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Jul 14, 2002 01:01 PM

How to Make a Big Homemade Grill?

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I'm having a party next week, and I'd like to have a huge charcoal grill on hand. I've called the local party rental places, and I can't afford to rent one.

Is there some (preferably) safe way of making a large grill for less than $50. The ideal size would be 2'x5', like the ones I looked at at the rental place. I'm an apartment dweller with limited access to tools.

Is this idea feasible?

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  1. Call welding shops or metal suppliers and inquire about a sheet of expanded metal lath (I think that's what they call it) and just get some cement blocks to set it on and build your fire right on the ground. Might be sort of hard on the back but I bet it comes in under budget...

    5 Replies
    1. re: suzannapilaf

      In the trade, it's called "diamond mesh" and it's available in 3'x5' or 4'x6' in steel or aluminum. The
      aluminum you can get at Home Depot for about $12-15.
      Aluminum is nice because it doesn't rust and it's light
      weight. However, it's kind of floppy, especially when
      heated by the fire. For this reason, you will need a
      couple pieces of re-bar or metal pipe underneath to lay
      crosswise from block to block to support it. Eight full
      sized cinder blocks standing on end (3 on each side, one on each end) will be required. You can use charcoal, but I prefer a fire of hardwood (hickory or oak) burned down to a nice bed of coals. A metal-tyned garden rake is ideal for tending the fire and spreading the coals. Long-handled scissor-type tongs are recommended as you don't want to roast yourself
      along with the meat. Also shoes and long pants for the
      grillmeister. I pour all the marinade into a big foil
      turkey pan and quench the meat in it periodically to
      keep it from burning or drying out. This is my favorite way to cook and I have fed over 200 people at a time with just such a set-up. Before you start, though, pick a clear patch of ground away from any fire hazards and other activities (volleyball, horseshoe games, play equipment and other structures).
      Keep a garden hose within easy reach and NEVER leave the fire unattended. Keep children and drunk people out
      of the area as well as any flammables. Fires can be as
      fascinating to some people as an un-attended microphone
      at a wedding reception. Keep a responsible adult on firewatch at all times.

      1. re: flavrmeistr

        I found this posting to be just about perfect, taking into account that nothing *is* perfect!

        I don't know when/if I'll need your instructions, but it's a terrific, really easy to follow, do-it-yourselfer. All the elements are there, and it was entertaining too! Thanks. pat

        1. re: Pat Hammond

          Thank you, Miss Pat. Outdoor cooking is definitely asubject I warm up to. Pun intended, of course.

        2. re: flavrmeistr


          Great post, thanks. Can't wait to try this. Quick question:

          How do you keep the diamond mesh fastened to the rebar (otherwise, would it tend to move or potentially roll away?), and the whole thing fastened to the cinder blocks?


          1. re: Uncledave

            Most standard 18" block has a lip on both sides of the end. 1/2" or 3/4" re-bar or pipe will lay right in there. Even without the lip, the diamond mesh justkind of flops on the block real happy-like. I always have the baptismal font of marinade and a pan ofbeans warming to weigh it down. Also for slower cooking on larger slabs of meat, you'll want to pull them over to the side. The slower the better. You'll get the hang of it. Once you do, you'll never be happy with a little gas grill again.

      2. Thanks so much for the suggestions so far. You guys are amazing. I knew if anyone could help me with this, it would be the hounds. There's one other catch that I forgot to mention in my pre-caffeinated haze: we're not allowed to build any kind of open fire.

        I realize this scenario is becoming stranger by the minute, but what we really want to do is heat up a large number of rocks without using any open fires. We're having a clambake, but the beach where we're doing it won't let us build an open fire. Last year we got around the problem by borrowing charcoal grills from everybody we knew, heating the rocks on the grills and then dumping the glowing rocks into the pit. It worked like a charm, except that it was a pain in the neck to amass, transport, set up, clean, and return 15 small grills. There has to be a better way. Hence my quest for One Big Grill.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Lindsay B.

          See if you can borrow those 4'x4' cement troughs. I have used them for enclosed fires.

          1. re: Lindsay B.

            In a way, that makes it easier, since you don't really need surface area over the coals to heat rocks. You could use a steel drum, cut holes in the sides at the bottom for air, start a file in the bottom, add the charcoal and rocks in layers and watch it burn.

            The only tricky part is finding a steel drum for less than the cost of renting the big grill. Don't use aluminum or glavanized steel. Since the rocks will not be in direct contact with the food, you don't need to be too scrupulous about what was in the drum. Pesticides would be bad, but I wouldn't worry about lubricating oil, for instance.

          2. Yes, it is! I'm building a grill out of a 55 gallon drum. It will cost me less than 50 bucks. The drum itself is about $15, some extra bucks for the hinges, handles and bolts and then the metal for the stand.

            For more info on how I am building this grill visit this page:

            1. Go to a car junkyard and buy a big steel truck wheel. Turn it over and top with a square of steel mesh from the hardware store. Voila!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Your description reminded me of the grills everywhere in St. Lucia, although those were made with car rims and rebars.

                And I've seen you mentioned it before:

                1. re: Caralien

                  Right! Saw them being sold (with re-bar legs) and in use in Kampala.