About the author, Mike Thayer
Chapter 12 - Sauces, Marinades, Seasoning, Pantry Items

Repurposing that old file cabinet - turn it into a grill

Grilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

File cabinetSo I had this old file cabinet on hand, just sitting in my garage no longer being used for its intended purpose....

"How can I re-use this?" I asked myself.

I was thinking about storing power tools in it, but came up with a better idea!

A Sunday project, I turned an old four-drawer tall metal file cabinet, into a charcoal grill!

Here's the "How To" laid out like a recipe:


  • An old metal vertical filing cabinet (four drawers, three drawers, doesn't matter)
  • Black auto engine paint (it can take the heat), about three cans
  • About one dozen metal screws
  • Grill grates


  • A drill and drill bits

Remove all drawers and clean all cabinet parts, inside and out with warm soapy water. After it's dry, paint all parts black (or whatever color you wish). I used auto engine paint because it can take the heat. It's a bit more expensive, but you won't have to worry about paint peeling and flaking off later. After all parts are dry, you're now ready for assembly. Set the cabinet on the side with the drawer cavity openings facing the ground. You may want to do this where you're actually going to use the grill. I would recommend having it set on concrete blocks, decorative bricks or a bed of rock. Next, screw the cabinet drawers side-by-side to the 'new top' of the cabinet, with the tall end of the drawers being the 'back' of your grill area, two screws for each drawer to secure them to the cabinet base should do it. You're almost done. If you pre-measured your drawer size and bought some of those universal grill grates like I did, place those grates on your "new" charcoal bins - the drawers. The grates should fit snugly on top of the drawers at the tall end (the grill back), but you'll have to drill a couple holes and strategically place some screws to hold the grates in place at the business side of the grill. Do NOT drill the screws all the way in, you just want to keep the grill grates from sliding left to right and you'll want to be able to easily remove them for cleaning purposes.

File cabinet grillThat's it, you're done! I like the flat-top style layout of the grill. I can fire up one drawer when I grill for one or two, fire up a second drawer for family or small get-togethers or fire up the third and fourth drawers for parties! And the beauty of this design is, you don't have to put a grate over every drawer. For one of the drawer spots I purchased a stainless steel grill pan to use for veggies and fish, it didn't need any strategically placed screws to hold it in place either. You can put a butcher block cutting board over one of the drawers, it's easily placed and removed.

Or, you can set up a permanent cutting station/counter space over one of the drawer spaces using a more permanent material like a couple tiles of marble or granite. My cost for this grill was just $60. I'm real pleased with how this project turned out, it grills nice and should last for many a grilling season! In breaking it in and only using one drawer, I grilled up four pounds of skirt steak, a dozen hot dogs, five burgers and I still had plenty of heat left, I could have grilled more!

File cabinet grill 2





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