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Beach house "Braai"

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Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 16 Sep 2016, 08:10

As you may know for us South Africans a barbecue (or more accurately a braai) is not so much a method of getting food cooked, but more of an occasion and a lifestyle! :D. The braai (I will be referring to the proper term from here on in ;) ) at our family beach house is probably about 40 years old and has been mended many times each time with less success. So my dad, brother, sisters boyfriend and I decided it was high time for a new braai and and a nice little side project we can work on ourselves. There are certain constraints here which play a pivotal role in the basic design:
- Must be rust resistant (we didn't use any hollow steel)
- We have to disassemble for transport to the seaside.

General construction is a 16" steel wheel rim on a a frame with wheels for mobility. The grill is height adjustable.

Most of the build is naturally in steel, but the trimmings are all in wood and have fallen on me to make (time to grow some skills!)

Here are some pics of the build to give you a general idea:

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The fire will be housed in the rim (there is a separate grid that fits inside the rim to avoid loosing wood/charcoal through the bottom). Note the lugs welded to the outside of the wheel for the grid legs to stand on.

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The main grid is hexagonal with 3 long legs and 3 short legs, the grid can also be rotated to sit flush on the rim.

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The frame after primer, the bottom halves of the frame legs are not bolted on yet. We noticed after bolting on the legs the overall height is actually more that was needed, this is an unfortunate by product of designing by committee...

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Rim on the frame with the grid on top.

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Grid on the short legs.

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Grid on the long legs.

We still need a good way of changing over from long to short legs while the braai is in use, I'm still scratching my head on that one...

Now for the actual wood working part, we added 2 angle irons to the back of the frame to act as handles (similar to a wheel barrow) and I will be making the wooden grips for these and then a small table top for spices etc.

From my table saw bench build you may know that I have a lot of recycled wood at hand. The initial idea was to use 38x38 "brandering" for the handles, but since I have loads of Meranti at hand i thought it would be much nicer to use this. The only problem was it was in the form of paneling from an old garage door, so i would have to try my hand at cutting the panel in strips and then laminating to get the proper profile. It was rather a struggle to get all the old varnish/beeswax and other gunk off of the panel, but I eventually managed to get a fairly clean surface. I cut the panel into 40mm wide strips.

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Here are the strips ready for gluing.

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Glued and clamped.

I also started on the table top, the strips for this was cut to 20mm wide and turned sideways, I did a quick mock up just to see if the general idea would work (finished size will be 520x200mm)

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Thanks for looking!
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Andyp » 16 Sep 2016, 09:07

Nice work. Clever idea with the wheel rim too.

I'd be tempted to weld some handles to those legs in order to pick the grid up and turn it round. With the aid of gloves of course.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Robert » 16 Sep 2016, 10:22

We have BBQ'd at home and on holiday for many years using everything from small portable / disposable things to grand outdoor built in things. My conclusion is that the open ones all look like you'd expect a bbq to look but nothing cooks better than a charcoal Weber kettle.

They generally last at least 10 years. I currently have 2 of them. A small one for just us 2 that stands on a table and the large (55cm?) one that I also have the pizza stone attachment for.

I fancied a stone pizza oven for some time but having nowhere to build one I tried the Weber attachment. it works so well I can live without the oven now.

Yours looks a great social centre piece but I'd need a lid and air vent i can control :)

As to your design problem with the height of the grill it might have been better to support the grill from the leg stand. then you could have some kind of telescoping rod + tube with a pinch clamp.

You have 6 'legs' on the grille but support off of 3 - couldn't you cut the other 3 shorter and have a pickup tool (garden spade?) to pick the grill up and put it back down turned 60 degrees?
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 16 Sep 2016, 13:40

Thanks for the comments gents!

Andy, I like the idea of adding handles to the grid, that may prove to be the simplest and easiest way of doing it.

Robert, we do get those kettle type BBQ's over here and they do work well, however we tend to make a rather large fire, even when using a kettle BBQ I almost never use the lid, and the grill fixed in one place is a bit of a draw back. That being said they are great for certain applications and I actually have one for use at my flat.

The pole and pinch clamp idea is often used over here, but it does have some draw backs, especially in our case. The pole is hollow, which leaves it open to rust (not impossible to prevent, but defensibly harder than on solid stock), it is also fairly difficult to adjust the grill up and down once the braai is in use.

The legs are of varying heights specifically so we can adjust the height of the grill, so cutting them off would not be ideal for what we have in mind. The spade idea could definitely work though.

