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June 14, 2012
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How to add an extra grate to a grill or smoker

I have a big BBQ coming up soon for my daughter's third birthday party. I plan on smoking a lot of meat. I'm thinking two big pork butts and two 5 lb untrimmed brisket flats. If you are familiar with this website you'll know that I have the smaller version of the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, which means that things are going to be tight! Well I started thinking and I found a way to add a lot of surface area to my smoker by adding a third grate! Here's what I did:

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

This is pretty easy and by no means do you have to be a real handyman to figure it out. I've read forums and websites where guys are welding new grates into place! Yeah, I can't do that. For about $5 you can buy bolts, nuts, and washers and can easily do this. I chose to use the grill grate from my Smokey Joe mini Weber kettle. I chose to use this because I already had it and it is significantly smaller than the Weber Smokey Mountain's grates and the standard Weber kettle's grates. I wanted it a bit smaller so I could have room to get my hands or tongs down around the new grate.

How to increase surface area of a smoker

Here's what you need (all hardware Stainless Steel only!!):

4 - 5 inch carriage bolts
8 Washers that are wider than the grates of your grill
12 Nuts to fit your carriage bolts
4 Lock Washers
An extra grill grate (I used one from my Smokey Joe)

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

I started by slipping a wide washer over the carriage bolt and sliding the bolt through the grates. I then put a washer on the bottom of the grate and put a nut on to tighten. I did this for each bolt. I tried to position the bolts in a way where I would have the most surface area underneath of the new grate. You can imagine that the bolts arranged in a perfect square may not allow a large rectangular brisket flat to fit. I chose to keep the bolts in a rectangular pattern allowing a wide opening under the new grate. You wouldn't want the "columns" of your new grate to bump up against food.

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

Next I measured the distance between the top and bottom grate of the Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM). It was about 8 inches. So that meant that I roughly wanted this "third grate" to be 4 inches away from the top and bottom grate that way it would be in the middle. 4 inches doesn't sound like a lot of room but it will fit a brisket flat just fine. So about 3.5-4 inches from the top of the carriage bolt place a nut, a lock washer, a wide washer and another nut. Try to sandwich all of these with nuts and make sure the lock washer is in the middle so things won't slip around. You can see this arrangement better in the photo below.

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

Once you do this 4 times you'll have four "legs" to stand the new grate on. There should be an extra inch or so hanging down on these "legs." This is ok, it allows the new grate to fit a bit more securely over top of the grate below.

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room
Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

You can see from the above photo that this works great on a standard large Weber kettle, such as the Weber Performer. This can come in handy for warming buns, or keeping veggies or corn warm while you are grilling something else.  This can also add surface area to an Ugly Drum Smoker or any type of grill or smoker.

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

Above you can see my new grate sitting in the WSM smoker. I think two brisket flats will neatly fit in here, one on each grate.

Adding an extra grate to a grill or smoker for more grilling room

In the above shot you can sort of see all three grates on the WSM. The plan is two sit two bone-in Boston butts on the top grate, then have one untrimmed brisket flat sitting on each grate below! This is a lot of meat for the little WSM but I am certain it will handle it! And just imagine how many smoked stuffed jalapeno peppers I can now fit on this smoker!  Adding a Third Grate to a Smoker is an easy way to add a lot of grilling surface area.

I realize there are no food photos in this update. Sorry about that - Here's a photo of an Italian Sausage with peppers, onions and tomato sauce!

Sausage sandwich grilled on an extra grill grate added to a grill

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3 comments on “Adding a Third Grate to a Smoker (Weber Smokey Mountain)”

  1. Hi! I realize I am kind of late (5 years!) responding to your article. Great article and pictures! This provides me something else I can do with my fairly new 18.5 WSM! Fantastic job on your idea and kudos for your easy-to-follow explanations! Since I am late to the party you may have already read similar comments from other peanut galleries. But here are mine, and I say this only respectfully because what you did certainly gets the job done like you want. OK here goes: I counted 12 washers in your project as opposed to the 8 you listed. Being something of an mechanical engineering nerd, one of your pictures indicated to me that the excess bolting hanging down from each of the bottom nuts does not add anything to security. I recommend hacking the excess bolting off to avoid any future clearance issues underneath, such as a water bowl cover or use on a grill which sits over food in some other configuration or grill. Like you I like being able to use what I have versus going out and getting, and you also had something of a time constraint for your daughter's 3rd birthday party, so you used what you had and did great. For my purposes, if I don't have a time constraint, and since I do not currently have a mini Smokey Joe grill, I would just order a new bottom grate for the 18.5" WSM and build off of that. That would provide a wee bit more grill space, but mainly I think that the wider bolt placement might allow more flexibility for food arrangement underneath. Thank you for putting up with my comments. You still have an A+ article by me because it was this article that made me aware that a middle grate could go between the other two in the first place! Happy belated EIGHTH birthday to your daughter! I surely hope she is doing fine. Joe

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