Noob looking to build a brick smoker

Discussion in 'Brick Smokers' started by psycleridr, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. Hi all. I'm looking to build one as the brick goes we'll with architecture in area (Northern NJ) and I also think a nicely built one can look beautiful. I found this on you tube and thought this is about exactly what I want....a smoker/ grill.

    I have never done masonry work, but I am very handy. Mech Eng by trade. Do most of cars , bikes, house work on my own so I am pretty good with manual labor. My main thoughts when looking at build posted is design, dimensions, mortor, and doors/grill shelves. I see some people have just used fireplace items but just need to make sure. Also, there is a lot of info on flue, size, etc that I would like clarification on. Lastly, how do you actually connect the metal doors/shelves to build? Is it between brick and mortor? Are they custom pieces ? What is best type of mortor/concrete to use?
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  2. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good evening sir,

    First off, welcome to SMF.   This is a great group of guys who love smoking over a good fire.

    Here is my take on the video. An awesome setup!   A little info about smoking with a brick smoker.   Firebrick have many advantages.  They do not absorb moisture like block do.   I have read where many have built block smokers, and because of the moisture build up between smokes, its really hard to get them up to temp.   You have to get rid of the moisture before you can raise the temp.   Firebrick on the other hand are so compact  and hard that they do not absorb much moisture.   Firebrick absorb and hold heat.   Once a brick smoker is up to temp,   you don't have to worry about opening doors.  Recovery is a couple min. tops.   I often have to open the doors to keep  the temp down on days, or long smokes when  my neighbors bring more beer then they can drink....

    Masonry work isn't hard.  Its just time consuming.   You have to take your time and have a plan.   Many things to think about before starting you build.   A good footing.    Check with your local building inspector and see how deep you need to be below freeze line.   Don't tell them what your doing, or they may make you pull a permit.   Brick an block are heavy.   My smoker sits on 13in of reinforced concrete.   Overkill, maybe, but my footing won't fail 10yrs from now.   

    There is a lot of good info here in the brick forum.   Take time to read them all and learn from each one.   I did post my build.  Its a vertical smoker.   Its a long thread, but throughout the thread I commented on what I would do differently if I could do it over.   Its the  Brick smoker, how to   thread.

    I looked everywhere online for doors.   I found nothing.  My doors and shelves are custom made.    The door frames are 3in. angle and incorperated into the brickwork.   Only way my frames are coming out is if the brick come with it.

    Many things can be talked about.   Take time to read over folks builds and put a plan together.   Ask questions.  We are here to help and share ideas.

    Most of all, have fun with it! 
  3. Hi Wes,
    Thanks for reply. I did read your build thread before I started mine and it's very impressive. As for my situation I know my town would require a permit.....they do for everything! My idea to build one came cause I currently have this from when I moved in

    This got me motivated to rebuild something new.
    I am all for using firebrick for the lining and either brick or stone for exterior asthetics. I think overall my main concerns are finding doors and such as we'll as how they actually get attached to build. As mentioned I'm good with my hands and tools but never did masonry before. I'm still doing a little more research but will keep
  4. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Without going back and looking or going out and measuring,  I think my chamber doors are 16x16 openings.   Get an idea of how big you want them and go to a fab shop and I'm sure they would be glad to give you an estimate.   Or, if you have a buddy who has a welder talk him into helping you out in trade of some awesome smoked pork.   

    The biggest thing is take your time and have a plan.   Don't rush into it just to get it done.   

    As far as laying brick or block.   If you use standard size brick,  everything works on 16in.   Block when layed are 16in.over all and 8in. tall.  Brick when layed are 8in. long and 4in. tall.   Plum and level.   Its not hard, just time consuming.   It doesn't have to be perfect to function.   Mine is far from perfect.  

    If your good with your hands, you can do this.   The nice thing about masonry, if you don't like how it looks, tear it out and go again, before it sets of course.  :)    I've done it.  I know if I don't like how it looks as I lay it,  I'll always wish I'd had changed it after its to late.  

    We are here to help anyway we can.   All you got to do is ask.   

    Hope you have a great evening.
  5. dbga

    dbga Newbie

    Good evening,

    Not sure if you have seen my post on here about my smoker.
    I have not got any questions about it but plenty of views.

    There are several ways you can attach your frame to your brick depending on your design and the tools you have to work with.

    Here is what I did for mine.

    Three of these corrugated masonry ties were welded on each side at the correct brick coursing and mortar placed on the bottom and top of them as the brick was laid up.

    If you do not have a welding machine you could drill a hole thru your angle and bolt the ties to it.

    Another way you could attach it would be to use bolts.

