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My New "Old" Smokehouse Construction

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

I posted here  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/232880/need-advise-on-1st-smokehouse-build

a few months back wanting DaveOmak to comment. Didn’t hear from him so I went with what I thought would be the best application for me. I figured it was just as easy to build a small one as it was to build a larger one.


I didn’t use any plans, just built it as I went. I went with this size so it would fit on my utility trailer if I wanted to move it. I own my on property but couldn't decide on its location. I thought it could be made "portable" so I could haul it to different events if I wanted to. Plus this way I would get more cooking area out of it. So I put it on treated skids, so it would be easier to relocate.


I wanted the Smokehouse to appear Old so I used mostly old oak from an Old Building that was taken down in Fruitvale Texas for the frame and 6” tongue & groove taken from the ceiling, for the outside of smokehouse.  The 2X4 s are rough cut and actual 2X4 in dimension.


So I started laying it out making sure all was level and squared up. I started with 4 X 6 treated skids for portability.The Skid was the only treated wood used on build.


Designs I based the look and function of My Smokehouse on are:


Pops6927 http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/88853/found-a-burner-for-smokehouse

jarjarchef  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/136196/not-so-mini-smokehouse-build-w-pics

Hagisan  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/135339/smokehouse-build

kenn1320 http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/174038/michigan-insulated-smoke-house

Or this one: http://animalscience.uconn.edu/extension/publications/build_smokehouse.pdf

Thanks to all above for inspiring me.


Dimensions are 4'x5'x7 ½ '. I used slanted cuts of wood for strength mainly but in the end like the way it looks too.


Layed out the skid making sure all level and square


Used 4x6 and 4x4 treated pieces I had laying around for cross braces and nailed in with barn nails.

Layed out bottom of Smokehouse with some old 2X6 I had in barn.

I was driving and missed my turn and while turning around, I noticed a man with a lot of old barn wood in his yard. I stopped to ask if it was for sale, thinking all he could do was say yes or no, and spotted this old batten barn door. He sold it to me for $5. I grabbed it up, paid him, and drove off before he could change his mind.

The door was semi strong but thinking of how much it would be opened and closed, I decided to put a 2x4 frame on the back of it to strengthen it up. Fame in picture is just laying on a plywood table. Plywood is not part of the door. As you can see, I'm using deck screws on construction. I think they are way better than nails and believe if old timers had access to them, they would have preferred them to nails too.

I got lost in the build for a time and forgot to take pictures. As soon as I remembered to take pics, I was to this stage. I'm also working by myself so Im using the T posts, at this point, as a helping hand for roof rafter support.

I installed door frame temporarily to make sure all was level and square and attached cross braces to hold it that way. I also measured cross cornered on base and top to make sure measurements were same. I used untreated plywood for roof of Smokehouse. I also built a access door to the rear of Smokehouse so I could use full barn door on front.

6” tongue & groove attached to all sides. I used the same angle on the boards as the angle of the roof. Boards at a 45 just didnt look as good ad board angle matching the roof angle, to me. Some of the old tounge & groove has some of the tongue missing, as pic shows some small spaces viewing from inside out. I started to batten it from inside but after reading DaveOmak's comments on this issue from other threads, might leave it alone so it can breath. Comments?

Outside mostly completed, boards need trimmed, with floor registers as vents.

Checking door jam fit. I did decide to design an roof overhand on this build. It will overhang 16" when finished. It will help in keeping rain out of Smokehouse and give it a little uniqueness. 1¼" holes will be drilled at each end of skid 4 X 6's for installation of a horizontal 1'' "sucker rod" to use for towing the Smokehouse.

Attached door, roof supports and some old used corrugated metal for roof. I patched any existing holes in metal roofing before I installed it. I was going to trim corners with 1" trim but when I placed it before attaching, it took away from the lines of the angles of the boards. I like it better untrimmed.

Is that smoke? Yes it is. I couldn't wait until I could afford the meat to put in it, so I fired up a small potbelly stove I had in barn, to test how she smoked.

