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City balcony custom table for "Minimax"


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I think this could be my first post on here, but I've enjoyed perusing the forum for some time. I'm not new to grilling/BBQ, as I've always been a fond user or Weber kettles and gas grilles. 


We live in an 1890's city block in Oslo, where we had no balcony, only a shared garden, where we have a 57cm Weber kettle. This winter we had a balcony installed (hooray!), and I had really been looking forward to making food on it. However the Weber was absolutely not safe on this balcony, and it would barely fit with the side table and handles.. this forced me to look for an alternative, and I decided to go for a noname kamado mimicking the BGE Minimax, however certainly not with the same level of finishing, it certainly was a bargain at eq. USD 240. 

 

Cutting to the chase.. this very nice piece of equipment needed a decent table, and something that would not clog up the narrow (0,9m x 5,5 metres) balcony. There definitely wasn't something fitting readily available, so I decided to go ahead and make my first piece of furniture. 

 

Setting out with a cordless drill and a cheap jigsaw from our equivalent of Harbor Freight, precision hand saw, a plastic mitre box and a home made jig for cutting a circle out of the table top I really had no clue how long this would take, and my sketches were definitely not very usable. I had to make adjustments and numerous measurements on the go, constantly changing my plans. I'm no carpenter, that is for sure, but I've become quite happy with the result. 

 

Some minor adjustments remain - the edges need a last layer of paint, as I covered up some cracks with Tec7 (caulking/strong construction glue that is robust, 12 percent flexible and can be painted over) and only gave that one layer. 

 

I created a robust frame from 23x48 mm (CU) pressure impregnated wood, the sides and doors are made from 18 mm plywood, the back plate is 6 mm plywood and the shelves and top are 15mm plywood. Plywood is not suited for outdoor use, so I decided to dilligently cover the plywood with 3-5 layers of paint (Jotun/Scanox Bengalack), mixed to Jotun's 0705 British Racing Green, a favourite of mine. I plan to paint the frame as soon as it is somewhat dry. I covered the inside with white Bengalack, to ensure that I can see whatever is inside even if it's somewhat dark outside. There were some challenges using the jigsaw.. I had the plywood cut at the store into pieces that would it into the car and at somewhat approximate measurements, only for me to make some straight cuts with the jigsaw. That turned out more difficult than I had thought, a jigsaw isn't a precision instrument, but it all waned in comparison to cutting out the hole :) However I was able to correct most cutting imperfections after purchasing a more expensive and better blade (Bosch Extra Fine X-Cut).

 

It appears to have become very stable and strong. It certainly doesn't flex if I sit on top of it or try to jiggle it from side to side or back and forth. 

 

Pictures from the process:

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Thanks! That was the goal. The room on this narrow balcony has to be spent wisely, and objects must not take up more space than necessary. 

 

The neighbours don't know yet! ;-) Haha. This balcony is on a wall without windows, ours are the only ones. We are also the lone apartment on the loft. Presumably not much smoke will go down.. so there would probably be much less of an inconvenience than when I light up the Weber in the garden. I honestly don't think anyone will notice. And.. we don't have any silly rules :) 

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I really like your table as I said above, but I do have a concern. It looks like the shelf that the Egg is sitting on is made of granite, but I can't tell for sure. Their are serious concerns about fire safety when your kamado sits directly on wood or has inadequate insulation. I am not trying to be negative I am  just concerned about your safety with it so close to your apt, and neighbors. 

Here is some reading material re the subject. 

http://www.nakedwhiz.com/eggbase/eggbase.htm

 

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Thanks for the concern! I am keeping close tabs on the temperature until I am fully familiarized with the grill's behaviour, using an infrared thermometer throughout the cook, from lighting up until I close the vents. So far the exterior temperature has been well below 100 degrees Celsius. I believe wood would only catches fire at around 200 degrees. The paint I have treated the wood with is rated for 90 degrees. The article you quote is interesting, and I see that my theory of 200 degrees comes into conflict with what the article states.

 

So far the exterior of the kamado has been around 60-70 degrees Celsius at its peak. The table has not been close to those temperatures. There is an air gap, albeit small in places, between the kamado and the top plate. The feet of the kamado holds it about an inch above the plywood board it rests on. 

 

This is definitely something I will be cautious about. I also light it with vegetable oil soaked briquettes, no petroleum based firestarters of course.

 

I've been using both cheap charcoal (which often doesn't become as hot due to the small size pieces), Weber lumpwood (becomes a bit hotter) and Missing Link charcoal which is also  capable of delivering high temperatures, and experimenting a little with the amount of coal placed in the kiln. Thus far safely, without any dangerous situations. 

 

The article points out something important and that is cook time. I have yet to try any cooks longer than about an hour, I usually prepare vegetables, salad, tender meats and fish. If I were to make something more time consuming the risk of fire would presumably rise somewhat.. I will not leave the grill but check in frequently.

 

..come to think of it I have experience with a grill catching fire once! However that was a gas grille which had recently been used to grill fatty pork.. it was one of those early generation gas grilles which had volcanic rock in its bottom. As the pork had been made slowly on low heat, the residual fat running off of the pork had soaked the rock. When I lit up the grill and waited for it to be ready to sear steaks... well.. a whole cloud of black smoke belched out of it, with hot fumes and a whole ball of fire lurching underneath the lid. It took me a long 30 seconds, but I was able to put out the fire :-)

 

Also see the attached photo as it represents a cross section of the wall. There isn't much that is combustible in this wall and I keep an extinguisher in the room on the inside. 

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I see now that it would be fully possible to fit an aluminium tray filled with water underneath the kamado, and in between the three legs it has. It appears the greatest risk of high temperatures is underneath the base of the grill. Wouldn't that water possibly serve as an early warning system, if the water has evaporated after a cook it must have been very hot there? Does the evaporating water pose any risk to the ceramic material?

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