Lemons to Lemonade

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by mtnlakeman, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    I've been stalking these forums for over a year now, and finally am needing some input. About a year ago we had two major wind storms hit our area, and unfortunately our house was a direct hit. My grandparents house was abandoned at the time, and was completely flattened. The second storm piled trees onto the back of the house, and to put it into perspective we had over 800 trees go down in both storms. While most people would be crying for Obama and FEMA help I saw an opportunity. Getting to the point I decided to build a smokehouse out of the recycled materials. Most of my projects like this get a good start and stop about 1/3 of the way into it so I'm going to need some support of this forum of how to convince my wife this is a "different project".

    With that as the background this is what I'm planning on:

    I have made and plan to continue to make smokies, smoked fished, landjaeggar, lots of fresh and cooked sausages, smoked turkey, duck, goose and want to do some rabbit ham and other ideas. Because of the diversity of products I want to make sure I have my thermostat and temperature controls right as well as the proper airflow and spacing. I'm thinking the most meat I would have in the unit at 1 time would be smokies so I thought perhaps 3" spacing between racks?

    I will use 2X12's for the walls and roof because that's what my roof was made of. I've decided to make it oven rack width 26" and double oven rack deep 28" so I can cut down on the rack costs by salvaging the racks from discarded ovens. I will build it as tall as I can with the 2X12's available. I'm guessing it will be about 7' tall, and I plan on trimming it similar to our house so it fits the motif. Any input for lining, heat, fans, smoke, electricity, lights etc would be greatly appreciated. I think I have a good idea from the previous stalking, but am hoping someone who has already gone through this can chime in. It will be both hot and cold smoke capable, but what is the max temperature I can go with the wood framing?

     Here's the beginning:

    Future Smoker

    Grandma's House

    Side note; thought I'd throw in a picture of the truck and horse trailer (attached to truck) hit by the 2nd storm.

    Base = 8" concrete with a 4" drain/cold smoke pipe in the bottom. Unfortunately, I didn't have a backhoe so everything including tree roots were shoveled out. We live in North Idaho so I had to get below the frost line which really sucks because as you can see in the photo there's lots of rocks in the soil.

    Pressure treat mudsill.

    I intend to build up and slope the floor with some sort of either clay or ceramic. My concern with clay is because it will be wood walls I can't fire the clay to make it pottery and I don't know if just dry clay is a floor or not?. Any floor covering advice would be appreciated. I've read concrete will eventually crack because of the gravel expanding with the heat. I don't know if that is true or not?

    I'll get the walls and roof framed in this weekend. I told my wife no more than $200 and I'll get it done. Concrete and 2x12 pressure treat was $48. I'm 120' from the closest 240v power so I'm thinking propane or wood is my only heat choice?

    I am quite creative and capable of jerry rigging stuff so let me know of low cost ideas for the burner/heat. A buddy says he is going to send a Brinkman smoke generator so if he comes through that will help a lot even though I'll have cold smoke capabilities if I want to build and maintain a fire.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  2. It should be a nice smoke house. Keep the pics coming and the wife happy.

    Happy smoken.

  3. thegreatmc

    thegreatmc Meat Mopper

    Sorry for the loss. I'd suggest trying multiple heat sources. By that I mean you can build in your fire box for wood/charcoal but also have it to where you could place a propane burner in it if you wanted to go that route. With having the line in for cold smoke, you could burn like a cold smoke and heat with propane and get the the effects of a propane smoker without fighting to keep wood chips in a pan. I hope what I just said makes as much sense as it does in my head.

    As far as what burner, there's lots of people on here who have used one from Northern Tools with luck. Check the propane build section for links.
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you go propane I'd also recommend the northern tool burner. Since your smoker is wood I'd line the bottom 18"-20" with fire brick, floor and walls. Leave a 1" air gap between the bricks and the wood walls. Use refractory cement to set the bricks.
  5. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    Thanks for the tips on the burner. I like the idea of a possible real fire as haven't thought about that. Is there a good thermostat I should look at for the propane, and where do I find refractory cement? I live in in a town of 8,000 people. I couldn't find it at home depot, and we don't have a pottery store in town.

    A couple pics showing some progress. Have to tell myself it's not like my other projects so am staying pretty focused.

  6. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    Sunday's progress

    Roof and chimney on.