It was raining this day and all wood was wet, plus I watched it the whole time to make sure my potbelly stove inside wasn't creating a disaster. I am thinking of installing a heat shield to the inside bottom 3rd of walls, of some type, before completion to make sure that when I use either the potbelly stove or a burner inside, that all is adequately fire protected.

A little smoke escaping from the boards where the tongue is missing.

Potbelly is sitting on an old discarded aluminum street sign that with a little work, and some some removable 2X12's, will be the floor to keep out varmits.

I got the potbelly fired up as much as it would go to check highest temp and volume of smoke. Smoke was great  and temp got up to 150F . Temp stayed for 2 hrs with door shut and smoke needed a little addition of wood to keep it up, but overall Ok.

Smokehouse mostly finished on outside. Still going to add wood racks, as others have done, under roof.

The old building had square nails in the wood and from doing some research it seems this dates the wood from the old building to pre 1900s. http://www.appaltree.net/aba/nails.htm and when an early wrought iron nail corrodes, or rusts, it leaves a black stain in the wood around the nail hole. Newer nails because of their composition leaves a red stain around the nail hole.

I built this Smokehouse with materials I had already stored around my farm. The only expense I had was buying around $75 worth of deck screws and the $5 door. I have all I need to finish inside also.


I'm still experimenting with different heat sources. Im thinking of adding a 4X8 oven glass viewing window in front door. Also thinking of installing an old ceramic light fixture inside for light, when needed. Any thoughts?


Small potbelly can maintain 150 for a few hours but I’m planning on installing a permanent black pipe thru outside wall to inside for propane burner, when needed.


I know from reading other threads on this forum, and others, that this question is controversial but..............I've done some research that suggests it is OK to use Durock brand Next Gen Cement Board or even corrugated metal, or both, for a heat shield in bottom inside of Smokehouse as long as the meat doesn't come in contact with either. I am thinking of going this direction. Any new thoughts?


I will start on inside soon and post pics as the build progresses.


Thanks to all who inspired me.

Edited by Outlaw2015 - 9/16/15 at 7:47am
post #2 of 45
what an awesome smokehouse... my suggestion would be.. leave the inside like it is... what's the max temp you plan on using ??
post #3 of 45
Thread Starter 

Thank you JD! I was thinking max 225° F . I was thinking since it is made of wood, I might need a heat shield of some sort for the heat source, it being inside the smokehouse. My research shows wood temps at 230° to 302° F (110° C to 150° C), The wood will char over time with the formation of charcoal. If the heat is not dissipated there is some possibility of spontaneous combustion.

Edited by Outlaw2015 - 9/14/15 at 6:04pm
post #4 of 45
Looks great. I like the lines of it. If it was mine id line the inside with concrete board. Onces cured good you wont be able to see the beauty of the wood anyways so why not protect it and make it so you can hot smoke 225+ if wanted.
post #5 of 45

Awesome build. Thanks for taking lots of pics! I enjoyed looking at them.

post #6 of 45
Thread Starter 

Thank you bmudd & Humdinger. I'm really enjoying building it!

post #7 of 45
You didn't need my advice... That is a perfect design smoke house... Very nicely engineered... and I love the ship-lap boards... using that building technique, you probably don't need the exhaust port... let the boards breathe, like the smokers of years ago would have done...

post #8 of 45
Thread Starter 

Thanks DaveOmak! I take your comments as the ultimate compliment. What is your opinion on using cement board as a heat shield in bottom inside of Smokehouse for protection from combustion?

post #9 of 45
Cement board absorbs moisture... I would think about 18-24 gauge steel and hang it as a "heat-shield"... maybe even metal roofing... maybe 1" off of the studs.. an "air gap" to stop radiant heat from torching the smoker.. as long as air flows freely behind the steel sheet, your smoker will be fine... the air gap thing needs space at the bottom and sides to allow for air flow... as the steel heats up, so does the air behind it... and air currents draft to remove the heat..

