Introduction: Reclaimed Brick Arched BBQ

About: Dad of two and habitual shed dweller

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I love fire, I love meat, I love slightly burnt meat. So decided to build a BBQ/fireplace in my back garden. I made this just in time for my Son's first birthday party. It fed 26 people so i think it was up to the job!

I want to start off by apologising to all the brick layers around the world for butchering their craft, I have no previous brick laying skills and it REALLY shows. With this abundance of ignorance I planned the BBQ as simply as possible, I made as few cuts as possible and made the grills to suit the layout of the bricks. I did pick up a couple of books from my local library which gave me some very good tips and ideas.

There were mountains of sketches drawn in the planning but they were sacrificed to light the inaugural cement curing fire so I cant share them with you.

The outside skin is made of reclaimed bricks which were free from friends garden projects which made them homeless, and I am lucky enough to work at a steel works so i managed to acquire some old furnace bricks for the inside skin (I've been told they are about £2 each if you buy them new). As you can see in the photos through out the Instructable, i also laid a patio whilst i was at it.

I'm not going to preach about cement ratios and foundation depths, you can google just as well as I can. Plasticiser in the mortar mix did help though.

The tools I used were:

Various trowels, most importantly a pointing trowel and a pointing bar

brick hammer, lump hammer and 4" bolster chisel

spade and shovel

spirit level and tape measure

angle grinder with diamond cutting disc

hand saw

cordless drill/driver

A couple of buckets and an old plastic roofing sheet for mixing

In all the whole project (not inclduing the patio) cost me four cans of stella artois and a bottle of brandy. You've got to love a nice thing that turns out cheap!!!

Step 1: The Foundations and First Courses

I started the first two courses with engineering bricks. As you can see in the first photo I laid out my furnace bricks and then placed my engineering bricks around leaving a 10mm gap between each brick. As i said previously this is a rough as hedgehog poop.

For the foundations I dug a pit 150mm wider and longer than the foot print of the bricks, filled it with concrete and waited a few days (and of course wrote my name in it). Once it had set I started by laying two courses of engineering bricks and four courses of reclaimed bricks on top, let it set and filled it in with rubble and topped it off with about 25mm of mortar. After the mortar set I laid some old quarry tiles on top to make it look pretty. As I built up i kept checking it was square by measuring the external dimensions and tapping the bricks about when needed.

Just a note about using varying types of brick on the same project, the slight difference in size can really start to throw the dimensions out after a few courses, some bricks were 7mm taller than others. It pays off to lay all the bricks out dry for each course and get an idea of where you want the level to end up.

Step 2: Building the Walls of the Fireplace (warning Blindingly White Leg Skin Alert!)

Once I had built up to where I wanted my opening I left a gap in the front that was two bricks wide. This was where i started cutting bricks, for those that haven't done it before a good clean whack with the bolster chisel and lump hammer should do a nice cut, but have a practice first. I did clean up some of my cuts with the angle grinder. The half bricks I now had finished off the edges of the opening. I took it up to nine courses above my base.

Speaking of angle grinders, be careful. Don't be a tool with a tool like me, use the handles properly and don't squat in awkward positions or chances are your project will become one of literal blood sweat and tears! (apologies for the cave dweller complexion of my legs!)

You can see that I put a guard on the opening at the bottom. this was and old bit of catwalk steel. I sprayed it with some high temperature BBQ paint and set it into the mortar between the bricks.

Step 3: The Arch (de Triumph)

This is the part I was most nervous about building.

I wanted a shallow arch as opposed to your typical semi circle arch. I found out that that the minimum height of the arch (the rise) has to be at least 1/8 of the width (internal span). so mine had a 450mm internal span which meant the minimum rise I could use would be 57mm. I went for about a 150mm rise which seem to look just right to me.

To build the arch former I took three pieces of 18mm thick ply, clamped them together and drew out my arch and cut them together. I cut an indentation along the bottom edge to leave short legs on the ends so that when the mortar had set I could saw the legs off and let the former drop down and slide out the front. I took a piece of flexible thin ply board and nailed it across the top of the three pieces of thick ply to make an arch. I also put in some support legs but to be honest I don't think they really did any thing.

After placing the former on top of the bricks I laid some loose bricks on it so that i could figure out the angle that i had to cut for the retaining brick on the outer edge of the wall. Once I has cut all the retaining bricks and laid them I let it set for a few days before I started laying the arch bricks. I left a hole in the centre for the chimney by putting two half bricks in, the mortar held them in place quite easily.

The key stone was easier than I thought it would be. I found some nice decorative eye bricks behind my shed when i bought the house and knew they would come in handy one day. I cut a taper with the angle grinder from top fading to the bottom, put the brick in place and crammed as much mortar as I possibly could into the gaps. When I was laying the key stone i couldn't decide whether or not to have it flush with the front or sticking out, and as this was the days of brexit it became known as the referendum brick! ( I voted to stay in the EU, so at least I got my way with the brick).

I left it for four days and hey presto it worked!!

Step 4: Filling In

My next step was to fill in the rear wall below the arch, and to start lining the inside with the fire bricks.

I rough cut the rear wall bricks with the angle grinder as the wouldn't be seen and slapped a load of mortar all over it for good luck! I also placed to small triangle cuts on the front to keep it square.

The fire bricks are very soft and I cut them with an old hand saw, I was told that the should only have a few mm of fire cement in the joints so I cut it all quite tight.

To give me some where to put my grills and fire bed I laid the fire bricks on edge and just turned a few side ways where I wanted a shelf. My first rack (the cooking rack) is 150mm above the fire bed. The fire bed is an old cast iron drain gully cover I found.

Once they were all laid i lit a small fire to cure the fire cement.

Step 5: The Chimney

I got the chimney pot from a friend at work who was clearing his garden. I sat it over the hole in the arch and levelled it out using slivers of brick left over from the cuts I had made for the arch and key stone. It pays off not to tidy up to much.

I haunched the pot in place with a stiff mix of mortar and smoothed it out as much as possible with the pointing trowel.

Not much more to tell other than that.

Step 6: Cooking Time

And it was finished!

I bought a couple of cast iron brackets (officially my fathers day present) and my brother kindly made me the wooden shelf on the side.

The fire bricks really retain the heat, I only put a small amount of charcoal in and i had to wear a welding gaunlet to turn the meat with the tongs!

One down side is that because the opening is so tall some smoke come out the front when you start a fire but once its going it draws quite well.

If you like this Instructable please vote for me in the backyard competition.

Thanks for reading!

Step 7: Big Fire Update!

I thought I should do the fire side of the bbq justice and post a photo so here you go!

Backyard Contest 2016

Second Prize in the
Backyard Contest 2016