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First Smoker Build

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 



I have a 120 Propane tank that i am attempting to make a vertical smoker / grill out of , needing a little feedback ....this tank will have a bottom frebox that will have a chacoal basket abpout the size of that bottom hole , im thinking diffuser plate with water pan right above that and 2 racks in the top , thermometer in middle and one on top...

I was wondering a few thing like where would i put the air inlet vents as well as proper placement and size of smokestack , was wondering should i center smokestack on rear or come off the top ......

Edited by BonnerBoy - 10/29/13 at 10:38am
post #2 of 25


post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

huh ......bump what

post #4 of 25

I bumped the thread so it would show as more recent because nobody has helped you yet.

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks Woodcuter , been prowling other threads begging for a little info ..... really do appreciate it

post #6 of 25

Hello Wood cutter.  GREAT job on the bump.  I had not seen this.  I will offer my opinion and more folks should jump in.  Hello BonnerBoy.  Here is my opinion for what it is worth.  Others may have different advice.  This is only my opinion.  The first problem I see is the space below that bottom door and the rounded bottom inside.  The basket is a good idea but how are you going to get the ash out on a long smoke?  The intake vents must be below the bottom of the basket.  If the ash then builds up to the bottom of the basket you lose air flow.  No air flow, no heat.  Intake vents.  I think you have 2 options.  Option 1, put 1 larger intake in the bottom door ( below the bottom of the basket ) with a damper and then turn the smoker so that the prevailing wind is blowing into that vent.  Option 2, look at this as a UDS and put 4 smaller ball valves in each quarter.  I think either would work fine.  For the stack/flue, there are also 2 schools of thought.  Option 1 is to cut a hole on the back of you smoker just below your lower rack, turn you stack up 90 degrees from that hole.  Cut another hole in line with the bottom hole which is just below your upper rack.  Install a "T" so that you now have joined both exhaust holes into the same stack/flue.  Now add the top piece so that it extends above the smoker.  Option 2 is to put 1 hole dead center of the top cap.  You may well find you do not need the diffuser or the water pan but I would build the option in originally.  Nice to have options.  Maybe bolt the diffuser plate in so that it could be removed easily should you want to.  Why would you want to?  You said smoker/grill.  You may want that high direct heat.  Options are a good thing.  Wel,l I have successfully danced around your questions without giving you an answer.  :icon_biggrin:  No.  I am not a politician.  So here is what I would do if I was building.  Keep in mind I ALWAYS overbuild and try to build for EVERY scenirio I can think of.  I would cut a second door as low as possible.  Go to the local hardware shop and buy a cheap garden trowel.  Knock the wooden handle off and weld a piece of rebar to the trowel.  Then bend the handle ( rebar ) so that I can scoop the ash from under the basket.  You obviously want EVERY door to seal as well as possible.  I would go with the single intake with damper and then turn the smoker if needed; reason being if you are smoking on a very still day you can open that larger vent all the way should you need to.  Stack/flue.  I would go with the single stack in the middle of the top head.  Thought being if you have intake on 1 side and stack in the middle you create a swirl effect in a round upright.  I would use 4" with a damper for the stack.  This is way bigger than you might need.  The accepted practice here is leave the stack fully open.  But I have found on self builds this depends on the stack size.  Here is over build again but should you REALLY need air flow you can open that stack fully.  To control heat and reduce unnecessary burning of fuel you can close down that flue a little.  Now you got me out on the limb.  :icon_biggrin:  In my opinion, if you build it to the minimum requirements and conditions change, you are stuck with minimum requirements and minimum performance.  Then you cut it apart and start again.  Sorry for the novel.  This is only my opinions.  Hope it helps. Good luck.  Post more picts.  Keep Smokin!


post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
KCT5TPY you have presented me with exactly what I was looking for options , I was planning on the basket being dead even with the door leaving quite a bit of space for ash in the bottom , I did want to make the diffuser plate removable so that I could get the high heat grill if needed , as far as the stack I been looking at some other threads seeing
where a top vent or side vents maybe a better cleaner look .....I am really liking that swirl effect idea with a single stack and a single vent ......Thanks Guy
post #8 of 25

If it was my build, for the intake vent I'd probably go with something very similar to the bottom vent on a Weber kettle grill.

