How to Make a Barbecue Oven From an Oil Tank

Written by tim anderson
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How to Make a Barbecue Oven From an Oil Tank
Make a custom BBQ oven from an old oil tank. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Barbecuing is a hobby for some, a passion for others, and a career for a select few. While traditional grills and barbecues can be purchased at any home-improvement store around the nation, there are many custom-built barbecue ovens that are created from 55-gallon oil tanks, also known as drums. While the exact way you build your barbecue oven is up to you, a few simple techniques are used throughout all the variants to help you complete your barbecue oven and get right to cooking and enjoying some backyard delights.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Chalk
  • Level
  • Cutting torch
  • Welder
  • Welding and cutting safety gear
  • Drill with metal bits
  • Hinge sets
  • Grill vents
  • Grill rack
  • Handle
  • Rebar
  • Angle grinder with metal sanding pad
  • Sand

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  1. 1

    Lay the oil tank on its side. Use the level, tape measure and chalk to draw an outline roughly 3 feet in length by 2 feet in height. This will serve as the lid or door of the barbecue oven. Use the cutting torch to cut the top horizontal line across its 3-foot length. Attach the hinges to your cut line by drilling for pilot holes and then bolting the hinges in place, or weld the hinges on. Cut the rest of the outline with your cutting torch.

  2. 2

    Open the lid of the barbecue after the cuts have cooled to expose the interior of the drum. Decide where you want to mount your grill rack and weld two pieces of rebar on either side of the drum to serve as mounting brackets. Use 2- or 3-inch pieces of rebar. If you plan on having multiple racks, or you want adjustable heights for your rack, you can install multiple layers of brackets.

  3. 3

    Weld two small stubs of rebar at the bottom section of the lid on the interior, on either side of the lid. These will serve as braces so that when you close the lid it does not swing into the interior of the drum, thus stressing the hinges or breaking them completely. Weld them in place so that only 1/2-inch of each piece of rebar sticks out. You can place them at the bottom of the vertical sides, or on the horizontal bottom.

  4. 4

    Drill two ventilation holes on the bottom of the drum, on the outer, round edges that used to be the top and bottom of the barrel, about 4 inches up from the bottom. Repeat the process for ventilation holes on the top, but place them at the top of the rounded edge. Install adjustable grill vents over your ventilation holes so you can control the amount of airflow and smoke within the interior of your barbecue oven. Drill holes for and attach your handle to the lid.

  5. 5

    Smooth off all sections of rebar and exposed metal around the edge of the lid with an angle grinder and metal sanding pad. Install your barbecue oven onto a stand. Layer the bottom of the interior with around 3 inches of sand. Fill it with a full load of charcoal or wood chips and let the drum burn for at least 3 to 4 hours to burn off any residual oil before using it to cook food.

Tips and warnings

  • All of your tools and supplies can be purchased or rented from your local home-improvement store.
  • Building a barbecue oven out of an oil tank or drum assumes some level of working experience with a welder and cutting torch, as well as power tools. Do not attempt to operate these pieces of equipment if you lack the proper experience. Always wear the appropriate safety gear when working with a cutting torch, welder and power tools.

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