Thanks for the input!
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Rod » 16 Sep 2016, 16:43

Mary Berry of Bake Off fame used one made from a wheelbarrow and a metal grill.
I've a couple of portable ones for holidays, beach etc but at home I cheat and use a gas fired Weber.
Tastes great and very easy to control.
Often used whenever the weather is dry just for cooking fish, steaks etc just for the two of us.

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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Robert » 16 Sep 2016, 21:09

Commander wrote:Thanks for the comments gents!

The legs are of varying heights specifically so we can adjust the height of the grill, so cutting them off would not be ideal for what we have in mind. The spade idea could definitely work though.

Thanks for the input!


I'd probably have realised you'd already made 2 lengths of legs and not suggested it if I'd read your picture captions instead of just thinking it was the same picture twice :oops:
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Phil » 18 Sep 2016, 07:50

Erich, that looks great. I am sure there will be lots of sociable events taking place around it.

On adjusting the grill, what I made some 28 years ago, for taking with in the caravan was a plough shear disc.

There are 3 nuts welded to the bottom into which the legs screw.
Then a long pipe (very thick walls) welded to thick flat bar and the flat bar welded underneath the shear.
The grid then just adjusts up and down on the pipe for height and also swings out the way or taken off. The grid has a lifting handle next to the pipe and a smaller one in the front.
I also made a round ring, about 100mm high from large tin cans pop-riveted together, the same diameter of the shear, to keep the heat in if required.
Also used when we did a potjie to retain heat.

Apologies for the poor pic, it was dumped next to all the garden stuff. :oops:

Image

We could braai comfortably for 6 people on the small shear (500mm wide)

Cheers
Phil
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 19 Sep 2016, 06:20

Thanks again guys,

Rod, the gas score top marks on a number of fronts, its very easy to switch on the grill and fry up a couple of steaks in a short amount of time, but for the whole "braai" experience you simply can't beat a proper wood fire, outside under the stars!

Robert, no worries!

Phil, thanks for the comment and photo, we went through a number of design ideas before we settled on this one, and a shear would definitely have worked well, but we didn't have access to one unfortunately. We did initially want to make the height adjustment of the grill in the same way you describe but in the end we decided to go a different route. Time will tell if the idea works or not, on thing that could be tricky is adjusting the height of the grill while it is hot, not only to actually lift the grill, but also to position in the foot stands.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Tusses » 20 Sep 2016, 21:13

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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 22 Sep 2016, 06:07

Thanks for the link Tusses! interesting take on the idea and probably with a fair amount of advantages!
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby DaveL » 22 Sep 2016, 07:40

At the European Woodworking Show, the blacksmith was using a forge made from a wheel, they have many uses.
Regards,
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 26 Sep 2016, 08:03

I had a little bit of free time over the weekend and was able to work on the handles and small worktop/table for the braai.

With the handles it was just basically finishing, I was able to round the edges on the router table last weekend, and then do a lot of sanding and finishing this weekend.

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After the rough sanding on the belt sander I used a cabinet scraper to try and get a very smooth finish, however that did not go according to plan... In the below photos you can see the lighter wood breaking out in a very odd way, I'm not even sure how to describe it properly as it is almost like the wood has fibers coming off. Once this started it was very difficult to stop it from happening and getting worse.
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After a substantial amount of sanding with 400 grid paper making sure to only go in on direction (not to and fro as I would normally hand sand) I was able to clean up the wood.

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I have left the the actual "painting/oiling" to my dad as we have a different opinion on how we want to get this done, I will post pic's once we are all done. I am however very happy with the finish I was able to achieve at the end.

I then carried on working on the table top, I first had the very tedious task of scraping off all the rest of the varnish and gunk to prepare the surface for gluing. I then decided that in the interest of time I should stick together all the parts in one go... This proved to be some task and it very nearly went very pear shaped when the strips started pushing up, luckily I was able to maneuver everything back into line and tighten all the clamps.

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It is still very rough and it would need a LOT of planing and sanding as well as trimming the edges to get it to look anything but a dog's breakfast (I did make it a bit oversize to allow for trimming), but at least everything is together and when I removed the clamps yesterday it didn't fall to pieces. :lol:

Lessons were learned and I'm looking forward to seeing if I can clean this up to such an extent that I would be willing to use it at all.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Phil » 02 Oct 2016, 08:27

Commander wrote:This proved to be some task and it very nearly went very pear shaped when the strips started pushing up, luckily I was able to maneuver everything back into line and tighten all the clamps.

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Erich, when gluing narrow strips like that, cut some wedges and push them in under the clamps on top.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 16 Nov 2016, 13:57

Thanks for the tip Phil, I will keep that in mind.

It has been ages since I was able to do an update here, the end of the year is hectic in my line of work.

