SQWIBS Schwenker

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Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Sep 25, 2007
I wasn't sure where to post this, but after using this for a few weeks, I can honestly say that this is a Smoker/Grill of sorts. I have cooked product with a lot of smoke flavor, especially when using the turkey Keg Roaster and the lids.

A few folks asked about the build so I figured I would copy/paste this from my website. This is nothing more than a tripod with a swinging grate and can be made on the cheap.

Mods... there are links to the parts, if you want me to remove them, let me know and I will gladly do so.

November 11th, 2014

SQWIBS Schwenker

"Wofirsmenkr", when Saarland, Germany meets Philly, USA (Schwenkadelphia)


Interview with a Schwenker

What are you building there?
I finally got around to start work on my Schwenker, Hopefully I can have this built in time for our Killens Pond Camping trip in a few weeks.

Your what?
My Schwenker

I thought you said that, what exactly is a Schwenker anyway? I don't even know if I can say that out loud.
In the USA we sort of know of it as, "camping tripod" some folks use a similar tripod for Dutch Oven Cooking... eh, you Know what, instead of me attempting to explain it and messing it all up, just read this snippet from Wikipedia;

Schwenker is a local term from the German state of Saarland, the Mosel Valley and big parts of Rheinland Pfalz and is used in three ways, all relating to the same grilled meat:
  1. Schwenker or Schwenkbraten is a marinated pork neck steak which originates from the Saarland (known there as Schwenksteak) and is grilled on a Schwenker (2). Normally either a green herb or red paprika marinade is used when preparing Schwenkbraten. Traditionally, Schwenkbraten is made of pork, but turkey variants have also become popular recently. Schwenkbraten are about the size of a hand in length and width and are about 1 cm to 3 cm thick.
  2. A Schwenker is a grill on which the Schwenker steak typically is grilled. The Schwenker consists of a fire bowl (or just the camp fire) and a swinging grill hung from a tripod or in fewer cases from a gallows-like structure. Schwenkers are sometimes created from various handy materials in an impromptu fashion, but “Schwenk-Grills” can be purchased in local supermarkets, and in DIY stores[sup].[/sup]
  3. A person who operates the Schwenker grill is also called Schwenker or less frequently, Schwenkermeister.
Grilling is done over an open beech wood fire. Charcoal is sometimes used, but that is regarded as sub-standard because the beech smoke is considered to be an important part of the process. Gas-fueled grills are never used (except in commercial snack bars).

Beside the Schwenker, sausages (German bratwurst and French merguez), different vegetables (such as bell peppers), Brötchen (German bread rolls German cuisine), baguette (French type of bread) with garlic butter, potatoes and feta cheese (the latter three protected in aluminum foil) may be grilled.

Various side salads (usually a pasta (typically fusilli or spiralini) salad, a potato salad and a green salad), and baguette or Flutes are served with Schwenker. Many prefer specific beers, such as a pils by one of the local breweries, with their Schwenker.

That was extremely informative, where did you first hear of this Schwenker Grill?
The first time I read about it was a friend (Chef Jimmy) from SMF (Smoking Meat Forums) posted a thread about it, I was intrigued by it's simplicity, you can follow the thread here. After the post I started researching it to death, as I usually do with any project! I was actually very surprised that it's not as popular in the US, it is very similar to the beloved campfire tripod, however it is not the same.

But it just seems like a grill.
Well yes and no, its not just about the grill it's about the experience, let me ask you this, "Do you enjoy sitting around a campfire with friends and family"?
Yes I do!

Do you like barbecuing with friends and family?
Sure, who doesn't?

Combine the two and your Schwenking, everyone can participate, it's not like a grill where you have one guy cook for everyone.
When Schwenking everyone can be the cook... see where this is going?

OK, So let me get this straight, a bunch of friends sit around and swing their meat all day?

Very funny, very funny, Ha Ha! But yes that is correct and beer is usually involved.

Why the sudden sense of urgency to build this for your Killens Pond trip?
Because I have a reputation to keep, LOL, no, but seriously, I  really wanted to use this on our Killens Pond Camping Trip, and I have a few German recipes that I want to make plus I work better under pressure.  

So tell me more about this project.
I originally started this project in August 2012, and wanted to have it ready for Manday 2012 (December), sadly, I only got as far as getting the grate. Wow, I still can't believe it has been two years!

When I picked back up on this project a week ago, I realized I deleted all my notes when cleaning up my computer, oh well, a fresh start can sometimes be a good thing.
If you say so!

