Intro: Stainless Steel Countertop Becomes BBQ
This is how to make an awesome BBQ from a stainless steel countertop, which is something that can often be found free or for very little money. The material is pretty much perfect as it will withstand high temperatures well. It's a very cheap project, depending on whether you'll need to pay anything for the countertop and griddles. Try finding used oven grids, they're great.
There is some cutting, drilling and bending of metal involved, but no welding. It took me about an afternoon to finish.
(The picture shows the first BBQ I made, because the second one hasn't been used yet.)
Step 1: Gather Your Raw Materials
What you'll want to look for is a stainless steel countertop with one or two sinks. The older models are best, as the steel is thicker. The less wood there is on the back, the better suitable the countertop is.
You'll want the sink(s) to be more or less in the middle; a bit off center is acceptable, you can adjust for that.
This is a suitable countertop. It's on the thin side but it'll do. These are very easy and cheap to acquire in the Netherlands.
You will need:
- steel countertop with two sinks
- two planks
- screws to attach the planks
- nuts and bolts (stainless steel is best)
- grid or mesh for below the coals, can be low-quality
- griddle for the food to be grilled on, needs to be foodsafe; stainless or chromed if you can get it
- gloves (sharp edges!), ear and eye protection
- saw for metal, or an angle grinder
- pliers or wrenches for bending
- wire cutters for the grid or mesh
- paint scraper
Step 2: Remove Everything That's Not Steel
Remove any wood, rubber and other materials from the bottom of the countertop by any means necessary. The cleaner you can get it, the better it is.
Step 3: Remove the Drain Materials, Too
Everything must go. Especially any rubber rings and washers.
Step 4: Time to Cut the Edges, and Fold the Countertop
Measure and mark the desired side height. I chose 60 cm.
Take out your angle grinder (or a saw) and cut the folded edges on either side, so the countertop will fold easily. Allow for the metal on both sides of the cut to overlap (see third picture).
Fold both ends of the countertop upwards (with the countertop lying upside down). It's easier than it looks. I did it by hand and I'm no Wonderwoman. I just stood on it, pressing a piece of wood down with my feet, and pulled the end upwards with both hands. Easy-peasy.
Step 5: Now We Add Some Stability
Unfold the folded edges of the metal near the corners of the narrow sides to make them flat (think of the location where you would put feet). Now drill holes in them.
Get two pieces of lumber that are rougly 10 or 20 cm longer than what will be the top of the BBQ. Make sure they are the same length. Width and thickness do not matter much.
Use screws to attach them between the 'legs' of the BBQ, connecting them. Do not try to make the legs parallel and at a 90º angle to the top: a trapezium shape has a lot more rigidity than a rectangle. That is why the planks need to be longer than the current length of the top of the BBQ.
Step 6: Even More Stability
The edge that was once against the wall usually has a rim that points up, not down. Fold it downwards. The corners will overlap. If you want, you can fold the top layer in onto itself a bit like in picture 2 here.
Now bend the legs into their desired position (so the whole construction is symmetrical) and drill a hole in those overlapping corners. Connect the two layers of steel with a stainless steel nut and bolt on each corner. Hammer down the nasty sharp edges at each corner.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Now it's time to find suitable grates for inside the sinks. They'll make your coals burn better by allowing air to come from below. Cut and bend them as needed, they do not need to be foodsafe or pretty.
Finally, you'll need some foodsafe griddles to put the food on. Old oven griddles work really well. It's nice if you can think of a way to make one of them adjustable so you can grill higher above the fire.
Now fire it up! Heat your brand new BBQ thorougly without grilling anything once, before you start using it, as there may be dangerous fumes from leftover glue and whatnot.
There you have it. Your very own WTFBBQ. Invite some friends, get some tasty food, and enjoy!