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Michigan insulated smoke house

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Well I have never built a smoke house, just one deer blind that didn't turn out so well. I have never really smoked anything, tried years ago with an electric burner and pan with pellets and it didn't go so well. Fast forward to me deciding it was time to make my own jerky/sausage from venison. I looked around for plans and couldn't really find anything. I found this site searching and saw some cedar builds, but that was out of my price range. I drew up a 3d model on the computer and had a pile of 2x4's laying in the garage for another project and just started cutting. The first day I had cut most of the planks I would need, and went to the store to get some additional wood and vents. I ordered the NT burner and hose today. I went out and started screwing the framing together. This build will have an outer frame of pine, with a cedar liner. My thought is to use house roll type insulation and then plywood t1-11 type shell. Is the insulation over kill?


I cant believe how nice the weather has been here in Michigan, looking like we wont have a white Christmas this year.

This framing is different, your looking at the bottom and the door opening is face down. I have plans to make this 3pnt compatible. I bought some category 1 pins and will mount them on the sides. Future pictures will show that feature better. I'm not sure where I want to put the smoke house, so this will allow me to move it as needed. I will simply set it on some cement blocks to keep it out of the grass.


Here is the front. I didn't install the cross stringers  for the doors yet, those will be added tomorrow. I didn't want them in the way while I lined the inside with cedar fence planks.



Cedar floor going in. With the spread you cant stand on it, but the depth is only 24". Maybe a good time to give the dimensions. The cedar box is 28x24x68. I will put a 3/4 plywood floor on the very bottom, likely treated. I finished boxing in the cedar, but it was too dark out for pics. Ill get some more tomorrow.


Since the cedar fence slats are 1/2" or so, they likely wont support much weight. I'm going to run 2x2 pine stringers outside the cedar attached to the main frame. I can then attach some 1x pine on the inside to support racks/rods. I'm thinking 6" spacing for a total of 8 shelves, first one about 6" from the top. I purchased (3) 2x10 floor grates that are adjustable. (2) will go up on the sides and (1) will go on the small door. I will likely line the first 18" around the bottom with cement board, but as big as this is, not sure its really needed?

Edited by kenn1320 - 12/13/14 at 9:17pm
post #2 of 34

 You are off to a great start. I'm watching.



post #3 of 34
Looking Good so far!!
Keep the pics coming!
Keep Smokin!!!
post #4 of 34

Your off to a good start. No your not into the overkill mode for the insulation. I like the 3 point idea.

Keep the pics coming.

Happy smoken.


post #5 of 34
Looks like it will do a fine job.....
post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the support and looking at my build. I'm headed to the store shortly for the outer skin and some more planks. I need some hinges and latches, and some tin if I can find it. With having 3.5" of insulation around the hot box, except for the front, do you see any harm in using T1-11 sheeting that is primed? If I don't doll this up with some paint, my wife is not going to be happy. Also want to use treated plywood for the floor and roof. I've read all the warnings, but since this build is insulated, will there be harm in using it? With the weather being to cold to paint, I need to do something. 


some more pics.

Slow progress so far today, ran out of wood early. Here you can see I split 2x4's and hung them every 6". These will help support the rails I put on the inside for the shelves. I will be using dowel rods most likely.



A shot of the inside, showing the cedar smoke box.



I need to get some tin, hopefully aluminum to connect the smoke box to the outer wall for my vents. 

Edited by kenn1320 - 12/14/14 at 11:59am
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

Did some more work tonight, but ran out of day light. I picked up some more supplies from Lowes. I checked out the double D gasket mentioned on here, but it doesn't appear to be very thick. Anybody ever thought about using rope for a door seal? 

 Ok, so I looked at tin and well it was pricey and most of it was galvanized. Im thinking it wouldnt have hurt in this area, but decided a stick of 1x4 would be cheaper. I ended up making 2 boxes to connect the cedar smoking chamber to the outer T1-11 wall. 