So why now? Why did you wait two years to do this simple project?
I'm glad you asked. Well the fire was lit under my @ss, so to speak, a few weeks ago on a camping trip, Adam and Shawn grilled some Porterhouses and Brats on his tripod. There was just something magical how the meat just floated above the fire so smoothly, swinging back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...Yo dude, snap out of it!!! Sorry, I just can't wait to get my Schwenk on! OhhhKay then!!





As usual, I was over-thinking everything and decided to just, "go for it", I figured I can always tweak it later if needed, I had ordered a bunch of items and the cost was just too much after all was said and done, so I cancelled all my pending orders. Then it was back to the drawing board!

My original plan for the tripod, was to use 3/4" black pipe, then it was EMT conduit, shelving uprights, fencing, adjustable closet rods, tent poles, adjustable flag poles, back to 3/4" black pipe then 1/2" black pipe. I kept hitting snags as far as durability, connectors and the ability to break down or telescope, I also wanted it to look good. I usually build this stuff in my head and if I hit a snag, I'll put it on paper to better visualize it. But since this is a simple project and is fairly straightforward I saved on paper.

I wasn't too worried about weight but length was another issue, an eight - nine foot Schwenker could be a bear to transport.
"snickr" I would think so "snickr".
Soooo,  I decided to go back to the original game plan of using Black pipe.

As I was browsing materials and cost on the internet, I came across a "Guide Gear Portable Game Hanger", for $99.00 this has everything I need, so the only thing I need to do is weld the grate and add the chains, I thought to myself, wow, this is too easy.
There is a cheaper Game Hanger at Walmart, it's a Hunter's Pointe All Steel Portable Tripod Game Hoist, for $67.00 this one has fairly decent reviews but most of the complaints are from damage and missing parts and to be quite honest, I don't have the time or patients for this kinda chit!

There is another one called the "ForEverlast Game Hanger Portable Tripod" for $137.00 but has really bad reviews, and is fairly expensive.

Here are a few camping and dutch oven tripods.
So why don't you just buy one of these and call it a day?

Well to be quite honest that's not how I roll, I need to over complicate, over engineer and over spend. But seriously, I love to tinker! There is just something gratifying about pulling something from your head and watching it come together. That and I wanted to custom build one, mainly for a larger cooking area, more height, a 2nd cooking grate for slow cooking, keeping foods warm, lids for radiant heat, catching smoke flavor and to get a decent lengthy (time) swing.

I already had the expanded metal for the grate and it was a constant reminder of this potential build, I figured it was just going to sit there in the workshop forever anyhow.
I guess I could have purchased one of the camping tripods and added conduit leg extensions and a larger grate like the 22.5" Weber kettle grate, but I chose another path.

If you get one of the aforementioned tripods and it don't spin, invest in a swivel so the grates can be spun as well as swinging, you can use a #10 fishing swivel
Where was I?
You were telling us about the custom build of your Schwenker using a Portable Game Hanger.

Oh yeah,

I decided on the "Guide Gear Portable Game Hanger" from specs, reviews and pricing, at 35lbs it's a bit heavy but doable, it's a bit pricey for this project at $99.00 but in the long run I am sure it will cost less, especially with all the trial and error I usually incur on my projects. It really was a no-brainer after factoring in cost and project time.

This is a really nice tripod, very sturdy, tall and easy to put together.

The "Wally" one is cheaper but I just got a bad feeling about it after reading the reviews.

Anyhow, I definitely wanted to make something geared more to my style of cooking and a little more robust than the current offerings as none of these fit the bill. Plus I can cook a whole deer with this LOL.
Really! (sarcasm)
NO, that was a joke!!


After looking at these "Game Hangers" much closer, I noticed this tripod looks very similar to some of the Schwenker tripods used in Saarland, Germany.

OK lets get started with the actual build;


The build

Before I go any further, I wanted to point out, that this can be done a million different ways and much cheaper with a ton of  available hardware, this is not a tutorial on how to build a Schwenker, this is just me documenting my build. Oh I thought I would mention that my wife is very understanding and is always supportive of my projects!
If this isn't a tutorial, why are you posting this information?
Well that statement was sort of a "disclaimer", but hopefully if someone reads this they will become intrigued like I was and if they decide to build one this may help them a bit. Plus I like documenting a lot of my projects to share with co-forum members, friends and family, it keeps them up to date on my shenanigans.

