Starting the Smoke House

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by speedsk899, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. Like I said in my introduction I am going to build a smoke house and I have started getting materials together. Its going to take a little while as I am milling all the wood.

    Here is what I said in my introduction "I am an amateur smoker who uses a smoker grill many times a year to smoke up pork loin, deer back strap/loins, chicken, etc. I have decided that I want to step it up a bit and I am going to build a smoke house. Mainly I want to start making deer sausage and once up and running maybe start doing some fish.

    I can not bring myself to take a deer to a processor to be made into sausage. I try to only take doe (because I eat everything I shoot). It bothers me that the processor throws everything in the same pot, including that trophy buck that tastes like crap, and makes sausage from it. I want the deer that I took. I fully process all my own deer anyway so making the sausage seems logical to me. (sorry for the rant)

    My plan is a 4'X4'X6' "out house" looking smoker built on an old pile or dirt/gravel I have. The elevated house will allow me to put a 55 gallon drum (fire box) level with the ground and route the pipe through the pile and up into the bottom center of the smoke house.

    I plan to make two layers of cinder block at the bottom and build the house on top of that. 6" pipe from the drum to the house with a damper close to the fire box. Adjustable vents at the top front of the house. I am going to use poplar wood that I am going to mill myself (have plenty of polar around that needs cut) and a tin roof. Trying to keep as many chemicals out of the construction as possible.

    I think I have a pretty sound plan for the construction but if anyone has any ideas please let me know."

    This weekend I stated milling some boards to make the studs for the walls.

    If anyone has any questions or comments please let me know. The project is going to take a little while because I can not dedicate full time to it. I will keep the pictures coming though!
  2. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic


    Great start I will be watching your progress.I have plans also for the near future to build a smokehouse.Have fun and keep up the good work.

    speedsk899 likes this.
  3. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  4. I'll tag along for the ride too  [​IMG]
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    In "Old Fashioned" style smoke houses, consider a board and batten siding, so the smoke house breathes.... Then there will be no need for vents.... Worked well for the "Old Timers".... also consider 1 or 2 more rows of cinder blocks to allow for more mixing of air and smoke.... Also in the "Old Designs", they allowed a way to let heat escape from the fire area so the heat didn't have to enter the smoke house.... An opening in the drum to allow for heat to escape while still letting smoke naturally draft through the underground pipe would be a consideration... that particular design still allows for smoke and very good air flow through the smoker without "cooking" the meat in the event you need to cold smoke, as opposed to a warm smoke.....

    Love the idea of milling your own wood.... very cool...
    speedsk899 likes this.
  6. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice project, I'm in !!
  7. I have considered board and batten for the siding but that would almost double the amount of wood I need to cut. I am planning on using a shiplap joint (I've added a picture below) for all of the siding. My reason is this is all rough cut lumber that will not be going through a kiln. I assume the moisture content of the wood will probably settle in the 30-40% somewhere (I believe this is common for southern Indiana) so the wood is going to move a lot. Considering it is going to be outside in the weather I think using non-kiln dried boards is probably the best way to go. The shiplap joint should allow for expand/contract of each board I would think. I am not a woodworker by any means so if I am way off please let me know.

    I am building the base of the house with two layers of cinder block mortared together. I plan to partially fill the holes with gravel then finish with cement to set lag bolts into for mounting the house to.

    I forgot to put too much in about my ideas for the firebox and the point you made is one of my ideas. I am going to use a 55 gal drum on its side as the fire box. I am going to get a lid and ring so that I can remove the entire front for easy cleaning. I will fab a door and adjustable vent into the lid. The 6" pipe will exit the rear of the drum and I will have a damper there as well. The last part is what I am calling a smoke stack. I have planned on adding it for more control just as you said (I took a picture of my grill as an example, added below).

    shiplap joint

    Have also though about getting the bit to make the extra V as above.....

    Smoke Stack
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Have also though about getting the bit to make the extra V as above.....

