No Grill? No Problem!
Summer is here and that means that grilling season is among us. But what if you don’t have a grill? Don’t you worry. This blog post outlines just a few of your options for crafting your very own DIY Grill Grate! Below you can find links to jump ahead if you’d prefer to skip to the specific instructions you need.
What Material Should You Select?
The two most common materials used to make grill grates are Steel and Stainless Steel. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Because of these, there is no clear “best” choice. Rather, it’s all a matter of what fits your situation and needs best.
Steel is a superior heat conductor due to the lower amounts of carbon in the metal. This results in a more evenly distributed amount of heat across the grate. If you are looking for branded char marks on your food, steel is the optimal choice. While cheaper than Stainless Steel, Hot Roll Steel does require more maintenance and cleaning as they are vulnerable to rust.
Stainless Steel is the grate that will last a lifetime. It is highly resistant to rusting, is highly resistant to temperature fluctuations, and is extremely easy to clean.
However, Stainless has two disadvantages. First, the higher amount of carbon in the metal makes it less thermally conductive. This means that to get a good branding and even cooking, you need to get thicker bars to store more heat. As mentioned in the Steel section, Stainless Steel is on the more expensive side.
Easy Grating Methods
Easy Method 1 – Expanded Sheet
Expanded Sheet is one of the more popular methods for creating a grill due to the ease and low cost. Just buy a sheet in the size you need, fit any support as needed, and put it into place. Our expanded sheet is all of single-piece construction, so it is extremely tough and won’t unravel with time. The ideal gauge for this method is 9ga, which should be able to support your grilling needs.
For thinner sheet material (13-18ga), it will require a frame and cross supports made possible with angle and bar material. (pictured below)
Intermediate Grating Methods
Bars and more Bars!
If you have some power drills and want to show off your skills, this is the method for you!
For this DIY grill grate, you’ll need:
- 2 Square Bars
- 2 Rectangle Bars
- 4 Steel Taper Screws
- Round Bars
The rod spacing and diameter must be chosen before you start this. Additionally, there is no fixed size, it’s really a matter of opinion. In principle, the thicker the Round Bar is, the more heat energy it will store for cooking. Here’s our general recommendation for sizes.
|Round Bar diameter||Bar spacing||Round Bar diameter (Metric)||Bar spacing (Metric)|
Making the Grate
Follow these steps and you’ll have your grate is no time. Also, check out the image below so you can see exactly what we’re describing.
- Measure the size your grate will be
- Determine your Round Bar diameter and Bar spacing
- Acquire materials in size and quantity required
- Mark Square Bars where you will be drilling for the Round Bars and Screws.
- Drill Square Bars
- Thread the four holes for the screws
- Insert Round Bars into holes on one Square Bar, slot on other Square Bar
- Screw on Rectangle Bars for support and rigidity
Words of Advice
Always use your safety gear! Also remember the motto for this project is “Measure twice, drill once.” Lastly, you can also use some wood for the Square Bars to make a template.
Grill Base Construction
There are an almost infinite number of configurations for making the base to your grill. We’re going to stick with some of the easier ones that are our favorites.
Cinder Blocks and Bricks
Cinder Block and bricks are our favorite material for making grills. They can be easily stacked like LEGO bricks, they are tough, and can be used for really quick and dirty or more elaborate and permanent grills. Also, cinder blocks in particular are relatively inexpensive. Lastly, the open spaces in cinder blocks can be used to create chimneys, air funnels, and access points!
Here is one of the most sturdy and most basic examples. Just stagger the cinder blocks into an open topped rectangle and put the fuel in the middle. Then just lay your grill grate on top and you’re done! Note the sideways cinder blocks at the bottom for more air flow.
Here’s another simple example. It’s very similar to the previous example. Except you only build three sides of the structure for easier access to the fire. Please note how this is made from simple materials but is still elegant. Also, it is designed to double as an outdoor fireplace when not grilling.
This is probably my favorite example. It is simple, sturdy, and has a lot of grilling space! One of my favorite details which can easily be overlooked is that they slotted a Hot Roll Angle at the front of their DIY grill. This provides extra strength and rigidity for the expanded sheet. Also, it prevents any sausages or corn from rolling off the grate. Nobody wants that.
Re-purpose What You Already Have
Last but not least, we’re big fans of upcycling and this is a great way to do it. Because the body of your DIY grill is already built, you just need to clean and assemble it (more or less). Just make sure you’ve properly cleaned things out. Also, if you want to paint it, make sure you have heat resistant paint!
Here are a few of our favorite examples:
- Check out this really cool DIY BBQ Barrel using a 55-gallon drum.
- Another favorite of ours involves re-purposing a large tool box.
We hope you found this guide useful and can’t wait to see what uniquely functional grills you create using our materials and other repurposed materials.