How to Make a Barbecue Grill Out of a Barrel

Written by jane smith
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How to Make a Barbecue Grill Out of a Barrel
Steel barrels that held foodstuffs and steel beverage kegs are safe to turn into barbecue grills. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Making a barrel grill requires a few simple cuts, some hinges and something to make the supports. If you hold barbecues for large groups or grill meats for fundraisers on a regular basis, a barrel grill has the capacity you need. Barrel grills look out of place on a formal patio, as their size and utilitarian lines will overpower the space. This barrel grill has a 1/4-section hinged hood instead of being cut in half.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • New, empty metal barrel
  • Wrap-around eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • NIOSH-approved respirator
  • Right-angled grinder with cut-off wheel
  • 24-grit grinding wheel
  • 80-grit flapper wheel
  • Measuring tape
  • 1-inch by 1/8-inch steel bar stock
  • 2-inch angle iron
  • 2-inch by 1/8-inch steel bar stock
  • Welding helmet, gloves and full leathers
  • 110-volt gasless MIG welder
  • Set of hinges
  • 6-inch long, 2-inch deep, wooden-handled steel drawer pull
  • Expanded-steel mesh

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    Prepare the Barrel

  1. 1

    Don wraparound eye protection, ear protection and a NIOSH-approved respirator.

  2. 2

    Cut a 1/4-section from the barrel along its length, using a cut-off wheel on a right-angled grinder.

  3. 3

    Use a 24-grit grinding wheel on a right-angled grinder to deburr all cut edges of the barrel and the 1/4-section you removed. Repeat with an 80-grit flapper wheel.

  4. 4

    Cut two pieces of 1-inch by 1/8-inch steel bar stock to the same length as the barrel height. Cut two more pieces to the same length as the barrel diameter.

  5. 5

    Don your welding helmet, gloves and full leathers. Position the four pieces of steel bar stock on their 1/8-inch edges and weld them into a rectangular frame.

  6. 6

    Lay the barrel on its side so that the cut-open portion is facing you, with one cut edge horizontal and one vertical. Position the rectangular frame so that it fits around the barrel, centred along the horizontal cutline. Weld the frame in place.

    Create the Barrel Support Frame

  1. 1

    Cut two pieces of 2-inch by 1/8-inch steel bar stock to the same length as half the circumference of the barrel, minus 1 inch. Bend both pieces to fit the curve of the barrel as closely as possible, heating them with a torch if necessary.

  2. 2

    Cut two pieces of 2-inch by 2-inch angle iron to the same length as the barrel height, and two pieces to the same length as the barrel diameter. Mitre each end to a 45-degree angle.

  3. 3

    Lay the four pieces of angle iron in a rectangle with the mitred edges together, with one leg of each piece pointing toward the centre of the rectangle and one leg pointing toward the ceiling. Weld the pieces together along the mitred seams to create the barrel support frame.

  4. 4

    Cut four pieces of angle iron 36 inches long. Position one of the 36-inch-long pieces of angle iron vertically in each corner and weld them in place to create the legs for your barrel support frame.

  5. 5

    Turn the barrel support frame right-side up. Position the barrel on top of it, with the ends of the barrel flush with the ends of the frame. Lift the barrel slightly and position the curved pieces of bar stock under it, at each end of the frame.

  6. 6

    Adjust the curved supports until each end meets the 1-inch frame around the barrel. Weld the curves to the frame around the barrel and to the barrel support frame underneath.

  7. 7

    Grind all welds smooth using a 24-grit and 80-grit wheel on your right-angled grinder.

  8. 8

    Have a helper hold the 1/4-section you removed from the barrel in place while you mark positions for the hinges. Weld the hinges to the 1/4-section and the barrel to create your grill hood.

  9. 9

    Center the 6-inch-long, 2-inch-deep wooden-handled steel drawer pull on the front of the grill hood and weld it in place.

  10. 10

    Cut 2-inch angle iron to the length and width of the inside of the barrel. Mitre the ends to 45-degree angles and weld the pieces together to form a grill frame. Cut expanded-steel mesh to fit the grill frame and weld it in place. Turn the grill frame over and weld it inside the barrel.

Tips and warnings

  • Grill-maker Mike Harrington advises using a reciprocating saw when cutting down the sides of the barrel and welding cross bars across the grill frame to provide additional support to the expanded-steel mesh.
  • Do not use barrels that held chemicals, advises award-winning Detroit grill-builder, Robert Felton. Chemical traces are difficult to remove and can cause toxic reactions.

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