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Last Updated on April 26, 2021
As the warmer months approach and the preparation for outdoor cookouts begins, many people look forward to hosting grilling events. If you’re already planning your summer grill menu, you’ll want to ensure you have a grill that can get the job done right.
A simple yet delicious barbecuing style, the Santa Maria grill has been producing tasty dishes for generations. They also make for a great DIY summer project.
If you’ve got a spare weekend and want to try your hand at building your own DIY Santa Maria grill, then it’s time to take the plunge and learn everything you need to know to build your own grill.
Choose Your Grill Size
Before investing in the building materials, decide what size you want your grill to be. You can choose between a grill with 3 sides or 4, both presenting unique benefits.
If you want easy access to the insert and the wood, then opt for a 3-sided grill. You won’t have to rearrange your grill’s components to reach these parts, making grilling a breeze.
If you want your Santa Maria grill to have more controlled heat and higher temperatures, opt for the 4-sided grill. The 4 walls will act as barriers to manage temperatures and airflow.
What Building Materials Do You Need?
Before you can start constructing your DIY Santa Maria grill, you’ll need to source these items:
- Metal rods
- Metal table legs
- Metal cutter
- Sheet Metal (must be at least 6mm thick)
- Tape measure
- Stainless steel net
- Welding torch
To ensure your optimum safety, it’s advisable you source some protective equipment, including a face shield, helmet, gloves, and protective glasses.
Time to Build
Once you’ve gathered the appropriate materials and are satisfied with your safety gear, it’s time to start your DIY build.
Step 1: Make Your Measurements
Measure the width and length of your sheet metal using a tape measure. Mark the sheets to determine where you are going to cut the metal. Then mark and measure the base of your Santa Maria grill. Once you are happy with the base size, measure the length and width of your metal sheets.
Step 2: Cut Your Metal Sheets
Following the guide marks, you made earlier, cut the sheets to the correct size using your metal cutter.
Once this step is complete, you’ll need to cut grooves into the sheets. This is so that the grill has layers and sits properly. You can determine the size of the grooves by using the same measurements as the thickness of the grid on which the meat is placed.
Step 3: Weld Your Components Together
Before you weld, ensure you’re wearing protective gear. By ensuring you have sufficient body coverage, you are reducing the risk of injury and potential harm from the welding process. This includes the prevention of splatters, sparks, and even radiation burns.
Once you’re safely equipped, start with the long metal sheets and place them at the edge of your Santa Maria grill base. Make sure the edges align perfectly with one another and the marks you made for guidance earlier are in the correct position. Then you’ll begin welding the sheets together.
You should weld the sheets together in a specific order, starting with one corner. Then weld the center, followed by the other corner. Repeat the process until you’ve covered all the sides of your Santa Maria grill.
Once you’ve completed the grill top’s welding, you can weld the legs on too. Do this by flipping over the grill and welding each leg to the base. Use a tape measure and a level to ensure the legs are even and aligned properly before you weld them to the base.
Step 4: Anchor the Rotating Mechanism
Before you begin this step, it’s essential you understand the function of the rotating mechanism.
The rotating chain is a system that allows you to raise and lower the food on the grill. The mechanism is great for cooking meats, especially tri-tip, which the Santa Maria grill is best known for.
Great for controlling unpredictable flames, the mechanism works by allowing you to raise the grid when flames are roaring and lower it when they settle.
So, how do you anchor the rotating mechanism? Start by ensuring you have two rods of the same length and weld them to either side of the grill. This is the base for the mechanism, where it anchors.
To ensure the rotating rods have extra security, you can create a triangular structure. Do this by welding strengtheners to each corner of the grill. The rotating rod will have a chain attached at either side for when you want to lower or raise the food. These chains should be long enough to roll safely up and down towards the fire.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Once all these steps are complete, it’s time for the last touches to provide optimum safety and improve your grilling experience.
Be sure to sand down the sharp edges of the grill. An obvious hazard, this step is imperative to ensure a safe grilling experience for you and your guests.
You’ll also need to insulate the rotating mechanism handle because it will heat extremely quickly when you cook, risking burning your hands. To insulate the handles, you can purchase rubber grips or invest in some high-quality oven gloves. The rubber grips are safest for households with children, as if left unsupervised, kids might grab the handle and burn themselves.
Once safety is taken care of, you can paint your new Santa Maria grill. This step is optional, but if you want to go the extra mile and spruce up your grill, ensure you’re choosing a heat-resistant paint capable of withstanding temperatures up to 500ºF.
The Rewards of DIY
Choosing to build a DIY Santa Maria grill is a daunting task, but if you take it on and see the project through to completion, the benefits are immense. Not only will you save money by putting in the time and labor yourself, but you’ll have a custom grill that you know inside and out to show off to family and friends.