A Quick Burningman Camp Kitchen Construction

david van brink 2002 August 11 / poly@omino.com


Having a place to do your food preparation is rather important. One sunny Saturday morning I woke up agitated and adamant on this issue. So I walked through my garage and house three times, and formulated this design from scraps and available parts. Then I ate breakfast.

This design should lend itself to all sorts of improvements and augmentation.

I wanted something with an overhead shelf and a rod to hang stuff, and also that might provide a bit of wind blocking for the burner. (No, I'm not worried about the propane stove burning down the structure.) We haven't set it up on the playa yet, but I think some rebar and cable ties to hold it down should make it stable enough in the desert winds. I'll let you know.

Materials Needed

  1. A 3' x 7' bit of scrap plywood
  2. A four foot collapsible table from Costco
  3. Pink paint
  4. 6 long cable ties per setup
  5. A jigsaw
  6. A drill
  7. A couple of short 4x4's
  8. A dowel or rod 5' long or so

Instructions For Construction

These instructions are optional. Just look at the picture below and everything will be quite clear.

  1. Cut along dotted lines
  2. Cut notches in top shelf that line up with your table's width and plywood thickness
  3. Paint all parts pink
  4. Place 4x4's next to table legs, to keep sides spaced correctly.
  5. Place side panels along sides of table
  6. Drill 8 holes, 2 near each leg. Attach cable ties.
  7. Insert top shelf.
  8. For each side, drill 2 holes in shelf and 1 hole in side panel. Attach cable ties.
  9. Drill appropriate holes for the rod across the top. Insert rod

Instructions For On-Site Setup

  1. Urrr, just do everything in the construction that doesn't involve power tools.
  2. Do something with rebar, if you're in the desert.

Special Thanks

Martin Gardner, whose books of mathematical puzzles and diversions introduced me to dissection problems at an early age.


  • Made from scraps (if you have some plywood bits)
  • ...and a cheap Costco collapsible table, $35, useful year round
  • Packs flat for transport
  • Fast cable-tie setup
  • Provides some wind blocking, so water can actually boil
  • Shelf to put things on
  • Rod to hang things on
  • Lots of areas to decorate, put hooks on, clip garbage bags to, &c

(The pvc rod up there is just resting...)