How to Make a BBQ grill from a Barrel

  • By: Monica Shulz

A Barbeque is a great way to enjoy the sunshine outdoors with good food, friends, and family. However, grills and smokers can be pretty expensive to buy and maintain.

Don’t worry; we’ll show you how you can make your very own low-cost BBQ grill. This article will take you through all the steps necessary to upcycle your old air tank or barrel into a BBQ grill.

What You’ll Need

You’re going to need quite a few tools available before you can start making the BBQ grill. These items include;

  • An old barrel. An air tank or gas cylinder will also work fine.
  • 1.5” x 1.5” square iron tube.
  • 5” diameter iron pipe
  • An M4 threaded rod
  • A BBQ temperature probe
  • 2 castor wheels

Cut Out the Frame for The BBQ Grill

First, you have to cut out the legs for the BBQ grill. Clamp the rectangular iron tube on your bench using a bench vise.

Measure out and mark two points 36 inches from each other on the iron tube. You can change this measurement to suit your height better.

Using an angle iron, draw a 45 degrees triangle on the mark in the middle. Cut out the triangle with an angle grinder, and cut the second mark straight through.

Cut through the middle of the triangle to get your first set of legs. Do this again to get the second set of legs.

Cut Out the Cross-Beam for The Grill’s Frame

Measure the length of the barrel using a tape rule. Take about two inches off each side for the frame.

Clamp the rectangular tube back in your bench vise. Mark a point about an inch from its end, measure a point equal to the barrel width and mark it too.

Using an angle iron, draw a 45-degree line from both points. Cut both lines with an angle grinder.

Repeat this step to get the second crossbeam. Using a sander, descale all the frame parts you just cut.

Weld The Frame Together

Put a cross beam on your workbench between two legs. Make sure they fit together and are square with each other. Weld them together with a spot welder.

Do this for the second set of legs and crossbeam.

Take both sections of the frame and intersect them at an angle. Make sure the space between their tops is wide enough for the barrel to rest on.

Clamp them together using a G-Clamp. Weld both sections together where they intersect. Grind the welds till they are flush with the surface with an angle grinder.

Put An Airhole in The Bottom of The Barrel

The airhole in the bottom of the barrel helps allow oxygen in to help the coals burn. Place the barrel on the frame and turn it upside down.

Clamp the 5-inch pipe in the bench vise and cut off a two inches long section using the angle grinder. Clean and descale the pipe’s surface using an angle grinder.

Take the section and trace its outline on the bottom of the barrel.

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Using the angle grinder, cut out the outline of the pipe on the barrel. Weld the two-inch pipe section to the barrel’s bottom.

Weld A Cover to The Air Hole

Cut out a 5” x 5” blank from a sheet of metal using an angle grinder. Using the grinder, grind three corners of the blank till they’re circular, leaving only one corner square.

Take a bolt and weld it to the square corner. Place an M4 nut on the bolt and turn it till it’s halfway up on the bolt. The airhole cover is complete.

Weld the bolt to the air hole. Make sure the cover can rotate in the nut and close the air hole.

Cut Out the BBQ’s Door in the Barrel

Turn the barrel over from the bottom side and mark out a rectangular hole for its door. Make sure the hole is sufficiently wide and long. You can use about 120-150 degrees of the barrel’s top surface for the width.

Cut only the top part of the rectangle you marked out using an angle grinder. Weld some hinges to both sides of the cut.

After welding the hinges, you can cut the remaining parts of the door rectangle.

Weld Some Metal Strips to The Door

Welding the metal strips to the BBQ grill’s door gives it additional stability. Take a 1-inch-wide strip of metal and weld it to the door’s outline. Make sure you match the edge of the metal strip with the door, so the strip doesn’t interfere with the door’s closing.

Also, weld the metal strips where they intersect on the door.

Weld The BBQ Grill to The Frame

Place the BBQ grill on the right side up on the frame, and ensure you have it in an optimal position. Once you’re satisfied with it, weld the barrel to the frame at every single place where they make contact.

Cut Out the Cylinder for The Chimney

Clamp the 6-inch pipe in the bench vise. Measure and mark two sections, 3 and 24 inches from the end, respectively.

