Oil-drum Barbecue

So I thought I’d jinx the summer for everybody already and create my first post for the Urban Wildman about barbecue. I love barbecue-ing and especially grilling large cuts of meat on a slow roast. This prompted me a couple of years ago to attempt building my own barbecue. 
I had a vague idea if what I wanted, so after some research I settled on the idea of building my own oil drum barbecue, a cheap way of creating a very large barbecue that can also be used a a smoker or a slow roaster.

The first step was to source a drum. Ideally it would have to be one that hadn’t contained anything flammable as I would be cutting it with an angle grinder and the idea of this thing exploding in my face did not appeal to me. In my research, I found some old news articles, published on my birthday (!) the year before about a gentleman in Oxfordshire who this happened to with obvious consequences… 

I turned to Preloved and found one there for a tenner. It had contained urethane resin for some packaging company so after a good rinse with washing-up liquid and opening both holes to get some fresh air in it, I figured now would be as good a time as any to start cutting.





I had never used an angle grinder before in my life but I found it easy enough to use, fairly precise as long as you don’t want to go too fast and don’t force the blade too much. It is a very violent little machine so I made sure I was wearing gloves and eye-protection!
First, cut the top line of the hinges. When this is done, drill the holes and mount the hinges as it is a lot more difficult to do this and line them up properly after you have cut the whole lid. 

After this you can cut the rest of the lid out.
I went for a quarter size opening, instead of cutting the barrel in half. I figured this will allow for better heat retention and give the opportunity for smoking as well. I cut it following the lip to give it a bit of an overhang to stop rain from coming in.

I had laid the beast in an old steel table frame I had lying about and it started to look like the real deal already! Now all that needs doing to it is burn it to get rid of as much paint as possible to clean the inside of the drum and season it, mount some brackets for the grills, drill extra ventilation holes at the bottom, attach a handle and insert a thermometer in the lid, as well as adding a chain to stop it opening too far. And oh yes, try and find a frame to mount it on. And a grill, otherwise it is just a very large outdoor fireplace, and we already have one of those. And paint it somehow…But, as always, I ran out of time this weekend, so this would all have to wait until a few weeks later…


When I asked at work, it turned out they had a spare steel packing table from one of our distribution centres and they very kindly let me have it, as well as a few spare pallets for building materials. Went to pick everything up in the Volvo and with some very crafty disassembling of both the table as well as the car it fitted right in and we got it back home. It is very big, made to be worked on standing up and very deep, so we had to be very careful getting it through the alleyway into the back garden to preserve our knuckles.

Not being a welder, the only solution I saw was to mount the red steel table frame from the pictures above in the new frame, creating a cradle in the middle of this massive blue frame, giving the option of creating some work surfaces either side as well as underneath. A frantic weekend of angle grinding, cutting, drilling and mounting followed, with the result being a cradled oil drum sitting inside a nice blue frame. If I thought the drum was big, this frame was huge!


SAMSUNGAs you can see, I already made a start with the handle (made from a broomstick), brackets for the grilles and a retaining chain for the lid. I also drilled some holes on the side for air on both sides, mounting an old mayonnaise lid as a means to close of some of the vents.


That evening I lit the first fire in there to burn of residues and to get rid of as much paint on the outside as possible. SAMSUNG





The next day I sanded the whole thing back to metal and painted it with special black stove and barbecue paint. This would protect it a bit more from the elements without creating noxious fumes that would taint the cooking.
After this, we were on the home straight, time to finish it off. 

I disassembled some pallets and created some shelves left and right and below the drum. SAMSUNGI made these with the idea of using them for storage of wood/garden chairs, charcoal etc. Maybe I’ll make some doors for them later on, I don’t know yet. 


Last, I sanded them roughly and coated them in linseed oil to give them a little bit of protection:


The finished job (for now), not looking too bad for someone who has never done any metalwork before in his life!

So now all we have to do is wait for barbecue summers…I will post actual recipes and barbecue tips separately, for the moment I can say that it has performed beyond expectation so far!

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