How to Make a Charcoal Basket for a BBQ

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How to Make a Charcoal Basket for a BBQ
Expanded steel makes a good DIY charcoal basket for a smoker. (charcoal on fire image by jedphoto from

A charcoal basket fits inside a grill or smoker and holds the charcoal in place. You can make a charcoal basket to replace a substandard, rusted, or missing basket with a few pieces of expanded steel, some baling wire and a few basic tools. This project requires a certain amount of physical strength to bend the steel and also a few hours of time to complete. You can easily adjust the size of this basket to fit your own grill or smoker.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2 pieces of expanded steel, 12 inches by 18 inches
  • 2 pieces of expanded steel,10 inches by 14 inches
  • 1 piece of expanded steel, 14 square inches
  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Tin snips
  • Hammer
  • Baling wire
  • Pliers

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  1. 1

    Cut a 2-inch square notch from the corner of one of the 12-inch by 18-inch pieces of expanded steel. Mark the notch with a permanent marker then cut the steel with tin snips. Cut an identical notch in the other corner of the 18-inch side of the steel sheet.

  2. 2

    Bend the 18-inch notched side of the steel sheet up 2 inches, using the tops of the notches as guides. The strip between the notches will be the part that is bent at a right angle. Bend the strip by laying the steel on the edge of a workbench or other another hard, straight surface and hammer it into shape.

  3. 3

    Bend the two sides adjacent to the notches up 2 inches as well. This will give you three adjacent, 2-inch sides perpendicular to the steel sheet. The notches that you have already cut will allow the corners to come together without folding the steel.

  4. 4

    Repeat Steps 1 through 3 for the other sheet of 12-inch by 18-inch piece of steel. These two sheets will be the opposite sides of the charcoal basket.

  5. 5

    Set the two pieces you created in Steps 1 through 4 opposite one another on a table or other flat surface. Position them a little more than 14 inches apart so that the 2-inch strips on the notched sides are on the bottom extending towards each other. These strips will form a bracket to hold the bottom and side panels in place.

  6. 6

    Drop the 14-inch square piece of steel between these two sides so that it rests on the bottom 2-inch strips. Push the sides in to rest against the bottom. Now drop in the other two side panels lengthwise.

  7. 7

    Stitch the sides and bottom together using the baling wire and pliers. Now your charcoal box is ready for use.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the dimensions of this charcoal basket will fit inside the firebox of your grill or smoker. Adjust the dimensions according to your own grill.
  • Do not use galvanised, zinc-coated or any other type of coated steel or wire for this project. Heating metal with these types of coatings can produce toxic fumes that are unsafe if exposed to lungs or food.

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