Homemade Steel Grill Burner

Making a large-capacity outdoor grill from a 55-gallon steel barrel is the perfect project of do it yourselfers. Copies of this homemade classic have been marketed commercially, but few are any better. You can make the main part of the grill yourself, but if you don’t have welding equipment or skills you might need to have a welder finish the stand for you.

Things You'll Need

  • 55-gallon steel barrel not used to store chemicals
  • Jigsaw with carbide blade for cutting metal
  • File
  • Sandpaper for metal
  • Universal grill grates
  • Door handle with bolts, washers and nuts
  • 4 brackets with bolts, washers and nuts
  • 1 steel rebar, 4 feet long
  • 3 steel rebars, each 3 feet long
  • Metal grate
  • Cordless drill with 4 inch bit.
  • Arc welder
  • Welding rod
  • Protective mask
  • Spray paint for metal


  1. Preparing the Barrel

    • 1

      Use the jigsaw to cut the barrel in half lengthwise. One half will be the pit. The other half will be the lid.

    • 2

      File and sandpaper any sharp edges left by the jigsaw.

    • 3

      Drill a spread of 4-inch holes on the bottom of the pit half. These holes will allow air to enter, which is necessary to keep the charcoal burning.

    Assembling the Grill

    • 4

      Cut a metal grate to rest on the curve of the pit half 2 inches from the bottom. The charcoal will rest on this grate.

    • 5

      Drill holes for the angle brackets to hold the grill in the pit half. The grill needs to be about 8 inches from the top of the charcoal. Locate the brackets 5 inches from the sides. Secure them with nuts, bolts and washers.

    • 6

      Drill holes for the handle in the center of the lid. Attach the handle with bolts, washers and nuts.

    • 7

      Drill matching holes for the hinges at the rear of both the pit and lid. Place the hinges about 7 inches from the sides. Bolt and tighten the hinges to connect the pit to the lid.

    Finishing the Grill

    • 8

      Weld the pieces of 3-foot rebar into two x-shaped pieces to make a stand. These are end pieces of the stand. Weld the 4-foot rebar to join the end pieces.

    • 9

      Sit the barbecue grill on the stand.

    • 10

      Spray paint the exterior for a more attractive grill using heat-resistant paint.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may be able to find commercial cooking grills to sit on the curve of the pit at the right distance so you won’t have to install brackets. You can also cut steel mesh to use as a grill or weld one out of rebar. If you don’t want to make your own stand, you can often buy a metal cart or metal stand from a hardware store. It should be at least 3 feet high.
  • Do not use a barrel that has ever contained chemicals.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

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