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My new brick smoker... currently in building

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


I have received some great help from individuals here (Wes W and pjnla) when in the planning stage of a brick smoker so I thought I would share my story as I go.  This will be an offset smoker with an additional access point directly under the smoke chamber to allow for easier clean-out and/or the use of charcoal for quicker/hotter grilling.  A couple of weeks ago we poured the foundation, which had to be much beefier than originally anticipated given the frost line is around 36" up here in Northern Indiana.  So we poured a 4' x 8' foundation with 40" deep footings at 12" wide... it can probably hold a house!  Since then, I had the firebrick, face brick, fire clay, and type-n mortar delivered but it's all sitting under a tarp on my driveway... the rain won't let up around here!  Hopefully we can find a dry day this week to get started but it isn't looking good so far.


A buddy of mine has cut me some stainless doors and steel frames.  We got the frames welded up last week and they look great.


Here are some photos from the initial stages:




Here is the original plan I drew out.... but quite a bit has changed with measurements and brick being used so don't expect the final to look exactly like this:


The actual air intake will be build into the fire chamber door using a slide opening.  I would love to hear some comments and/or suggestions regarding what people have used for the air exhaust (chimney).  I am not sure what I will use for the damper, cap, etc...


Hope you guys find this initial post interesting and follow along as I pray this turns out well!  I know there are a lot of experienced individuals here that have a lot to offer as my journey continues.




post #2 of 17

Looks awesome Travis!   The footing can be a pain, but the thing is, once you build on it, it can't be fixed.   My smoker footing is 13" thick, but I know it won't fail.   


As I've stated before, in a wood fired smoker I don't feel there is a need for a chimney damper.   Mine has caused problems with the masonry.  Steal and masonry and heat  do not go together.  Something has to give, and it ain't the steal.


Looking forward to watching your smoker go up.  Lots of folks her willing to help, you just have to ask!

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks Wes, I will take your advice on the damper and just install a standard flue and cap.  Any recommendations/lessons learned on flue size?

post #4 of 17

You only need a flue as big as the mass of air you have coming in.  I used a 12x12 because it matched  the fireplace.   8x8 would have been plenty.   No more air is going to go out then is coming in.   

post #5 of 17
Good work so far. Bummer about the rain, but at least you are getting some. Quite a drought out here in Cali. We are looking forward to seeing your progess. Wes helped me a ton, so you got a great resource there. Just give a shout if you need something.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well we have made some progress, finally!  We have been able to get the entire back wall up, the 2 sides, the "wood holder", and the floor laid.  Here are some updated photos:





We plan to lay the walls of the fire brick tomorrow.  Next on the list:  putting the doors in and bricking around them in the front, filling walls with insulation (vermiculite), capping top (poured concrete), and a bunch of other small things.  I will keep the pictures coming!

post #7 of 17

WOW! You are doing a great job! I must say I am thoroughly impressed.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  BUT, I must admit I have a buddy helping me that has been doing this for a very long time... for a living.  So, it helps to know the right people with the right tools.


We did under-compensate the space we had left for the wood holder... we could have extended it by about 4" (inward), live and learn.  Instead, we are going to put an extra column of bricks behind it with some type-s mortar.  Just to fill in the area.

post #9 of 17

ohhhh...I see. You went out and got yourself a pro. LOL. I am not mad at you about that at all. I tried to get a little help but all my friends are lazy asses.


I can see about 10 things I should have done differently, but like you said, live and learn. as long as it is holding heat and puffing smoke you will be all good.


You got me all inspired so I think I am going to start a project. Going to do a brick grill large enough to hold half a pig. Gonna start working it out in a week or so. Keep sending pics.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


Sorry for the delay... work has been busy!  Anyhow, wanted to provide some updated photos of the build:





These are from last week and we have since finished putting the roof on the smoke chamber as well.  I will get some more pictures when the rain lets up... its currently covered.  At this point we are basically done.  We got the concrete forms put up a couple days ago and are just waiting a good time to pour it.


We did have some bad measurements :(  and added an extra run on the firebox.  We wound up building up a row with firebrick and will install the door sitting on it... you will see it better in photos.  It's not a huge deal but you lose some of the aesthetics with the bottom doors no longer sitting at the same level.  Oh well!


I will start taking photos of the doors as they are.  I have drilled all the holes for handles, thermometers, air intakes, etc...  I am now in the process of acid washing the oxidation off of them.  Hopefully this weekend we will get the hinges welded on.  The final steps will be paint and frame install with tapcons into the masonry.


Slowly but surely!!

post #11 of 17

Hi Travis


I really like what you are building there. Here in the UK and on the UK forum here i have asked for advice on building a brick smoker that also has a grill. What you are building is pretty much exactly what i had in mind.


I would like to build my smoker with rendered block-work, My question is, is it possible to cement 38mm fire bricks direct to the internal block-work skin. The version i want to build will need to be smaller due to the garden space i have in the UK, therefore double skin with cavity infill means my internal area is really quite small.


Great work and will keep an eye out for your developments.





post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi Gavlar,


You really need to leave at least a 1 inch gap in between the fire brick and any other brick, be it partition block, face brick, etc...  The firebrick gets very hot and as such, expands.  Not leaving space in between these layers can cause the mortar joints to fail or brick to crack when under expansion.  I left around 1.5 inches of space in between my fire brick and face brick and filled it with vermiculite to act as an insulation barrier.  Other people have used different types of insulation with success... this is just what I chose.  I hope this answers your question!




post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


Looking for some advice:  I am going to weld the doors to their frames tomorrow, via hinges, of course.  When doing that would it be smart to first put my door gasket on?  I purchased fireblack125 gasket that is 1/8" in thickness.  It is quite pliable and my through was to leave it out when welding... which would allow for a much more secure and tighter fit when the door is closed.  Thoughts?

post #14 of 17

I would probably leave them out and allow for a tighter fit.   My brother built mine with 0 clearance so I had no room for  a gasket.   


When smoking I usually open the upper damper enough that I don't have smoke coming out the doors, that way I know I have a free flow of smoke.  The nice thing about smoking with wood is the fact our heat source is also our smoke source so nothing is lost.    Even thought my doors are zero clearance they are not air tight.

post #15 of 17
I concur. No gasket for mine either. Like Wes, I don't think I have ever seen any smoke sneaking out through the doors. If the airflow is proper, everything will flow up and out.
post #16 of 17

REALLY NICE SET UP!  I have followed Wes and it is turning very nice and just ending. ready to season. Look for Nebraska style.

very professional job and cant go bad with Wes!! -a very good man he is.


I wish I could change many items when I finished but it was space available and $$. thanks Wes!

post #17 of 17

P.S. more and more  neighbors are complaining of smoke before you build or smoke in the cooler months.

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