I'm about to embark on my first smoker build, and after exhaustive research, have decided with the reverse flow style. I've never used or built a smoker before, but have read that these are the best/easiest to maintain and control heat. I have two pipes that are 2' diameter, just over 1/4" thick steel. One is 4' long, the other is 4.5' long. My plan is to build two of them and hopefully one of them will be good enough to sell to finance the other one. So, I have a couple of questions:
1) How much room do I need to leave under the reverse flow plate? I want to make this as low as possible to allow for more room up top for racks of meat, but obviously don't want to make it so low it won't work. Is 1/3 of the way up a good idea?
2) How thick should this plate be? I'm guessing pretty thick since it will be absorbing and holding heat.
3) Does the plate have to be "tilted up" so smoke is allowed to roll toward the end thats up a little bit?
4) I have read that some smokers have hot spots - some so bad that the user can't cook on certain parts of the smoker. What causes these hot spots and how can I avoid them?
I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get going on these projects. I appreciate all the help, and will post pics as soon as I get started. Thanks!!