How to build a wood-fired adjustable grill

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to build a wood-fired adjustable grill
Build a wood-fired adjustable grill to cook in your outdoor living space. (campfire image by Ekaterina Shvigert from

Cooking over a natural wood fire adds natural seasoning to foods as they cook. Wood-fired grills can bring out the savoury flavours in meats and vegetables. You can make your own wood-fired grill with adjustable-height grates as your next weekend DIY project. Select a site for the grill that is near the outdoor area where you will entertain and dine. The edge of a patio or just off your deck is an ideal location.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Plate compactor
  • Sand
  • Bricks
  • Brick mortar mix
  • Water
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Trowel
  • Brick jointer
  • Cooking grate

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  1. 1

    Prepare a location for the grill. Remove the sod from the location. Clear 12 inches more than the footprint of the grill. Base the size of the grill on the size of the cooking grate you intend to have on the inside of the grill.

  2. 2

    Level the area where the sod was removed, using a plate compactor. This will compact the soil and provide a level surface for the grill.

  3. 3

    Dump a layer of sand into the space where the sod was removed. Level it with the back of a shovel.

  4. 4

    Lay the base layer of brick to create a three-sided box. The open side is the opening of the wood-fired grill.

  5. 5

    Mix mortar in the wheelbarrow, using a trowel. Follow the instructions on the packaging, as each mix varies slightly. The resulting mortar will be a thick spreadable consistency.

  6. 6

    Spread a thin amount of mortar onto the bottom of each brick as you place it onto the base layer. Firmly seat the bricks on top of the base layer. Complete the second and third layers of bricks in the same manner.

  7. 7

    Construct a fourth layer. On each side, place the first two bricks side- by-side, so that the length of the brick is sticking into the inside of the opening. Do the same for the last two side bricks in the back of the grill. This will provide a brick shelf tab for the front and back corners of the cooking grate to rest on.

    Repeat this step every four layers until you have reached a height of approximately 36 inches.

  8. 8

    Run a brick jointer across each brick joint on the exterior of the grill to create a smooth groove along the joints.

  9. 9

    Place the cooking grate on any one of the brick shelf tabs that stick out inside the grill opening.

Tips and warnings

  • Add an additional wall to the grill so that you can place a shelf on top as a work surface and store wood underneath.
  • Wear safety glasses, a dust mask and gloves to mix the mortar.

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