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Wooden Smoker Build

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I currently have a smoker that was my grandfathers and it has worked great. I love everything that I have made with it, even though it is an electric bullet smoker and they seemed to be looked down upon by hard core enthusiasts. But the main thing I like about it is that it IS ELECTRIC and that makes it so easy to use. Plug it in, wait for the heat, and you are good to go. There are a couple things I don't like about it though, and the main thing is its size. There are three racks, and if you want something that is tall, there is only one rack. Also the heating element could work a little better as I have a hard time maintaing heat. Granted it is thin metal, so there is no real insulation. So I added another element from a hot plate to bump it up, and that usually helps it to maintain. There are other little things that annoy me, but those are my to biggest disappointments about it.


So I decided to make my own smoker. I looked at different places and several people have made them from wood, which seams sketchy to me...heat...wood....FIRE!!! But they have done it and it seams to work fine, and there is supposed to be no fire in there right! Well, I have occasional fires in my smoker, but it is usually from opening the door, and some times I can not get it to stay out when that happens. Anyway, I decided to make a smoker from wood myself, so I thought I have some wood working tools in my basement, I'll give it a try.


I'm going to post some photos as I go and hopefully as I do this I will get some help on making the external smoke generator. Sure I could buy one, but I want to make it. It just seems cooler that way. I could buy a smoker as well, but…see the last sentence. So, nudge nudge hint hint "dcarch" (post #2)


Since I decided if I'm going to make this, I'm going to try to add some convince to it. Actually what it means is I’m going to make it over complicated, but hopefully it will be cool and I will be proud of it. Since I'm making it out of wood some of this convince may be lost in heaviness, but I'll see how that goes. If necessary later I may upgrade some parts to aluminum to make them lighter, but for now I'm using wood as I have it, so I don't have to go buy anything. So here it goes!


The main thing I'm making different is I'm making a rack of racks that are removable all at once. This way if all goes well, I can load up the racks inside, and carry them all out in one trip all ready for the smoker. My previous smoker I would load the racks up, open the house door, carry them through the door, find a place to set them so the meat does not touch the ground or grass or what ever, close the house door, pick them up, go to the smoker, find a place to set them so the meat does not touch the ground or grass or what ever, open the smoker, pick them up and put them in, and close the smoker. It seemed like a pain, and if I made a smoker with more racks, it would mean more trips doing this. So I’m making an attempt to lessen my little dilemma.


So I am making a rack to hold all of the racks so I only have to do this once, or maybe a couple of times if I can not lift the rack fully loaded. But I don't have to worry so much when setting it down as the meat will not be sitting directly on the ground, the rack will sit on the ground and the meat will be a couple inches above the ground. So here is my rack to hold the racks. It is just the frame, but I am just starting.


post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

So I continued on with the rack. I now have all the racks installed in the rack of racks. I can put a shelf every two inches or remove what I want to make them taller. Each level is made of two racks, so I can remove only a half rack if I want. So I can have a rack every two inches in the back and two 8" racks on the front. This will also allow me to put stuff in the back that will be done after the stuff in the front. This seemed like an easy and convent extra to add, so I did it. Each level has a lip on it to keep the racks from sliding off sideways too.


This entire rack of racks was made of 2x4's and is very sturdy. My only regret is that I should have sanded or wire brushed the tops of the screws to remove the paint on them. It would have been much easier to do when the screws where not in the rack. I'll now use my dremel to remove them one at a time. Oh well.



Here is the back, you can see I added one board to keep the racks from sliding out the back. I figure I'm there to keep them from sliding out the front.


post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Four the outside I'm using 3/4" plywood. I figure that will give some insulation. I purchased one sheet of 4x8 and then cut it down. I have it cut to size here and am clamping it together to make sure everything fits before I screw it together.





post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

One side worked, lets see how the other three sides fit together.



post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

I forgot to mention, I could cut the sides and doors out from the 4x8 sheet of plywood, but had to use the scrap from that to make the top and bottom. I had to glue them together to get them to the size I wanted them.


post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Now that the sides are ready, I primed everything I had cut, and put final paint on a couple of them for their final color. I think this was one of the doors.



