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Started off with nothing and still got most of it left!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi Guys,


Brand new to the forum, just joined because I visit the USA from the UK a couple of times a year and it seems to me there is a whole world of smoking & BBQ going on out there, and I want in!


We don't seem geared up over here like you are over there for smoking,etc and you do the best meats in the world for flavour. I may not be able to just nip out to Lowes,etc and get stuff here like you can there so please excuse if I come back for a further explanation or alternative.


I wand to build a smoker from scratch in the garden. I have unlimited space and aim to build a kitchen/ BBQ/Smoker at one end with fire pit and seating at the other, all under a roof with open sides.This is not to keep out of the heat as you do over there, but to be able to cook and enjoy sitting eating the spoils,while looking at the rain, as invariably happens over here.


I have above average experience at masonry work with both stone, blocks and bricks and am an engineer by trade, so no stranger to welding and light steel construction.  Given that information, my questions are:-


A) What type off rig should I build and should it be all masonry or a steel structure decorated with stone? Horizontal or vertical?


B) As I know zero about how these things work, has anyone any plans or designs they could offer?


C) Can I do regular BBQing in one or should I build in my existing gas one alongside?


D) Where can I find out how to prepare meats? what cuts?  can I make my own rubs and how?


E) How long to cook for?


F) What type of wood will I need (As we do not have the diverse species of timber you have over there) and does the wood just smolder? is it made into shavings or thin strips?etc


So there it is. Yes, I hear you say, this guy really does know Jack!


So any help at all you can offer will be gratefully received and in the meantime, as I just got back from two weeks in Utah at 90 degrees, here it's down to 49 degrees and raining so as I just discovered this site, and I can't start the build yet, I'll start reading as much as I can within the pages here and await any response with baited breath.


Thanks in advance, Paul.

post #2 of 6

Hello Paul.  Please see the link below.  How would that look in your garden?  Lee is a U.K. member.  He works overseas so hard to get hold of but his build should offer you ideas.  Wes W. is a U.S.A. member who joined our Group and he also has a fine home made brick smoker.  Wes is easier to get hold of.  You have so many varied questions it's hard to know where to start.  We can help you get started and offer advice as to what to buy and where to get it; from meat to wood to seasonings.  If I may offer my 2p., I'd think about building a UDS.  You can see one in the smoker build forum.  They work GREAT and it would allow you to start learning how to smoke meat.  During the build and while learning to smoke meat you will start to understand airflow, temp control, heat distribution, etc..  These things will help you design your brick smoker.  It would be a shame to spend all the time and money building the brick smoker and then find out there is an airflow problem and it doesn't work properly.  Besides, with the UDS you can be able to enjoy some good food while you are building your garden kitchen.  Keep smokin!




post #3 of 6

Good morning Paul, or should I say good afternoon being you live in the future.  :-)


I'll answer as best I can.  I'm sure others will be along to help as well.   


The internal works are what matters in a brick smoker.  The outside can be anything you want it to be.   Mine is a vertical smoker.   I really like it, but it takes some time to figure out how it wants to work.    I've never used a horizontal one so I have nothing to compare to.   


I did a thread on my smoker build.    There isn't much out there as far as how to build a brick smoker.   Others here have also written thread on there builds.   The tread is rather long, gets off topic a few times, but it has lots of pictures.   Through out the thread as I started using my smoker I documented what I would have done differently.   Brick smokers are a ton of fun to operate.   Once you figure out how "it" wants to cook,   there is nothing better.   Link --http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/126307/brick-smoker-compete-how-to



You can do regular grilling in one, but generally  smokers operate at a much lower temp.   I do steaks in my smoker.   Nothing better then a slow smoked steak.  Takes about an hour or so.   I personally have given up gas burners.   We use charcoal for our grilling.   So much better flavor.  Your opitions here are limitless.  It just depends on what you want.


You've found the best site with the best folks around.   At the top if you put in what cut of meat your doing,  you'll get tons of results from the search bar.   If you just can't find an answer, start a thread and ask.     This site is dedicated to smoking meat.   We got old timers, young guns and top notch chefs  who know how to make the best from any cut of meat.   If you can't find it in the search bar, just ask!    We all had to learn at some point, so there are no dumb questions.


Most of the time we smoke to internal temps.  That way we know its food safe and nobody gets sick.   Whole cuts are not as big a worry as yard bird.   Again, this info can be found in the search bar.   Most smoke  at temps of 225F.   Low and slow, its what makes smoking so much fun.


I use about 1in. splits when smoking.   I may put one or two bigger pieces in as I go along, but I maintain a small fire to hold my temp.   The longer the smoke, the less fuel you'll use.     Folks use all types of wood.   I smoke everything with hickory.   I personally can't tell any difference between hickory smoke and oak.   I have all the hickory I could ever use, so thats what I use.   I have used oak, but it burns faster and hotter, not always a good thing.   Most any hardwood is good for smoking.   Some say take the bark off.  I've never had any issues with leaving it on as long as it isn't decayed or rotten.   



I hope this gives you some idea as to where to start.    Others will be along I'm sure to help out as well.   Between all of us, we can build you a smoker!!    Hope your having a great day!



post #4 of 6

:ROTF  As I said!  Wes is easier to get hold of!  AND THERE YOU GO!  He can answer your questions about a brick smoker.  If you have a question Paul we have at least 10 people with an answer.  Keep Smokin!


post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for taking so much time to write such a comprehensive reply Wes, that's a great help, I'm about to start the project groundworks in the next few days. I like the look of the vertical oven, it should work in well with the building I plan to put around it.


Reading some of your posts, I think I read you're from the Carolina's? We come over each year to Asheville, Wilksboro and places like Floyd, virginia, or anywhere there's a Bluegrass gig or festival, that's where we first fell in love with pulled pork. My wife says once we get this up and running and we sit in the garden with me playing banjo, she'll be able to close her eyes and pretend she's at "The shindig on the green" in Asheville. I reckon apart from temperature, the rain, and the lack of mountains and southern hospitality, she's got a good imagination but she says she'll give it a try!


Thanks for the guidance, I'll let you know how things go.


Regards, Paul.

post #6 of 6

It sure is a small world Paul.


I live about 30 miles from Wilkesboro.   Up on the mountain.   Not much of a bluegrass fan myself,  but would see Doc Watson at the  local restaurant quite often.   He's was just a common man.   He was just like one of us.


Thank you for the kind words.  We take a lot of pride in our BBQ.   The first step to great BBQ is smoking it over a wood fired smoker.   You get a flavor none other can match.    


Please keep us posted on your build.  As always, if you have any questions, just ask.   


Hope you have a great day!

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