I'd been looking for an old fashioned cast iron hibachi-type grill but it seems that all that is available now is the cheap pressed steel models with flimsy grills. I decided to make my own out of some stainless steel channel I had salvaged from a job site. I thought I would have to buy a cast iron grill from Home Depot or some such but my "dump karma" was working and I was able to find one that seemed just the right size for what I wanted. At the same time I also found another enameled grill that I was able to cut down for the coals.
The only things I had to buy were the rivets, the cutting disks and of course electricity (some day maybe I'll be self sufficient there...)
I'll say it here then again later: SAFETY FIRST! There is NO project you can work on, make yourself that is worth the loss of an irreplaceable eye, finger or other body part (including hearing). Make sure you wear eye and ear protection and gloves as well. Remember that you will be working with sharp pieces of metal that don't care how "manly" you are....
Measure twice & cut once. It is hard to stretch some materials to fit once they've been cut. By the same token, don't be disgusted and quit if you screw up. Be creative and recognize that this is a hand-made product and some imperfection is OK and in the final analysis, if it will still do the job you intend, it is something you made yourself instead of buying.
Step 1: Assemble Tools and Materials
I used some channel SS I'd found, some sheet stainless from the sides of an office style water cooler (also from the dump) and miscellaneous other pieces of stainless angle etc.
*Eye, ear and hand protection
*Grinder (variable speed is good but use what you have) with a metal cutting disc available for about $2 each. I used 4 for this project, one of them grabbed in the kerf, tweaked my wrist a good one and basically destroyed itself. Watch that and have a good, strong, steady grip on the grinder. Make sure the metal being cut doesn't move around so clamp it down if you can.
*Tape measure & steel rule with a 45 degree angle or a framing square
*Sharpie/marker for marking
*Miscellaneous clamps, vice grips and pliers
*Pop rivet tool and stainless rivets
*Plastic and steel hammers
*Cold chisel and center punch
*Drill and 1/8" bit for rivets
*Stainless rod from 1/8" welding rod
*Stainless tube with one end flared
*Sanding disc for grinder to smooth cut surfaces and make smooth edges
*I had a piece of steel angle iron which was handy for bending the corners
*A stable work space
Step 2: Measure and Cut and Bend SS Channel
Based on the size of the cast iron grill I found, I measured the first piece of channel and cut one angle off for this to be the top piece. I then measured and marked the sides and including a +/-2" piece to lap over back into the first side to be riveted. I transferred the lines onto the sides then marked the 45 degree cuts and cut it all out.
Once my 45's were cut, I used the steel rule on edge and marked the inside of the channel where I wanted to bend it. Because the rule was in the area of the bend itself and my line would end up being a little offset, I made allowances for that.
I used the cold chisel to follow the line on the inside of the channel and give it a bit of a "pre-bend".
Take the time to use the sanding disk to smooth away the cutting flash and any sharp edges that could bite you later.
Step 3: Bend the Channel
I clamped the steel angle iron in the channel, just a little (+/- 1/8") back from my bend line then used the plastic hammer to complete the bend. I then moved the whole mess to the end of the 2X4 and used the ball peen to make it a bit more square of a bend rather than rounded.
I did this twice more then bent the "tongue" in to the first side. Clamped it in place, drilled then riveted it in place. Because this would be the top and nesting on top of the fire box, I put the rivets from the inside out so that the smooth side of the rivets would be on the inside.
Step 4: Make the Bottom
Making the bottom was basically the same as the top except:
* I left both sides of the channel intact.
*I measured the sides 1/8" smaller so the top would slide on.
I measured and cut a piece of the sheet stainless (which had bent up sides) for the bottom and as it turned out, it was a good height for the coal grill.
I cut the coal grill to size, put the bottom sheet and the coal grill in then clamped the tongue on the first side of the base, drilled and riveted it together. In this case the rivets went in from the outside so the long end is inside and doesn't interfere with the top sliding down.
After drilling for rivets, sand off the flash on the inside so that the rivet head will sit flush.
Step 5: Adding Adjustment
Now I had the 2 main parts. Unfortunately they weren't quite square but I was able to fit them together with some careful pounding with the ballpeen hammer at the corners of each piece to either square them out more or dent them in a bit as needed to get them to go together (then come apart...)
I measured, marked and drilled holes in the sides of the top piece for the 1/8" welding rod (with the welding compound removed and the ends somewhat pointed), slipped this over the bottom then drilled through 2 holes on each end of the bottom.
I used the welding rods in different holes to do my height adjustment but found that it was a bit of a challenge finding the hole/s on the opposite side. At this point, I though about a tube going across in the bottom to guide the rods into the holes in the opposite side.
in my collection of stuff, I found some 1/4" stainless tubes with one end slightly flared so I enlarged the holes in the bottom, tapped in the tubes then cut them off almost flush on the other side. I then used a large pointed punch to flare that end slightly so that it would stay in. Alignment problem solved!
Use the sanding disk and go over any exposed sharp edges which may cut you (or someone else) later.
Step 6: Adding Handles Etc.
So now I had the basic structure. I realized I'd need handles and some way to keep the grill from sliding across the top so I made the handles from some other stainless angle I had. I also cut and raised a portion of the top channel for a back-stop. I think if I was doing it again, I'd just rivet in a piece as cutting that section seemed to compromise the rigidity of that side of the top. I'm sure it will be fine, but....
So there it is. I still need to figure out some sort of adjustable damper to control airflow into the firebox. It will probably be a rectangular cut hole (maybe one on each end) with a riveted shutter that will sit fairly flush so as not to interfere with the top sliding down.
I also added some feet, a carry handle and a cover which doubles as a tray to set the BBQ on when in use.
I debated on doing a brushed finish with a wire wheel but decided that while it might make the overall finished appearance better, the smooth stainless may be easier to clean. We'll see....
I don't know what will happen when it gets hot and if the metal will tweak and make disassembly/adjustment difficult but I still have my trusty hammer......heh heh!
Step 7: Charcoal Chimney
So every good BBQ needs a good charcoal chimney .
The body is the base of the water cooler and the back is a left over flat metal from the lid cover. I marked and cut a piece from the grill body for the grate and riveted it in just above the ventilation slots that were in the water cooler base.
Step 8: Light the Charcoal
I stuffed some newspaper in the base, loaded some dry guava wood chunks in the top and lit it off. it took more than one load of paper, I had to feed in a couple more sheets while it was burning to keep it going.
Commercial chimneys have a shield between the body and the handle and I just assumed that it was a liability issue, they didn't want anyone carelessly touching the body and suing someone but I realized that the handle DOES get hot! I may modify to address that issue.
Step 9: Make Skewers
These are made from the 1/8" ss arc welding rods with the coating removed then stuck in the drill with some sandpaper to clean the rest of the surface.
The loop is made by clamping it on a metal rod (a drill bit in this case), bending it around then closing the loop with some pliers. Sharpen the end on a grinder, making sure that you have eye protection...
Step 10: Putting It All Together!
We have a grill, we have hot coals, we have veggies skewered and we have nice hamburger patties. Lets put it all together and see what happens....YUM!
I ended us closing off the opening in the smoker "cover" and putting some temporary tab handles on it. I'll need to come up with some temperature resistant handles as it was a bit of a trick taking this one off to check the burgers.