If you decide on cement board, space it away from the wall also.... cement gets hot and will torch wood that's behind it.. I have cement board lining one of my smokers... I sure takes a long time to get up to temperature... lots of thermal mass and moisture..

The heat shield probably doesn't need to go more than 6-12 inches above the heat source... Run the smoker without a heat shield... check the temp of the wood using an IR therm...

You will need an air gap heat shield on the floor also, if you use that wood stove.....
post #10 of 45
Thread Starter 

Thank you sir! Your comments on the shield and my ideas on the shield are going in the same direction. I was planning on using metal drywall studs, which are about 1" thick, as spacers between the shield and the wood studs with 1" at bottom to move the heated air away. Same on floor.

post #11 of 45
That will work...
post #12 of 45
Thread Starter 


Drilled out 5 levels of dowel hangers on 3" centers and spaced the @ 8" apart, for each side wall. I make quite a bit of Jerky so I can go back and add more 4" apart, if needed.


I'm planning on using 1" rebar instead of wooden dowels, but until I can locate some I'll use these canes. Who knows, if they work well might keep them.

I also read in a forum somewhere where a builder added 1 level of dowel hangers to top most roof from front to back and I had leftover materials so I added them as well. Temp gauge in picture is just temporary placed there. The light you see in picture appears to show way larger cracks in wall than they actually are. Sun was on this wall when pics were taken and camera picked up more than the eye can see.

I also attached 4X4" hog panels to full roof rafters, with 2" fence staples for hanging S-hooks or chain and such as needed to hang smoking items.

post #13 of 45
The openings between the board should be more than enough exhaust space and it will provide uniform heat inside the smoker...
post #14 of 45

Lots of ingenious ideas and ways to hang stuff in that smoker. I especially love the hog panels..once again, well done!

post #15 of 45

Dang it Outlaw that looks flipping awesome!!! Very nice build!! :points:


A full smoker is a happy smoker - you and your smoker will be very happy very soon I am sure. 



post #16 of 45
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the comments Humdinger, driedstick &DaveOmak! 

I got the 5/8"Type X gypsum wallboard "shield" installed today 1" gap on bottom.

Gonna try and get floor finished tomorrow and it might be overkill but I'm thinking of adding the 2nd "shield" made of heavy corrugated metal with a 1" metal stud  between metal and wallboard. I just want to do all I can to protect the heat source area from ignition especially if I have to go with a propane burner to get the heat I'm looking for.


I'm gonna test a potbelly stove I have ASAP that is 30" tall and should put out twice the heat & smoke that the little one pictured above did.

post #17 of 45

Fantastic! Definitely interested in seeing the finished product. I love the idea of having a portable smokehouse so I am curious as to how you plan to heat the house. The same stove you have been using to test it out?

post #18 of 45
Thread Starter 

BigPhillyStyle, I 'm actually testing a couple potbelly stoves to see what temp I can get. 1st one (above) reached max of 150 F. I'm testing a much larger PB right now.

I'm gonna test it for 4 hrs checking temps every 30 mins.

Its 90 F here today. 1st hr, good smoke, 150 F

I want to build up and great bed of coals in the PB and see what max temp I can get.

If I cant get 225 F out of the PBs, next I'm gonna try two different propane burners I have with cast iron skillet on top of burner using wood chunks or pellets for smoke or use an AMNPS.


In other words, I'm still experimenting with heat and smoke source to find what best works for me.

post #19 of 45
Thread Starter 

These will be the propane burners I'll test in a few days. If one of them work to my liking I will hard pipe it int thru the wall of smokehouse.

post #20 of 45

Outlaw2015 thanks for the quick response! 


It will be interesting to see how well your second PB works considering how large the house is. I have heard in the past that (at least for hot smoking) the firebox would need to be at least a 1/3 the size of the smoking chamber.


Well I wish you luck in your test runs! Keep me updated!

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