    Buddy sent the smoke generator. $40 in felt paper and nails so think I'm ahead of budget.

    Had wiring, insulation, plywood, roofing, chimney from salvage. Another friend had some old freezer panels he wanted rid of so used them as an inner door. They are 3" foam so not sure it that will work?

    Facia and Trim from the pallets they sent metal for my house on. Had to buy lathe for $72. Budget not looking good as we don't have any inside stuff yet, and I thought that was going to be the expensive part.

    Building a door this week, and think hinges will blow my budget.

    Questions now will be in regards to what do I need to do for air flow? How close should the racking be? I was thinking 3" so I can do a lot of smokies, but will the whole oven be the same temperature? I have a 4" pipe coming in from the bottom and a 5" pipe with a damper going out the top.

    My thought is I will line it with cement board and then skin that with aluminum as I also had a tree go through our tent trailer so have some free aluminum sheeting. I will build the fire brick as mentioned up 2', but what do I do in the door area? I'm guessing make a stove face? Is there any risk a grease fire will make everything spontaneously combust if it ignites? I read where wood combusts around 450 degrees.

    Any other advice before I get my supplies? I'm hoping to have it nearly complete this coming weekend.
  7. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    It's been awhile, but as with most projects the smoker is 90% complete. My nephew donated some stainless to line the inside, and I found some stainless angle to make some rack shelves. I tore apart a pallet and built some fish racks and have made a few test runs. I still don't have a permanent heat source, but tore out my gas heater from a tent trailer that also got hit by a tree so will use the valves and thermometer controller to run the system. My hold up has been I started building small cottonwood fires in a roasting pan and it holds at 160 with lots of smoke so I've been liking it to the point I stalled out.
  8. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  9. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    Pile of Landjaeger

    First run holding inner door panel

    Landjaeger on sticks with homemade rack and stainless interior

    Stucco on, Family brand built into the door W over H.

    Handy Light

    Pretty decent summer sausage after 2 fails and good advice from SMF members!

    Pretty proud of the smoke house as it truly is a story of lemons to lemonade.

    I thought I'd complete this thread as I pretty much completed the smoke house and forgot to post the build and  pictures. I admit I hadn't been logging into SMF, and was struggling with my summer sausage and smokies so hit the fogot password icon, posted a question and received great timely advice that saved this years batch. I'm a big fan of SMF now, but now I'm worried about how much cure a guy can eat in a day without getting sick because I'm pretty sure I can eat 5 lbs of that summer sausage in one sitting.

    Some add on's to the final build is I skinned it with mortar thinking I'd put rock on it, but we like the look of the rough stucco so we decided to keep it that way. I had a 100 amp service box from my grandmas that I installed and wired lights, an internal fan and the smoke generator, but still haven't dug the 120' trench to the breaker box so it's powered with an extension cord probably not up to code. The cord takes away from the aesthetics so hopefully my wife will volunteer to do dig the trench for me. 

    The door features our old family brand which is a "W" with an H underneath. I converted a non working Coleman lantern to electric on the recommendation of a buddy who said I should have a light I can shine inside the smoker to see how things are progressing. I left about 6' of cord and hung it from an eye hook. My grandparents house had some cool old tongue and groove cedar probably coated in lead paint and held back some asbestos insulation, but I went ahead and used it anyway in the gabels to break up the stucco.

    I used a 3 burner propane stove from my tent trailer as well as installed the gas control valve on the outside so I could run the propane on a thermostat. As mentioned in a previous post I barely use the propane only as a firestarter and instead use real wood as my heat and smoke.

    Finally, I had a small wood stove that I set back 15' and ran a 4" pipe underground and attached it to my floor drain/pipe so I can cold smoke.

    All in all I had a budget of $200 and am guessing I'm into it about $400 for materials and $800 in Hamm's beer, but it definitely is a conversation piece just as much as it's a useful cooking tool.
    dirtsailor2003 likes this.
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Smoker looks fantastic! Nice finish!

    Show off your smokes!

    As for Howe much cure can you eat, five pounds a day may be a bit much, but it hasn't killed me yet!

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  11. Gorgeous door, gorgeous smokehouse !!!!    Marc
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  12. mtnlakeman

    mtnlakeman Newbie

    Thanks for noticing the detail Marc. It's like my man cave thing where anyone who comes over has to go look at the smoke house and hear the two hour story about how it came about.

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