How to make a pocket grill

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DIY Pocket Grill

There are lots of portable grills out there for camping and other outdoor adventures, but we’ve discovered that ‘portable’ usually means ‘luggable’. But wait ‘coz the one featured here is pocket size and yes… it’s an easy DIY project.

A grill that you can carry in your pocket has to be as good as it gets as you won’t even feel its weight when added to your backpack!

As the title indicates, this really is a DIY grill compact enough that you can carry it in your pocket. And yet, when assembled – and that only takes a minute or two – this portable grill expands to a realistic, usable size! How’s that for packing light?

Need more reasons to make one? How about being really easy to clean and maintain? Apart from the obvious size advantage, what makes the pocket grill really perfect for outdoor activities is that it is easier to clean when compared to the regular portable grills. Just disassemble it (which only takes about ten seconds) and clean the parts with ease! There are no corners to trap grease or anything else!

Worried about the materials used? Aside from air-conditioning tubes and gas lines, copper is also used to make pots, skillets and a whole range of other cookware, with many people regularly using them to make jams and other delicacies. That’s because copper is an excellent heat conductor. But the ‘grill grate’ on this portable grill is made with stainless steel rods… so this pocket grill is absolutely, totally 100% safe for cooking. :)

Want to know how to make a pocket grill? Keep scrolling down the full tutorial! Be sure to pay attention to the tips and notes to keep this simple. ;)

Who do you know who’d love this DIY project, too? Why not share it with them via any of the social media options on this page?

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You’ll need these materials to get started:

  • 3/4″ diameter Copper Tube
  • 5/8″ diameter Copper Tube
  • 2 Copper Tube Caps (size that will fit the larger diameter pipe)
  • 1/16″ diameter Stainless Steel Bicycle Spokes

And these tools:

  • Hacksaw
  • Cutting Pliers
  • Drill
  • Utility Knife
  • File (or Sandpaper)
  • Ruler

 

 

Steps:

DIY Pocket Grill

The materials:

Of course these are not mandatory, you are welcome to improvise, but please wear safety gear and respect work security guidelines (or suffer the consequences of your foolish actions).

Basically you need two pieces of pipe, one must fit in the other, I used 18mm (3/4 inch) and 15mm (5/8 inch) copper tube; any metal should do, but I used copper because: it is relatively lightweight, doesn’t bend much when exposed to fire, it has thin walls and most importantly I had them lying around the house (leftovers from the heating system) so they were free.

Two copper tube caps that fit the larger diameter pipe (also lying around and also free).

Handful of approx. 2mm diameter bicycle spokes (1/16 inch). I can’t give you an exact number, you’ll see why in a bit. Make sure that you use stainless steel spokes, you’re going to eat off of them.

Pro Tip: If you have a bicycle repair shop nearby, you should ask them for broken spokes, you may get them for free (I hacked my old bike tire to death for this).

The measurements are pretty simple since you’ll need to cut everything to the same size (you will get a rectangular grill).

Pro Tip: The bigger you make your grill the more spokes you’ll need, make sure that the number of spokes you intend to use all fit inside the smaller diameter tube.

I made mine 20 cm wide (7.87401575 inches, just make it 8) since I found that about 25 2.2mm spokes fit inside the 15mm diameter tube.

DIY Pocket Grill

Cut tubes to length:

Cut the two tubes to equal length and file the rough edges, as I previously mentioned I made them 20cm (approx. 8 inches).

DIY Pocket Grill

Measure, mark and drill holes:

Now that you’ve got your tubes cut to length, you need to mark and drill the holes for the spokes. (The only holes drilled through both sides of the tube are the ones where the nipples attach.)

DIY Pocket Grill

Cut spokes to length:

By now you have the exact number of spokes you’ll need, just count the holes. The spokes need too be the same length (or smaller) as the tubes, since they need to fit inside.

DIY Pocket Grill Step 04

Pro Tip: You will need 2 spokes with intact threads on one end and 90° bend on the other so cut them about 5 – 10mm (1/16 – 3/8 inch) longer than the rest, please keep this in mind.

DIY Pocket Grill Assembly DIY Pocket Grill Assembly DIY Pocket Grill Assembly

Assemble the grill:

I’m not going to lie to you, this is painstaking to do until you do it a few times and get used to it.

DIY Pocket Grill Disassembly

Disassemble and pack the grill: This is a “piece of cake”. Just unscrew the nipples and it falls apart. Packing it up is also pretty easy.

DIY Pocket Grill

Final Thoughts:

Some of you expressed concern that copper emits harmful gasses when heated, I can’t scientifically refute this, but I couldn’t find any source on the internet proving it…

The “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” website, in the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards section states about copper fumes that: “Exposure may occur in copper & brass plants and during the welding of copper alloys.” Meaning that you’d have to melt copper or copper alloys to release the toxic fumes, we won’t be doing that over the campfire, not even close.

Thanks to  for this great project!

What do you think? Ready to get the tools out to make your own? And while you’re at it, maybe you’d like to make one of these very portable rocket stoves as well!

  • Chris Eckelkamp

    outstandingly simple and effective engineering.!

  • ChrisB

    Hi there
    Great idea! You don’t mention how far apart to make the holes – I’m guessing from counting the spokes and the length you mentioned at 8 inches that you make the holes about half an inch apart … is that fairly close? I guess the wider they are, the more risk of losing food, but you want to gain max benefit from the limited number of spokes you can carry …
    Keep up the good work
    Chris

  • Jon

    Copper outgassing or harmful vapors does not occur unless exposed to nitric acid or similar substances. Even though you’ll be cooking on the chrome plated spokes, not to worry about the copper. Fresh meat produces no reaction at all, except for that glorious odor.

  • Bill

    One thought about the toxic gasses – some copper pipe is coated. Usually on the outside to prevent oxidation, but some special use pipe may be coated on the inside as well. To get rid of this coating, you should build a fire and “cook” the copper pipes for a few hours(at least 3 hours) to burn the coating(s) off.
    Alternately, if you are certain any coating is ONLY on the outside, you could also just use some sandpaper to remove it – but I’d still “cook” the pipe to be certain(some coating used to prevent oxidation can be simple clear laquer, or paint … but some are epoxy based).

    • now4dw

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for that advice!

  • kenny

    how do you keep the end caps on?

  • Buster Gonad

    Well done. Im going to work now and make it. I’ll be using Stainless steel tubing though as its lighter than copper. Also using 316L TIG Filler wire .
    Ill post results.