Biltong Box

Introduction and Design

Biltong Box Sketch

Biltong is South African cured meat traditionally spiced with salt, vinegar, coriander and pepper. It’s made by leaving the meat hanging in the right temperature with the air around it moving for a few days. One way to do this is by using a biltong box. The basic idea is to create a box divided into two sections. In the lower section there’s a light bulb heating air that is let in through holes in the sides of the section. The heated air rises through holes in a divided separating the sections to where the meat is. This section also has holes to let the air out to create a circulation of air through the box. Wikipedia has a lot more information on biltong.

Lets start of with an initial sketch of the design this page describes. The idea was to build a relatively small and lightweight box that’s easy to assemble and disassemble without any tools. Another goal was to use what was lying around at home as much as possible.

The idea that came up was to have four sides kept in place just by a bottom and top piece. The door would be simple, just a part of one of the sides kept in place by the top piece without any hinges. The rods from which the meat will be hung should be easy to remove, preferably even with the meat hanging from them. Looking through the pictures on this page will probably give you a better idea of the ideas behind the design. There won’t be any detailed descriptions on how to do all the steps, the tools needed etc, the pictures serves more like a guide to illustrate the design. If there’s something you want to ask just send an email.

 What’s Needed?

The board used is 12 mm thick which explains the dimensions of the pieces used to build the box. Go metric system!

A: 2 sides (30×60 cm)
B: 2 sides (27.6×60 cm)
C: Top + bottom (32.4×32.4 cm)
D: 4 frame pieces (32.4×4 cm)
E: 4 frame pieces (30×4 cm)
F: 1 divider (27.6×27.6 cm)

Light bulb socket
Power cable
4 angle irons
4 wooden rods (⌀8 mm, 40 cm)
8 dowel pins

A bunch of tools, some nails, a lot of patience and a few cold beers.

The box should be relatively cheap to build. The cost for building this first one was around 170 SEK (19 EUR / 25 USD). This included the wooden board, the light bulb socket, the wooden rods, the angle irons and thermometer (which isn’t really needed). The cable, light bulb and dowel pins would be an additional cost on top of this if everything is bought. This should be relatively cheap though.

Assembling the Box

biltong_box_assembly_01Cutting out all the pieces is quite obviously a good way to start. What’s not visible here are the small pieces used as a frame on the top and the bottom of the box.

Yes, beer and power tools is a good combination.


biltong_box_assembly_02Add the frame pieces to the top and bottom. You should end up with two of these, one for the top and one for the bottom.


biltong_box_assembly_03Attach angle iron to the bottom so that the sides can be put between them and the frame and be left standing there.


biltong_box_assembly_04This is basically what the box will look like in the end but there’s still some work to be done.

biltong_box_assembly_05Make a cut through one of the sides of the bottom plate for the power cable. Make sure to rout out a part of the bottom as well so that the side can mounted without damaging the cable

biltong_box_assembly_06Attach the lamp socket to the bottom of the box. Strain relief might be a good idea to add as well. Note the cable under the side of the box.

biltong_box_assembly_07Drill holes for the air to enter the box on the two 30 centimeter wide side pieces.

biltong_box_assembly_08Drill holes and cut out tracks for the rods from which the meat will be hung. This way it’ll be easy to add or remove the rods to the box when the lid is off.

In this design a ⌀8 mm wooden rod was used. The tracks should be of the same length as the frames are high (4 cm) plus the diameter of the rods. This way the frame will cover all of the tracks except for where the rods are. There’s a picture illustrating this below.


biltong_box_assembly_09It should look something like this when it’s finished.


biltong_box_assembly_10The lid will cover everything but the very bottom of the tracks where the rods are.


biltong_box_assembly_11Drill holes for dowel pins on the sides of the box about 10 cm above the lamp. This is where the divider goes.

biltong_box_assembly_12This divider is relatively thin to keep the weight of the box down. Make sure not to drill any holes above the lamp since it can drip from the biltong onto the light bulb otherwise.

biltong_box_assembly_13Make holes for the air to leave the box under the tracks for the rods. A reason to put the holes on different size was to make it possible to cut off the ends of the sides to make the box less tall if needed.

This picture shows what it should look like. The bigger side pieces have holes in them in the bottom for the air to enter into the chamber with the lamp. The smaller side pieces have tracks for the rods in the top and holes for the air to escape the box.

The rods should be around 40 cm long. This way they will be longer than the box is wide but still fit in the box when disassembled. This can be seen in one of the last few pictures.

biltong_box_assembly_15These pictures with the light on look pretty cool, don’t they? A thermometer has been added to the top of the box as well.

One of the wider side pieces has been cut in two to create a “door”. This has not been attached using any hinges but is kept in place by the lid and the piece below. It might be a good idea to cut a few centimeters off the top of this piece to make it easier to remove and put back again. Make sure that it’s still big enough to be held in place by the lid though.

biltong_box_assembly_14Another one of those cool pictures. The thermometer can be seen here as well.
biltong_box_assembly_16The rods are in place.
biltong_box_assembly_17Hooks added to the rods inside the box. It works just as well to hang the meat using string,
Biltong Box Assembly 18And here it is, the completed box!

biltong_box_assembly_18Just one more thing! The box has been designed to be portable and easy to disassemble and this is what it looks like when the sides have been removed and the lamp, rods etc. have been placed in what’s the bottom of the box. This is easily done without any tools.

It can be a good idea to put the dowel pins in some kind of bag, otherwise they might fall out through the channel created for the power cable in the bottom frame.

Making the rods 40 cm long makes them fit into the bottom as seen in the picture.

biltong_box_assembly_19About a quarter of the size. Pretty neat, huh? :)


One thought on “Biltong Box

  1. Johan

    When not used for curing the biltong, the box also doubles as a cozy lamp that has a slight but distinct smell. For the office, garage or pool area.


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