The Novice "Just Winging It" Smokehouse Build

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by lediable, Apr 16, 2016.

  1. Hello everyone, longtime lurker, recently joined because I am going overkill by building a smokehouse.  For the amount of smoking I do, it probably isn't necessary, but my wife said I could, and I've got plenty of room in my yard, so I figured why the heck not.  I used inspiration from atcnick's build, and have come up with a few adaptations, but didn't really plan much out, just sort of started working on it, tackling issues/design plans as I got to them.  So, I figured it was time to ask some of the more experienced folks for suggestions, or to tell me where I've gone completely wrong.  Hopefully less of the latter, as I'm already a little ways into the build and kind of committed to some things!

    Since this is going to be a bit long, I'll break it up into a few different posts.  Let the fun & f-ups begin!

    EDIT 09/07/2016:

    Well, one thing I tried to do was keep track of the materials that went into building this.  Not really sure why.  A bit so I could keep tabs on how much I spent.  A bit in case someone asked if I could give them help building one.  A bit for my OCD tendencies.  With that in mind, here is a link to my google spreadsheet.  It has the item, quantity, cost, subtotal on one page, then I listed a description of things on the second page along with where I used it, and where I got it from whenever possible.  If anyone has questions or wants to know more, just let me know.

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016
  2. To start, I bought some 2x4s and framed up the side & rear walls, with studs 16" on center like a house wall would be.  Top to bottom, they're 48" high.

    Then I built the front wall, got the 4 sides attached to each other and added supports for a roof.

  3. Next, I tried to plan out the concrete block base, the brick firebox, and how to connect the two.  The decision was to just turn one of the concrete blocks on it's side, and leave out a few of teh clay bricks to create the opening for smoke & heat to pass through.  This is part of my concern, as I don't know if this is going to work very well.  I did a "dry fit" in the garage to see how things will look, and I think I'm ok.  Also, I have every intention of lining the interior of the firebox with actual fire bricks - this was just to make sure I could get the openings to line up.

    First, here it the rear-side view:

    Then from the concrete block end.  You can sort of see where I turned on block on it's side to allow the smoke/heat through:

    Now, from the firebox end:

    And a little more close up.  The two bricks on the left & right will have to be cut off, I'm not going to leave them sticking inward like that.

  4. Now, with the assumption that I'm good to proceed, I poured my concrete slab.  it is 72" long, and 27" wide.  I put a 3/4" PVC pipe in to act as a drain in case it ever needs to be hosed down, or in case of a lot of drippings off food and I forget to put a catch pan in.  The pipe runs to the right end, and it will stick out enough for me to put a cap on it to keep bugs out.

    It certainly ain't pretty, but nearly all of it will be covered up anyway, so I didn't care too much.

    So, thats where I'm at.  Remaining things to sort out are:
    1. I need to figure out something for exhaust.  Right now, I'm thinking of just using a couple vents like you have in the house for the furnace that can be closed off.  I thought I could just put them at the top of the front wall just below the roof.
    2. I wanted to be able to insulate this puppy, mainly because it gets cold here in the winter, which makes hot smokes more difficult (at least when you're using a stupid Char-Griller with the side box).  With that in mind, I have to line the interior walls with something, and settled on aluminum sheeting.  I already bought a 4x10 sheet of 0.032" thick 3003-H14 aluminum.  I'm going to use mineral wool insulation which is good to something like 2000 degrees.
    3. Shelves... I'm thinking steel expanded metal.  I can get it from the place where I got the aluminum sheet.  But I'm not sure if steel is great for food.
    4. Door.  I think I'll have to wait until I get the siding done so I can get hinges in the right spot and make sure it opens & closes smoothly.
    5. Door gasket.  With the door shut, I want this thing to have air coming from the firebox and leaving out the exhaust.  So I want to seal the door.  Maybe I'm being dumb and I need more airflow.  I was working on the assumption that that was controlled from the firebox side though.
    Like I said to begin, this has been evolving as I went, just getting to a problem and dealing with that alone.  Probably not the best way to go, but I'm pretending it is going well.
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Air vents are best installed similar to what (S2K9K) Dave did on his smoker build....   Install on the other 2 sides also...   alternate their location so they are not directly across from each other..

