POB Grill Layout

In the prior posting on the G70 stove I’d had some trouble getting charcoal briquettes to light (later traced back to damp briquettes). In the process of testing the briquettes, I decided to grill dinner. So proceeded to light a larger pile of briquettes in a more normal ‘flat pan’ portable BBQ. That turned out to not work so well either (how I figured out the briquettes were damp / wet…), but while I waited for them to Oh So Slowly dry out and get lit, I decided to make a Grill out of the G70 bricks while I waited.

(Pedantic Point: Many people call a ‘grill’ a BBQ. Technically that isn’t true. A BBQ is often enclosed, uses much lower temperatures and often smoke. A grill is hotter and often over non-smoking coals with radiant heat, not moist air heat. In this posting I’m not being that exact, so if I call it a BBQ, don’t panic. I know it is really ‘just a grill’…)

The G70 stove is designed for a pot. Even in ‘charcoal mode’ the intent is a slow burning warming burner, not a ‘grill 4 pieces of chicken’. The “grill area” on the top is only about 4 inches square. Great for the bottom of a pot, not so great for a couple of chops or chicken pieces for 4…

I kept the base layer basically the same, but added 2 bricks to make it wider. It is now about the same as the cement concrete pad under it. You don’t really need both of them, but I’m using the big paver to protect my flagstone ‘table’ and as a convenient pedestal for holding the ‘design’ while in progress.

On top of that is a ‘vent layer’ that has air holes on all sides. I don’t know if all of them are needed, but the grill worked well with them. The standing bricks around the outside can be used to protect the vents from direct wind, or damp the vents if put close. I found the one directly up wind useful, but the slow starting damp charcoal made the others irrelevant. In places with more variable wind, or better charcoal, the ability to damp or regulate the air may matter more.

In the ‘vent layer’ I also was trying out a couple of different approaches. A ‘Rotate orientation’ method on the left side / front and a “hang sideways” on the backside. There may well be a more optimal arrangement of bricks that is more symmetrical and esthetic. I was chasing other questions with this layout. What size holes? How big? Does it work well at all? So I made the top layer ‘esthetic’ but the vent layer more ‘designed for changing vents’.

As of now the vent sizes shown worked fairly well. The charcoal is not raised off the base (there isn’t a grate holding them up) for better air flow under the coals, so having more side air seems to make up for that. The charcoal did burn to completion (what looks like a briquette is actually just a pile of ash) and it did cook my burger rather well; so it seems to be ‘about right’.

Mostly what I realized what that with it taking all of about a minute to ‘rearrange the bricks’, there isn’t really any reason to use the G70 Stove as a poor grill. Move a couple of bricks and make it a good grill. If you need a stove, move the bricks back… (or make one of each…)

OK, the pictures:

As Built

POB Grill As Built

POB Grill As Built

The top layer is very simple. End bricks, side runners. Grill from the portable grill (which is busy starting to rust the bottom pan, but where the top and grill are fine, so both used with this build.) Not in the picture is the ‘lid’ from the old grill. It is used as a heat retaining cover if desired. Any old tin lid would work, IMHO, but this one was laying around.

The bricks standing on end are used to protect the air vents from direct wind, or if put very close, to damp air flow.

Vent Layer

POB Grill Vent Layer

POB Grill Vent Layer

One could likely just continue the ‘rotation’ of the three bricks in the front, left, and rear into a quasi swastika sun pattern (with the right and rear bricks replaced with ‘just one’ and following the rotation pattern). P.C. subliminals aside, I wanted to see if I needed the added bricks (as in the rear / right) for added support of the top layer, or not. If using the ‘sunburst’ pattern, I’d likely slide them in just enough to avoid a cantilever on the top layer bricks. I could also see using 1/2 bricks in the vents instead of the ‘hang out the back’ sideways. But as I’m trying to avoid the need to cut bricks or buy ‘special’ ones, this was an easy test and worked well. It also let me put smaller vents in some positions via brick sliding. In the end, not really needed, but interesting to test.

In Conclusion

The POB stands for “Pile Of Bricks”. As that is what this is. After getting past the damp charcoal problem, it worked rather well. Easy to cook ‘food for two’ and likely you could do “food for four” with a bit of effort. The grill area is about 8 x 8 inches. It could easily be made 4 inches longer with one more 1/2 brick width added to the long axis.

That brings up a minor point: The individual grill will depend on the size of grill metal you have available. Yes, you can make any size you like out of ‘expanded metal’ or ‘very heavy wire cloth’ or whatever is available. You could likely even use a slab of steel or sheet metal for a plate grill and just add more side vent area. It will all depend on your grate / grill metal and what kind of Pile Of Bricks you want to build.