    This was a carriage bolt I had laying around. You could drill a hole as large as the square portion on the bolt head at your mortar joint location. Pack mortar around the threads. Use a nut on the inside of the angle at the bolt head or not. Your choice.
    Your mortar joints should be around + or - 3/8" thick. I would think a bolt around that size would work. Put a nut on the end of the bolt so it does not pull out. Opposite end of the head.
    Once your mortar cures it is not going anywhere without force.
    My doors are 1/4" steel so they will last awhile.
    There are a bunch of ways you can build your smoker. It depends on how long you want it to last, your skills, tools and the most important. Budget.
  6. Thanks for the info. That helps a lot in the planning. I will see what's an find prefab and knowing some dimensions to work with it should help. I'm in no rush so I'll keep updating periodically with questions and pics (once there is any of course!)
  7. tim h

    tim h Newbie

    Hi All,

    New to this and actually in a very similar spot. Psycleridr, came across the same video a couple of months ago and have been planning to use that as the model for mine too. Wes, I've gone back to your thread multiple times to learn from it and try and combine elements. 

    I haven't downloaded the plans yet Psycleridr but the guy who built the one in the video did put some plans together:

    I'm hoping to start mine later this summer because I have to move a patio around first that I want to incorporate the grill into. Looking forward to following this and getting both of your thoughts as you start on yours.
  8. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A very nice setup and it seems he is giving money to a good cause.    But before you spend money,  I'd like to add something.   Brick laying is just like any thing else.  There is a system.   Standard brick are on layoff of 16".   Plain and simple.   You can count brick and know how wide or long something is.   You can count brick and get the specs without spending a dime.   Standard brick lay 4" up, 8" out.    Everything about laying standard brick works on 8 and 16in.      If you can see all four sides of something, you can lay it and know exactly how high it is.   Block are the same.  8in. up, 16 in. out.   plain and simple.   All masonry works on a 3/8ths mud joint.  Just a thought.   
  9. tim h

    tim h Newbie

    Wes, thanks for your thoughts. I have so little experience with this that I didn't even know that about the brick. Those are good details to know. That'll be helpful when I actually get into the layout stage. I actually do have a couple quick questions for you...

    - Obviously the smoking chamber size is smaller in this design than in your build. I'm ok with that because as much as I'm excited to smoke more meats, I really like the layout of the wood grill in the design even more. I'm worried about the level of direct heat in the smoking chamber though and trying to keep it low temp in something that small. Got any thoughts on if the direct heat would get too high in this design and perhaps how to mitigate it? I like the smaller size for us, it's usually my wife and I and a few guests, but I want to be able to keep it in a good range. I've tried to think about ways to convert the video design so the heat isn't right under what you're cooking.

    - Second question, since your's is a direct heat smoker as well, do you build the fire directly in the base or do you have a burn box and shovel the coals over? I like the idea of the fire in the base for hard wood smoking but I'm concerned about getting temp down and flare ups when adding wood. The burn box seems like a good solution but without having any additional fuel in the smoker, it seems like those coals would quickly go out. 

    - I was reading your post at the top of this about fire brick vs block. It's hard to tell in the video but I've watched it a gagillion times and realized he does have fire brick in the base of the smoker where he builds the fire, it just doesn't run all the way up. Would you advocate for running fire brick through the entire inside of the smoker or just the lower half of it?

    Sorry if these are newbie questions, but I'm looking to learn. Thanks for any thoughts you got...
  10. Tim, seems like we are in the same boat. I'm currently in a hold pattern as doing a bit more research really in finding materials. I have found getting fire brick rather challenging so far other than making a blind order off the internet. Also still looking at finding doors or a shop that can fabricate them for me. I'm a bit anal when it comes to project and like to have everything planned out before I even begin. I did draw up some plans (sketches really) on some graph paper based on the brick and block dimensions and I will post them up soon to give you an idea of what I'm going to do
  11. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Guys, when you get a chance, go into your account and let us know what part of the world you are from.   Its helpful in giving advice as to where you live.

    Most building supplies and even box stores like lowes carries or can get  fire brick.     Building supplies are cheaper then lowes most of the time.    If you have a local masonry supply, that is even better, where they sell  block, brick.     I hope you all can find what you need.   I'm a believer of firebrick.   They don't  absorb moisture like other brick and hold heat for the long run.
  12. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I used a brand of fire cement called La Farge mixed with fire clay & sharp sand. I built an oven not a smoker.
    Firebrick holds heat so well & is so dense it's hard to go past for any application. It's the heat stability that is your friend ,you can open & shut doors & not lose much heat.
    External skin can be whatever suits you.

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