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First Time Wood Smoker, Looking for Tips

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My first ever wood fired smoker is almost complete. However, with this kick butt smoker coming close to completion I do have to admit I do not have any experience smoking anything unless it has been done with propane or electric. I have read on here how people burn down the wood before adding it to the chamber, I have not smoked with wood yet, and just looking for tips/advice before I do my first smoke with my wood fired smoker.

Here is a pic from early days just so u can get an idea of what it looks like: (by the way anyone following the bbq competion we will have updated pics coming soon)

post #2 of 4

congrats on the smoker

Many more here more experienced than I but I have been smoking for a couple of years and just replaced smoker I had and sold during move.

This is what basics work for me. I use charcoal for even heat and add wood for flavor. Just a stick or two at a time to keep heat where I want it. Never use lighter fluid in your smoker, as it tastes terrible and no use taking that chance with good meat. I usually only smoke roasts and briskets about 4 hrs and then wrap in foil till internal temp is what I want.

Turkeys and chicken I cook more quickly to get them up to temp faster and past the stage of unsafe. I usually run these around 300-350 degrees but while I havent had a problem some here may want you to go hotter. I like apple wood but since my move it is not easily available so I will be trying oak and maybe another fruit wood if I can find it.

Ribs 225-250 degrees is good for me until meat pulls up the bone about 1/4 inch. Hope this helps.

post #3 of 4
Before cooking on your grill for the first time, build a fire in it and let it burn for a full day. This will season your pit and give it a good smell and add flavor to the meat. This will also give you an idea on how much wood you will need and for how long you can cook with X amount of wood.

When I am getting ready to cook with my pit, I build the fire inside the firebox, let it die down a little, stabilize - then close the air vent or add more wood as needed. It usually takes an hour and a half before my pit is ready to cook on. A pit your size will take a lot less time then mine.

The temp I aim for is about 225, held for about 20 - 30 minutes before I put the meat on. At first the temp might go up to 300+ for an little while, then drop down to where I need it. Use that 300+ time to wire brush the grill and remove and residue from the last time you cooked on it. When that grease is hot it will be easier to brush off.
post #4 of 4
PotatoC; from my experience with a stick burner,by looking at your pic. I would say you'll need a good tuning plate to keep from having a real hot spot over where the smoke tubes come from the bottom barrel to the top barrel. Also where does the stack come out? if you use a solid plate to deflect the heat to the ends of the top barrel your stack should be in the middle of the top to let the smoke flow over the product you are cooking. Then as the others said run a test fire in it with therms. placed in cooking chamber to monitor for hot spots or evenness of the cooking area. I have a center firebox 300 gal. barrel smoker and unless I want to cook at HI temps I cannot use the area over the firebox to smoke on. Just my opinion.
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