Grates are cut, it's sort of round but not a true circle sort of a circle with slightly flattened sides, I tried to cut it so I would not loose any surface area other than rounding the edges.

Aren't you afraid of this rusting?
I have thought about that from day one and I am not sure yet how it will hold up. Rust is definitely a concern. Some of the Quick links I purchased are stainless steel and some are Zinc Plated. The swivel I ordered are for Deep sea fishing is Bronze and will not rust. The chains are zinc plated, I'm not too worried about the tripod itself. If there is a problem with rust, it will most definitely be the lower grate and the flat steel that was welded on. My plan is to clean it in the fire then spraying the grates real good with a cooking oil when cooling and storing in a dry place to hopefully alleviate some of the potential rust.

Isn't Zinc bad to use for cooking?
That's a toughie and is a big subject of debate that I wont go into. This is an open "Cooking" environment for one thing but if I were welding it, I may be worried by the off gassing, but I do feel that it is appropriate for this application, I would be more worried using galvanized metals. Although I don't have a degree in Metallurgy, I feel comfortable enough to use the zinc plated chain.

It's funny you mentioned this because I was looking into getting stainless steel chain but figured that I was getting too paranoid.

OK So I picked up some Stainless Steel Quick Links an 8" Weber grate and two 72" pieces of 1.25" x .125" flat steel from HD. Flat steel will be welded around the edge for a lip, I have heard horror stories about folks having their weenies fall in the fire, don't want my meat in the fire.
No I would think NOT!

Oh, so you are a welder too?
No, a buddy of mine dabbles with welding and I always drag some poor b@sta@rd into my projects.


Bruce; a Friend, Partner in crime, Mechanic and Neighbor, (in that order) came over with his welding equipment.
The last time we had a project like this, was when we started to build Frank in January of 2010, that's a whole other story, anyhow we done some welding but we spent more time trying to get the welder to work properly than actually welding.

It's nice though; here we are, two guys, bullshitting and venting to each other about our lives and laughing the whole time and the conversation always ends with WTF are we doing? But to be honest, I really enjoy it, this is "down time" for us, sort of a mental day if you know what I mean.

Absolutely, we all need a day like that every once in a while.

  • Laying out where we want the grate to be positioned, (red tape specifies top)

  • Same with the warming grate (slow cook).



I thought these Schwenkers only had one grate?

Most do but this is what I was talking about earlier when you asked, "So why don't you just buy one of these and call it a day"? I wanted to make some modifications to the traditional style Saarland Schwenker, I will illustrate everything when completed.


  • The grates are finished.

  • I picked up some eye swivels and more quick links at Harbor Freight to attach the chains to the grates. Circumference was measured on each using a piece of wire and a tape rule then the circumference was divided by three for proportionate anchor points. Wire was marked at 1/3rd total length and used to mark areas to be drilled. The welds were cleaned up a tad, the holes were drilled, countersunk and the quick links were installed.

  • Taking measurements for the chain using one piece of electrical wire for easy adjustment to achieve the desired length. There's a lot more going on with this phase than it appears, I will go into that later.


OK... show me what this thing does.

You got it, but first an intro, "Introducing the worlds first Schwenker Smoker Hybrid".

First a fire is started using junk wood, then preferred wood is added to the hot coals.
The Grates are heated up then sprayed with cooking spray then food is added, then the grate is lowered, swung and spun. It's only fitting that "Schwenkbraten" was the first recipe tried on the Schwenker. The whole idea is to keep the grate moving, it should never stop, or you and your family will be cursed for a thousand years, just kiddn'

OK I got it, keep the grate moving always.


What type of wood do you use?
I use Oak, Cherry, Pear, basically whatever I have available, but traditionally, Beechwood is used.

What do you mean by Junk wood?
When I cut wood and split it up, I save a few of my best pieces for my Vertical cabinet Smoker, these pieces are cut about 2" thick with a band saw, next I save all the best split pieces for my Reverse flow pit. All the knots, crotches and funky pieces are separated and will be used to start a fire and get a god coal base, for this particular fire I used a bunch of unseasoned Pear trimmings to get a coal base.


How do you clean it?
To clean the grates, you just lower it into the hot coals, cook off all the crud, a wire brush may be needed, then the grates are sprayed with a cooking spray.

I would suggest that it be cleaned and seasoned prior to its first use, to initially clean the Schwenker it is placed in a fire to burn off of all nasties, then the grates are pre-seasoned with a cooking spray then seasoned again cooking burgers.




