material.
**Don’t forget your safety googles when using a metal grinder**
An electronic grinder made short work of removing the unneeded cabinet brackets. It was also used to punch a hole out in the back to install the oval-to-round pipe adapter, which we will later connect the stove pipe to for the chimney.
Since my filing cabinet already had a large hole on the bottom I decided to use that end for the door to the furnace. The pipe adapter was then attached to the top side of the cabinet using a few self-tapping screws. 4″ pipe and fittings were used for the entire chimney build.
Step 3. Install the Metal Bed Frame to act as a support for the Stainless Steel Trays
Measure your two stainless steel serving trays and cut the metal bed frame to length. The rail should be just long enough to fit the two trays side by side and will be used to support the weight of the sap during the boiling process.
Remember the shelves that we removed. Well, you can use some of that material to fill any gap left behind between the tray and back of the cabinet.
- The metal bed frame angle iron will support the (2) stainless steel sap trays.
- The small piece of metal (shown above) was used to fill the gap left behind. This not only keeps the smoke and fire contained to the main burn chamber but also makes a ledge for a warming pot.
With the rails on. The only thing left to do is put in the grates, fill it with wood and fire it up!
Special Thanks to GardenFork for the Inspiration, see his video below:
Step 4. Fill it with Wood and Fire it Up!
Finishing touches. Instead of just building the fire on the bottom of the cabinet, I decided to pick up a couple cast iron stove grates.
The grates will keep the wood raised above the ash, which should allow for a more efficient burn.
Fuel Source -> Wood
For my build I wanted to use Wood as the primary fuel source as I have an abundant supply available. Mostly hardwood pieces.
Wooden Pallets. The thought crossed my mind to use old wooden pallets as the dry wood would be great as a quick fire starter. However, I quickly realized that pallets have a TON of nails all over the place and trying to remove them wouldn’t be worth the time.
Granted there is no harm to just burn the nails. But, keep that in mind when dumping the ashes.
Conclusion & Results
In conclusion this was a fun build and the end result turned out great!
While it might not be the most efficient system…it does a mighty fine job at boiling sap. Best of all, it’s an easy project and doesn’t cost a fortune to put together.
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