Built-In BBQ Bench

  • Built-In BBQ Bench, AFTER
  • Built-In BBQ Bench , BEFORE

Create an outdoor kitchen DIY with a custom-made cabinet for a hooded barbie, side burner and bar fridge. 

The covered verandah on the back of this Sydney home was built as part of a major reno, where half the house was demolished to make way for a new open-plan living, dining and kitchen space. 

Connected to the indoors by two sets of triple sliding glass doors, the tiled verandah was designed for outdoor living, with a gas outlet and powerpoint installed at one end for a built-in barbecue. 

To go with the new extension, the homeowner wanted a modern kitchen-cabinet style design. 

Made to fit across the available 2120mm long wall, the cabinet had to be high enough for the bar fridge. 

It also had to be deep enough for the stainless steel barbecue and side burner, from Matador, to be set into the benchtop. 

The cabinet was designed using the barbecue specifications and the manufacturer’s installation manual to ensure all safety standards were met.

Built from marine plywood to protect it from the elements, the cabinet was lined with fibre cement sheet, as it is non-combustible, and the benchtop made of compressed FC.

The cabinet isn’t suitable for use with a gas bottle as it was made for use with natural gas. A plumber changed the injectors and connected the barbecue to the outlet. 

Protect the plywood 

Built-in barbecues have to sit at set distances from combustible surfaces, which includes any that are made of an organic material like timber or plasterboard. 

Inorganic materials such as concrete, brick, steel, stone and ceramics are non-combustible. 

The interior of this plywood cabinet was lined with 4.5mm fibre cement (FC) sheet cut to size and attached under the barbecue and side burner. 

Screening the verandah 

A privacy screen was added behind the barbecue to meet council regulations. A 2400 x 1200mm treated pine lattice panel, $60, from Bunnings, was cut to size and framed, then installed using plastic plugs and 65mm x 12g galvanised screws. 

Step 1. Trim the lattice 

 Trim the lattice panel to size using a circular saw with the blade depth set to 30mm. TIP Position it on sawhorses to cut.

screening the verandah, step 1, handyman magazine,

Step 2. Mark the frame

Mark the frame pieces and clamp to a sawhorse to cut to length, making square cuts using a circular saw. Test-fit the frame around the lattice.

step 2. mark the frame, handyman magazine,

Step 3. Make the screen

Make the screen by drilling 2mm countersunk pilot holes and securing each butt-joined corner with 65mm x 8g screws.

step 3. make the screen, handyman magazine


Design basics 

The barbecue cabinet measures 2120mm long and was made from two 2400 x 1200 x 18mm panels of marine plywood, costing $119 each, cut to size with a circular saw. It has three doors and an opening for a bar fridge. 

A divider supports two shelves and the cabinet is reinforced with 70 x 35mm treated pine rails at the back, with a front rail and extra support cut from plywood. 

Beneath the side-burner shelf is a 500mm deep drawer on runners. 

The cabinet stands on six 60 x 150mm adjustable Brushed Nickel Round Legs. The doors feature Prestige 96mm brushed stainless steel door pulls, about $7 each, from Bunnings. 

The plywood cabinet and lattice screen were finished with two coats of Dulux Weathershield in black. 

open bbq, handyman magazine,
Painting the plywood turns the cabinet into a designer piece

Make a drawer 

Step 1. Prepare the face 

Mark a 195 x 30mm cutout for a hand slot on the top edge of the plywood drawer face, curving the edges at both ends. Use a jigsaw to cut out the hand slot, sanding the edges with 180 grit abrasive paper.

step 1. prepare the face, handyman magazine,

Step 2. Make the box 

Secure the drawer back between the sides with screws then add the base, securing one corner only. Square up the box to align with the base and secure with three screws on each side, then attach the drawer runners.

make the box, handyman magazine,

Step 3. Finish the drawer 

Stand the drawer on its back and position the drawer face, drilling 1.5mm pilot holes before securing with PVA adhesive and nails. Attach the remaining runner halves to the cabinet sides, then insert the drawer.

step 3. finish the drawer, handyman magazine,

Adding the benchtop 

Step 1. Mark the cutouts 

Mark the cutouts on the FC sheet, positioning it on two timber rails across sawhorses. Cut the sheet to 2120 x 750mm with a circular saw and fibre cement blade. Set the cutout lines square with a builder’s square, drilling 8mm holes in each corner so the two cutouts are easily removed. Use a masonry bit and turn off the hammer function to avoid breakout on the back.

step 1. adding a benchtop, handyman magazine,

Step 2. Prepare the benchtop 

Prepare the benchtop by using a small angle grinder fitted with a continuous diamond blade wheel. Remove the waste from the small cutout for the side burner, then the larger barbecue cutout. Use a flat file to remove any fibre burrs and to square up the corners of the cutouts.

adding the benchtop, handyman magazine,

Step 3. Secure the benchtop 

Secure the benchtop to the barbecue cabinet, supporting it on two rails and sliding it into position. Align the benchtop, then drill countersunk clearance holes at 300mm centres through the benchtop only. Drill 2mm pilot holes into the cabinet rails, secure with screws, then cover the holes with two-part filler.  

step 3. handyman magazine,

Build the cabinet 

Step 1. Cut panels to size

Mark the marine ply panels to size using a builder’s square. Measure the offset distance from blade to base plate edge and clamp a straightedge to guide the circular saw as the panels are cut, allowing for the offset distance.

Step 2. Make rail notches

At the top and base on the back edge of the divider and left panel, cut 70 x 35mm notches with a jigsaw, and 30 x 18mm notches 25mm back from the top front edges. Cut a 580 x 18mm notch 25mm back on the divider base.

Step 3. Add the base

Position the base between the side panels and mark lines 9mm up from the base to drill four 2mm countersunk pilot holes, securing with screws. Mark the divider on the base and secure

Step 4. Secure back rails

Position one back rail on the top back notches hard against the right end panel and clamp. Drill pilot holes, securing with two screws to the end panel first, then to the notched panels. Secure the other back rail at the base.

Step 5. Install the shelves

Mark the position of the long shelf 365mm up from the base on the side panel and divider, and the short shelf 515mm up. Drill four 2mm pilot holes then prop the shelves on offcuts at the marked setout, securing with screws.

Step 6. Hang doors

Secure three hinges to a door edge, one centred and two 65mm from the top and base. Lay the cabinet flat and position the doors with equal spacing. Mark the hinge positions on adjacent inside panels, securing with screws.

Step 7. Attach the front rails

Position the front rail hard against the end panel and in the notches and drill pilot holes, securing with screws. Apply PVA adhesive to the support top edges and clamp with the inside edges flush, securing with screws from above.

Step 8. Line with FC sheet

Use a fibre-cement cutter to cut 4.5mm FC sheet to size to line the plywood below the barbecue and side burner sections. Secure the lining to the shelf tops, panel sides, doors and rail faces with buttonhead screws.

Step 9. Position cabinet

Secure three furniture glides to the end panel base, then attach the panel to the rails. Attach six legs to the cabinet base with the supplied screws, then use two spirit levels to adjust the legs to set it level.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see each component of this built-in barbecue bench in, mm.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see each component of the rail setout in, mm.

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list to see what items, and in what sizes, you need for this project.

Click on the fastener list

Click on the fastener list to see what fasteners, and in what sizes, you will need for this project.

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