Learn how to build a rotisserie BBQ pit

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

A large rotisserie pit BBQ for a large gathering! Learn how to build this DIY project in your backyard for some delicious turkey and other BBQ favourites!

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘large’! This DIY rotisserie pit is a dry-fit project which makes it easy to build. Yes, that means no mortar. 🙂

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

And with that said, it is also a low-maintenance outdoor cooker. You can easily replace broken blocks if needed. You can also relocate the BBQ pit anytime and anywhere you want!

Plans are provided by the owner-builder below, and you can use it as reference for building one in your yard. The design is simple, so you shouldn’t have any troubles with scaling it to fit your space!

Is this going to be your next outdoor project? 🙂

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You’ll need these materials:

FOR THE BBQ BODY:

  • 25 pieces – 8″ x 8″ x 16″ Standard Blocks
  • 15 pieces – 8″ x 8″ x 16″ Cap Blocks (or standard)
  • 4 pieces – 8″ x 8″ x 8″ Half Blocks
  • 22 pieces – 12″ x 12″ Patio Stones (optional)
  • 4 to 8 pieces – Wood/Metal Stakes
  • Flagging Tape or String

FOR THE PIT:

  • 16′ x 12″ Wide Expanded Steel (optional)
  • 6 to 8 pieces – 24″ Rebar (optional)
  • 2 to 3 Cubic feet – Sand or Gravel
  • 2 pieces – 4′ x1.5″ Metal Pipe

FOR THE TOP / LID:

  • Food-grade steel drum
  • 20′ x 1.5″ angle iron (bed frames are great)
  • Wooden hockey stick
  • 4 pieces – 5″ x 5/16″ Bolts (with nuts & washers)
  • 2 pieces – 2′ x 1/2″ Threaded Rod (with nuts & washers)
  • 7′ x 12″ (1/8″ thick) Steel Plate
  • High-heat Flat-black BBQ Spray Paint

FOR THE GRILL (optional):

  • Expanded Steel 30″ x 48″
  • 2 pieces – 1″ x 64″ Steel Pipe

And these tools:

  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Hammers
  • Long Level
  • Short Level
  • Safety Glasses
  • Measuring Tape
  • Old Chisel or Axe
  • Permanent Marker
  • Carpenters Square
  • Hand-held Grinder
  • Metal Cutting Discs
  • Masonry Cutting Discs (optional)
  • Wheelbarrow (optional)
  • Friendly Welder Person

Steps:

Using standard concrete blocks – aka “Cinder Blocks” – the design is easily scale-able. Make it any size you want. The blocks are found at most hardware stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) but I was able to save money by buying “seconds” from a wholesale distributor at $2.00 apiece here in Ontario, Canada.

The standard block is usually sold as 8″ x by 8″ by 16″. This is not quite true. The specs refer to a block in a completed wall WITH mortar. The block itself is actually closer to 7.5″ x 7.5″ x 15.5″. I also chose blocks with squared / finished ends for the corners. I was happily surprised to find “cap” blocks for the top surfaces.

Here are my rudimentary blueprints:

 

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

We gave location quite a bit of thought before assembling the BBQ. Remember that it will be giving off a lot of smoke and heat once it’s fired up. We chose a convenient spot that was a safe distance from trees and play areas. If you use an electric motor you will also want to be located near an outlet.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

As this is a pit BBQ we had to consider tree roots. They are difficult to dig through (!) and also pose a fire hazard. The fire could get into the roots and smoulder underground for an extended time, making it’s way back to the tree eventually. I suggest having buckets of water around when the BBQ is fired-up… just in case.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

FYI – concrete blocks are HEAVY. Each block weighs 40-50 lbs, so forty of them will weigh a lot! A solid foundation is absolutely critical. After leveling the ground we decided to first lay down 12″ x 12″ patio stones to help distribute the weight and keep the bricks from sliding into the hole.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

We measured the area and used stakes with flagging tape to mark the outside perimeter of the patio stones. NOTE: It would have been wiser to wait until AFTER laying the patio stones before digging the one foot pit. We dug first and made the hole too large by mistake. Doh!

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

To keep the soil in place we used 12″ strips of expanded metal held in place with 2 ft rebar stakes. We also added thin, flat rocks behind the metal screen – cause it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

Now you can lay the blocks tightly against each other, checking for level (and square) often. Many of our blocks had little bumps and “extra bits” that had to be teased off with a hammer & an old axe. Lay some of the 1st row blocks sideways to allow for air to feed the flames.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

In some spots we needed “half blocks” to complete a row. In other areas we used “cap blocks” which have a finished surface over the holes (not solid top to bottom). They were almost the same cost and gave it a more polished look IMHO.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

On top of the patio stones we put down 3 rows of cinder blocks. On one end of the 3rd row, we judiciously placed a half block to leave a gap for the spit to come through. Using supports (next step) the spit should come out just above, but not touching, the 2nd row of blocks.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

After putting 2″ of sand on the bottom of the pit we ended up with 25″ height from ground to spit. This seemed adequate and the amount of cooking heat can ultimately be controlled by the size of fire and opening of the lid.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

We also measured for a 1/2″ hole to be drilled in the top row of blocks on either end. This is used to mount the hinge brackets on either side.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

For the spit we used a 8 foot black steel pipe with a few holes drilled along the length. A gear was welded to one end. To support it we used 1.5″ pipe and hammered it 24″ into the ground at both ends of the BBQ. On the tops of these pipes we welded horizontal arms at the desired height, and “v” brackets to hold the rotating pipe.

We could have have simply supported a single rotisserie pipe but we wanted the option of adding other things later, such as a grill. For this we welded horizontal steel arms to the support pipe, and more “v” brackets to support additional pipes.

Rotisserie BBQ Pit

Note that we made the height adjustable by sliding two sizes of pipe inside one another. This will allow the grill to be lowered for traditional camp-fire cooking, or raised for warming pots and plates. We carefully drilled matching holes through the pipes so that a long pin or bolt can be inserted at various heights.

 

Continued Page 2…

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