Billy Kulakowski was a mean griller, everybody in the cul-de-sac agreed. Every block party weekend, Billy was given a wide berth as he worked his magic on his meats and wood chips and butt rubs. When he was in the zone, Billy was like a wild-eyed chainsaw juggler jacked up on Pepsi Max. Head down in the smoke and sizzle, flipping tongs, spatulas, sauces, spices… his little water spray bottle keeping the furious flames at bay… no one dared approach him, not even to offer him a cold one. Story’s told, one time somebody did, and there was an incident. Something about a misheard word, a scuffle and– things getting out of hand like they oft times do– an airborne super-duty wiener fork took out a bounce house. Three kids were never found. It took a while (a couple of months, I suspect), but the cul-de-sac moved on, and so did Billy’s grilling.
Yeah, Billy Kulakowski was a mean griller. A man’s man. Word had it, Kenny Rogers was even writing a song about him.
Then one day, a family of five bought the old Johnson split-level– the Kleeburgs from Huntsville, Alabama. When the father, Joe Kleeburg, heard about the block party coming up, he peeled out of his driveway and some time later returned with three 55-gallon drums, some angle iron, mesh metal and a Chicago Electric 5″ Double Cut Saw from Harbor Freight Tools. Ducking into his garage, he wasn’t seen again for the rest of the week.
Nine o’clock the morning of the block party, everybody was setting up their usual station. Billy took his designated double-wide spot; 10 aluminum charcoal starters filled to the brim with cooking coals lined up on the sidewalk in front of him. No sign of the new neighbors. But then at 9:22, the Kleeburgs’ 3-car garage came to life and the doors slowly rose…
Billy didn’t have a chance. And, after considerable effort, Kenny Rogers managed to fit “Joe Kleeburg” into “Billy Kulakowski”… but, that’s another story.
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Bare Bones Method of Building a Grill Out of a 55-Gallon Drum
Things You Will Need:
- 55-Gallon Drum
- Masking Tape
- Chicago Electric 5″ Double Cut Saw
- Angle Iron
- Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder
- Mesh Metal
- Metal Rod
- 1/2″ Steel Box Tube
- Two Heavy-Duty Hinges
- Steel reinforcement plates
- 2×1″ steel ro
- Find a 55 gallon drum. Sometimes you can avoid buying a new one by checking out Craigslist or other local classifieds, pet shops or weed n’ feeds. Try to avoid one that housed toxic chemicals, but just to be sure, when you cut off the lid, build a large fire inside of it to thoroughly burn out any lingering harmful substances. Then, once cool, dump the ashes and give it one last thorough hosing.
- Next, you’re going to want to divide the drum into quarters. Use the masking tape along the sides and ends of the barrel, make sure all the quarters are even. Lay the drum on its side and, using the double cut saw, carefully cut one of the quarters about 3 to 3/12″ from the barrel’s edges– this is going to be the lid for the grill.
- Build a large fire inside of it to thoroughly burn out any lingering harmful substances. Then, once cool, dump the ashes and give it one last thorough hosing.
- Next, take some angle iron and weld a rectangular shape out of it. Then weld it into place in the middle of the drum. This will provide as a rest for the grill.
- Find a good mesh that can be used as the grill surface, preferably a heavier gauge metal, and one where the edges are flattened so there are no sharp points sticking up. This will also make it easier to scrub after grilling. Weld metal rod along all the edges, and add cross bars so the mesh will retain its strength and shape. Cut out a piece 1/8″ smaller than the opening of
- Take two lengths of 1/2″ box tube and make relief cuts every two inches so you can bend them to the shape of the barrel. Once you’ve got the shape you desire, weld the cuts smooth. This creates a sturdy cradle on which you’ll be attaching the legs. Then weld the half moon shapes to the barrel.
- Attach hinges to the barrel and lid, and reinforce it with steel plates on the inside.
- Determine how high you want your grill to be (3-ft. is good) and accordingly cut the 2×1 into legs. Cut relief marks throughout the legs, too, to allow the grill to have a little bit of give. This will make the legs bend outward and, ultimately. give it more stability in the long run. Attach the legs and you have your very own, cheap and efficient 55-gal. drum grill.
Of course, you’ll probably want to add handles, a couple of vents, a hole on the bottom for dripping. If you came this far, though, I trust you can take it from here.