Once a year we gather for a Thanksgiving feast with 3 or 4 turkeys cooked on a spit. Last year we rented a mobile unit ($$) so this year I came up with plans for our own. It can easily be sized up or down for your needs.

The BBQ was built as a dry-fit project - no mortar was used. It's a lot easier to assemble and, if the location doesn't work out, it's move-able. Also, if a brick happens to crack from the heat, it's easily replaceable.

NOTE: I won't really be addressing the details of the rotisserie motor. Suffice it to say you'll need an old electric motor (from a furnace or a clothes-dryer) with a gear-box that can slow down the RPMs. Ours is an antique unit that turns the spit at about 1 revolution per minute. I imagine a combination of bicycle gears could be rigged up to do the same thing.

Step 1: NEEDS: Materials List

Note - These are the materials I used... I list them only as suggestions. With luck you'll have other materials hanging around that will work just as well!


25 - - - - - 8" x 8" x 16" standard blocks

15 - - - - - 8" x 8" x 16" cap blocks (or standard)

4 - - - - - - 8" x 8" x 8" half blocks

22 - - - - - 12" x 12" patio stones (optional)

4 to 8 - - -Wood/metal Stakes

1 - - - - - - Flagging tape or string



1 - - - - - -16' x 12" wide expanded steel (optional)

6 to 8 - - - 24" rebar pieces (optional)

2 to 3 - - - Cubic feet of sand or gravel

2 - - - - - - -4' x1.5" metal pipe



1 - - - - - - Food-grade steel drum

1 - - - - - - 20' x 1.5" angle iron (bed frames are great)

1 - - - - - - Wooden hockey stick

4 - - - - - - 5" x 5/16" bolts (with nuts & washers)

2 - - - - - - 2' x 1/2" threaded rod (with nuts & washers)

1 - - - - - - 7' x 12" (1/8" thick) steel plate

1 - - - - - - High-heat flat-black BBQ spray paint


FOR THE GRILL (optional):

1 - - - - - - Expanded Steel 30" x 48"

