The art of building a wood or charcoal barbeque on a budget

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Barbecue Garden Fire pits & barbecues
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Meat cooked on open fire has always been considered a delicacy. And it is a barbeque which makes it possible. While readymade barbeques are available in the market, people with space prefer building their own barbeques. Building a barbeque is not tough if all the required materials are assembled with care.

With a few skills and tools anyone can easily build a barbeque. Among the different types of barbeques out there, the most popular ones are the brick and charcoal barbeques. Read on to make yourself familiar with the various aspects of the building process.

Make room

While building the barbeque, allowance should be made for extra space on the sides, for raw and cooked meats. Essentially the raw and cooked versions should be kept on separate sides of the barbeque if possible. If sufficient space is not available on the same side, make sure that the raw meat is the closest to the barbeque.

It would be better if the raw meat is not passed over the cooked meat on its way to the grill, as it would contaminate the cooked food. Ideally some space on both the sides is essential because extra plates or ingredients can be accommodated then.

Pick up a project

While constructing a barbeque it is important to pick a project that is well within your budget. Pick the right spot in the yard that will be suitable for the project. Lay the groundwork and assemble the materials needed and available locally. The grill grate should be rust proof, cast iron or stainless steel.

Make sure you have on hand

Before barbecuing it is good to make a checklist of all the items that are important for the barbeque pit. For making a wood-fired pit, a shovel, rake, level, carpenter’s square and tape measure should be assembled. For building the barbeque, 48 cinder blocks, two sheets of 4”x4”16 gauge steel, one sheet of 48”x80”expanded metals, and sand should be available.

Buy the materials

Once the project is decided and the place for building the barbeque is chosen, the materials can be bought as per the specifications decided. It is better to check the different grill sets, and refer to recommendations about the different varieties available in the market. There are porcelain-coated cast iron and stainless steel models to choose from. Charcoal barbeque kits are also available.

Heavier grills are better than the lighter versions as food does not tend to stick to them. Moreover, they are also sturdy and will not tip over while cooking. It would also be a good idea to buy a barbeque brush or a ball of tin foil to clean the bars of the grill. Two pairs of tongs one for the raw meat and one for the cooked meat are essential. A trowel to move the coals is also important to have on hand.

The foundations

Clad your Braai in Stone The Braai Man Garden Fire pits & barbecues
The Braai Man

Clad your Braai in Stone

The Braai Man

The foundation for the barbeque pit should be sturdy. Concrete pits last longer and are not difficult to make. If the ground is soft a trench has to be dug and a concrete mixture should fill the pit. This will help keep the foundation strong. Once the concrete hardens, the first layer of bricks can be laid.

Charcoal barbeques are often preferred over others as it burns for a long time, holds heat and lends the food a better flavour. If the charcoals are piled up higher on one side than the other, the higher side will become hotter and can be used for searing and cooking, while the other cooler side can be used for slow cooking. Controlling the heat is important in order to cook food thoroughly.

The Parapets

The parapets are the retaining walls on the sides when you are constructing the barbeque pit. Two brick walls have to be constructed parallel to the sides of the foundation. So you will have three walls with two side spaces that can be used to store wood, cooking vessels underneath. Plates and other paraphernalia can be stacked on the top of the two sidewalls.

The work surface of these walls can be tiled or covered with single slabs of marble or granite. However, marble and granite are a little expensive. Another economical solution would be to use broken tiles intelligently to create a mosaic finish. The gorgeous creation shown above was designed by Barbecue, fireplace builders from Russia.

Final Tips

Once the barbeque is finally set up, ensure that everything is in order. Precautions should be taken to make sure that everything is safe and there is no risk of the grill falling over. Remember to use dry wood and check its dampness if any. Damp wood will not burn well. Wood smoke gives the necessary flavour to the food, so procure good varieties. Some people use cedar or cherry wood, as these give off aromatic smoke when they burn.

Bits of wood from old furniture, plywood, MDF, or wood with paint on it should not be used to burn. Make sure that the barbeque is not close to a wooden fence. Control the heating and the flames, so that the area doesn’t get too smoky making it uncomfortable for the people eating around it.

In order to set up a charcoal barbeque, collect charcoal for lighting. You can start with a pile of small wood sticks and a few scrunched up balls of newspaper. Then pile the charcoal in the barbeque and light it. When the coals catch fire, they will flame for about half an hour before dying down. When the coals are turning white and glowing red, they are ready for cooking.

Keep the right kind of tools handy while barbecuing meat. Tongs and forks will come in handy while lifting delicate things off the grill. Platters and serving boards, clean plates and glasses should be stacked neatly in a separate place to avoid cluttering the barbeque area.

For more ideas and inspirations, take a look at this ideabook – 10 Terrific Grills and Wood-Burning Stoves.

Did you like these DIY tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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