Stainless Steel Countertop Becomes BBQ




About: I like to tinker. I'm a co-founder and active participant of my local hackerspace: Hack42 in Arnhem, the Netherlands. You can also find me on under the name Moem.

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.)

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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
- hammer
- wire cutters for the grid or mesh
- paint scraper
- drill
- screwdriver

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!

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    39 Discussions

    Cheers for this.
    Easy enough for me to do. My better-half has a birthday coming up and this would be the perfect prezzy for him.
    Already have all the materials and already have one of his mates on standby should I need a helping hand.
    This is gonna so awesome to make & can't wait to see his face either :-)

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh wow! I feel honoured. That is just great.

    Please, please post a pic when you're done, and by any means, if you have questions feel free to ask!

    Here's wishing the birthday boy an excellent day and many happy returns.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Txs. I'll try to remember the pics - think he'll be to eager to use it.
    Txs for the best wishes too, will let him see the instructable after I'm done lol


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very well done instructable!!

    A word of caution: stainless steel transmits heat more rapidly and for a greater distance than does carbon steel. So watchout for hot surfaces once the coals get going.

    I would add cross bracing in the front and back for stability, and feet at the four corners to allow for uneven ground surface.

    10 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, stainless steel conducts heat a whole lot less than you'd expect. A lot slower than normal steel, that's for sure.

    Yes, if you're worried about stability cross bracing is an excellent solution. I decided against it, as I felt it wasn't needed.

    Thanks for the kind words and suggestions!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Have you ever tried holding stainless steel while it's being welded at the opposite end?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I lived to tell the tale, the stainless steel motorcycle luggage cases turned out great, and they lasted all the way across Africa and until this very day! :-D

    Srsly.... alloys tend to conduct heat a lot slower than pure metals do, and stainless steel is an alloy. There is a reason why good quality stainless cooking pots have a thick bottom with a layer of copper or aluminium inside.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, say I'm thinking of building a kind of case for my motorcycle out of stainless steel (or aluminum maybe). Have you made an Instructable for them? Did you use TIG welding?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Spot welding. And sorry, there's no Instructable, it's too long ago. But I can tell you a few things:

    - I started by making a pair of dummy cases from cardboard to get the fit right, it helps a lot.
    - I used 0.8 mm stainless steel (from a junk yard). Almost two square metres of steel for my two cases.

    Here's a pic of my cases. This is when they were brand new. They look a lot more beat up now, but they still hold up great!

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, they look very nice! Almost factory-made!

    Say, what kind of a spot welder did you use?
    A mean does spod welding 0.8mm stainless take a lot of power to do?
    Could you have ade them out of thiner, say 0.6mm steel?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I didn't make them all by myself, though. I had help.

    Furthermore: *BAM* This is where you hit upon the limits of my knowledge. I have no idea what kind of a spot welder we used, it was at a technical school and they kindly let us use their equipment. So I couldn't tell you anything about the machine. I can tell you that I had fun.
    I do know, though, that depending on the exact machine you have access to, 0.6 mm stainless is most likely possible. Many of these machines can handle pretty much anything up to 2 x 1mm.

    Word to the wise: if you don't have a spot welder, find one you can use first, and then make your design. Because the shape of the arms limits the freedom the machine has to reach tight spots.
    For example, it may be better to put a seam in the middle of one of the sides of your case, rather than in the corner, so it's easier to reach.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks once more for your answers.

    I guess I have to build myself a spot welder first and then move on to thinking the things I can fabricate with it!

    Your "word to the wise" is a DAMN GOOD advice!
    One that you have to fail first to know!

    Thank you!!!


    7 years ago on Step 7

    Very slick idea!

    Just looking at it, I'm seeing a mod or two that might make your bbq-ing easier...

    You could put a pan under the drain holes so you could just sweep the ashes into the hole and be ready for the next round. Maybe some metal tube so the ashes slide down to a pan or ash bucket.

    Leaving some counter to the side would probably make prep and cleanup considerably easier as well. I know I'm always looking for more counter top space when I'm outside using the smoker.

    I'm already envisioning a double grill next to my smoker and gas grill... maybe actually incorporate a working sink so I can actually clean items outside.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the suggestions! The ash bucket idea is so good that we've already been using it. No tubing needed: cleanup is very easy as it is.

    When this thing is on it's generally too hot for any counter space to be usable. You will probably not want to de standing that close when doing any preparations.
    The contruction is not rigid enough to be used as a counter either.

    So that is why I choose not to leave any space to the side. But of course, preferences differ and variations are always an option.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I found it easier to build an adjustable height BBQ into the sink and use the counterspace for it's original purpose, by drilling the sink walls and installing firebed rods near the bottom of the sink. You can cold smoke by making a cover for firebox sink and pipe smoke over to 2nd sink. Use the drains as is with tin can catchpans.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Now those are good suggestions, and I'm sure someone will find them useful. Thanks for posting!