Here are the 3 sides screwed on to the bottom and the bottom with it's final coat. The hole is for the electric cords and some air inlets in the bottom. I haven't decided what to do to let more air in the bottom. Not sure if this is enough, or I should add a hole that I can adjust, and how to make it yet if I do that.


post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Here I have the pieces together that I have ready. I have the two sides and back attached to the bottom. I also have the shelf installed to hold up the rack of racks. Under that I have my two hot plates in place.



I have the doors cut and primed, hinges and latches purchased, top primed and painted.


Stuff I still have to figure out are my drip pan/water pan and my external smoke generator. As I said I still have to figure if I need another hole in the bottom to let air in. Then I have to figure out how to let smoke out the top.


I think my best idea right now is to take normal stove pipe top and put it on the top center. Then maybe use a normal stove pipe choke (I think that is what you call it) to regulate the smoke flow out. Then on top put the normal chimney topper on to...well...keep the water out. On the bottom I have some wheels to roll it around the drive way, and maybe into the garage if I want to. I have a chimney in the garage that has nothing hooked to it. So I thought in the winter I could roll the smoker in the garage and take the cap off the top of the smoker and get a couple more chimney pipes to connect the smoker to the chimney so I can smoke in the garage in the winter and have the smoke go out the garage chimney.  

post #8 of 18
my question is... how are you going to control the hot plates... PID ?
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'll probably just use the temp knobs on the hotplates. I hope the first time or two I use them I'll get a pretty good feel for where they should be to keep temps right. Then I hopefully won't have to adjust them much. That's my hope anyway. If I have to do something else, I'll probably be back here asking for more help :biggrin:

post #10 of 18
the problem with the hot plate thermostats is... the hot plates have a thermal protection to keep from getting to hot... they need to be bypassed... then you have the problem of a meltdown of the hot plate housing (I think) when the element stays on full time ... If you use the search bar at the top of the page.. I believe you'll find some answers to your questions regarding using hot plates for a heat source...
post #11 of 18

Nice work so far. And a very nice work shop.



post #12 of 18

Being a woodworker, I have a concern about using plywood for your cabinet due to both the heat and moisture that will be present.  I've wondered about building a vertical cabinet for smoking that would be fed from a side firebox well-insulated from the wood.  There are several good choices for solid wood to use like cypress, redwood or cedar - think sauna.  Not trying to rain on your parade, just thinking out loud.


As to the hot plates, others have expressed appropriately on those.


All that being said, I'm looking forward to seeing how your build and first cooks go.

post #13 of 18

Looks like you will need a fan inside to even out the temperature and smoke.



post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
So, what kind of fan do you use? A computer fan? And how or where do you mount yours and where did you point it?
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 

Anybody? What fan should I use, and how should I install it? As in what direction should it point for best circulation?

post #16 of 18
Originally Posted by miataman View Post

Anybody? What fan should I use, and how should I install it? As in what direction should it point for best circulation?

Computer fans typically are DC 12v or 5v. You will need a DC power supply. Computer fans are electronic brushless type motor, which are heat sensitive.


Better use a shaped pole motor fan, 120vac.


It does not matter how you aim the fan.



post #17 of 18

I guess I do not see the need for a fan in your smoker. If you have a vent on the bottom and the top you should be good IMO.


post #18 of 18

I'm from Minneapolis, so am in a similar weather situation. We're trying to decide if we can just go with wood surrounding the firebox, while still getting the temperatures up to 250 or 300. We're designing a new smoker. Currently, I'm planning to use a turkey fryer with a pan and wood chunks for the heat source.

My concern is that at 300 degrees, the wood will start to burn. Has that not been your experience? We're also considering using 1x6 tongue and groove boards rather than plywood, which shoudl hopefully look nicer, and not have the glue that's in plywood.

So, our questions:
Does anybody else run their temperature this hot (say, for ribs)?
If so, are you using bare wood walls?
If not, what are you using to insulate them?
If so, have you had any issues with charring or burning?

Thanks for your help!
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