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How to Build a BBQ Grill From Oil Tanks

Updated February 21, 2017

People have long enjoyed barbecuing outdoors. Cooking food over charcoal and wood, and covering it with barbecue or another sauce, gives food a unique taste not easily replicated in a kitchen. Many people choose to buy a grill, but if you're the do-it-yourself type, build your own. One option is to use a 55-gallon oil tank or drum.

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  1. Determine the circumference of the oil tank by wrapping a string around it and measuring the length.

  2. Mark ventilation holes on the oil tank three inches from the bottom and evenly spaced apart. Determine the spacing by dividing the circumference by three.

  3. Drill the ventilation holes using a 3/4-inch drill bit.

  4. Remove any contaminants from the inside of the oil tank by filling the tank with wood and setting it on fire. Keep the fire going until the wood has burnt away.

  5. Allow the tank to cool, then empty the ashes and rinse the tank out using a garden hose.

  6. Divide the circumference by four to determine spacing for the bolts to support the grill. Mark a spot 7 inches below the top of the tank, then mark three other spots, separating them using the distance you got by dividing the circumference by four.

  7. Drill the holes with a 1/4-inch drill bit.

  8. Push the 3-inch bolts through the holes from the outside and secure them with nuts.

  9. Pound down any sharp edges on the tank with a hammer in order to prevent injuries.

  10. Construct the fire basket, which is the part that contains the wood or charcoal for the fire. To do this, place a washer on a round, 18-inch barbecue grate near the edge, slide a 6-inch bolt through the washer, and secure it with a nut. This is a leg for the grate. Add three other legs to the grate like this. Position the four legs so that if you were to connect them with a string, it would form a square.

  11. Wrap a piece of chain-link fencing about 18 inches high into a ring and bolt it together. Solder the ring to the top of the grate to create the fire basket.

  12. Put the fire basket into the tank, and fill it with charcoal or wood. Light the fuel and place the cooking grate on the bolts at the top of the tank. Your BBQ grill from an oil tank is ready to use.

  13. Warning

    When choosing the oil drum for your grill, do not choose one that was used to store toxic chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals through your skin or by breathing in toxic fumes when they are burnt is hazardous to the health of you and others.

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Things You'll Need

  • 55-gallon drum with removable lid
  • String
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Drill
  • 3/4-inch drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood
  • Matches
  • Garden hose
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • 4 bolts, 3 inches in length, with corresponding nuts
  • Hammer
  • 2 BBQ grates, 18 inches in diameter
  • 4 washers
  • 4 bolts, 6 inches in length, with corresponding washers and nuts
  • Five-foot long section of chain-link fencing
  • Soldering gun

About the Author

Carson Barrett

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.

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