When grilling just a couple of burgers, hotdogs, sausages, ... it seems overkill to haul out the big grill. I wanted a more portable, compact, efficient hibachi-like grill. I got the idea to make a grill out of a can when I saw plans for making a soup can grill. (I can no longer find the article, but thanks to that author for the inspiration.) This little grill is tough, cooks fast, and economical.
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Step 1: Parts
* 1 coffee can
* 1 stainless steel cooling rack (about $6)
* 4 long bolts with wing nuts (about $2)
* 4 short bolts with nuts (about $1)
* Few inches of utility wire (scrap will do)
Regular nuts can be used instead of wing nuts, but the wing nuts allow the legs to be detached for more compact transport.
Step 2: Tools
* Dremel with cut-off discs for cutting the can in half and cutting the cooling grate into appropriate sized sections. (If you don't have a Dremel, get one! This is one of the handiest tools to have.) Several discs will be needed. Maybe a fine-toothed hacksaw would do (?)
* Screwdriver and pliers
* Wire cutters
* Clamp to hold can halves together while sizing and cutting
* Emery cloth or similar sandpaper to sand away sharp spots
Step 3: Cut the Can in Half
Use a flexible ruler to draw a line marking the can in halves. Do your best to make the line as close to the halfway point all around. It will help to mark a center point on one end of the can. There are lots of ways to do this - here's an instructable to help. Use the Dremel to cut the can in half.
Step 4: Combine Halves and Trim Excess
Once the can is cut in half, insert one half into the other. Choose a custom length for your grill by moving the halves closer/further length-wise. Since they are the same size, the inner half will sit slightly higher than the outer half. On one side, align the halves. On the other side, the inner half rises above the outer. Now, clamp the halves together. Drill four holes equidistant from the center and bolt the halves together with the short bolts. Mark a line on the inner half indicating the cut that will make the halves flush all around. Use the Dremel to cut off the excess.
There are likely better ways line up the halves and reduce the amount of cutting. Please post comments to the forum if you have ideas.
Step 5: Attach Legs
Calculate and mark four equidistant positions for the bolts (legs). It will help to mark the bottom center on each end. Then, pick an offset (e.g., 40mm) on either side of the center. The legs should not be too close together (making the grill tall and unstable) nor far apart (making the grill bottom almost touching the ground). Drill holes large enough for the four long bolts. Attach the bolts with the wingnuts.
Step 6: Cut Grate to Size and Attach
Place the cooling rack on top of the grill. Use the Sharpie to mark the dimensions on the rack (soon to be grate). It should slightly overlap the grill on all sides. Use the Dremel to cut the grate to size. (Sorry, cannot find pics of cutting the grate.)
To make the grate hinge: Drill two small holes on one side near the top ends. Use two loops of utility wire to attach the grate to the grill. (See next step for a better look at the wire loops.)
Step 7: Cut Fire Grate to Size
Use the Dremel to cut some of the left over cooling rack to size for a fire grate (rack for the coals). This will give the charcoal more air circulation for better lighting and burning. Also note in this picture the wire loops used for attaching the grate.
Step 8: Prepare and Ignite
Get some delicious grillables ready. Load the grill with briquettes. With the curved, reflective properties of this grill, eight briquettes is more than enough. (I plan to experiment with fewer in the future.). Light up the charcoal and wait for them to get ready.
Step 9: Grill!
With eight briquettes and the short distance from the charcoal to the food, this little grill cooks at a high temperature. Keep an eye on your grillables :)
One obvious variation of this project would be using a smaller can - perhaps just large enough for a single burger. In this case, the can could be emptied from small hole (e.g., church key puncture), then cut the can in half all at once to simplify the cutting process and eliminate the alignment steps.
Other ideas for variations and improvements would be welcome. Happy grilling.