2 - - - - - - 1" x 64" Steel Pipe


<p>BE CAREFUL when selecting a &quot;food Grade&quot; drum for this or any food related project. You can make sure it's food grade by verifying the writing on the drum which will usually have some type of food product on it. Also most &quot;food Grade&quot; containers have a sprayed plastic liner in it which may or may not contain a cancer causing chemical called BPA. BPA can leech into your food when it's heated. I prevent this by using a flex grinder to remove all of the liner before using teh drum. It's a pain in the a$$ but my family's heal;th is worth the extra effort. Remember to wear a mask when grinding so you don't inhale the toxic dust created by the process.</p>
<p>I am so going to make this.... We're having a big Hoedown in June and Im gonna roast a hog!! So excited... pics coming!!!</p>
<p>I was wondering what &quot;friendly&quot; welder person means. Free?</p>
Have everything on our property to make this, all we have to buy is the heat spray. Will let you know how it works out. Thank you for the new idea.
<p>We just had another great Thanksgiving celebration with the Rotisserie BBQ... did you have any luck building yours?</p>
<p>does anyone know about using a porcelain lined water heater?</p>
<p>it would be okay if you could cut it without messing up the lining. </p>
<p>Are the cement blocks fire rated or do they not get hot enough to worry about it? We have used pavers before and they cracked and exploded</p>
Thanks for your question! Nope, the cement blocks aren't fire rated... I couldn't afford that option. On the other hand I haven't had any problem with the blocks cracking yet - even with some pretty large and long-burning fires. <br><br>Here's a few things that may help to prevent problems: 1) Dig a pit around one ft deep and have the fire burning on a layer of sand below ground level. That way the most intense part of the flames isn't making contact with your bricks. 2) Never light it up when the bricks are wet. Thermal expansion will cause havoc in your bricks... I could imagine some nasty cracks from stream trying to escape. I keep my BBQ covered with a simple tarp, so it's always dry top to bottom. 3) Try to make the BBQ larger than the fire you'll be burning. This again is to keep the flames from making direct contact with the block surfaces. 4) Leave a way for heat to escape. I keep an opening in the front for smoke to come out. It also helps moderate the temperature inside the BBQ. 5) Dry-fit the cinder blocks like I did. If a brick does happen to crack... or just deteriorate over time, its not a big deal to replace it. <br><br>That's all I can think of. Good luck too you and please share photos of you do build one (-:<br>Paul
I got lucky today. Bought 2 55gal food grade drums for $20.
Wow... great deal! Now enjoy cutting them in halves :)
That's what I'm worried about.
<p>Nice set up. I really like it but for myself I would make it half as wide, not enough family and friends to cook 4 turkeys for.</p>
Good idea... the build-size is very flexible. We only do the multiple turkeys once a year (Thanksgiving) but it is nice to have lots of space at other times. With the grills on we can cook over fire on one side and just keep things warm on the other.
<p>Overall cost? Where did you get the food grade drum?</p>
<p>Overall cost is hard to nail down - depending on what you have lying around and if you can do your own welding. I got the used food-grade drum locally by looking on Kijiji. It cost only $15 and apparently had fruit-juice in it previously. When you go to a supplier for the cinder blocks, try asking for &quot;factory seconds&quot;. That will save a bunch of cash.</p>
<p>nice...now I've been asked to make one...lol</p>
<p>O_O. Must. Build. This. </p><p>Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Can't wait to see pictures of your project. Let us know how it goes!</p>
<p>would love to see an instructable on how you made the rotisserie motor </p>
<p>I hear you. I lucked into a ready-made assembly, borrowed from the neighbour. The key thing here is the gear-box, since electric motors are fairy easy to find. Another option is a simple gear reduction with sprockets and chain. Here's one guy's set-up that seems fairly easy - though I would slow it down even more.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1rRLJHfyG-M" width="500"></iframe></p>
<p>it depends on how much weight you put on there no? how fast would that thing turn if you had several pigs or a cow in there? is there a way to rig up a switch to slow down /speed up the motor when you want it to??</p>
<p>Between this and the clay oven demo a bit back it could become a difficult choice of which one to do. Both are on the list of outdoor cooking things I want to do. I didn't read all the comments, but pulleys correctly sized and a link belt will slow revolutions down. Best to start with a slower turning motor so that your pulleys are so differently sized. </p>
<p>Thinking about it further a wheelchair motor might be the way to go, great torque and slow revolutions.</p>
<p>Now that's a great idea! I'm going to look into it further (availability, etc.) Thanks for the &quot;out of the box&quot; suggestion.</p>
<p>Awesome project! but everyone needs o keep in mind that cinder blocks are not rated for high heat. they will dry out, break down, and some times explode when subjected to very high heat. however, I personally have only ever dealt with such a situation when making rather small fire rings for.. well bon fires at impromptu camp sites. the cooking heat in this project should be displaced enough where it is not a major issue for the blocks, but please keep in mind that high heat and cinder blocks dont mix, they will break down and need to be replaced sooner than later,, </p><p>every old redneck I know throwing down yearly pig spits on their property usually are reusing the metal bits and building a new block foundation for every party. </p>
<p>Good points there... thanks. You could line it with fire-bricks but the price (and difficulty) would go up substantially. Here's how I am avoiding the problems you mentioned:</p><p>1) Dig a pit. The fire itself only makes direct contact with the ground.</p><p>2) Make it wide. Gives more room for the heat to dissipate upwards.</p><p>3) Cover it up. I use a tarp to keep the rain off - and bricks always dry.</p><p>4) Have water ready. Always good in case the fire gets out of hand.</p>
<p>One question: Is cleaning out the coal/wood after a problem? Or does reduce down enough?</p>
<p>Great question. After a good long burn it does reduce down to very little ash. So far I have just spread it around - but eventually I'll need to scoop it out with a small shovel. Maybe once a year?</p>
Yeah and I could see a shop vac making short work of it too, though dedicated one since that soot and ash might make it a mess for any other uses.<br>GREAT INSTRUCTABLE BTW, I have already saved it in hopes once I have a future home, this'll be the one thing I will be planning on building for the backyard.
There are two types of filters available for most wet/dry vacs. If I recall correctly, they're about $15 &amp; $25 each. For ash, cement, etc., spend the extra money for the finer filter. <br><br>If you use the cheaper filter, dust will get through the filter and into the motor. Eventually it will clog &amp; make your vac work harder. Some dust will also come out the exhaust port of your machine and make a real mess. <br><br>Spend the extra money for the better filter.
<p>You all did a top notch job,love it.</p>
<p>Thanks! (I actually think LEGO deserves much of the credit. Grin.)</p>
Yeah well my grandson keeps telling me what a good educational tool they are,when I was a kid they were not as popular,or as expensive.Again great job.NNTR
<p>You've assembled a great group of friends. This was an interesting project. Obvious thought behind it. Thanks.</p>
<p>Really appreciate your comments. We are fortunate to have an annual family gathering... the turkeys, not so much (-:</p>
<p>That.</p><p>That right there is the single thing on this site that made me go from &quot;oh that cool&quot; to &quot;AHHHHHH WANT!!!!!&quot; in about 2.2 sec.</p><p>You are a god among humens.</p>
<p>Thanks for your feedback.... glad to hear you liked it!</p>
<p>You should build an even bigger one for roasting entire cows/bulls!</p>
<p>80 lbs of turkey... yes. 2000 lbs of bull... not sure we're ready for that yet! </p>
<p>Huge Texas BBQ nerd speaking:</p><p>Wonderful design, construction and presentation. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I'm planning on building a brick smoker some day and now I would absolutely love to do this rotisserie as well.</p><p>Thanks for taking the time to put up detailed pictures and notes. I know that this is often an annoying step when you just want to work on your project. Great job.</p>
About that brick bbq, i picked up an old book that had some killer ones in it. The book was a printed by mechanix illustrated. It is volume 2 of their how- to-do-it encyclopedia copyright 1961. There is even plans for traditional bbq for doing my favorite chinese dish-- bbq pork (aka- char siu)!
<p>Good luck with your project Mike... I'd love to see pictures when you're done! BTW, you are 100% right about the documentation. It's can be a challenge remembering to put down the the hammer and pick-up the camera!</p>
<p>nice work looks great and also thanks for making me want to eat my screen....</p>
<p>Careful with those pixels... I heard they leave a nasty stain. (groan) </p>
It really does make amazing tasting food... and lots of it! Smile.
Amazing idea. Great tutorial.
<p>Thanks for your comment... very kind of you (-:</p>
<p>Excellent project, and excellent documentation. Thanks for sharing this!</p>

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