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Building Charcoal smoker out of freezer

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Here's the start of the latest project.

Building a smoker out of an older upright freezer. The main fuel will be charcoal, but also adding a 1500W electric element and PID controller. Aluminum interior and exterior with 2" of fiberglass insulation in between. I'm hoping to reach 325 for smoking poultry.

Outside dimensions are 51"H x 24"W x 24"D. The inside dimensions will be 40"H x 20"W x 22"D.

4 cooking racks and 1 water pan rack. Racks will be 20" x 22". This gives 1760 sqin of usable cooking area.

If things go as planned (usually don't icon_smile.gif), I want to get temps close with charcoal and bump it with the element for even temp control.

The charcoal will go in a chargriller side firebox. I guess this smoker would be more of a vertical offset.

Here's a few pics of the start. I'll be collecting materials and hacking away at it over the next month icon_smile.gif.

Removed the old liner and foam insulation. Used a torch to burn out any leftover foam residue. Riveted .062" thick aluminum to the exterior to add some strength. Aluminum sheet is from a local salvage yard so looks kinda scuzzy, but will clean it up and paint later.

Here's where the firebox will eventually go.

Fun project so far, I'll post more in-progress pics as it goes PDT_Armataz_01_01.gif. Tomorrow I'll start building in the liner.
post #2 of 33
Looks good so far Dave keep keep the pics coming.
post #3 of 33
Looka pretty darn good so far Dave! Good fab work on the aluminum.


Keep us posted!
post #4 of 33
Looks like it will be a very nice, well thought out build. I am looking forward to seeing it progress.
post #5 of 33

This gives me an idea.

Hey nice looking project.

Recently i was out looking around our sheds here, seeing what could be tossed onto a bonfire when i came across our old upright freezer. I think ours is around the same size. I thought hmmmmm that could make a good smoker, just wasn't sure which way to go.
I think you have given me some inspiration ! PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #6 of 33
Looks cool.

I saw something similar in a book a few years ago and always thought it would be neat to take an old refrigerator and/or oven to make a smoker.
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys...I'm hoping it turns out ok..lol.

I'm just glad the aluminum cuts easily with table and miter saws. I don't have a brake, so bending the corners in place with the old mallet and 2x4 technology icon_smile.gif.

I'm not exactly sure how to attack the liner, but will get it in there. Will hopefully update with more pics later PDT_Armataz_01_26.gif.
post #8 of 33
Looks very good I have been thinking along the same lines but cannot find a old fridg. or frez. but I do have a 1000 gallon Lp tank???????? but not alot of time to work on it though......keep the updates coming please.I do have a line on a 10'x10' shipping container I was thinking of useing for cold smoking...........all metal, double doors....ummm my wife know I am crazy so theres no problem there she just smiles and goes back in the house (very good women) in all honesty we both just love to see the other happy.Best of luck with your project.
post #9 of 33
looks good keep us postedPDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #10 of 33

Same project....just about 2 months behind you...

Looks great. Two weeks ago I took my old (50 yrs old) refridge apart. Took out the compressor, the insulation and anything else that I felt didnt below.

I was going to powerwash to get the rest of the instulation out, but I like your idea of burning it out. I will powerwash after. I will post my progress as well.

I have a couple of questions as your pics/plans are the best I have seen online.

- Was the added alumumn only for structure or for added insulation properties

- My refridge lining seems to have an enamal paint on it. Did yours as well? If so, did you try and remove the "paint".

- What did you use to insulate the walls?

I look forward to see your progress.

post #11 of 33
HEy Doug... Welcome to SMF from Lake Orion area. Stop into the Roll Call forum and give us a bit of an introduction... experience, smoker type, etc. Kind of a tradition...like smoking meats :{)
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks Terry, already had to change plans on the liner icon_smile.gif. Was going to put angle and individual panels inside, now going to build the interior box separately then fit it in the exterior box after.

That would be one whopper of a smoker! You could just walk the cow right in icon_smile.gif. My girl is the same way except she also does the head shaking thing too. biggrin.gif.

Hi Doug...I wasn't going to put the aluminum on the outside, but the walls were kinda thin and needed some support after pulling out the blown in foam insulation. I had extra sheet so figured why not use it up.

The liner was a b*tch to pull out. It was metal and glued right into the foam. Thought I got lucky and the metal would have fiberglass under it, no luck. The box was the size I wanted, so yanked it all out. The foam is only good for a couple hundred degrees. Chunked and scraped out most of it, lit up the rest and brushed out the ash.

I'm going to insulate it with fiberglass insulation.

The paint on the liner was tough stuff, the torch hardly made a mark on it unless I heated the hell out of it. I don't know what the material is, but I pulled it anyways. Seems lots of folks use the enameled liner for smoking so you might be ok. I just don't know a lot about it.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
Made some progress today, got the liner together. icon_smile.gif

Here's a few pics.

Bent edges and laid in a bead of hi-temp RTV adhesive to seal it up, then riveted the seams.

Placed it in the box to checkout the fit, lines up great with a couple inches all around for insulation.

Will post more as it goes icon_smile.gif.
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
Got a little further. Still need to mount the electronics, door and firebox, but getting there :). I'll find more time next week to finish.

Aluminum angle to support the liner and give an even 2" spacing for the insulation.

Added the insulation.

Liner going in, used some extra sheet metal to help keep the insulation in place while fitting it in. Kinda like a shoe horn.

Cut out access to element connections and thermocouple wire. I'll cove these with a plate after.

Aluminum trim on. Still need to add a few more rivets and cut out the interior stack and firebox openings, but in place.

More later :).
post #15 of 33
That should work good for ya . keep us posted, and be sure to post the first Q off of that thing. Good Luck.
post #16 of 33

Refrigerator smoker


Great work, I am impressed. In case you decide one day to produce fermented sausages (salami), now it may be the right time to give it some thought.
Have a look at the link below that deals with the equipment which is needed for making fermented sausages at home conditions. May be you will find something useful. The idea of using computer fan for drying is pretty interesting.

post #17 of 33
Nice clean looking work there Dave. A darned site better looking than the burned out version of the earlier interior. Have you decided on your heat source yet? Should be alot easier to cut in than the porcelain enamel I had to deal with.
Looking good!

Just a side note; I was passing by a local apple orchard today and stopped in for a 1/2 bushel of apples and to inquire about the trimming refuse a nice sized orchard has to offer. I struck gold there. Guy offered me all the wood I could carry away for nothing.

While we were talking I was telling him about my recent fridge project and he takes me over to his shed and shows me this 1950ish commercial deep freez locker that went south on him.

One thing led to another and, well, it looks like I'll have another project coming up soon. I thought it'd be a lil rude to snap a pic of it right there but It is a perfect model for a botton fire pit. It's certainly a heavy one. I'll probably be picking it up in a couple weeks. I figured I'd cook him a nice butt for the freezer and future benefits of a nice apple wood source.
post #18 of 33
I guess I must have missed this post when it was fresh. That build is awesome! Nicely done.
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks Josh :).

I lost the part 2 thread, so I'll add the rest of the build.

Here is the finish.

Mounted the firebox, stack and started building out the inside shelves. Brackets are 1.5" aluminum angle. Stack is a rolled and riveted scrap piece of aluminum.

Stripped out the door and rebuilt. I used some small aluminum blocks for spacers between the inner and outer door. The gasket is a soft silicon rubber cord held on with Hi-Temp Permatex gasket adhesive.

Not sure if we still have a 10 pic limit, so will break it up. Continued in next post :).
post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 
Continued :).

Door mounted.

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