How to build a barbeque grill out of metal

Updated February 21, 2017

It's always a good time to throw some steaks on the grill. Instead of going out and buying a barbecue pit, you can build one out of metal. Your taste buds will thank you.

Lay the 50-gallon drum on its end and measure it to find the middle of the top. Use a yardstick to keep your line straight, and put masking tape across the diameter of the drum.

Use a framing square to make a perpendicular line down from the centre of the drum. Put masking tape along this line. Flip the drum over onto its other end and repeat Steps 1 and 2.

Connect the two perpendicular lines from the top of the drum down its length with the masking tape. Stretch the line across the drum's diameter down one side as well with the masking tape.

Use a Sawzall to cut along the length of the 50-gallon drum by following the masking tape lines you made.

Use a grinder to cut just below the seam of the drum's top. The seam is the lip that extends a little beyond the sides of the drum. Cut just between the two masking tape lines you made. Do this at both ends of the drum.

Cut the expanded metal mesh with the grinder so it will fit as the grill inside the drum when it's lying on its side. Use a measuring tape to get the exact dimensions. Cut the steel rods so they are the same length as the expanded metal mesh. Weld them in place beneath the raw edges of the expanded metal mesh.

Measure halfway around the outside of the drum (you can use the line you drew across the diameter as a starting and stopping point). Cut two box tubes the same length as this measurement with the grinder.

Make cuts every 2 inches along the length of the box tube, and bend the tube into shape so it will curve around the drum. Weld these tubes onto the top and bottom of the drum, just below the seam that's still intact.

Attach the hinges to the drum and to the piece you cut with the Sawzall in Steps 4 and 5. This will be the hinged top of your barbecue grill. To make the hinges stronger, you can weld a scrap of sheet metal to the back of the hinges. Add a handle to the lid in the same manner as the hinges. It can be metal or wood. Reinforce it by welding a scrap of sheet metal to the back like you did with the hinges.

Cut four pieces of 1-by-2-inch steel for the legs. The length is up to you; you can choose how tall you want your barbecue grill to be. If you want it to be 3 feet off the ground, add at least a foot to the length so you can weld a foot of the legs directly to the 50-gallon drum. Weld the steel to the drum so it supports it as it lies on its side, hinged-side up. Weld a length of steel between each set of legs as reinforcement.


Before you set your expanded metal mesh grill inside the barbecue grill, season the grill first. One method is to coat the inside of the grill with a substance such as lard. Put in hickory chips, or whatever you want to use for fuel, and start the fire.

Things You'll Need

  • 50-gallon drum (make sure it contained no flammable substances)
  • Sawzall
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape and yardstick
  • Framing square
  • Grinder
  • Expanded mesh metal
  • Two steel rods
  • Stick welder
  • 1/2-inch tube (a box tube works well)
  • 2 hinges (style and dimensions your choice)
  • Screws
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Handle (metal or wood)
  • Steel bar
  • 1-by-2 inch steel
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About the Author

Marjorie Gilbert is a freelance writer and published author. An avid researcher, Gilbert has created an Empire gown (circa 1795 to 1805) from scratch, including drafting the gown's patterns by hand.