This time last year, my (then) 12 year old daughter and I threw this baby together in an afternoon. Seriously, it was that easy. A year later it’s still sturdy as it every was and is working out great for another sitting-’round-the-fire season.
The hardest part was the two trips (probably should have been three given how much my poor little SUV was squatting!) to Lowes to get the bricks.
She was squatting good on this trip!
But after we got it all home, it was smooth sailing from there.
Give it a try!
Time: 2 1/2 hours
* I was trying to get this done while my sweetheart was out of town for a couple days and I couldn’t find sheets of expanded metal locally, so $55 of that was for overnight shipping. Since then, I have found a local place that would have charged me half of what I paid for the metal, so with a little searching, and maybe a little repurposing (craigslist, freecycle, local construction cast-offs, etc.) you could probably cut the cost down by A LOT. Even at this price, it’s waaaay cheaper than anything I could find in any store, and those were half the size and would probably last a quarter as long.
What to get/acquire/buy:
- 27 standard cinder blocks (the two-hole kind)
- 10- 16 x 8 pavers
- 1- 4′ length of angle iron
- 1- 36″ x 36″ sheet of 9 GA steel expanded metal – flattened
- 1- 36′ x 12″ sheet of 9 GA steel expanded metal – flattened
Start by leveling your area. Eyeballing it is probably ok. For those of you who, like me, aren’t “professional levelers,” I took a shovel and moved the dirt around until it looked right. As I set each layer, I added a little here, took a little away there to make it straight and sturdy. There is probably a “right” way, but hey, my way worked too.
Arrange your first layer of blocks:
Then your next layer on top, alternating your pattern:
Then add your cooking surface and the angle iron**:
** angle iron is literally a piece of iron that is bent at a right angle. So you want the cooking surface to sit in the angle to 1) keep it in place, and 2) cover the sharp edges.
Then the next layer:
Next comes the warming shelf:
Finishing it up (The decorative pavers are totally optional, but I think they add nice contrast detail and a clean finish on the top):
And the finished product:
I used 2 part epoxy to add the horseshoe, maybe the second most complicated part. And only because I was convinced I was going to glue my hands together, or to the block, or to some other random surface….luckily, I got away un-
scathed stuck. 🙂
In the open spaces on either side of the front there, where the openings in the cinder blocks are exposed, I planted cooking herbs: rosemary and sage. Great for grilling, and they seemed to like the conditions there with very minimal care.
My sweetheart did add some firebricks to the inside to make ash clean-up a little easier, and he does treat the cooking grates with oil from time to time. He said to liken it to caring for a cast iron skillet. Yes, you may get some rust spots between uses, but a good oil and heating it up good and hot makes the whole surface good as new!
The absolute best part (I think) is that it’s 100% moveable. Nothing but weight holds the bricks in place (and that is definitely enough), so it can be relocated, reconfigured, or taken down at any time.