 You could add some legs to get it higher for the ash pan.



post #9 of 25

Your going to need something between the fire and the cooking grates. If you don't use a water pan, the grease will burn and give you that nasty taste.  How much fab work do you want to put into this?  My first ideal involves slicing the tank in half...do you want to hear it?


On the exhaust, honestly, I think just a simple  pipe in the center would be alright. or slightly off center towards the back a little, as long as you could reach it OK.

post #10 of 25

Or you could turn that hole tank into the cooking chamber and fab up a firebox, that would probably be the easiest way.

post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Willing to put the fab work in , not really understanding the cut in half option , I was thinking more like a center pressed down diffuser plate tied in by a screwed on piped angled down to released any grease not caught by water pan ..... As far as the pipe a 4 or 5 inch piece centered off top .......I like the ash pan bottom vent idea just need a little thought time in creating .....thanks guys
post #12 of 25

Id make both sides of a pie vent out of flat plate and cut a circle out of the bottom and weld the vent in. Use the circle you cut out and trim it in with some 2" flat bar for a highr lip for the ash pan.


Cutting it in half was a bad ideal ( got my mind working on about five different fab jobs right now.....a little bit of an overload) .....how about just a double plate diffuser?  A bottom one to absorb the heat and re-direct it, then a top one to catch the grease and keep it from hitting the lower one?  Maybe 2 or 3 inches between them?


One work off advise, where your cooking chamber door is, dont leave a gap between the outer shell and the bottom diffuser plate, this will keep you from getting overloaded with smoke when you open the door. A gap around the rest will be plenty of room for the smoke to travel up.

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Great idea Ribwizard that would kinda make the bottom act as a offset smoke box , ok I'm set on that two piece diffuser with no gap except for smoke inlet , now I'm kinda a lil off on my air inlet for the bottom , I'm thinking since I will put my smoke inlet from the bottom diffuser plate toward the back maybe a large air inlet directly up front right below the firebox door. ...... My concerns are always temp holding and control in the smoke chamber ...... Thanks time to put in some work now
post #14 of 25

With the air working towards the back of the cooking chamber, the air inlet towards the front might work better, and it might channel the heat away from the center of the diffuser plate, and that would be good.  So now the air would enter from somewhat the front, flow towards the back of the chamber and up the wall, plus you have plenty of heat coming through the diffuser plates. I think you have a good plan there!



Think about designing that lower front vent so as it could be opened for access to an ash pan.Your not going to need a real big fire in that, so your basket can be somewhat narrow.

post #15 of 25

Hello.  If I may just for a second; :hijack:.  I just want to say again Great job on the bump Woodcutter.  Seems MANY of us missed this one.  Hopefully a new member is now getting the help he wanted.  I know that helping folks is 1 reason I keep coming back ( 1 among many ).  Hijack over.  Sorry folks.  Good luck BonnerBoy and be sure to post more picts.  Keep Smokin!


post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have been at a halt And just staring at this build for about 2 weeks now , you guys have been very helpful , my plans were similar to your ideas and suggestions , but they have changed due to your suggestions and I am more confident in my build .....Thanks Guys Pics coming soon
Edited by BonnerBoy - 10/31/13 at 12:40pm
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hey Ribwizard lil more info needed ....... If I weld the diffuser plate directly above that bottom hole a few inches above the charcoal basket ...... This tank is 29 inches in diameter , what will be the best idea for smoke inlet .... One large 4 or 5 inch hole to the rear piped or unpiped from firebox side or smoke chamber side ....... Maybe a few small inlets around the sides close to the walls with deflectors ...... Any advice would be appreciated
post #18 of 25

I was thinking about a 2inch gap that ran along the outer lip, exept for where the door is, dont leave a gap there, The upper plate can have a gap all the way around. You may even think about installing the lower plate with the rear slightly higher than the front.

post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 

Once again guys here I am asking for help , hopefully one day I can help others ..... once this thing is built what the proper way of breaking them in , I have a lil interior rust that I plan on wire brushing and wiping out , would like to stoke up a nice basket of something , coal or briquettes and keep check on temp hold and leaks .... should I spray the interior with anything ( seasoning ) before or after exterior paint , meat or no meat for first try ...... Was just wondering getting kinda close to a finished smoker , still a lot of exterior extras to finish , just wanna make sure she functions first ....
Edited by BonnerBoy - 11/25/13 at 8:34pm
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
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