Wooden Grill Scraper. Safely Clean Your BBQ.

You’re probably cleaning your grill all wrong.  Most people use wire brushes, but those aren’t what you want to be using on the thing you cook your food on.



1,700.  That’s the number of emergency room visits by people who got the bristles of a wire grill brush stuck in their tongues, throat, intestines or colon.  YES.  Colon.

1,700 people from 2002 to 2014.  And yes again. It could easily, EASILY happen to you.  The problem with wire grill scrapers is eventually some of those bristles that are great for scraping gunk off of your BBQ break off. They stick to your grill, you throw your hamburger on it, it sticks to your burger and then you eat it.

And about a day later you end up in the emergency room with a doctor who looks nothing like George Clooney telling you to put a hospital gown on, you need surgery … which may or may not work.

So there’s that.

I am here to today to tell you …

Throw AWAY your wire grill brush now.

So how are you going to clean your grill?   Well you have a few options.

Ways to clean a Grill

  1. Pierce a halved onion with a long meat fork and rub it on a hot grill.
  2. Spray the grill with vinegar, let it sit for a bit and then rub the grill with balled up tinfoil. 
  3. Fill a metal pan with water and put it in the BBQ to heat up. It will create steam that’ll make wiping the grills easy(ish).

I’ve resorted to not even cleaning my grill and just cooking my food on a new, undirty part of the grill every time I BBQ.

I ran out of clean spots last week.

So I made made a wooden grill scraper and you can too.



It looks like this.


And this …



How to make a grill scraper


1 foot length of 6×1″ Oak.  (you can get oak boards by the foot at any lumber store) They cost around $5 per foot.

Drill and bit

Belt Sander

40 grit and 120 grit belt sander paper

Strip of leather or cord

Mineral Oil

Total Time – 1 hour if using a belt sander, less if you’re using an electric planer, more if you’re using a palm sander.  All these tools will work.  I used a belt sander so those are the instructions I’m going to give you.

  1.  Lay your 12″ piece of oak flat on a table and with measure and mark 2″ from one end of the wood.


From the 2 inch point down, is where you are going to be sanding away the material until it forms a thin point.  Draw a guide on the side of your wood.



After sanding, all that will remain is the point in the centre.




2. Clamp your belt sander with the 40 grit paper on it SECURELY into a vice.



3. Turn the sander on.  If it’s the type you have to keep your finger on the button for it to run, hold the power button down with a hand clamp.



4.  Gradually sand down one side of the oak.  This will take 10 – 20 minutes depending on your sander and sand paper.



5.  Do the other side.  Make sure you have a nice, sharp, thin edge on the end.

6.  Using the rolled end of the belt sander, sand a groove into the top of the wood to act as a handle for your fingers.  This is optional.



6.  Change to 120 grit sand paper and smooth out all of the wood including rounding out the edges.

7.  Drill a hole into the top and run your string or leather through for hanging your scraper.

8.  If you want to get fancy like me, stamp your initial into the handle of the wood with a leather stamp.


8.  Wipe with mineral oil.

How to use the scraper.

To prepare your scraper for its scraping duties, turn your grill onto high so the grates are nice and hot.  Then run your scraper slowly back and forth with firm pressure on the grates.  The grooves with start to char and form slowly but surely.

The more you use it, the deeper the groves become.

To jump start the whole process you can use a rounded file to file some grooves.



The more you use the scraper the deeper the grooves will get.  Thicker grates take longer to form grooves than thinner ones.



I didn’t want to wait for 150 BBQing sessions before I got nice deep grooves, so once I had the beginnings of my grooves from the hot grill, I used a round file to speed up the process a bit.  Then I rubbed the scraper across the grill again.




You can also use the tool for cleaning out the inside of the grates by turning it sideways.



Can’t be bothered?   I get that.  Just buy one.


This makes a great host/hostess gift for someone who invites you over for a BBQ.  If they happen to have cleaned their grill with a wire brush you might want to discreetly scream at the top of your lungs …



Just a discrete, raving, screaming you understand. You don’t want to be considered an ungrateful guest. Also leave the BBQ with your entire family chanting, YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL US, YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL US, while throwing your hostess gift and the link to this blog post over your shoulder in their general direction.




You can leave it outside because it’s such a hard wood and it’s treated with mineral oil, but I bring mine inside when I’m not using it.



Just doing my part to keep you from becoming #1,701.



  1. Kelli says:

    good grief, don’t people who scrape their grill with wire brushes WIPE THEM OFF afterward? *eyeroll* I used to work for a company (http://tinyurl.com/dxywggd) that made grill cleaners (among other similar products), so I’m a bit biased on those, but on every package we put in BIG BOLD LETTERS that you use the product, then wipe down the grill with a damp rag afterward. But your DIY version looks amazingly simple and very effective! Wondering, does it smell nice and ‘toasty’ if you use it on a hot grill? :)

  2. Jackie says:

    Where did you find oak sold by the foot? I was all over this (going to throw it into the mix of my other summer projects, but would have had to buy 8 feet of oak at the orange store today…)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jackie! I got it at my local lumberyard. The kind that a real contractor would use, not an “orange store”, lol, contractor. Turkstra Lumber. But most cities/towns have a regular lumberyard like that. Did you ask at Home Depot if you could buy the oak by the foot? ~ karen!