Cut the pipe at the 24-inch mark with an angle grinder. Clamp the cut line again in the bench vise. This time, draw a 45-degree triangle at the four-inch mark.

Using an angle grinder, cut out the outline of the triangle. You should have two pipe sections that fit together at a right angle.

Weld The Chimney Sections Together

Take the two pipe sections you cut and fit them together to form a right-angle elbow. Make sure they are square with each other.

Weld them together while making sure they stay square the entire time. Ensure you weld it properly so there is no gap in the elbow.

Attach The Chimney to The BBQ Grill

Take the chimney, place it on the side of the BBQ grill and draw its outline using chalk. Cut out the outline using an angle grinder.

Place the short side of the chimney back on that outline and weld it to the BBQ grill. Ensure that the weld is solid all around with no gaps.

Construct a Vent for The Chimney

Take a ¼ metal round stock bar and clamp it. Cut off two 4” sections from it using an angle grinder.

Weld them inside the top hole of the chimney. Ensure that both of them are placed opposite each other.

Take a sheet metal measuring about 10m by 20cm, and mark its middle. Clamp it in its middle and bend it to about 90 degrees using a mallet.

Take the bent metal and weld it to the metal probes on top of the chimney to form a little roof.

Add A Handle to The BBQ Cover

The handle will let you open the hot BBQ cover without scalding your hands. Take an M4 threaded rod and cut off two six-inch long sections from it.

Take a piece of wood with dimensions of about 1.25” by 1.25” and cut a foot-long section from it. Drill two holes about 2 inches from both ends using an M4 bit.

Insert the M4 rods into both holes and secure the rods on both sides with washers and nuts. Measure a point about four inches from the edge of the BBQ grill’s cover. Draw a straight level line through it using a meter rule.

Place the handle on the line and weld it to the cover.

Add a Handle to The Side of the BBQ

Clamp a 6mm round stock round rod in your vice. Cut two 4-inch sections and one 8-inch section from the bar.

Assemble them at right angles to form a handle with the 8” section in the middle. Weld them together.

Place the handle on the BBQ grill’s other side and ensure it’s right in the center. Weld it to the BBQ grill.

Install The Temperature Probe on the BBQ

The temperature probe lets you monitor the internal temperature of the BBQ through its dial. To install it, drill a hole through the BBQ’s cover with an M3 drill bit.

Insert the probe into the hole and secure it with a nut or any included fastener at the back. Make sure it is flush against the cover.

Add Some Wheels to The BBQ Grill

Adding wheels helps move the grill around a lot easier. Turn the grill on its side (you’re adding wheels to the side with the chimney, so make sure it’s facing up.)

Measure about three inches up the legs of the grill on that side and cut straight through with an angle grinder. Make sure the cut is level and straight on both legs.

Weld the wheels to it.

Add Some Wire Racks to The BBQ

Measure the internal width of the BBG grill and note it down. Take some wire racks and cut them down to fit the width of the BBQ grill.

Make sure they’re the same length as the inside of the BBQ because it has to be a tight fit. Cut some 1” by 1” angle iron sections and weld them to the sides of the wire racks.

Grind down the welds on the racks until they are flush with the surface. Place the racks side by side inside the BBQ grill.

Clean Up the BBQ Grill

Before applying the final touches to the grill and painting it, you have to deburr and paint it. So, take a sander or a grinder and go over all the BBQ grill’s edges to ensure they are free of burrs.

Also, go over all the welds and the joints with a sander to ensure they blend well with the surface. Make sure there are no protruding or uneven parts.

Lastly, go over the surface of the BBQ grill with a sander to descale it and ensure it takes paint well.

Paint The BBQ Grill

Before painting, wrap the temperature probe and the wooden handle in masking tape. Once that’s done, you can cover the grill in any heat-resistant paint of your choice.

Black paint often works best in this application. Wait for the paint to dry and apply another coat for the best result.

Final Product

Your grill is finally complete. All you need now is some charcoal, some drinks, and a few fine cuts of meat.

Viola, you’re set for a great day in the sunshine!

For more great project ideas, you can check out the Norton Abrasives channel on YouTube. They also sell a great range of abrasive, cutting, and finishing attachments that would be a great addition to any toolbox.

Photo by Norton Abrasives EMEA / CC BY 3.0