I've been lurking around for a short while, but decided to get involved in the discussion and gain from your insight. As a born and raised Texan living in Indonesia, it has become obvious if I am to enjoy the flavor of home, it's time for me to become proficient at smoking my own meat. Since I had never smoked meat myself, and I couldn't find a solution I likes in stores, I did what any man in my position would do: dove headfirst into the internet, then emerged and built my first smoker.
I decided to take a stroll through some local shops and see if I could find anything useful. The design I settled on was inspired by the mini wsm builds. This particular design consists of two steel pots with lids (one big and one smallish). I cut out the rim of the smaller lid and fastened it to the base of the upper pot so that it would sit correctly on top of the lower pot. Total cost approx $45 USD.
I cut out holes around the bottom of the upper pot to allow air flow, but leaving a large plate to act as the diffuser. I couldn't find any circular grates, but one of my neighbors is an amazing welder and he built a grate to my specification for a fair price. The grate is about 22" diameter.
Add in two holes on the bottom pot for air intake.
And the remains of the smaller lid fitted to the larger lid with matching holes that can be twisted to close or open as needed. Also drilled a hole for a thermometer brought in from the states.
I also found a circular wire frame cookie cooling rack and paired that with a modified cookie tin to make a charcoal holder that allows for adequate air flow and lets the dust fall to the bottom of the pot. (pictured with the remains of last night's fire that I shut off after 7 hours)
Finally, the base to hold everything off the ground, and I put a line of high temp felt around the rim of both lid parts to try to prevent smoke exiting prematurely. So far I have smoked a small brisket (at least that's what the butcher said it was) with questionable sucess - not bad for a first run, but I can do better - and a handful of iga sapi (beef ribs) which turned out quite satisfactorily. In my tests and live runs I have been able to hold close to 225F consistently using small squares of coconut charcoal for upwards of 8 hours using the minion method. I am planning to modify the air inlets to hopefully allow for more air and better control, but it has been workable thus far. I also plan to have an additional grate made that can be installed below the main grate to allow for more meat.
An additional perk is that after I pull off the smoked meat, I can remove the upper pot and place the grate directly on the lower pot to grill burgers.
As far as smoke goes, I'm not exactly sure what the best choice is for my part of the world. My first attempts have been with seasoned coconut shell - I like the smell and the flavor has been nice, but I'd love to try some of the many varieties of fruit trees in the area as well. Suggestions would be welcome.
Well, that's it. Thoughts? Suggestions? What rookie mistakes have I made? What improvements should I try?