Introduction and Design
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.
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
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
Yes, beer and power tools is a good combination.
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.
Make 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.
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.
Just 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.