In use, I had less trouble adjusting air flow with this POB Grill than with the cheap ( $15 or so ) portable grill it is replacing. that grill had fixed air holes that were, IMHO, too small. It tended to smoke too much, and sometimes go out. An OK BBQ but not easy to use. I often had to put the lid on ‘akimbo’ to get enough air flow. With this grill I don’t have that problem. It also will not rust if left sitting out ;-)

So the lid and grill wire can be washed and put in the garage, while the POB and attendant dirty / ashy parts are just hosed off and left out. Much easier than trying to clean up the sheet metal pan of the prior grill.

Also of note is that there are small disposable grills sold in local grocery stores. A tin foil base with charcoals and built in metal grill. As a cheap source of a minimal grill, one of them is convenient. Then the grill metal could be reused in one of these POB Grills. (Though frankly, I’ve always had other BBQ / Grill appliances have the bottom give out long before the grill surface proper so finding one is likely easy… and replacements are sold new in some stores). In short, there are a lot of places to get the non-brick parts. I have a flat cast iron ‘griddle’ that would work well, bought for campfire use and about the right size.

In the end, the biggest ‘take away’ for me is just that a Pile Of Bricks laying about lets you make a variety of stoves and grills without a whole lot of effort. Buying $20 of bricks and putting them in the back yard is a very cheap and very easy way to ‘prepare’ for ‘bad times’. If the Big Quake happens or if the Big Blow takes your little tin BBQ flying, you will likely find your Pile Of Bricks sitting right where you left them. After a disaster, there is usually a pile of wood and such debris, so fuel is typically ‘around’. Having a place to cook, stay warm, and sterilize water is important, and this is the easiest way to get it that I’ve seen. It is also a lot of fun to play with, like grown up Legos with fire ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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11 Responses to POB Grill Layout

  1. Jerry says:

    Have you considered raising the POB up a bit and adding an ash bin between the bottom block and the base layer of brick. With some gaps in the base layer for the ash to fall thru and give some bottom air. Or is that for a later build – POB-7.3 or so. :)

  2. Verity Jones says:

    Reminds me of the ‘rocks on the beach’ driftwood bbq. At home we have the ‘tea urn’ brazier, also on a concrete slab – who needs to buy a fancy ‘fire pit’ or Chiminea when all is needed is a bit of re imagining.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    I did ponder putting in a ‘grate’ screen and ash pit. But at that point it is more work to remove the ashes… With this, it’s just lift a brick on the top and brush them out… ( Just did it, prepping for the sausage BBQ in about 1/2 hour ;-) It would be most valuable as a burning enhancement with better air flow, but it hasn’t really needed that. ( It does ‘slow down’ toward the end and with ash build up the last coals smoulder for a good while… but that’s kind of a feature in a way as it turns from ‘grill’ to ‘warming plate’ just about when you want that)… So I’m more likely to put an outdoor ‘dutch oven’ over the slow coals as a ‘keep warm box’ than try to make the coals burn faster by getting the ash to leave…

    At some point I know that I will try it, just because it is an open question. Had I suitable screen for the ‘ash screen layer’ I’d have already done it. (Having a ‘rake out hole’ like the air supply in the G70 stove and a ‘toy hoe rake’ would likely make ash removal easy…) But not having the screen in hand, and not feeling compelled to go spend money at Home Depot, I figured it could wait…. Of course, if someone else wanted to give it a try and post their results… (hint hint…)

    Mostly I just wanted my hamburger ready in a hurry ;-)


    Similar. I’ve made a few of those. Usually only one layer, and the sand as ‘base’. Thinking about it, that’s likely the first time I ever played with perimeter air holes and wind control… camping somewhere with rocks and sand…

    In many ways this is just a more formal and preplanned ‘fire ring with grill topper’. Smaller too… But it could be made any size desired. You know, I have some loose cinder blocks ….

    I have had several various tin BBQ things over the years in the back yard. Somehow I think I’ll not be buying any more of them. This works as well, or better than some, and I find the esthetics of it more pleasing. As the bricks don’t rust out, it ought to last forever. If it doesn’t, I’m looking at $9 of bricks for this layout. So costs less, lasts longer, easier to clean, works as well or better, and looks a lot more pleasing. I’m having a real hard time seeing where I need the old tin thing…

    IFF I ever need a new kettle cover round topper, I’ll likely take an old Stainless Steel salad bowl and put a handle on it… Yet More non-rusting permanent parts… ;-)

    I’d been thinking of getting one of those $200 propane grill things, but didn’t really have room for it. Between the smoker / big oven, and this grill, and the G70 for small stuff… I just don’t see the need for the Propane Grill either.

    IFF I want a bigger grill, I can just get a few more bricks and a larger ‘topper’ grate… Maybe set me back another $10.

    Then the whole thing can just ‘come apart’ and become ‘border bricks’ around garden squares if I want the patio space back for a while.

