I Want to Build a Large Ceramic Smoker!

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by navionjim, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    OK I've gone and gotten myself all worked up! Too many ideas are flying around my head. I have a old 1952 Frigidaire in my garage and I've been waiting many years for it to die so I could make a big-assed smokehouse out of it for my (colder smoked) sausage, ham, jerky etc.

    For my day to day normal smoking, briskets, ribs and the like, I have a New Braunfels Hondo which has stood me well for the past five years. I recently met a new friend who has a Kamado, which is all ceramic and works very well (lust lust), but isn't really big enough and it costs a first born male child to purchase one of those things!

    I was reading here about the "Alton Brown Flower Pot Smoker" somebody on here built, and because another of my hobbies is working with brick, rock and tile, I got the great idea of buying one of these humongous Mexican pots they sell here in Texas and a bunch of mosaic tile, some high-temp thin set, and going to town on a huge flower pot "Kamado look alike" style smoker.

    Then I though why do that? Who needs the big pot? I could just as easily (and cheaper) get some 18 inch square tiles or even fire bricks, build it any shape I want! I could even tile the outside to make it "Kamado looking" if I wanted to for just a few extra bucks. It could be rectangular instead of round so it could hold more racks, have a front opening door instead of a top opening lid etc.

    Then I got this weird (and admittedly cheap-assed) idea. I could line the inside of my old fridge (which did finally die!) with inch thick tiles and even stick some mosaic on the outside and have the most well insulated, ceramic lined smoker possible. It seams like that could be as efficient as a Kamado and have the same heat retention but with the larger capacity I want. The discount tile stores down here have some killer deals on large tiles, (especially if you don't care how ugly it is) and high temp thin set should work to stick it, wouldn't it? Sort of a super-insulated brick oven that could handle some higher temps as well as the lower temp I'd need for a smokehouse. I was thinking of putting a small propane burner and cast iron pan of wood chips in an attached offset firebox for the smokehouse operations, (I do that now with my New Braunfels when I cool smoke salmon or jerky) and use a charcoal and stick-fed fire when I want to smoke-cook briskets and ribs. Maybe even steel the firebox off the New Braunfels.

    I'm not sure if this idea is even viable, hell maybe I'm reinventing the wheel and should just build an old style brick oven with smoker capabilities. But I already have a bunch of useful parts and materials if it could be done. With all the fantastic home made steel smokers I see on this website, is there anyone out there who has built their own larger smoker by going the ceramic route? Brick, Tile, or stone? Something larger than the cute, but too small "Flower Pot"?

    I'd appreciate anyone else's experience here before jumping in and buying a bunch of mortar and rock.
    Navionjim.
     
  2. cheech

    cheech Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Boy you have a ton of work ahead of you there.

    Thoughts: The refrigerator itself has some great heat retention to it. The ceramic may help retain the heat a bit.

    I just wonder if this is one of those that will be more trouble than it is worth.
     
  3. zapper

    zapper Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    From what I know, and that ain't much, the kamado/Big Green Eggs are kind of a different animal. Personally? I would turn the fridge into a cold smoker with as many racks and or hangers as I could fit for doing sausage and jerky and the like. Your masonary skills could maybe be better put to use building me a huge brick pit! (Ooops did I say "Me" I meant "you"[​IMG] )



    Actually I have been reading about home foundries and castable refractory materials. You could do almost any variation of any pit that you could think up. From looking at your brewing setup I would bet that you will come up with one damn clever smoking rig!

    Just some of the things that I might consider when designing/building a pit.


    Working height. I am 6'-2" and don't like bending over to work, also it is generally accecpted that food should not be stored or prepared below waist or counter height. So a cooking grill height of at least 36" AFF.

    Complete temp control. I would give the dampers a wide range of adjustability and have plenty of dampers to play with for the fire box and for the cooking chamber.

    Size matters! It is simple, the bigger, the better! I think that a true pit should be able to do a pig or atleast a lamb, and if you are going to actually be doing a pig, you will need twice that size or another pit for all of the other goodies. It is a perpetual and expotential thing that has yet to be defined.


    Durable. Lets face it, if you are gonna build a pit it should last your life time and your grandchildrens as well, and if you are already a grandparent, then it should last until your great-great grand children are through with it.
     
  4. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

     
  5. zapper

    zapper Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I know that you could Lad expoxy to the sheetmetal on the fridge, but I would probablly just go with metal lath. I was thinking that the temp differences and any movement on the sheetmetals part would lead to a bonding problem. Another thought would be like a Dryvitt system. Insulation and finish at the same time. (Not a big fan of stucco myself, but I have seen some good fakes of limestone or brick work) Fake brick work (Pardon moi) "Phaux" brick work has come along way too, but for the money of the good fake you could do the real thing.

    I have heard of Gingerlys' books, but have never seen them. From what I gather he was an amazing man. And yes, a backyard foundry that could do cast iron using waste oil would be nice so that I could cast my own bean pot or smoker parts


    I am kicking some ideas around myself and the more I learn or think the worse it gets. I am torn between doing something along the lines of a state of the art set and forget restraunt style smoker or a good ole boys play with the fire type rig (With all of the state of the art bells and whistles as well)

    And then again I know the most about my little electric bullet and could buy and mod a new one for under a hunderd bucks.

    So many possibilities and so little time![​IMG]
     
  6. deejaydebi

    deejaydebi Smoking Guru

    It it sticks maybe you could make one out of ceramic tile and drywall.
     
  7. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Roger on that one all the way brother!
     
  8. brennan

    brennan Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    [​IMG] Sad but true. I've been kicking ideas around in my head for a bigger ceramic smoker but, alas, I don't have the time, money, or knowhow at the moment. I'd like to see some pics of your ideas or at least hear more about it.

    A little side note, if those tiles don't hold up with the heat, you may want to try some fireplace sealant. But thats just my uneducated opinion.

    I can definately see a way to build an awe inspiring offset ceramic smoker and even set it up so you have one smoke box and adjustabpe dampers to send smoke either way, to your cold smoker, or the hot smoker.

    I need a bigger patio...better yet a back yard. Man, I wish I had the means to build something like this myself.
     

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