Introduction: Low Budget BBQ Chimney Starter, IKEA Hack

Picture of Low Budget BBQ Chimney Starter, IKEA Hack

Last year we decided that we want to use a chimney starter. We bought one from Weber and it works very well! But some times we don't need all the charcoal fitting in the big Weber chimney. We wanted a smaller one.

Step 1: Tools and Material

Picture of Tools and Material

You will need:

• Kitchen utensil rack, stainless steel like the IKEA "ORDNING", Diameter: 4 3/4", Height: 7 1/8" (Diameter: 12cm Height: 18cm)
• Wood hammer handle, around 350 mm - will be cut to desired length
• 4 Steel plain hanger bolts, 8mm, 50mm long (M8x50)
• 4 Steel hex-head cap screws, ~8mm (depending on the utensil rack, 8mm matches the IKEA one)
• 20 matching screw nuts
• NOT USED HERE: Additional metal sheet to save hands from the heat of the briquettes.

As tool you will mainly need a wrench in screw matching size.

Step 2: Attach the Feet

Picture of Attach the Feet

To make four feet use the hex-head screws.

  1. Insert screw from the inside using the four corner holes as marked with the red arrow.
  2. Fix the screws with one nuts.
  3. Use one to two additional nuts to make the feet at the end of the screws. When using two nuts you can screw them against each other and the foot will be sturdier.

Addition: After we used the Chimney Starter we noticed that burning the briquette takes some time. We would now suggest cutting out some parts from the bottom of the utensil rack for better ventilation. But not too large to prevent the briquette from falling through the holes.

Step 3: Attach the Handle

Picture of Attach the Handle

Use the hammer handle and the plain hanger bolts for the chimney handle.

  1. Cut the hammer handle to a length comfortable to grab. We used about 17cm.
  2. Choose one row of holes. Mark the second hole from above and the second hole from the botton in this row. Measure the distance between these holes.
  3. Mark two points with the measured distance on the small side of the hammer handle. Screw the plain hanger bolts into the hammer handle at the marked positions.
  4. Screw one nut on each plain hanger bolt
  5. Attach the hammer handle to the utensil rack
  6. Fix the handle with two additional nuts.

Addition: If we would build the chimney starter again we would add a metal schield at the outside of the utensil rack. Therefore just use a metal plate in matching size. Drill two holes in the measured distance in the middle of the plate. Slide the metal plate over the two hanger bolts fixim them between the nut and the outside of the utensil rack.

Step 4: Use It

Picture of Use It

Use your finished low budget BBQ chimney starter as you would use any other chimney starter. The chimney will get hot - be careful with your hands and wear a leather glove.

After a while of usage there are two main things which we would do better next time:

1. Make some bigger holes on the button for more air ventilation
2. Attach a metal schield to the handle to protect the hands from the heat.


vladivastok (author)2016-08-02

"Seem's a little short at 7 1/8" , but it still does the job im sure. "Like it". thank's [VLAD]

slysimon (author)2016-02-11

What an excellent idea. I'm in need of a smaller diameter starter. I think I might get two of the containers, cut one down and using two bolts mount it upside down on the bottom of the first instead of using the bolts as legs.

becida (author)2015-12-06

I read the comments, it seems many missed the part about this being a smaller chimney. A commercial one needs a lot of coals to work right

Foskifo made it! (author)2015-06-25

made it with similar container but used some fancy parts found at work for the feet.handle is apple wood.tried the chimney this evening.quite smoky but worked just fine.average cost:5€

theo67 (author)2014-07-07

Place the leg base bolt the other way up so it stands on the head of the bolt, lock nut them to the base and save yourself four nuts per leg.

bamseline (author)theo672014-07-09

True! I am not sure why we didn't do that...

josecnc (author)2014-07-05

Buena idea! me parece que el mango podría mejorar, corre el riesgo de quemarse las manos...poner mango tipo una sartén... :)

rickets (author)2014-07-01

nice 'ible, looks lots better than my old one. I voted for it

I made a new one but for some reason the site won't let me upload pictures. if I can get it working i'll put up some pictures

bamseline (author)rickets2014-07-02

That would be nice!

rickets made it! (author)bamseline2014-07-02

figured it out now. not very good pictures but gotta work with what I got. I used a coffee can with just holes around the bottom by can opener and 4 equidistant around the outside bottom to help lighting the paper. I mounted the can inside of an old cake pan(about 1 1/4" up) as a heat shield so I can set it on a picnic table and hopefully not burn it down. everything is 6-32 screws with flat and locking washers(legs on pan are about 2"). I guess it's really just a 1burner charcoal stove.

