How to Make Things Out of 55 Gallon Steel Drums

Updated July 20, 2017

Steel drums are excellent starting points for many projects, such as Caribbean drums, membranophones, floats, and makeshift ovens. The 55 gallon steel barrel is most commonly used to store various types of oils and corrosive products and should be thoroughly cleaned with proper cleansers before using on any project. Two projects -- a barbecue and an irrigation friendly rain-barrel -- both require very little expense and can create a useful, reusable tool to its creator. Both projects can use half of one steel 55-gallon steel drum.

Cut the 55 gallon drum in half using a steel cutting saw or grinder. You will cut through the middle, giving you 2 equal-sized, round drums.

Use blowtorch to burn off any additional slag and leftover contaminates.

Cut a 1/2-inch hole on the lower side (within an inch of the bottom) of both barrels. This will allow a breathing hole for the barbecue and a faucet hole for the rain catcher.

Smooth out leftover steel and inside of both halves with heavy-grade sandpaper.

Wash out both barrels with cleanser, taking care to remove any questionable leftovers with a second or third scrubbing. Allow both barrels to fully dry.

Paint the barbecue barrels with several coats of barbecue/heat resistant paint. Paint the water-catcher barrel with several coats of rubberised spray paint. Allow to fully dry.

Place 1/2-inch faucet over rubberised barrel's hole and secure with internal fitting. Do not over-tighten or the barrel may bend and rupture the rubber.

Add an irrigation line to the faucet's nozzle and place barrel under active rain gutter. This completes the rain catcher.

Connect metal pipe to the hole in the barbecue barrel with the elbow pointed straight up. This hole can be easily covered with a cap if extra air is not needed for the coals.

Place four bricks at the location where you want your barbecue.

Add charcoal and grill. Enjoy your barbecue.


If you wish to make the rain catcher's water safer, add a mesh net or screen to the top which will keep out debris and mosquitoes. The 1/2-inch hole in the barbecue could hold a gas connection if you wish to cook with gas.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 clean half of a 55 gallon drum
  • Steel cutting blade or grinder
  • Blow torch
  • Power drill
  • Sanding paper
  • Cleanser (like dish soap) and scrub brush
  • Barbecue spray paint
  • (Rain catcher) rubberised spray paint
  • Stainless steel circular grill
  • (Rain catcher) 1 clean half of a 55 gallon drum
  • 1/2 in. diameter metal pipe 6 inches long with a 90 degree elbow and an open fitting with a cap.
  • (Rain catcher) 1 brass 1/2 inch nozzle/faucet
  • (Rain catcher) irrigation line
  • 4 bricks
  • Charcoal
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About the Author

Nathan Adlen has written professionally for over 10 years. His works have been featured online at,,,, and he has been quoted at,, and Adlen has attended Allen Hancock College, the University of California, Los Angeles and Metropolitan State College of Denver.