Here is one box in place(not attached yet) and another sitting there with the outside vent fitting inside it.


Here it is mounted on the wall, smoker sitting upright. I have cut the hole out and attached it to the cedar with my air nailer.



Ive seen other builds and they never put the vents all the way to the top, so I dropped mine down slightly. The outer sheet of T1-11 is cut and ready to screw on. I picked up some more 2x4's and will cut/split them to finish the rack supports on the other side. I bought some 1x4 and a 1 1/8" Fosters bit and will create my racks for the inside. I decided to use USB for the roof and bottom and think it will be fine. I decided I didn't want any treated lumber, even if I was sure it wouldn't be an issue. I bought a piece of wavy tin roof sheet for lack of a better description. Ill use that instead of shingles. Lastly I also went with 1/4" cement board and will create an enclosure for the burner with it, leaving air gap around the walls. Hoping to get more done tomorrow.

post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 

 Well cut some T1-11. Until I have the inside done, I wont be attaching the outside sheeting just yet. I have both sides cut and the vent fits perfect.



Installed one of the catagory 1 pins, this is how I will be able to move it around with my tractor as needed. Im on 1acre, but also dont want to smoke out my neighbors and dont want to have to wait for the right wind either. The top is up, so this pocket is an undercut (no worry about rain puddling). This pin goes through a 2x6 which is the back bone of the frame.



I cut half the inside rack supports, my drill begged me to give it a rest. Ill work on some other things while it cools down. Pushing a 1 1/4" foster bit through 4" is about its duty limit.



The propane burner from Northern Tool should be here today. When it gets here I can mock up where it will sit and determine where the cement board needs to go.

I'm thinking of trying to incorporate an amps inside the smoker without it getting too hot and igniting. I'm thinking some internal ducting/sub floor/walls might allow me

to isolate it from the main heat. The volume of air around it and its proximity to the fresh air grate will determine air speed. If the air entering is too fast, it will be like

blowing on an amber and it will ignite. I wont know how much room I have till the burner gets here.

post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 

Door bell............ 8-) 





This is the burner many guys are using, but its bigger than I thought. You get all these cool ideas on how to do something, but 95% of them wont work when the real hardware arrives. Ill have to think about my smoke box placement.




Finished cutting/drilling the rack supports, time to install them.

post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 

OK, got some more work done. I installed all the rack supports. I started laying in the cement board and hit a road block. In my mind I'm thinking it would be much more effective if it had an air gap behind it. Is a gap needed or is the intent just to keep flames from licking the wood and or close enough to cause combustion? I plan on covering the entire floor as well. I'm thinking however of boxing off an area to the left of the stove if I can figure out how to cut holes in cement board. My thought its to isolate a chamber with the cold air vent feeding it and placing the AMNS in that box below the air intake vent. This should have the stove pulling in fresh air through this cavity, mixing with the smoke and pulled into the main chamber. Does this sound like a good idea, or am I over thinking this? Would there be issues with the meat and the heat source being offset? 


post #11 of 34
Be sure to read the thread where the propane fired smokehouse killed the guy... If you can afford it, a fuel shut off when flame out occurs, would be a good investment....

Down near the bottom of the page describes the safety system....

post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by DaveOmak View Post

Be sure to read the thread where the propane fired smokehouse killed the guy... If you can afford it, a fuel shut off when flame out occurs, would be a good investment....

Down near the bottom of the page describes the safety system....


 Hey Dave, thanks for the information and warning. I had originally thought I would set a low temp limit on my thermometer to warn if flame went out. However that could allow gas to leak for minutes if I could get to it quickly. In thinking about the situation I came up with a better idea that is also safer. I will order the valve and thermo coupler replacement parts for a Mr buddy heater. I will have to make a mount for the thermo coupler, but once it gets warm from the burner, it keeps the gas flowing. I will post pics when I get that far along. Looks like about $25 worth of parts, which is cheap insurance.

post #13 of 34
Heck.... a taxi ride to the hospital costs more then $25..... Good for you going the "EXTRA" for safety.... If you don't mind, show the parts list, prices and who you got the stuff from for "future builders" that are safety minded.....

post #14 of 34

Very Cool Smokehouse!!!

