If you are a traditional barbecue connoisseur like me, then this is your grill. Don't you love that smooth smoky flavor charcoal lends to all your grilled foods? To make sure you have a grill that can handle the heavy season of barbecue parties and get-togethers you're planning, let's talk a little bit about pulling this project together.
This is a do-it-yourself welding project that won't cost a fortune to build. And, with the right equipment this project requires only one person with little to no welding experience. A great start for the metal working hobbyist. If you've never welded before, just practice for an hour or so on scrap metal.
To get started, I walked down to my workshop, eyed my trusty Lincoln Electric® AC-225 stick welder, saw my tool box and smiled as the light bulb flashed above my head. A large Texas grill, just like the one's you see on TV was what I needed for a season of fun filled barbecues. It wouldn’t require much – just an empty liquid barrel (be sure it has not contained any flammable or harmful chemicals), some pieces of angle iron, a grill of some sort, and maybe a couple of added touches.
You can see from the list of materials, tools you'll need and the all important safety equipment below – the trouble of where and how to get started on this great project has been done for you.
Strips of angle iron
Lincoln Electric® Fleetweld® 35 (E6011) stick electrode
Pair of 7" wheels with bolts (Lawn Mower Wheels)
A liquid barrel – IMPORTANT the barrel must be a liquid barrel that is sealed on both sides, but make sure it has not contained any FLAMMABLE SUBSTANCES
1" x 4" cedar board for shelving
Three 3" butt hinges
A handle – 1" strip of steel and a 1" wood dowel
- Long sleeve cotton shirt – don’t wear polyester!
- Safety glasses
- Welding helmet or face shield
- Welding gloves
- Brazing goggles
- Lincoln Electric® AC-225 Stick Welder
- Jig Saw or Sabre Saw
- Harris® Port-a-Torch (oxy-acetylene cutter)
- Measuring tape
- Combination square
- 4" grinder
- Framing / Carpenter Square
- Chipping Hammer
- Wire Brush
- A small fan to move fumes out of the garage
1. Measure out the angle iron, keeping in mind that the BBQ should sit about waist level. Placing each piece into your table clamp [see photo], and cut through the angle iron with a jig saw. It should cut fairly easily. Some of the cuts will need to be at 45° angles so that they fit properly against opposing pieces. At this stage, you may want to form the metal strip for the handle and cut the cedar planks to size for the side shelves.
2. With all the pieces laid out, it’s time to start welding. Ventilation is important so make sure you have the garage door or the windows open before you begin. If you have a portable fan, turn that on too. Place the pieces that will make one-half the BBQ on the floor and measure the angles and diagonals to ensure that the entire piece is square. Place the Fleetweld® stick in the electrode holder and attach the ground clamp to the work piece to complete the weld circuit. Set the amperage to 90 (an appropriate setting for the type of electrode being used), and make a small tack weld to each of the joints [see photo – notice the proper gear; a full-face welding helmet and the right gloves]. Repeat these steps for the back half of the frame.
3. With the two halves welded, it is time to weld them together with the three cross pieces [as in the photo]. In order to stand each half up independently, use a C-clamp with a scrap piece of angle iron as a temporary kickstand for each half.
4. Important – remember to repeat the measuring stage. Squaring off everything is vital to ensure that you have a proper fit and that your BBQ will provide many seasons of cooking pleasure. Measure the diagonals, vertical and horizontal line between ends to be sure they are equal. Attach the ground clamp to the frame and make tack welds to attach the crossbars to the front and rear frame.
5. After all the tack welds are complete, remove the temporary kickstands and measure the angles to be sure that they are square. Using tack welds allows you to easily separate the pieces if the it out of square. Once you are sure the frame is square, weld over each joint, completing the welds.
6. With the frame complete, let's move on to the barrel. Again, make sure that the liquid barrel you’ve selected has not contained any flammable or chemical materials. The lid of the BBQ should be a quarter section of the barrel. So, lay the barrel horizontally in the frame. Find the center of the barrel with your measuring tape and mark off two chalk lines, intersecting in the center of the circle. It should look like a cross hair at each end of the barrel, or a pie sliced into four even pieces.
7. Stand the barrel up in a vertical position, on a level surface. Use a chalk line to make a mark down the length of the cross hair [see photo]. This will create a single segment from the barrel.
8. Once again, place the barrel in the frame. Using the jig saw, cut along the chalk line. This will be the uppermost seam where the hinges will be placed.
9. After completing the first cut, attach the hinges. It is much easier to attach the hinges before making the second cut.
10. After the hinges are attached, complete the remaining cuts with the jig saw, using chalk lines as your guide. After completing the final cut, you will have a working lid that is properly fitted. Remember that the edges are still rough, so be careful handling the barrel. Using a metal file, dull the edges to prevent unintended injury to yourself or others.
11. A flip hatch on one end of the BBQ will allow for easy removal of ash buildup. Be sure to place the hatch on the opposite end of where the handle will go. This will make it easier to dump the ash. You can use the Harris® Port-a-Torch, it's easy to operate and slices through metal like butter. It comes as a complete kit with everything you need. Put on your brazing goggles, rotate the valves (acetylene at 4, oxygen at 40) and make the first cut [see photo]. Again, you may want to attach the hinge before making the remainder of the cuts for the door.
12. With the barrel complete, let's move back to the frame and add some of the final touches. First, set the frame on its side and chalk off a point at the bottom leg opposite of where the handle will go. This is where you place the wheels. Drill a pilot hole and then drill a full ½" hole in the two legs. Once this is complete, slide the bolts through the holes, slide on the wheels, and secure a nut to the opposite side to hold it in place.
13. Remember the cedar shelving? Well now it's time to work on the frame for the shelving. After all, this is where you will be doing your BBQ prep-work. Lay the pieces on the ground and measure the same as in Step 2, making sure your measurements are square, then tack weld the shelf frame together.
14. Now it's time to weld the shelf frame to the main BBQ. But wait! You will need something to hold it in place. Similar to the handy tip used in Step 3, use a piece of scrap angle iron and your C-clamp and secure the shelf frame to the upper area of the main frame [see photo]. This creates a temporary shelf, allowing you to weld one side to the main frame. Repeat on opposite side.
15. IMPORTANT: make sure that the shelf is level. You may have to use a wedge to prop it in place from underneath. Here's another handy tip – a stick electrode doubles as a great wedge because it can be adjusted by bending it.
16. During this step you will find out why a liquid barrel works best for this project. A liquid barrel is capped on both ends. This added bonus provides a threaded hole for our chimney. By attaching a standard 2" elbow pipe and screwing the whole piece into the opening, you have a simple, but very effective chimney.
17. As for the handle, this gets attached just above the lower horizontal seam. First screw the metal strip you made earlier in Step 1 into the barrel lid. As a second step, put the dowel between the two ends of the strip and secure it with a screw at each end. Wood is a great choice of material for a handle, because it is only a moderate conductor of heat and will not be too hot to the touch.
18. You will need two pieces for the grill. Consider using some expanded stainless steel cut to size, or you can pick up a grill grate or rack from your local home improvement store. Or you can use the grill off an old BBQ. One word of caution – be sure the grill is not painted. Use a smaller piece to set in low to hold the charcoal and allow the ash to fall through. Use a larger piece that will sit up higher and will act as the cooking surface.
19. As a final step, paint the entire BBQ (not the grill surfaces or cedar shelving) with high temperature paint. It will provide a great finish and insurance against rust and weather damage. When the paint is dry, place the cedar boards into the shelving frame and the grates inside and presto! Now you're ready for some serious BBQ.