I have made some progress on the table top, I don't have photos of my latest work, but here is the stuff I have so far:

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Here I'm starting to smooth the surface with a hand plane. The edges haven't been trimmed yet so they are pretty rough.

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With trimmed edges.

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The surface is starting to look better.

So after this photo was taken I ran into a couple of problems, I found that the grain on the wood used was actually much too unpredictable and wood tear out often (very likely caused by the gluing that I did, the grain is not pointing in the same direction). I also found that it was ever so slightly too small for what I wanted (too narrow bay about 20mm and too short by about the same...). To add insult to injury I also managed to break it in half along one of the glue joints (clearly wasn't a very strong joint....)

Since then I have glued it back together and added Emboya strips to the outside and started sanding. I still have to finish it off and attach it to the braai, and will post photos as soon as its done.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Tusses » 16 Nov 2016, 14:09

Phil wrote:Erich, when gluing narrow strips like that, cut some wedges and push them in under the clamps on top.


or tilt the clamps over, so the bars rest on the wood !
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 16 Nov 2016, 14:37

That is also a good idea, thanks! :D
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Phil » 17 Nov 2016, 07:41

Erich, you are running out of time! :shock:

The holidays are only 2 weeks away from the coastal migration.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 17 Nov 2016, 13:46

Phil wrote:Erich, you are running out of time! :shock:

The holidays are only 2 weeks away from the coastal migration.
8-)


I know Phil! I'm running out of time on all fronts at this point, year end in the retail sector (even if it is the IT supporting the retail) is a nightmare... :?
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 09 Dec 2016, 12:29

I was able to finish the sanding eventually, and just in time for the holiday!

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This is what the top looked like after filling gaps with saw dust and glue. It left a couple of stains so I may have to revise my technique, however it wasn't too hard to sand back so no damage done.

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All done, I ended with 800 grit sand paper to try and get a super smooth finish. I'm happy with the end result however the Meranti I used for the central part was quite prone to flaking so it seems there is a very definite limit to the finish that can be achieved (or maybe I made a mess up with the grain). The Emboya on the other hand can be sanded down to an extreme degree, I would love to work with that in future, even though it is a father hard wood.

I will post the final pic's once we are back from holiday, by then we would have used the braai a number of times and I should be able to comment on it's strong points and weak points. ;)
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Malc2098 » 09 Dec 2016, 13:10

Can't wait to see the finished article! Looking good!
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Phil » 09 Dec 2016, 13:23

Erich, enjoy the holiday and dont forget some pics where it is being used.

Travel safely and keep an eye open for the those speeding idiots.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Commander » 10 Dec 2016, 04:20

Thanks for the kind words gentleman, the braai is already en route as my parents have already left, we plan on joining them near the end of next week, after which much braaing will be done! :D
I'm rather looking forward to seeing it in action myself as well as getting feedback from the rest of the family.

Phil, at 1450 km we will be splitting the trip over 2 days and yes, I'm used to see very many idiots on the way there, these days I prefer to drive via Kimberly rather than taking the N1 over Bloemfontein as the road tends to be much quieter and hence safer and less stressful. We have also planned in a bit of a detour near the end going through Seweweeks poort instead of Meirings poort, a route I have not done before, so I'm actually very much looking forward to the journey itself! It might be a bit OT but if I get some nice photos I may end up posting them if there is some interest.

Thanks for looking! :mrgreen:
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Phil » 10 Dec 2016, 06:35

We also used to split the journey into 2 days, especially towing the caravan and young kids getting bored.

Both those poorts are beautiful to drive through.
One day before I get too old, I want to walk through them to appreciate what nature created.
(Poort - natural cutting through the mountains with a running river and road either dirt or tarred)
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby RogerS » 10 Dec 2016, 08:22

Phil wrote:.....
Both those poorts are beautiful to drive through.
One day before I get too old, I want to walk through them to appreciate what nature created.
....


"One day" comes round before you know it, Phil ! Carpe Diem, Phil. Carpe Diem.

Have a safe drive, Erich. I could do with some warmth at the moment.
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Re: Beach house "Braai"

Postby Phil » 10 Dec 2016, 08:37

RogerS wrote:
Phil wrote:.....
Both those poorts are beautiful to drive through.
One day before I get too old, I want to walk through them to appreciate what nature created.
....


"One day" comes round before you know it, Phil ! Carpe Diem, Phil. Carpe Diem.

Have a safe drive, Erich. I could do with some warmth at the moment.



I know Roger. My highway to hell is paved with all good intentions.

You can have some heat. Today looks like another 30+ in this place. (wife enjoys the heat, I do not)
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