Just curious, how much weight will this hold?

Well I would have to say that the weight capacity is determined by the weakest link, so to speak, so for example, if the chain and cable is rated at 1,000 lbs. but the swivel is rated at 300 lbs., the weight capacity would of course be 300 lbs. or less, but this is all a moot point because the most it would need to support is 30 lbs. When purchasing supplies I am making sure that everything is rated 500 lbs. or over.

So to be more precise, I would have to say 500lbs is the maximum weight capacity. As of right now the weakest link based on specifications, is the actual tripod, however I will never exceed 10% of that weight.

What are the lids for?

Ahhh! I am glad you asked that. The lids are intended to capture a bit more heat and also to catch some smoke, possibly increasing flavor from the wood being used, however the jury is still out on that one. An AMNPS or similar type smoking device can be placed on the grates and the lid can be placed over top to infuse more smoke flavor if needed, this would be nice when cooking over charcoal and can be done without a fire.

The lid is also to radiate the heat down for Schwenking such things as a pizza, as seen below in the video.

That's a pretty clever idea!


Dam that looks good!
Here have a slice.
Thank you

The lids were a bit trickier than I anticipated, I wanted them to stay in position when lifting so you don't have to place the lid on the ground, the top lid wedges in nicely and the bottom lid has a hanger so the lids can be moved out of the way using one hand, the other hand is used for holding beer!

When using the smoker, you just center the smoking unit, (AMNPS in this case) place the food around it and pop the lid on.

You can use a small can and add a piece of hot embers from the fire and throw a foil packet of chips inside the can to smoke.

Do you have any suggestions to someone wanting to make a Schwenker grill?

Yes, the first thing I would suggest is to surf the net, read everything you can, look at pictures and watch videos until your eyes hurt, then choose a design to fit your needs and commit to paper. There are a ton of different materials out there to build a Schwenker it can be as simple as wiring three U-Channel fence posts together, using an old charcoal grate and connect with a dog chain.

Don't worry about a firepit, some folks use whatever they have, there are too many to even name, GOOGLE is your friend here, just GOOGLE something like "ghetto firepit".

Also, look how you plan on using this, for instance for summer use of my schwenker, I will ditch the tripod and use this under my deck over top of my small firepit.

What makes this Schwenker so special?

Well I never said that it was special but it's sort of a Hybrid Schwenker Smoker.

What did this cost you?

To me it's not about the cost as much as it is about making something with my own hands and of my own design. Hopefully, this will be something my kids will enjoy and can be handed down to them like my Pit.

But since you mentioned it, let's have a look at our parts list.
Parts List
Thankyou very much for talking with me?

My pleasure

Interesting Reads

Love Pops in this video



  • 2 Pork Tenderloins. These conveniently come in a package of 2 often. You can of course use center cut pork loin or something similar.

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 large onions, cut into thin rings or strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed ( optional)

  • 1 tablespoon German mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon each of
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Curry
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Black Pepper
1 can dark beer (for basting)


  • Bruise the onions by salting lightly and pounding with a mallet or back of your knife.
  • Blend the onions, spices and oil in a bowl.
  • Garlic should be used as to how much you like.
  • Place 1/2 of the mix in a Ziploc Bag that is large enough for the 2 tenderloins.
  • Place the 2 pork loins in the Ziploc Bag and then cover with the other half of the mix.
  • Seal and press the onions into the meat. Place in a steamer pan expel the air and place a brick on top to press the onions into the meat Refrigerate for at least 24 hours turning several times, 48-72 hours is best.
  • Get your Schwenk on
Not really a Schwenker Recipe but love Wiener-schnitzel

  • 4 pork loin cutlets (about 4 ounces each), pounded very thin, scallopini style
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups plain, dry bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for service
  • Pat the loin cutlets dry with paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper. Set up a standard breading procedure in 3 shallow bowls or pie plates. Put flour in 1, eggs and water in another, and bread crumbs in the last. Beat the eggs and water together. Dredge each of the veal cutlets first in flour, then egg wash and then the bread crumbs. Transfer the coated cutlets to a platter.

  • Heat a large straight sided skillet, filled half way up with vegetable oil, over medium-high heat. Carefully, transfer the coated cutlets into the hot oil to fry. Since they are so thin, the loin will cook very quickly, about 2 minutes per side. Drain the cutlets on a paper towel lined plate.
Have a cold  Franziskaner Weissbier - Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu and get your schwenk on!


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