It’s that time of year again where we all want to be outside in the garden, cooking sausages and burgers and spending time with friends and family. It’s simple enough to rush off to the local garden centre and buy some cheap disposable barbecues or some more expensive kettle barbecues, but what could be better than investing some time and energy into the matter and building your own?
Here are the basics on how to build your own barbecue.
A brick-built barbecue is the simplest sort to make at home, and there are many different tutorials and fact sheets available online (such as this guide to outdoor barbecue designs) which will help you with the process. You are going to need plenty of bricks to build your barbecue out of, mortar if you are going to make the barbecue a permanent structure, metal shelves to cook the food on and a larger tray to contain the charcoal.
Although you’ll probably want to buy new shelves, trays and utensils, you don’t need to buy new bricks and this can be a good project for reusing bricks you have lying around the garden or try to pick them up cheaply on a recycling site such as Freegle or Gumtree.
Planning it Out
Don’t just pile straight into building your barbecue with no idea of what you want the finished thing to look like. Work out how large your shelves and tray are, and how many bricks you will need to lay out to get the right size.
Think as well about how high you want your barbecue to be, and leave enough space between the charcoal tray and the cooking grills. Sketching out a plan of the finished item can help you work out how many bricks you are going to need.
If you have a patio, this can provide the ideal stable surface for building your barbecue on. If not, you will have to first make a flat surface foundation to build on. This can be as simple as a couple of paving slabs laid in the corner of your garden, but whatever foundation you choose to use it is important to make sure that they are perfectly level. Taking time over this part of the building process will ensure you have a great finished product.
If you are only going to use your barbecue a few times over the summer, the easiest thing might be to stack up the bricks without using mortar, as this way you can rearrange them as many times as you need to get the right design for your barbecue and then it can be taken apart after the barbecue season is over. If you want it to be more permanent, use mortar to glue the bricks together as you work, remembering to overlap the bricks as much as possible to get a very strong wall.
You don’t have to be as neat as you would when doing work inside the home, but take your time and do a few practice bricks if you are not sure about the technique to use.
Keeping it Straight
The main problem encountered by novices at building brick barbecues is keeping everything straight and perpendicular. If bricks aren’t straight, the walls are less stable and the trays you have so carefully measured for are less likely to fit.
All you need to keep things square and straight is a spirit level, which are very cheap to buy and should be used regularly to make sure you are keeping things on the right track.
Once your barbecue has been built, you can then slot in the tray where your charcoal will burn, and the shelves for cooking your food. You can also add extras such as hooks on the outside of the barbecue for hanging tools, or further shelves underneath the tray for storing extra bags of charcoal and other bits and pieces.
To keep your barbecue looking great year after year, brush it clean after each time you use it, and buy a plastic cover to protect it from frost and bad weather over the winter.
After all that’s done, why not try one of our tasty barbecue recipes on your band new hand-built barbecue?