BUILDING THE FIRE BASKET
I have made many different baskets with different designs. Most didn't work as expected. Like most people, I first approached building a Fire Basket using "Expanded Metal." Expanded metal is a style that is typically used for grates. Lowes and Home Depot stocks these in different sizes and gauges, although the inventory tends to be a hit & miss situation. Expanded Metal is probably easiest to build in the event a welder is not available. Expanded Metal is easier to work with than sheet metal, but must be treated with kid gloves since it is similar to working with barbed wire. A lot of sharp edges and while it cuts easy, you spend a lot of time avoiding getting punctured while cutting. I now believe that a better tool to cut this stuff would be a metal saw instead of metal shears.

To determine the best size that will fit the Firebox, I made a flimsy wood template and adjusted it accordingly. Part of my concern was to make a basket large enough (front to back) so it would sit off the bottom of the Firebox to allow ashes to drop below and provide an area for good airflow.

My early attempts were to make a much smaller basket and use the Minion Method as the temperature was much higher with a larger basked "without" the larger Smokestack. I was able to get a 5 hour burn time from the smaller basket using the Minion Method.

I finally decided to make a basket from scratch using simple metal rods. I picked up these rods at Lowes. This turned out to be much less expensive than the expanded metal baskets. It took a lot more welding but probably about the same length of time as making the expanded metal basket.

As you can see, I didn't do a pro welding job and about half way through the task, I decided that the next basket that I will build should be made from "square" rods instead of round rods. Square would be easier to hold in place for quick welding.

This basket was made for briquette size charcoal. Using lump charcoal and small wood chips falls through the sides of this basket. The next basket will probably have narrower vertical rails and possibly some horizontal rails.

Believe me, this basket is very sturdy, however, it "sagged" on the bottom over repeated use, the same that I experienced with the expanded metal. I believe that this basket will last much longer than expanded metal. The heat inside the Firebox gets incredibly hot and I believe that I have a few solutions for the sagging problem in the next version.

The size of this basket is 13" from left to right; 11" from front to back; and 9 ½ inches tall. The handles are 2" tall. It is not difficult to remove from the Firebox but it couldn't be much larger. Since this photo, I added two bars on the bottom from front to back which elevates the basket a little higher. The bars are almost exactly the width of the Firebox door opening.


Basket in Firebox using the Minion Method

 


Air gap below basked (shown from Firebox damper end)