    I have seen that "curved" relief cut made...... On a table saw, raise the blade about 1/8" above the table.... Push the board at an angle across the blade..... angle of "push" determines the width of the relief..... set up guides on the table to repeat the size of relief you are looking for..... If you have wide boards, you can do 2 reliefs on each board.... or more...
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
  9. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic

    With that green of wood doing shiplap just mite end up a nightmare with shirinking and cracking ?You will more then likely have to Bat it later on any way.

    I have to say I have never used poplar so maybe my above comments do not matter.I have built over 25 log homes also Post and Beam projects using  Cedar and Knotty Pine siding that was shiplap or board and bat.

    The home I live in now I built 2 years ago the whole roof is T and G red cedar with Teak beams.This country has no idea about kiln dried lumber.I bought 2 semi loads of 8x8 green blocks and had it milled her locally.The locals here told me I had to use shiplap after trashing over $10k in ruined and twisted lumber.I made them go to T and G I had the router bits air mailed in.

    Check with a small local lumber mill or lumber yard ( not a box store) there should always be a old timer around who knows how local wood behaves.

    I do really like your project and looking forward to seeing it done.I just wanted to throw out some things you mite want to look into.

  10. Good idea! Thanks
  11. When you say "green" do you mean that the tree was recently still living? or just that it was just recently milled? The reason I ask is this tree has been down for over two years. The root ball and everything went over. Over a year ago I cut the base of the tree from the root ball and it has been laying there off the ground ever since. This is where I appreciate the help because of my inexperience. I have the boards stacked with 1" spacers about every 12" to try and keep them flat and the air moving. I am going to put them in my basement where the humidity stays below 40% for a little while to see if it will take out some of the moisture.

    All the old barns out here are built with poplar. It doesn't need painted or treated as long as it doesn't touch the ground. Some of these barns have been standing for 100 years. You cant drive a nail in to old poplar its so hard.

    Would you suggest going T and G (I assume that means tongue and groove)? That would like a lot of work! haha
  12. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic

    Green wood is cut from still living or recently living wood.In your pics and first post it looked like you was harvesting new trees and cutting them into planks.Since you are over 2 years and air drying even more you will be in great shape. On log homes I used standing dead Spruce trees that had been dead a min of 2 years.

    I would go with board and bat if it was mine I like that old school look for barns plus very easy to replace a board at any time down the road if needed.If I was to make a choice between  shiplap or T&G it would be T&G.By using T&G it will cut down on twisting and buckeling.I would also use deck screws not nails.

    As for your Fire box, Vents and overall operation of your smokehouse listen to DaveOmak and others like him.I have picked up some great advice and info from him and others on here for planing my smokehouse.

    Keep the pics coming your operating style of smokehouse is close the same way I am going.I can learn from you.

  13. I apologize I didn't explain the state of the tree I was cutting but that is good news! I had not thought about what if I needed to change a board out.......going board and batten is looking more like the way to go even if it takes more wood. I do plan on using screws. Thanks for the help!
  14. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic


    Probaly the amount of time it would take you to mill the boards for shiplap or T&G.You will be able to cut all your batts and side the building.LOL  Your batts only need to be 6inchs wide min.By using screws you only need your screw pattern min of 1inch from a edge of a board.No matter what direction you go it will be a nice smokehouse.

  15. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Using board and batten construction.... the boards are fastened on one side only to allow for expansion and contraction... the batten covers the gap/joint with fasteners in the joint between the boards.... the batten also works as a clamp on the unsecured side of the board... that installation design keeps the boards from splitting....

  16. Just gonna jump in & cast my vote for the board & batten construction - quick & simple to construct, easy to repair, no worries about your board shrinkage...
  17. Dan that is a good point! and it looks like board and batten is the winner! haha. Thanks everyone for the recommendations!
  18. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic

    That was to easy to change your direction.Any way you will give my wife lessons on changing her mind when I give ideas???? hahahahahahaha

    Have fun with your build

  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Board and batten needs X bracing to stop the building from "racking".....

  20. Cant help you there! [​IMG]  haha

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