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A little help on offsets

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I read a post and now I have more questions. When I joined this site, I was sure that I was going to go electric as far a smoker goes, just because it was a set it and forget it kinda thing. I did not understand the wood method and figured it was just too time consuming and hard to get and hold accurate temps. Now a few months later, and reading many many posts and help from several members, I am set on using wood as my heat source. I have already gotten the material for building an offset. This morning I read a post about using a barrel, (burn barrel) to make coals then shovel them in your smoker and use them for heat and 'the thin blue smoke". Please correct me if Im wrong here, but dont most offset smokers simply build the fire in the sidebox and burn the wood down to embers and add a stick every now and then to maintain?
post #2 of 19


but dont most offset smokers simply build the fire in the sidebox and burn the wood down to embers and add a stick every now and then to maintain?
YES! Some of the Purists here want to get the sticks burning before putting in the firebox but it isn't necessary.

post #3 of 19
I don't think it is a purist thing as much as it is a consistancy thing. When you burn down to embers, your temperature and smoke quantity won't vary as much. When you use unburned wood, the wood has to go through all of the stages before it is consumed. Preburning reduces oversmoke and the wrong kind of smoke. It also keeps your temperature from spiking. But, it's a heck of a lot of work that most people chose not to do.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Im sure the answer to this is yes, but does some company make a unit that has a firebox integrated into the design? Meaning, the smoker/grill part where the food goes, the offset next to it like most offsets but also a firebox for making coal should one choose to go old school? Also, when it comes to pre-burned wood, when I think of pre burned wood, I think of wood that has been burnt up. Or are you just charring it some. Im going to look around the board as thats what I should do so as not to clog up the board, but anyone wanting to chime in on this go right ahead.
post #5 of 19
I never preburn any of my wood I just throw it in and close down my vents if it trys to burn to hot but most of the time it's not needed.
post #6 of 19
I do not preburn my wood either.... just add wood when needed. You get a feel for how much or how large of a stick you need to add to keep the temperature level.
Like Texas Smoker said... I use my vents for more control.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey there cowgirl. I thought you left the forum. Have not seen you on here since the restore. When you do add a stick now and then, I assume that the stick is going to catch fire? No? Smolder? Does a temperature spike happen when you do that?
post #8 of 19
Heck no Meat Hunter... I'm still here. PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif My smoker has a damper in between the firebox and the cooking chamber. I close it down when needed.
You really do get a feel for your smoker and know what it takes to keep it going steady. I hope you decide to try a wood burner. icon_cool.gif
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Yes I have decided to go with wood. Going back to the salvage yard in the morning to look for a nice burn box and some misc stuff. Ya know when I first joined this site, I was set on electric, only cuz I did not understand the fundamentals of a wood unit. Pretty confident now. Yeah I had not seen any of your posts, usually see some, thats why I thought you boggied out of here. I think there are some that left and I have not seen any of them posting. I think the restore of the site was more than they could bear. Sometime this week, we are supossed to have decent weather, so I am anxious to get started on this smoker. For sure will have some pics post as she comes together.
post #10 of 19
Meat Hunter, you must have missed my smoked cod post....

Posted another one on smoked cod spread too. biggrin.gif

Looking forward to seeing what you build, hope you take lots of pictures for us. icon_cool.gif :)
post #11 of 19
If I have the time, I like to make a fairly large fire and let it burn down so I have a very hot base of embers. Then when you need to add wood, it catches right away and reduces the amount of time that it smolders with bad smoke.

For a faster start up I light 5 lbs of cheapo briquettes surrounded by 10 or so chunks of wood. When the briquettes turn gray, the wood is smoking nicely, and also makes a very hot base.

When I need to raise temps as the fire starts dying, I like to add a handful of lump and a couple of chunks near the hottest part of the embers. I think it is easier to maintain temps with a mixture of wood and lump rather than wood alone. But I do it both ways depending whats on hand.

