Wooden Biltong Box

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Introduction: Wooden Biltong Box

About: I love creating and making things. From leather wallets, wooden rings to DIY projects. I also make videos of everything I make, have a look at my YouTube channel.

This is a two-part Instructable, this is how to make the Biltong Box, click HERE to see my recipe to make your own delicious Biltong.

Biltong is an awesome South African dried meat snack. It can be made with Beef or many other types of game. It was traditionally made outside, but using a Biltong Box you can make your own in your own home.

For this build you will need;

  • Wood

Step 1: Cut Wood & Sand

To start with I cut down the wood to size. I will upload a .pdf plan to my website you can download for free. But you can use this idea and make it any size you want. All you need to remember that it needs to be taller than wide, and allow enough height for air to be bought in and escape at the top above the meat.

I used my circular saw to cut all the wood down to size. I was using very cheap wood, and forgot to put strips of masking / painters tape down. If I had it would have controlled some of the tear out, and I could have got some cleaner lines. It was not the end of the world, I just took some more time and sanded it all down afterwards.

Step 2: Glue Door

I needed to glue up two separate pieces of wood to make the front door. I put some wood glue down the in between two of the pieces. Gluing two bits of end grain wood can be quite tricky, so I made sure to use plenty of glue, and put the pieces in some large sash clamps. I made sure to leave it a good few hours to ensure it was fully cured. I may have to go back and add some more bracing on the front face to support, but I am fairly confident that it will hold fine.

Step 3: Cut Holes

I am using a computer fan to blow air into the box. This is a really low powered fan so it should be fine to leave it on constantly for a good few days. I held it up against the back panel towards the bottom. And drew around the inside of the fan blades to work out what size hole would be needed to let the air in.

I used my drill with a large wood bit and drilled a series of holes around the circle. Then took my jigsaw and cut out to connect all the circles. Using my dremel with a sanding wheel I smoothed out the cut. I added another smaller hole to the right of the large one for the light fitting.


Then I used a 13mm spade bit and drilled 3 matching shallow holes either side, on the side panels. They are near the top, and will be where the dowels go later to hang the meat from.

Step 4: Predrill, Glue & Screw

I held the top and one side panel together with a corner clamp. While this was held in I predrilled all the holes using a countsink bit. This will make sure all the screw heads will be hidden below the face of the wood for a clean finished product.

I then ran some wood glue along the edge and screwed it together. I started with screwing the top, bottom and one of the side panels. Then slide in the bottom panel and glued and screwed that as well. It is important to do in this order so I could get the dowels in properly.

I cut down 3 pieces of 12mm dowel to just over the wide of the inside of the box. I then put some wood glue in each of the shallow holes and placed the wooden dowels in the holes. This is a little bit fiddly, I needed someone to help hold the dowels vertical while I put on the other side panel. This way the dowels are glued in and can't fall down any time. This makes them nice and secure.

Step 5: Shut the Front Door.

Then I took the door panel I made earlier, and lined it up against the Biltong Box. I made sure to line it up against the top edge. The door just needs to look neat from the top, and needs a bit of a gap below to allow it to swing open.

Then I used a pair of hinges to attach the door. Again I predrilled the holes to avoid the wood from splitting.

Step 6: We Need to Vent

I then added another 6 x holes using the same 13mm spade bit at the top of the box, these are along the top of the box. I then attached the fan at the bottom. The way it works is the bulb heats up the box and the fan blows air into the box, the air flows up through the meat and out of the holes at the top. I made sure that the fan was facing the right way, and blowing air into the box rather than pulling it out. I wired the PC fan into an appropriate plug, but make sure to read up on what power you fan needs. I have seen a few people use a USB powered fan which should help take out some of the guess work if you are unfamiliar with electrics.

I then pulled the light cable through and hot glued the light fitting to keep it secure.

Step 7: What's the Catch

I then used this catch to keep the door shut. They are a little fiddly to attach but I wanted to use a catch you couldn't see while the door was shut. I screwed one side to the inside of the box, and then the other piece on the door.

I bought a nice brass knob, but the screw was a bit too long so I used my dremel and a cut of disc to trim it down to size.

Step 8: Final Photos

Remember to check out my recipe video on how to make your own Biltong using this box. I hope you enjoyed this guide, and if you make your own please remember to share a photo with me!

I done some very quick and rough plans. I will do something slightly better in the future I promise. But for now if you head to my website there is a button to download the pdf.

DOWNLOAD FREE PLANS HERE

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36 Comments

Very Interesting. I'm building one too. Thanks for the great Ible!

1 reply

Thanks :D Make sure to show me photos of the finished thing! Also there is one day left to vote in the Box Competition I've entered on here. If you can give me a vote it would be amazing. Thanks

well that is nice and a fun and useful device indeed.

