Introduction: Beef Jerky Maker/Dehydrator From a Bar Fridge!

About: doing mechanical engineering at uni. id rather make things for myself rather than buying if i can.

This instrucable will show you how to make an easy jerky make/food dehydrator out of an old bar fridge!

Its not the prettiest thing in the world yet but it sure gets the job done.

I have also included my basic recipe for making jerky.

This is my first instructable so go easy and leave some CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.


Step 1: Materials

First of all you are going to need to get your materials together. You will need to find:
# an old bar fridge
# a large computer fan (i used a 120mm fan)
# 8 400mm pieces of angle
# 2 100w incandescent lightbulbs
# 2 standard lightbulb holders
# 1m dual core powercable
# 1 square metre of flyscreen
# 16 lengths 400mm flyscreen surround frame
# 6.5m rubber molding to fit flyscreen
# 1 roll duct tape
# 2 speaker grills
# 2 disposable face masks
# 12 volt power supply ( i used an old car battery charger)
# 2 electrical ring connectors

Step 2: Removing the Refridgeration Unit

Better pictures to come...

First of all remove the radiator from the back panel of the fridge if it has one. Now unscrew the back panel to reveal the refrigeration unit, this needs to be removed as this space is used for wiring up the lights. Drill 2 5mm holes through to the inside of the fridge. These will be used to run the wires to the lightbulbs. Try to place them about 100mm from the bas of the fridge.

Step 3: Inserting the Fan

The fan is the critical component of the jerky fridge. Believe it or not the key to good jerky is airflow rather than heat. This is why its preferable to use a 120mm fan rather than a standard 80mm one.

On the top of the fridge cut out a hole large enough for the fan to fit into.
NOTE: make sure you dont cut all the way throught the plastic lining on the inside of the fridge, this is needed to hold the fan from falling through. If the foam insulation isnt holding together use some duct tape to hold it in. Make sure the fan blows air out the top of the fridge and with the fan's wires sticking out the top use some duct tape to secure it. If you havent already cutout a hole for the fan in the top panel you should do this now.

I have placed some flyscreen over the top of the fan. I have only dones this as i keep my jerky fridge in the garage where alot of debris tends to float about.

Step 4: Fridge Fitout

Drill 2 holes in the sides of the fridge as close to the fridge's base as you can. i cut my holes big enough to i could cover them with some old speaker grills i had lying around.

After you have cut out the holes line the exposed foam insulation with duct tape. To stop dust being sucked in, sandwich a dust mask between the outside of the fridge and the speaker grill.

Now you can screw in the angle which is used to support the racks. I spaced them about 150mm apart. I screwed them in with a slight slope downwards at the back of the fridge to stop drips falling on the lights.

Now its time to wire the lights up. Make sure you wire them in parallel otherwise the resistance is too high and they wont be as bright as they are supposed to be. Splice the wires into an old wall plug. If you arent a qualified electrician dont do this yourself :p

Now you can screw back of the fridge back on and give it a coat of paint if it needs it

Step 5: Tray Time

I made my trays out of flyscreen framing and used aluminium (say al-you-min-ee-um all you americans haha)

They are 400x400mm and have about 5mm gap to the edge of the fridge. I used a mitre saw to cut the corners and little plastic connectors to join up the frame. When inserting the flyscreen i found pre-rolling the flyscreen into the groove before putting in the rubber molding make the job alot easier.

I used four trays. if you want to put in more trays you are probably going to need another fan to keep sufficient airflow.

Step 6: Go Time

Crimp some terminals on the ends of the fan wires and hook them up the the charger. if you have accidentally put the fan in upside down you can make it blow air OUT of the top of the fridge by swapping the wires round on the terminals. You can use the different settings on the charger to change the rate of airflow.

Plug in the power for the lights and your jerky fridge is good to go!

Now you can place you jerky on the trays and dry it out. I have found it usually takes about 8 hours to dry.

Make sure you take it out when the meat can be bent, but wont snap for the perfect jerky!

Step 7: My Recipie

This is my basic jerky marinade. I have adjusted it over time to suit my taste.

For every 400g of raw meet i use...

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worcester sauce
80g smokey BBQ sauce

For best results place the marinated strips on the trays then grind black pepper over them and some cayenne pepper if you like it hot!

Dry for ~8 hours and dont eat it all at once!