No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

post #15 of 34

Looking great!

post #16 of 34
Thread Starter 

Time for an update. Its getting closer, all down hill from here. I started questioning the cement board up against the cedar walls, so I cut spacers and using a cement bit, drilled the board.

While I was at it, I placed 5 small spacers(pieces of cedar) under the floor. The cement board is now 5/8" away from the outer walls, and the floor is raised 1/2".







The project is officially too big for my garage space, so outside it went. I insulated the left side from the cement board up, and the same for the back.

I installed the T1-11 siding and worked my way around to the right side. Here is why the project was too big, propane storage. Some of you might

have concerns, but I don't think it will get very warm. I insulated the wall between and actually hope it does raise the temp in the tank box slightly so

I don't have freezing issues in the winter. When I get my Maveric I'll test temps in the tank box. I just think this will clean up the outer appearance, 

instead of having the tank sitting next to it. 



Some tricky measuring and cutting saved some wood.




I started on the front, cut the vent in and marked the door openings. I didnt cut them, figured I would use the solid

sheet to "close" it up for the night. Tomorrow I will cut out both doors and use that sheeting along with some 1x4 to 

make the doors. I have another sheet of T1-11 and will box in the tank box as well. I might make it so the lid opens

and can be held level to use as a table while Im loading the meat. I did cut the roof board and trimmed the tin roof,

but havent secured it down yet. I barely had enough insulation left for the roof. 


post #17 of 34
Thread Starter 

Threw some heat to the smoke house tonight. Started with the center burner, then went right for all 3 burners. I threw some apple wood chips on an iron skillet and the smoke was on! Even though the doors arent really insulated, they didn't get warm. I haven't caulked the seems yet, had smoke coming out all over the place. lol I had a 12" fryer thermometer stuck through the one upper vent and had the other upper vent closed, but smoke still came out it. I've got some things to do yet, like glue the vents in and put actual latches on the doors, but I just couldn't wait to fire it up. I bought rope designed to seal wood stoves, it worked great. I have to tell ya I was surprised to put my hand under the burner and the cement board was too hot to touch. I do have a 1/2" air gap, but there is a piece of cedar in the center to support the cement board. I only ran the smoker for about 1hr or so. I will be making a sheet metal heat deflector for the under side of the burner. Check out the internal temps.


 It will run that temp fairly constant with all (3) burners going but not on full blast.

Throw a hand full of wood chips in the skillet and when they catch fire, the temps climb.



 I have to admit I was a bit scared to see 350, but no issues I could tell. After feeling the floor was hot directly under the burner, I shut it down and called it a night. 

post #18 of 34

Install a second cement board base with air gaps between the first and second boards under the burners.

post #19 of 34
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ssorllih View Post

Install a second cement board base with air gaps between the first and second boards under the burners.


 I saw the cement board crack and the wood turn black and and almost catch fire on a post here from 2012. He went to an expanded metal under his cement board. My issue is I have black pipe from burner to outside wall, so raising the floor would be tough right now. I will try the sheet metal deflector and if for some reason that doesnt work, I can tear out the cedar floor to gain some air gap and do the double cement with air gap like you suggested. Thanks for the idea.


 So what should I limit my temps for seasoning the smoke house? Due to the propane being a dry heat and it being winter here with not much moisture in the air, seems this wood should be drying out fairly well. After I get my Maveric 733 I can let it run and not have to stand by it watching it constantly. lol I do smell like smoke and I love it!:yahoo:

post #20 of 34

When you change the heat equation from conduction to convection everything gets easier. even a quarter of an inch will make a big difference.

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