i dont know if it would work or not, but I saw a pic where a guy used an old canner that he drilled out with loads of hole as a charcoal basket. I cant remember if I saw it on this forum or not. Anyways, I think that thinking outside the box is a good thing and I love seeing old things have new life. I'm sure there is a right way and a wrong way to do things but sometimes the right way is only the right way because "thats the way its always been done". As long as you dont have any coatings or galvi or anything that would off-gas, you could always try it. I will say that the reason why I think the guys here like to use the expanded metal is so you have a lot of air getting to your charcoal. I actually bought my expanded at a steel yard that has a pretty cool salvage/scrap yard. it was really cheap, $7. As long as you are willing to roll with the punches so to speak, and to try again if it doesnt work, then I dont see why you couldnt at least try. The big thing is making sure you have something that is sized appropriately and will allow ash to fall out so you dont choke out your fire.
I have maybe $50 in my UDS so far. I got my barrel for free, bought a weber off of Craigslist for $25, and my hardware from Home Depot. Still working on collecting the rest of my parts!