I have a general question. where I am it is increasingly harder to obtain incandescent light bulbs and leds are not very hot being much more efficient, how could you make one of these without the light bulb , using some other low current device as a heat source? and what might it be.

uncle frogy

2 replies

Hi Uncle Frogy :)

Thanks for the comment! In regards to the bulbs, I'm not sure I just hunted around or tried online. If you are unable to make the heat, I would consider adding more air flow. I know people that have made without a bulb and it has worked out, but I would add another fan or a few more ventilation holes! I hope that helps!

If you liked the post it would be awesome if you could vote for me in the box competition I've entered! Thanks Edd

In my biltong box, I went for two 50W halogen bulbs, I added holders for two because once its gotten the dehydration process going to you switch off one. I wouldn't really recommend a incandescent bulb with out a base in the box because if juices fall on the globe the the bulb can explode. I made base on top of which I place paper toweling, when the meat is drier you can remove it. It also helps keep things clean, as the spices fall on the paper toweling.

@retiredphnman The idea is not to have any humidity on the box, industrial driers actually in a way "cook" the meat, because the process happens too quickly. When I was a kid we would hang biltong out in the garage to dry and the just have a fan blowing to circulate the air that's all you need. The light bulb will remove the humidity in the box and the fan is there for circulation. if the bulb "cooks" the meat then either the bulb is too close or to many watts. experiment. If your meat starts getting white flecks it's mold of sorts, just brush it with vinegar and salt, to kill it. But then either there is moisture or the fan is not drawing enough air through it. My fan is at the top because hot air rises and the bulb also helps the airflow faster. Cold air in the bottom, warm air out the top, it will get to a point where you can switch the fan off and the bulb will generate enough heat to circulate air through the box.

Regarding the fan, a 100mm or bigger PC fan is perfect, a 500mah power supply with run it perfectly.

As for the holes, get aluminum mesh or similar and hot melt glue it over all the holes. this way you don't have to deal with the flies etc.

Anyways once running correctly you can use it to dehydrate apple and all other manners of food.

Хорошая вещь! А если сетку сделать, то можно грибы-ягоды сушить!

Молодец!

1 reply

I have used a biltong maker using an incandescent bulb years ago, (also 40W bulb) and found that it "cooked" the meat. Definitely not nice.!! Since then I have used a large box with a small table fan blowing air into the lower part of the box on one side. Used a removable tray at the bottom to catch drips etc., and a lid made of a frame with fine mesh to keep out flies and other insects and for the circulating air to exit the box. Makes beautiful biltong and works well even in humid and relatively cool areas (like the coastal region of the Southern Cape in South Africa.

What internal temp along with relative humidity are you looking for? How are you monitoring the heat and humidity?

1 reply

Hi, really sorry I can't actually be of much help. I have a friend who makes Biltong professionally and he just gave me a few pointers. I don't really know what temp etc it should be at. It's a 40W bulb hope that helps.

Cool box. If you live in a warmer area with more bugs i would really suggest yoi get more ventilation and also cover those holes with mesh to keep the crawlies out. Also add some kind of removeable drip tray to catch the liquid and spices dripping off the meat.

You can dry sausage this way too, but they have to be very thin ( pencil thick) and no fat as this can go rancid real quick.

1 reply

Yes after I finished the video I laid down some tin foil to catch any mess! I've seen someone else using an actual making baking tray so I'm on the look out for a nice big square one! I will have to try some sausage or salami one day. I've worked with a guy that makes all his own cured meats but I've only ever tried Biltong. If you liked this project it would mean a lot if you could vote for me in the competitions this instructable is entered in. Only takes a few seconds. Thanks again for the comment!

Very nice work and completed with simple tools.

my two cents would be to cover the holes of the ventilation up with some screen/cloth to prevent insects to get in.
Also to cover the bottom wood with something that you can clean easily.

3 replies

Thanks for the comment! I would probably cover the ventilation if it was in any other room, but I keep it in my kitchen which is pretty clean. But maybe in future I'll add some. One thing I didn't show in the video or pictures is I did lay some tinfoil at the bottom and a bit over the bulb to protect that. But I have seen a photo of someone else using just a baking pan. So I'm now on the look out for a square one! Also if you liked this it would be really great if you could vote for me in the Box Competition :) Thanks

thx for the update.

Already voted in both categories

What power bulb did you use for the heat source? Also is there any venting cut into the box? Also a link to your website would be great. I plan to build it and then cure some meat!

3 replies

There's instructions and pictures of the holes at the top for the exhaust.

What isn't described or mentioned at all is how the fan is powered.

Hi, to run the fan I just wired it to a mains plug. I am always a bit wary of showing people electrics as it is different for every country. I know well enough what I am doing, I just worry about showing someone something they are not comfortable with! I've seen lots of people use USB fans that you can power by plugging into any usb wall plugs!

I hope that helps!

I'm confused - the fan linked in Amazon, and the one you show in the picture, are 12 VDC fans. Are you saying to connect that to 240 VAC?!