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DIY grill article hero image DIY grill article hero image

DIY Grill

Tailgating season is here and that means that grilling season is among us. But what if you don’t have a grill? Don’t you worry. This blog post outlines just a few of your options for crafting your very own DIY Grill Grate! Below you can find links to jump ahead if you’d prefer to skip to the specific instructions you need.

Perforated sheet product image Perforated sheet product image

What Material Is Used for Grill Grates?

The two most common materials used to make grill grates are Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Because of these, there is no clear “best” choice. Rather, it’s all a matter of what fits your situation and needs best.

Carbon Steel

Carbon Steel is a superior heat conductor due to the lower amounts of carbon in the metal. This results in a more evenly distributed amount of heat across the grate. If you are looking for branded char marks on your food, steel is the optimal choice. While cheaper than Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel does require more maintenance and cleaning as they are vulnerable to rust.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is the grate that will last a lifetime. It is highly resistant to rusting, is highly resistant to temperature fluctuations, and is extremely easy to clean.

However, Stainless has two disadvantages. First, the higher amount of carbon in the metal makes it less thermally conductive. This means that to get a good branding and even cooking, you need to get thicker bars to store more heat. As mentioned in the Carbon Steel section, Stainless Steel is more expensive.

Easy Grill Grating Methods

An example of an expanded sheet grill

Easy Method 1 – Expanded Sheet

Expanded Sheet is one of the more popular methods for creating a grill due to the ease and low cost. Just buy a sheet in the size you need, fit any support as needed, and put it into place. Our expanded sheet is all single-piece construction, so it is extremely tough and won’t unravel with time. How thick should a grill grate be? The ideal gauge for this method is 9ga, which should be able to support your grilling needs.

For thinner sheet material (13-18ga), it will require a frame and cross supports made possible with angle and bar material.

We offer Expanded Sheet in both Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel.

An example of an expanded sheet grill
An example of a perforated sheet grill

Easy Method 2 – Perforated Sheet

Another method you can easily use is perforated sheets. It is more rigid than Expanded Sheet and provides high strength and durability along with easy installation. We carry Perforated Sheet in Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel.

We offer Perforated Sheet in both Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel.

An example of a perforated sheet grill

Intermediate Grill Grating Methods

Construction Using Various Bar Stock

If you have some power drills and want to show off your skills, this is the method for you!

For this DIY grill grate, you’ll need:

  • 2 Square Bars
  • 2 Rectangle Bars
  • 4 Steel Taper Screws
  • Round Bars

The rod spacing and diameter must be chosen before you start this. Additionally, there is no fixed size, it’s really a matter of opinion. In principle, the thicker the Round Bar is, the more heat energy it will store for cooking. Here’s our general recommendation for sizes.

Online Metals branded diagram of how to assemble a perforated sheet grill

Making the Grate

Follow these steps and you’ll have your grate in no time. Also, check out the image below so you can see exactly what we’re describing.

  1. Measure the size your grate will be
  2. Determine your Round Bar diameter and Bar spacing
  3. Acquire materials in size and quantity required
  4. Mark Square Bars where you will be drilling for the Round Bars and Screws.
  5. Drill Square Bars
  6. Thread the four holes for the screws
  7. Insert Round Bars into holes on one Square Bar, slot on another Square Bar
  8. Screw on Rectangle Bars for support and rigidity

Online Metals branded diagram of how to assemble a perforated sheet grill

Tips & Tricks

Always use your safety gear! Also remember the motto for this project is “Measure twice, drill once.” Lastly, you can also use some wood for the Square Bars to make a template.

Grill Base Examples

There are an almost infinite number of configurations for making the base to your grill. We’re going to stick with some of the easier ones that are our favorites.

Cinder Blocks and Bricks

Cinder block and bricks is one of our favorite material combinations for making grills. They can be easily stacked like LEGO bricks, they are tough, and can be used for both quick setup or more permanent grills. Also, cinder blocks are relatively inexpensive. The open spaces in cinder blocks can be used to create chimneys, air funnels, and access points! We will outline a few examples called out on

Photo of our first example of a cinderblock grill Photo of our first example of a cinderblock grill

Cinder block grill example 1

Photo of our second example of a cinderblock grill Photo of our second example of a cinderblock grill

Brick grill example 2

Photo of our third example of a cinderblock grill Photo of our third example of a cinderblock grill

Brick grill example 3

For the most sturdy and basic example, just stagger the cinder blocks into an open-topped rectangle and put the fuel in the middle. Then just lay your grill grate on top and you’re done! Note the sideways cinder blocks at the bottom for more airflow. (see example 1)

The second example is very similar to the previous example except you only build three sides of the structure for easier access to the fire. Please note how this is made from simple materials but is still elegant. This design can also double as an outdoor fireplace when not grilling. (see example 2)

Our favorite example is simple, sturdy, and has a lot of grilling space! One of our favorite details which can easily be overlooked is that they slotted a Carbon Steel Angle at the front of their DIY grill. This provides extra strength and rigidity for the expanded sheet. Also, it prevents any sausages or corn from rolling off the grate. Nobody wants that. Here is a video detailing how to make this exact example! (see example 3)

If you’re in for a more serious project, check out this cinder block dual grill and smoker or some of these excellent brick grills!

Re-purpose What You Already Have

Lastly, why not reuse what you already have laying around. Because the body of your DIY grill is already built, you just need to clean and assemble it (more or less). Just make sure you’ve properly cleaned things out. Also, if you want to paint it, make sure you have heat resistant paint.

Here are a few of our favorite examples:

  1. Check out this cool DIY BBQ Barrel using a 55-gallon drum.
  2. Another favorite of ours involves re-purposing a large toolbox.

We hope you found this guide useful and can’t wait to see what uniquely functional grills you create using our materials and other repurposed materials.

About Online Metals

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Online Metals is the world’s leading eCommerce metal supplier, specializing in small quantity cut-to-size metals and plastics, delivered in a fast and reliable manner.

Since 1998, Online Metals has expanded our catalog to over 85,000 different cut sizes, grown our national footprint to seven pickup locations across the U.S., and continued to improve upon our best-in-class customer experience.

Check out our materials: Alloy Steel, Aluminum, Anodized Aluminum, Beryllium Copper, Brass, Bronze, Carbon Steel, Copper, Cast Iron, Nickel, Nickel Silver, Plastic, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Tool Steel, Unistrut®, Wrought Iron, & Zinc

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