Like Cowgirl said, its mostly about getting to know your individual smoker. Once you two get to know each other, its just like using the oven.

I always cook with the exhaust wide open, controlling temps with the size of the fire and the intake dampers.

Also if you add wood and its getting some white smoke, open it up all the way and let the air flow through. Its better to have a bit of a high temperature for a while than bad smoke.
post #12 of 19
If you're building one, I have a good tip for you.
Something I did with mine quite by accident, but it works quite well.

Leave youself some room above the firebox..maybe even make a nice flat space right on the top of the steel. A space big enough for a couple of splits.

It allows you to "preburn" right on top of your firebox.
About a half hour before you think you might want to add wood, place the new splits right on top of your firebox. This will allow the new wood a chance to heat up before adding it. That prevents the wood from putting off that nasty smoke it usually does when it first starts to catch.

Just be sure you are using welding gloves or something similar because the wood will be pipping hot. I have had a few sticks catch fire sitting on top of the box if I didn't watch them.

Keeps my smoke nice and clean without wasting the woods BTUs by pre-burning in a barrel.

BTW..Good choice going with a wood burner. I've owned Electric, Gas, Charcoal, and Stick Burners, and in my humble opinion, there is no substitute for real sticks.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Ok, I have a question for you, what is the design of that firebox? I see a door on the right, but whats going on up on top? Is that like a covered pre-burner area?
post #14 of 19
A door on top and on the side. Heres a better pic in case I'm not understanding the question.

post #15 of 19


Looks like it has hinged top and side door.
I use a new braunfuls off set and it is not classified as a stick burner but i use splits in it all the time . I get a good bed of lump going then add just 1 or 2 splits at a time as needed to maintain smoke and temps while adjusting the dampers and exhaust.
also have a watt burner and it is so easy when you don't feel like tending a fire. Just add a small hand full of chips every so often.
I will have to admit that the smokes do taste better off the stick fire.
post #16 of 19
I injoy looking for the next stick. I'll look at the whole stack. A damper between the firebox and pit seems to help. Been using the top of the firebox to cook other foods.
post #17 of 19
Yep, I found this out right after I added the flat top to the CGSP firebox. It has those gaps between the firebox and the flat surface... I put splits in there and they heat nicely. And like you noted, one must be diligent or they can indeed catch fire.
post #18 of 19
With my CGSP I usually start a chimney of Kingsford, throw another chimney of Kingsford next to it in the firebox, and use wood for the rest of the grill. I have my therm set at 217 so when the temp drops throw some more wood on, temps usually don't wander too far above 245 for more than a a min, still well within low n' slow territory :)
post #19 of 19


I have been spreading the rumors of ease and managability of Pre-burning woodrolleyes.gif . And I have been doing it for a long time, however it wasn't ME(regret)that came up with the barrel design. I think it was Sloflacker, in Fla.
Anyhow ,This is the best(IMHO) way to get and KEEP steady temps. and TBSicon_exclaim.gif
Being a Native Texan(if that means anything),I am very anal about the way I cook my meat.And the Pre-burn method is so easy and is a proven way to manage a fire in the SFB.
I cook at appox.220*F for everything,and my smokes come out good (most the time-I fall asleep or get wasted and forget things now and then,but that's another story).Bagged ANYTHING is a sacrement to my way of smoking because of the off flavor it produces.Good cured wood is Paramont to Good QUE. In my opinion, Bagged fuel is CACA!biggrin.gif It is not a factor in my cooking any more... The Thanksgiving Hasm I did was an embarrassment to me (i did it in my Bullet and used some RO and ruined the whole thing-really funky taste. It got chopped/ground for salads and spreads(with a lot of flavors to cover my screw-up.LOL
If you have a source of good wood(as stated in your thread) USE ITrolleyes.gif
You'll probabaly never go back to the other "stuff"!
Look around at some of my post and see my barrel ,OR go to the Pre-Burn Barrel post in the search section.
Happy Smokes
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