It’s common for people to want to make their own wood burning grill at home or any outdoor kitchen. They don’t want to buy a pricey one and they don’t want the hassle of cleaning up after someone else did it for them.
If you are new at building things from scratch, then this article will give you an overview of what is involved in building your own, from sourcing materials down to finding a suitable location and conducting safety checks.
Materials to build a Wood Burning Grill
Here we will list all the materials you need to make your own wood burning grill. You may already have some of these items in your garage or place (you might also source them at a recycling center):
A sheet of metal
Look for a sheet of metal that is thick enough to keep heat and sturdy enough not to warp or deform under extreme temperatures.
A cordless circular saw is ideal. The blade should be large (8-10 inches long) and capable of cutting through 6-8 inch planks.
It is important to have one to place on the grill. It should be at least 18 inches wide and made of iron or very thick steel.
This tool is perfect for protecting wooden decks from direct contact with charcoal grill grates, as well as for blocking live coals from getting on your lawn.
Sheet metal screws
The shank diameter of a sheet metal screw is larger than the head diameter. You will need a handful of these. They work best if they’re three or four inches long.
Bolts and Nuts
We need around 24 bolts with nuts that are two or three inches. Bolts need a shaft size that matches the sheet metal screws you bought earlier, so make sure they fit. You can also substitute with steel rods instead but these will be tricky to screw in.
Use a drill that goes at least as fast as 3000 RPM. With this, you will need a few dozen (1") bits with shanks larger than the screws’ shank size. These are for drilling pilot holes for the screws and bolts when you attach the sheet metal to other objects.
Remember: never use regular smaller drills or electric screwdrivers because their speed is too high. It’s not safe to use them on sheet metal.
4 steel bars, around 12 inches long each but any length between 8 and 16 inches will work fine. These can be purchased from hardware stores like Ace or Home Depot where they sell materials to go into making things like fences or grills. These bars are used to attach the sheet metal you bought to wood blocks.
4 wooden blocks with dimensions that matche your steel fence posts. To make these, all you need is a small chainsaw (less than 40cc's) and some wood sawdust. Cut down a tree or use scrap wood at first but buy good quality ones if they will be visible in your charcoal grill.
Keep the material as thick as possible so it won’t burn easily. This is crucial because too many wood chunks can set off an uncontrolled wood fire inside your grill, which means your house could be burned down!
Tools Required for Building the Wood Grill:
A hammer with a head that is larger than 3 inches wide is preferred. Nails have heads up to 1.5 inches wide, but they are too narrow for this application. You will also need something to smack the nail in with. A rubber mallet is ideal for this. This is used to pound in the nails that hold together the woodblocks that form your grill’s body.
Screwdriver or Chisel
Use a flathead screwdriver or (preferably) a chisel. You can use this tool to get rid of the wood on your wooden blocks after sawing them down into shape. It helps make them more stable and less likely to catch wood fire easily. You can also use it to pound down the ends of your nails after you’ve pounded them into place.
Pair of tongs are used for lifting and putting pieces of hot metal onto the ground (or table). Never ever touch these with your bare hands because they will hurt!
Process to build a wood burning grill
Your Grill Body
This will be the primary structure that holds everything together and protects the firebox. The simplest design is a rectangular box secured by four wooden fence posts at its corners. This is fastened and strengthened by more wooden blocks drilled along its length and width, but this is more trouble than it’s worth.
Instead, consider making the body out of several sheets of steel that are welded together. This design lets you put all your tools inside and roll the grill body around once it’s finished.
You can make a complicated design with angles or curved corners if you wish. However, just make sure it is sturdy enough to hold its shape after being rolled around without warping on you!
How to Build a Wood Burning Grill?
The first thing we need to do is create our top panel. This will be where we attach the sheet metal onto another object in order to secure it properly.
To do this, use the diagonal cutting pliers to cut off only three little corners of the sheet metal you purchased. This will create a square-edged hole large enough for your steel bars to fit through.
To do this, mark out where the post will go with a pencil and then drill at least two holes in that spot. The first hole is the pilot hole that you’ll have to drill into the ground. Make it smaller than half an inch wide so it won’t get stuck inside there to give more strength.
Add another whole close by but not too close, about 1/3" away from your pilot hole. These are for attaching whatever material you want to use as a stand or feet on which you can roll your grill around.
The next step is to use the chisel, hammer, and nails you have on hand to attach your wooden blocks onto the bottom of your sheet metal body. Be sure that these joints are tight enough so they don’t come off easily because wood burns easily. That’s why we need steel.
Once this step is complete, it’s time to add a firebox. Simply buy a square edged steel I-beam (about 2"x4" in size) and set it inside your grill body. So that it can pound down four nails evenly spaced apart throughout its length.
Be careful not to pound all the way through so you don't end up with holes where hot coals can fall out later on! You can do this by putting the nails into a block of wood beforehand and then hammering it down.
Select another steel I-beam that you can place in front of your first one for extra support. Place more nails at each end of this beam to secure it. About three on each side, if memory serves me right. If you feel like it, you could also add some diagonal pieces to reinforce it even further.
Now, after you get all the wood blocks attached to your steel body support (the ‘I’ beams), use two sheets of plywood instead of sheets of sheet metal just because they are much lighter than their metallic counterparts and thus easier to move around. This way, we create a cavity for our fire pit grill.
Once this is done, it’s time to create your grill stand. Add support beams to each corner of the main body of steel. Do this by using two pieces of plywood or sheet metal for each support beam and one extra in the center where they all meet. This will ensure that your grill won't fall apart while carrying out its purpose!
If this is your first time building a grill body, take note you don’t have to put any holes into it for air flow. Just make sure it's airtight by sealing up those seams with glue. Cause you don’t want any indirect heat to escape. This way, you’ll have a more efficient grill.
To carry out the finishing touches on your wood burning grill, simply paint it with a high quality material (one that can withstand extremely high temperatures) something like VHT Flameproof paint should work well as a primer. Then add ceramic paint for its final coat.
This should at least give your wood burning grill some color. However, you decide to do it, be sure to wear a face mask so that you don't breathe in any paint particles.
- Your grill must be at least two feet away from any flammable objects (like the house) or it could catch open fire or worse. For safety, we recommend three to five foot distances between your grill and surrounding objects including other wooden structures or houses.
- Check the temperature inside with an oven thermometer you can find at any hardware store or supermarket's cooking chamber section. It should read between 500ºC and 650ºC (between 932ºF and 1204ºF) before putting anything on the barbecue pit for grilling. If you want to check it before cooking anything, use a grill thermometer.
- Cook your food indirectly over the charcoal grill when you are first getting started. The middle of the grill will be hotter than the outer areas so make sure you learn how indirect heating works before diving headfirst into it (remember that we don’t want any burned eyebrows or fingers).
- Wear protective goggles while cooking on your charcoal BBQ pit to get rid of the burning wood smoke. They will protect you against flying bits of charcoal, small embers, and ash that may accumulate in the air. Look cool too!
To really complete your wood burning grill experience, I strongly recommend putting an ash catcher underneath the grill body. This will help prevent any physical damage that may occur to your grill because of excessive ash accumulation. If you don’t do this, your wood burning grill might be worn down over time and eventually destroyed by all the hot coals it has to carry around.
Last, if you want to get a guaranteed result, make sure you use only natural seasoned wood fuels for your wood burning fireplace rather than charcoal or briquettes. When I say 'natural' what I really mean is unprocessed hardwood with very little moisture in it.
If you can't find any, consider making some wood chips yourself by cutting up branches found on nearby trees. Then store them in a covered container so that the wood can dry out.