Building a brick barbecue is not as easy as wheeling out a ready-made one, but it is infinitely more rewarding and isn’t as hard as most people think. You can create all sorts of barbecues when you do it yourself, adding different elements such as barbecue ovens or rotisseries. Impress your friends and family when you invite them around for a dinner cooked on your new DIY barbecue.
Place your grill plate and coal tray where you want your barbecue to be. This needs to be a level and fire-safe area, such as a paved or concrete patio. Draw around the outline of the grill plate and coal tray in chalk and set them aside for now.
Lay a single row of bricks around three sides of the of the chalk line. If you want side compartments on the barbecue for storage and warming areas, lay the outline of these walls now too.
Mix your mortar in the wheelbarrow, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Lay a line of mortar on the outside of the chalk line, two bricks long, one brick wide and ¾ inch thick. Furrow the centre of the line with the tip of the trowel. Place your first brick in the mortar, tapping it down with the trowel; scrape away the mortar that squishes out the sides. Butter the end of the second brick, then set it in the mortar; tap it down and across to sit right next to the first brick. There should be around ½ inch of mortar between the bricks now.
Lay more mortar and keep placing the bricks in the design you set out in the dry lay. Continue until the whole first row of your barbecue is complete. Check that the first row is all level; tap down any bricks that are too high and apply a bit more mortar under those that are too low. Continue for the second row of bricks. Stagger the joints of the bricks to add strength to the barbecue.
Cut some bricks in half to compensate for the staggered joints. Place the brick chisel at the cut-point and give one decent tap with the mallet to split the brick. Continue building up the walls of the barbecue until you reach around 1 ½ feet high.
Dry set bricks or breeze blocks on the inside of the barbecue to the height of the current walls to support a brick shelf. If you want a shelf in any side compartments, set up the bricks or breeze blocks in there as well. Butter the sides and ends of bricks and set them in place on top of the support, tapping them together so they form a strong shelf. Stagger the joints of the bricks. Leave the supports in for now.
Continue building up the walls of the barbecue. Make every second row of the barbecue walls with three bricks set on each side facing inward, so that half a brick extends into the centre of the barbecue. These will be the racks for setting your grill plate at different heights. Continue in this way until your barbecue is around a total of 3 feet high. If you want to make the back wall extend upward for a backing to the barbecue, keep adding bricks to the back wall only until you have the desired height.
Run the tip of the trowel along all the mortar lines to smooth them over and clean up the look of the barbecue. Let it cure for three days. Remove the dry-set support bricks or breeze blocks from under the shelf. Set the coal tray on top of the shelf and the grill plate at the desired height on the brick racks.