    Well, the coals ought to be glowing by now, so time to go put the sausages on the grill. Didn’t get the “white stuff” though since I didn’t buy any chicken, so I’ll have to live with the Pinot Noir for now…

  4. Bloke down the pub says:

    Also of note is that there are small disposable grills sold in local grocery stores. A tin foil base with charcoals and built in metal grill. As a cheap source of a minimal grill, one of them is convenient. Then the grill metal could be reused in one of these POB Grills. (Though frankly, I’ve always had other BBQ / Grill appliances have the bottom give out long before the grill surface proper so finding one is likely easy.
    I’ve used disposable bbqs before and saved the grill and tray. The grill can be reused as you describe. I use the tray as a liner for my metal bbq. This makes it very simple to clean up and tidy away quickly. Ashes hold moisture which is the root cause of the base rusting out. Maybe in California this might not be much of an advantage, but in the UK there’s always the risk that an al fresco meal will be brought to a premature end by the weather.

  5. philjourdan says:

    Most of the “it must be BBQ if it is outside” people are in the northeast. Down here, we call it grilling as well. We have smokers (they do a very good BBQ), but if I BBQ – it is a slow cook in a closed device.

    I have spare bricks as well – never thought of using them for that purpose. Thanks for the idea.

  6. R. de Haan says:

    What’s happening here? Are we degenerating back to the stone (brick) age? I love any experiment based on common sense and a little snuff of tech but three articles devoted to bricks is too much for me (LOL).

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    You get what I’m doing at any given time. As we have had “first spring”, that’s BBQ / grilling ;-)

    FWIW, now that I’ve pretty much finished the stove and grill designs, I’m ‘moving on’ to other things. I did get the Coleman Oven yesterday (fast shipping for the ‘whenever’ free choice!) so eventually you will get a Coleman Oven review, but not for a while. It is unlikely that the G70 Stove will keep it warm enough, so most likely will just be a comment that it doesn’t cut it. As the bottom is open and lets the flame gasses flow through the oven, they will flavor the food. So I’m not keen on gasoline flavored bread… which means I’m unlikely to use it on my Coleman gasoline stove… (Where did I leave that propane adapter…) which puts that whole project on ‘slow’…

    Which means “clean the patio and set up for spring / summer gardening” moves to the top. Unlikely to be more cooking stories until that’s out of the way “in a while”, unless I stumble on something fun to do. ( I do have a 1/2 dozen camping stoves and have thought I ought to do a ‘comparison cook off series’ – but I’ve been thinking that for 2 years now and no posting yet…)

    Having “scratched the itch” of no BBQ nor grill during our rainy season, I’m now ‘satisfied’ for a week or three (which is about how long our next rain will likely run…)

    But I do like “playing with fire” (that Smith and forge thing…) so you can expect fire stories from time to time…


    You are welcome. Hope the idea is a help at some time. (It is fun in any case ;-)

    As we have ‘imports’ of people from all over, California is mostly from the “Fire in tin pan is BBQ” school. There is a slow move to calling it grilling… That many folks put some wood chips in the Webber and a lid on it and call it BBQ confuses the issue, as some of that IS BBQ when done slow and long enough. (Heck I did it in a small portable kettle with a foil dish of water and wood chips and low slow heat… Convinced me I wanted a real smoker…)

    So I’m trapped with people who will “grill” me for saying “grill” (as many think that is a large slab of hot steel indoors…) and people who will BBQ me for saying BBQ as it isn’t… Oh Well…

    I just cook and eat the stuff and don’t care what it’s called as long as I can get the right results ;-)

    @Bloke Down The Pub:

    We have monsoon weather patterns. It rains for days on end, then doesn’t. We know a couple of days in advance if rain is on the way / likely. About 2 weeks of the year we can have ‘thunderstorms” that move through by ‘surprise’. They are toy thunderstorms as our area is small compared to the mid-west and the ‘surprise’ is only if you are not in touch with the cycles and avoid TV news…

    I bought a $2 disposable grill kit at Walmart yesterday for some future direct comparison of it to the G70s to the POB Grill. Probably in about 2 months ;-) Then I’ll try reusing the grill parts and see what’s worth it, or not.

    The big “problem” in most of California is that the weather is so benign, you get used to just leaving things sitting out. No real wind most times most places. Not much rain. No snow. Then things slowly wear away / sun age / rust from dew / whatever… Ends up being easy to have ‘clutter’ as you don’t need to prep for The Big Storm. (While staying in Florida I learned the ‘art’ of tossing all the patio furniture into the pool so the major storm would not blow them away / through windows… unheard of in California.) So you get used to leaving the grill just sitting ‘out there’ with the ashes in it… for months on end. Eventually discovering the ashes got damp and the chemical etch / rust started. OTOH, it’s a $15 or so BBQ so not like it is worth putting a lot of time into preservation ;-)

    Now the POB version doesn’t even have that problem…

  8. Bloke down the pub says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    26 February 2013 at 9:52 pm

    @Bloke Down The Pub:
    The big “problem” in most of California is that the weather is so benign, you get used to just leaving things sitting out.

    I’d swap having to tidy everything away for having a problem like that.

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