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2016
  6. derag2

    derag2 Fire Starter

    Why not just let the smoke go out the front at the top? You can make a slide to close it off if your got smoking
  7. My original intention was to put a pair of vents between the uprights supporting the roof, in these general areas:


    I'll look at doing a front & rear vent too.  I looked over (S2K9K) Dave's build thread and am wondering if I'll have to deal with the concrete block sucking up heat like him.  I'll be using a coal & wood fire, so I might be able to produce more heat than his burner element, but I really don't know.
  8. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Your front vents should work just fine, especially since they are at the highest point of your smoke shack. That's where all the hot air is going to want to go. Which will pull the smoke out with it.
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The concrete sucks up heat for awhile...  once warm it's not a problem....  helps to even out the heat...    I had a concrete block smokehouse...   It took a rick of wood and 16  hours to preheat before I could use it...  It was 4 x 4 x 10 with a poured in place concrete roof...
  10. Well, a few advances to report.  Last Friday I got the cement block set in place.  For two people that have never done it before, it came out OK.  Still haven't done anything with the smaller red clay bricks yet, because I'm trying to figure out how to the door will be attached.

    Last night I spent a lot of time bending aluminum.  Even at 0.032" thickness, it was not easy.  I whipped up a simple homemade brake, and there was definitely room for improvement.  I guess I should just be happy that it didn't cost me anything...  Got it into the smokehouse framing, but I think I'm going to try to work it into the corners a little tighter before I screw it into place.

    Until the weather improves here, I'm going to try tackling the door, and finish up the aluminum below/above the door opening.
  11. Well, some progress has been made, although not where I thought it would be....  I still haven't done anything with the door or finished the aluminum lining.  Instead, I got the roof on (and realized where I went wrong with that, but hopefully it won't be a big deal), got the framing out to the foundation, insulated the rear & sides, put the sheathing on, and today my dad helped me put up the side walls of the firebox.  Yay, progress!

    So, the reason I only did the side walls of the firebox is because I'm going to get some steel angle iron, use one side to attach the cast iron door, and the other side will be sandwiched between the clay bricks & the firebrick.  It isn't the easiest thing to describe, so when I get to it (hopefully in about a week), I'll get several photos.
  12. Ok, made some progress over the past couple weeks.  Started siding, got it mostly done.

    And I laid my firebrick.  The gray stuff is the fireplace cement I used.  Yes, I made a mess of it, but after the first fire, I don't think anyone will ever know.

  13. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    looking good.. hope it works as good as it looks... Thumbs Up
  14. This week, my dad and I worked on the solution for mounting the firebox door.  

    What you're looking at is a 1/4" thick steel plate with angle iron welded to the back side of it.  We cut out the opening to fit the door from the Vogelzang/US Stove barrel stove kit, and drilled all of the holes to line up so the door will bolt on just as if I was using it on a barrel.  The piece of angle iron laying across the bottom has been screwed to the concrete slab with TapCon screws, so it won't move, and we actually notched out the bricks on either side so the top of the angle iron is basically flush with the top edge of the brick, again not going anywhere, especially since I filled that space in with mortar when I laid the paver stones down on top.

    I made a mess of my nice black paint when I was trying to push mortar into the sides, but this weekend I'll clean it up and add another coat of paint if necessary.  Then mount last two firebricks at the bottom of the opening just behind the plate, and the firebox will be done.  Now if I could just get some help building the door and finishing the rest of it, I may actually be able to use this for Memorial Day!
  15. It looks good and I like the mod for the door. I'd be interested if you can still cold smoke with it the firebox close. Keep us posted on your test burns.
  16. derag2

    derag2 Fire Starter

    Worst case get a amnps for cold smoking.
  17. Thanks for the compliments!  I had been tentatively planning on using an AMPS placed in the firebox for cold smoking (never cold smoked anything, but I am really looking forward to cheese and possibly a whole slab of bacon).

    I figured 24hrs was enough time for the mortar, so I went ahead and mounted the door on the firebox today.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll have more progress to report.

  18. Great looking build!luv seeing these original smokehouses:)
  19. Thanks again! I'm trying to keep things looking nice, but I'm also starting to get impatient and just want it to be done, so a couple things have gotten a tad sloppy. The good thing is it probably won't be visible to most people unless I point it out.

    Anyway, haven't gotten a lot done. Been lazy, and the weather has been hot & humid or rainy, so that isn't helping. But I do have the cabinet door pretty close. Still have to cover the back, since I don't want any insulation falling out.

    Edit - pictures!

    Last edited: May 26, 2016
  20. Well, I took the opportunity to mow after work, which was good because it is now raining, which means I won't be getting much done today.  But, I did take a minute to rest the door in the opening (it still fits, thank goodness!), and eyeball where I want to put the hinges.

    Hopefully the rain will leave our forecast, but I don't have high hopes for getting much done tomorrow or Saturday.

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