Aaronh1 (author)2014-07-01

Most people use a chimney starter to avoid using lighter fluid.

jewelsmythe (author)Aaronh12014-07-02

indeed. with a chimney, you don't put lighter fluid residue into either the environment OR your food.

bamseline (author)Aaronh12014-07-01

Yes, that's the reason for us, too. A friend burned his son using fluid starter.

jesselfout (author)bamseline2014-07-01

Sorry to hear that, hope he's ok!

bamseline (author)jesselfout2014-07-02

yes, but avoiding any flame since then.

jewelsmythe (author)2014-07-02

Nice one. May just make one after my current Weber rusts through. Need to find a place to get a larger-diameter one, though, i'd want to use as much charcoal as the Weber holds.(you do know you can just use less than a full chimney in the Weber, right? :) )

Especially with the chunk charcoal I'm usually using - it's bigger than your average briquet.

MS441 (author)2014-07-01


bamseline (author)MS4412014-07-02

Right ;o)
Because of that I wrote that you use either a leather glove or add shield.

MS441 (author)bamseline2014-07-02

Absolutely a heat resistant glove or shield. I like your starter, my Weber is getting a bit tired and I do already have that Ikea container!!! Keep up the good work!!! Thanks.

wazzup105 (author)2014-07-02

Hey! I have one of these.. great way to upgrade it !

ElectroFrank (author)2014-07-01

I know what a barbeque is, but I have never heard of a chimney starter.

Please would you explain what it is for, what it does and how it works ? These things are not explained in the instructable.

Defkon1_IT (author)ElectroFrank2014-07-02

bamseline (author)ElectroFrank2014-07-02

Oh. Didn't thought of that.
The starter uses the stack effect (or chimney effect) know from buildings. The chimney effect is a physical effect that causes vertically directed air currents. The chimney effect happens because of the natural convection. Warm air is less dense than cold air -> thermal convection occurs and air exits through the upper opening. Inside negative pressure is built and the external pressure forces air through the lower opening in the chimney. This leads to a self-preservation of the effect.

Here, the chimney starter this effect is used to get oxygen at the charcoal and get them hot fast. You put the charcoal in, light them and wait some time. Then you empty the hot charcoal into the BBQ.

You will finde lots of "how tos" to use it in the internet.

jellmeister (author)2014-07-01

Nice simple instructable.

To maximise the chimney effect it is worth trying to find a pot with non-perforated sides so the air has to go from bottom to top as this will increase air flow and get things much hotter much quicker.

Watch out to make sure you don't choose aluminium though as the base of a good chimney will melt anything the melts cooler than steel... The steel wire across the base of mine has crept and sagged horribly in the heat, so even that is on the limit (perforated sheet is probably better than wire though)!

bamseline (author)jellmeister2014-07-02

That's true!

Great Ikea hack! Nice job!

Thank you :o)

Maine Export (author)2014-06-30

I'm not sure this is any cheaper than just buying one. They're only around $10 at a hardware store or Walmart.

bamseline (author)Maine Export2014-07-02


But in Germany it is hard to get the smaller chimney starter. We have to order by internet (with additional shipping costs) or go to the netherlands to buy one.
And: Where is the fun of making when you buy one? ;o)

omikeo (author)2014-07-01

does it cost more than they sell for ? like 14-15$ try some coffee cans

rickets (author)2014-07-01

I made one many years ago out of a steel coffee can. used a church key to punch holes around the bottom then a sharp knife and pliers to cut and open slots also on the bottom. never did get a handle to be sturdy enough to not bend but set the can on the grill and fire it up with some paper and coal and it worked great. put 2 steel tent stakes across the top and I could make a pot of coffee in no time, or cook something in a small pot, or just dump out the coals to bar-b-que

Klappstuhl (author)2014-07-01

Seen a lot of Instructables that keep using metal items as stoves or BBQ grill, and each time someone asks the question I must ask now: Is the metal safe for heating, and does it release toxic material or fumes? Wouldn't want something to stick to the briquettes that could potentially be harmful. Just worried.

SpecEd (author)2014-07-01

Nice Hack!

jimdkc (author)2014-07-01

I'd add a split lock washer wherever you have a nut tightened against another surface.

Luny (author)2014-07-01

Looking at my Weber, it has two grill racks, one on the bottom, and one higher up. Based on that, can't you just do without the bottom altogether since the chimney sits on the bottom grill rack? Crumple some newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, put it on the bottom rack, fill with charcoal and light. When the coals are ready, just lift up the chimney, everything falls out the bottom, spread out and put the top rack on. Of course you'd probably want to put a handle on the top too. Just a thought. :)

Ricardo Furioso (author)2014-07-01

Might not be cheaper, but the stainless steel will last a lot longer than my rusty steel Weber model.
Thanks for the instructable.

KingKefir (author)2014-06-28

best IKEA hack ever.

bamseline (author)KingKefir2014-06-28

Thanks a lot!

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