How do I cut a hole in a cast iron wood stove?

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I need to cut a rectangular hole in the side of my cast iron wood stove, about 3"x5". I was thinking to drill holes for the corners and then try to cut with a sawzall. I'm guessing the iron is about 1/4" thick. Think that will work? What kind of blade would I need? Any other suggestions? (I don't have a cutting torch or an angle grinder).
Thanks in advance.
PS For anyone who's curious, it's a very nice stove but it has a 'dead' airspace in the top that cannot be accessed except through a couple of narrow slits along the top. This space is not part of the fire box, I'm not sure why it's there at all... My three year old intuitively understood what those slits are for, he filled them with plastic mardi gras beads. I found out about it when we fired up the stove. Now I need to chip/burn/sandblast that space out.
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fork wrote:

I would drill maybe 3/8" holes at the corners and then get a ferrous metal abrasive blade for the circ saw to make the cuts lengthwise between holes. (Lotsa metal dust, so be prepared.) I have a bad feeling about the Sawzall in this application.
Is there no other way to retrieve whatever?
Jim
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Speedy Jim wrote:

I agree with Jim. Sawzall creates a lot of vibration.
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Speedy Jim wrote:

I would try a hacksaw blade in a jigsaw first. Better control and you can cut the length of the blade down to provide clearance if the cavity is shallow. Cast iron machines easy once you get through the scale so a saw blade should work fine.
Harry K
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Wouldn't the intense heat just burn the plastic material off after awhile?
Searcher
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I'll tell you that the emergency rescue metal cutting blades for the sawzall worked great on cast iron pipe but they are a inch long you may have to drill quite alot but they worked better than the black blades that are supposed to work on cast iron fork wrote:

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I do not know where your cast iron stove comes from or what type of cast iron was used. Using a grinding disk is not a bad idea but you may have some difficulty of getting the right cutting disk. Plus you will have to control the speed and the sparks. I would first try a bi-metal cutting blade and cutting lubricant. I have done with a scroll saw at low speed using a premium quality blade with lots of cutting oil. I mean cutting oil not lubrication oil. The cutting oil makes all the difference. I even cut 1/4 steel plate. First you will need a pilot hole to allow the blade to get in. Be careful not to drill through a double wall construction. At that time, while boring into the cast iron you will get a feel for the hardness of the metal. Some stoves have been casted with soft iron mixed with lots of sand and when drilling it goes very fast. Under times you may encounter some hard spots. Always use lots of cutting oil. If you go thought some gas pockets you will have to fill the voids with stove cement. When cutting with a scroll saw make sure that the base of the saw is hold firmly against the flat surface to be cut. PS I prefer a scroll saw for the type of work plus the blade are cheaper to buy. With a reciprocating saw you will have to make a larger pilot hole and make sure that the reciprocating saw base stay in firm contact with the surface to be cut and start at very low speed.

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If you have an air compressor, part with the $10.....

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fork wrote: > I need to cut a rectangular hole in the side of my cast iron wood > stove, about 3"x5". I was thinking to drill holes for the corners and > then try to cut with a sawzall. I'm guessing the iron is about 1/4" > thick. <snip>
Layout the hole, then drill holes along cutout line as close together as possible, say 1/4 holes on 3/8 centers, then use a saber saw with a bi-metal blade to cut out.
Finally, clean up edges with a 4" right angle grinder.
You will still have a pile of C/I dust, but it will be about as small as possible.
Lew
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Best advice I've seen yet.

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This is the easiest way to to the job. The hole you leave becomes the issue. If the stove is infact cast iron, you may getaway with a patch of other cast iron or steel screwed over the hole. Welding a patch on cast iron is another story and you cannot flame cut cast iron.
Next I'm having trouble seeing a cast iron stove with a dead air space that you cannot get to. These things are all bolted together. Unless you actually have a welded steel stove.
The suggestion to take the stove outside and "burn out" the plastic may be the better way to go.
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I would not cut into the stove. Try this first, take the whole stove outside, get a blazing fire going and just burn off the plastic.
By cutting into the cast iron this is a failure waiting to happen and then you either scrap the stove or are faced with a bitch to repair.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Roger Shoaf wrote:

Yeah, What he said . . . Mother was an old-fashioned Southern cook who used her cast iron skillets daily. Now a good skillet was a family heirloom that was passed down from mother to daughter. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. A couple of times in my youth, she decided that one of her skillets had too much carbon build-up on it and needed to be re-seasoned. She'd wait until we were burning a pile of brush - Dad was a firebug and always seemed to be burning a pile of brush somewhere - and she'd toss her prized skillet into the hottest part of the inferno. She'd wait a day or so until the coals cooled down and retrieve her skillet. It would be burned down to the bare cast iron. She'd re-season it and it would be good for another 20 years. One time she took the bakelite handle off her aluminum pressure cooker and put it in the fire with her skillet. When she went back, she found her skillet - and a puddle of aluminum.
There just ain't no Mardi-Gras beads around that can take the heat of a good fire. The plastic should first melt, then burn to ashes.
DonkeyHody "He who lieth down with dogs waketh up with fleas."
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Which is by the way, that the modern self cleaning oven does its thing. It gets very hot and the crud burns away to ash.

then
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You've already tried the shopvac? Or it's all turned into a solid chunk of plastic? I'd be trying to drill into it and chisel and whatnot through the slits before I was cutting my stove apart.
-Leuf
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fork wrote:

Just a guess but I imaging the space is to pre-heat the air feeding the fire. That makes the fire more effecient and effenciency is an EPA requirement on newer stoves. If you go into the space the wrong way you will ruin the stove even if you are successful at removing the plastic.
You may want to ask a dealer for the brand of stove what he thinks of the problem or a chimney sweep.
The best advice I've seen here is burning it our but if that produces the thick black smoke common to incomplete burning of plastic, that is a whole nother can of worms and a violation of the clean air act.
ron
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Drill a hole in each corner. Use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. Machining cast iron is like cutting through butter. The high carbon content acts like a lubricant (think graphite) and keeps your tools relatively cool; enough so that you shouldn't need lubricant.
Let us know how it works out.
Michael
r payne wrote:

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Fork,
First off, don't waste an entire pack of saw blades on this little project. Haul the stove over to the nearest machinist, tell him to torch a 3 x 5 hole in it, and then weld an over hanging 1/4" x 1" iron lip all the way around the outside edges of the cut out piece with a small piece of it welded on edge at aprox the outside center point to make a handle. Now you have a permanent access door. If the area your wanting to cut is totally vertical, then have the machinist leave one short side of the door unlipped and have hime weld a heavy duty iron hinge from that edge to the stove.
DoubleD snipped-for-privacy@roadrunner.com ____________________________________________________________

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I'll say it again. You cannot flame cut cast iron.
pete
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I wouldn't take the stove to a shop for problem the OP described, there are too many relatively simple ways to DIY, but, most machine shops & welding shops have a plasma cutter these days. And it's not impossible to cut cast iron with oxy-acetylene equipment but it is messy, slow, sloppy.
--
For every complicated, difficult problem, there is a simple, easy
solution that does not work.
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