How to Build a Rottiserie Out of a 55 Gallon Drum

Written by wilhelm schnotz
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How to Build a Rottiserie Out of a 55 Gallon Drum
An old 55-gallon drum can be salvaged to make a rotisserie. (rusty 50 gallon drum image by Jim Mills from

If you want to make a big impression at your next backyard barbecue, leave the weenies in the freezer and go large with a pig on a spit. While the centrepiece of a rotisserie pig will make you the talk of the neighbourhood, you don't need to spend your entire barbecue budget to purchase a rotisserie and smoker combo. Basic metalwork skills and some salvaging skills are all you need to make your own rotisserie from a 55-gallon drum.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • 55-gallon drum
  • Angle grinder or steel-cutting saw
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Extruded metal
  • Hinges
  • Welder
  • Handle
  • Screwdriver
  • Breeze blocks

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  1. 1

    Cut a section from the drum's side to use as a door. Remove approximately one quarter of the drum's circumference using an angle grinder or another saw capable of cutting steel. Leave the ends of the drum intact, as well as a couple inches along the top and bottom for support. Save the piece you removed from the drum.

  2. 2

    Drill several one-inch holes along the side of the drum opposite the side you removed the door access. These will provide ventilation for your charcoal while you cook.

  3. 3

    Lay the drum on its side and get a rough measure of the dimensions of the interior 1/3 of the way in from the edge; this will be the drum's height by roughly one third of its diameter. Cut a piece of extruded metal and set it into the drum. This will serve to keep charcoal off the bottom of the grill and let it burn at a hotter temperature.

  4. 4

    Weld heavy-duty hinges to attach the door panel cut out in Step 1 back onto the barrel. Affix a handle at the opposite edge of the door.

  5. 5

    Drill or cut a hole large enough to house your rotisserie's arm 1/3 of the way from the grill's top in the round top and bottom panels of the drum.

  6. 6

    Construct a stand from breeze blocks to support the drum. Stack the breeze blocks sideways so their open sections face outward and allow circulation inside the stand to feed the fire with oxygen. Fit your rotisserie in the holes cut in the previous step, then plug the rotisserie's motor into a power source.

Tips and warnings

  • If you salvaged your 55-gallon drum or don't know what materials it used to hold, burn any impurities out of it with a very hot fire for a couple of hours before cooking any food on the rotisserie.

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