  3. Karin says:

    Belt sander in the vise? Brilliant. I can’t tell you how many times I read your blog and slap my feeble head and think “why didn’t I think of that?”

  4. TucsonPatty says:

    This is the thing I want to make for the family reunion silent auction! It will be a huge hit!! One of my coworkers ended up in the hospital after a wire bristle on his hamburger stuck on the way through with lots of pain while doing it. He’s okay, and I think I might make one for him, too. Thanks for the great idea/tutorial/public service announcement. You rock!

  5. Melissa says:

    Just so you know, you are saving lives here. And, you’re pretty badass too, just saying.

    p.s. bought one just now, after reading this…thought if I tried to make one, that act alone would send me to the ER.

  6. Lin N says:

    Excellent tutorial and great idea. Thanks Karen. I sometimes use a pumice thingy that has a handle to clean the grill. Another trick I use is turning the grill on high, flattening a double folded piece of foil on the grill. This heats up and burns all the yuck off the grill. The scraper would definelty add to the final clean of the grill.

  7. Kris says:

    We thought it was a great idea too, until we used it! 3 scrapes, back and forth and it snapped in two! The one you made is shorter than the Costco one, so hopefully that won’t happen. You improved on the original, of course!!

    • Karen says:

      Oh! I hope you returned it! You must have got a defective one because Oak is really strong wood and when I was up at Costco 2 separate people came up to me to say they had bought one and how much they loved theirs. Make sure you return yours! ~ karen!

  8. Valerie says:

    Thank you Karen for these instructions. I agree that grill brushes are hideous, dangerous and unsightly.

    In the meantime while people are carving out this implement in their workshop there is something in your utensil drawer you can use effectively – it is a simple bottle opener that has a can piercer on the other side – the side that is shaped like a V. Place the V in between the tines in the grill and with pressure slowly work from one side to the other side, from furthest to closest edge of the tines. By turning the piercer slightly in your hand it will clean the underside of the grill as well. Run under hot water when done and into the dishwasher when completed.
    A one inch layer of kitty litter underneath the grill on the floor of the BBQ will also prevent flare ups. Remove the tray at regular intervals into the trash. There is a product available in hardware stores for this purpose specifically but litter works just as effectively and is more economical.

  9. Isabella says:

    You spelled center wrong , you Canadian you. But great idea. I’m throwing our metal brush out now. You r so clever.

  10. Ev Wilcox says:

    Wow! So who knew? Emergency room and doctors office personnel! I will pass the info along, and well done you!

  11. Sabina says:

    True story! Happened to my brother in a restaurant, a piece of dirty wire brush stuck into the roof of his mouth. This is a great project, thanks Karen!

    PS – Do you ever sleep?

  12. Katie C. says:

    I’ll have to keep this in mind for when we get a new grill.

    Right now our grates are so rusted that we don’t bother cleaning it. We just put tin foil over the grates.

  13. Su says:

    Thumbs up on this one!

  14. danni says:

    I saw that stat and was like whaaaaa?
    Very cool!

  15. Leslie in Hampton says:

    Love it!!

  16. Catherine Vosper says:

    Great idea, thank you!

  17. Ei Con says:

    Wonderful post. Gonna make one.
    Gotta tell ya though that I had to manually go to your website this morning to read it. I did not get my Monday morning TAODS email today. Whazzup?

    • Karen says:

      Really? I’m not sure what happened. The emails sent out … check your spam maybe? I’ll look into it more from my end. ~ karen!

  18. Becky says:

    2 years ago, my then 10-year old daughter, swallowed a bristle that had been stuck to a piece of chicken, and it was stuck in her throat. It was awful and scary. It was easily removed (after a 2-hour wait in the ER!), but we have been preaching against grill brushes ever since. I have seen similar products on Grommet.com, but opted for a wire brush with one continuous wire loop (works well). I will definitely try your DIY version. Thanks, Karen!

  19. What a brilliant idea! And the wooden scraper looks so much nicer than metal brush ones too, especially once they’ve been used a few times and go scraggly. I imagine the wood will wear in beautifully.

  20. Turbocharger says:

    Likely a silly question, but why sand when you can saw (using compound miter saw or similar) and then smooth out using sandpaper all over?
    Inquiring (lazy) DIY minds need to know before attempting with a miter saw and everything going terribly and horribly wrong.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Turbocharger – You can’t actually miter this particular angle. It’s too sharp. :) I was hoping it could be miter sawed but it can’t. ~ karen!

      • Brian says:

        I made a rough cut with my band saw then used my 4″x36″
        Stationary belt sander to finish the job. Much easier than doing all that sanding. Also a lot less dust since I was able to connect the sander to my shop vac. Plus I didn’t need to buy any wood since I have a work shot with all kinds so scrap wood.

  21. Patti P says:

    Thank you, Karen. We stopped using wire brushes years ago and a type of pumice stone for cleaning the grill. Unfortunately, we can’t always find them. This is a great project and would make a nice Christmas gift. Beautiful job, as usual.

  22. PaulaBt says:


  23. brenda says:

    very cool DIY … leather initial stamp?

  24. West Coast Nan says:

    Great idea, I’m all for staying out of statistics!

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