what type plywood for a smoke house?

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by omahasmoker, May 24, 2010.

  1. omahasmoker

    omahasmoker Smoke Blower

    i am looking at starting my build. what kind of plywood should you use? i know some of it has nasty glue that you dont want hot near your food.
  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Not particle board for sure.
  3. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    all plywood is glued together.

     I wouldn't recomend plywood if you are going to be doing any hot smoking.
    cowgirl likes this.
  4. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    There are several guys on here that have made plywood smokers in the past year. See if you can do a search on plywood smokers and you will come up with some good ideas.
  5. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I used 3/4" hardwood plywood. Don't get any of the crap that has a veneer surface as it won't last long with temperature swings.
  6. fishwrestler

    fishwrestler Smoking Fanatic Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    You are talking about particle board covered with veneer correct. I believe a good Oak plywood would be fine with an oak veneer over real plywood. I am currently working on the plans for mine and I think I am goign to use oak plywood and and oak face frame kind of build a kitchen cabinet but taller like a pantry

  7. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Personally, I can't see how plywood would retain any heat as far as hot smoking goes.  I know that people have done this here, and I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes, but I would look for something else that can be better insulated.  That's just my opinion.
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I used s1s (surfaced 1 side) 5 ply ½" plain ol' plywood for mine with 7/8" 7-ply for the doors.  In Texas, heat retention, believe me, is not a problem, lol!  Even in the winter when it gets down to a chilling 40° here (well, it's Texas, folks.. none of that below zero stuff, lol!) you can maintain temps really well. The first couple smokes there was some odor from the plywood but it quickly dissapated, no more than walking into a trailer before kicking on the air cond.  But, once it got seasoned with smoke on the interior it's sealed.  I think you can access the 2nd link in my sig line that goes to my build.  At 250° the box gets a little warm to the touch but by no means hot.  I smoked my Easter Ham in it and took about 9 hours, which is right on the money so it was applying the proper amount of temp to the product (1st thread in my sig line).

    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  9. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I appreciate you, Pops (God knows that I do -- you're probably my favorite person here), but I just can't see how plywood can retain any heat.  Maybe I'm retarded or something, who knows, but it just doesn't make any sense to me.  If I were building a smoking shack, I think that I would have to use something that I could insulate better than plywood.  Please tell me that I'm wrong, because plywood is cheap and other stuff isn't.
  10. monty

    monty Master of the Pit Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I do not believe that at the normal smoke temps we deal with that the glues will affect food quality or safety. For the most part the walls exposed to heat and smoke will be solid wood covering the glue/resin/goop that holds plywood together.

    My suggestion would be as stated previously to use the good stuff, perhaps 3/4 birch. Stay away from marine plywood as it has a surface treatment that will be nasty to your food and you.

    I have a lot of cedar on my land and am contemplating sawyering out some 6/4 stock and making a smokehouse board and batten style from it. But that is a future project after I pull my plug from the daily grind and get to what I enjoy full time.

  11. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    I made mine out of rough cut pine but it wouldnt hold the heat so I ended up having to put a ceiling in it. I just used 3/4" CDX plywood. works great and havent had any problems with fumes or funny taste or anything. actually turned out better because it gave me more points to anchor hooks from [​IMG]
  12. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, you have to understand the basic physics of a smokehouse; you have a heat source in the bottom that is pushing heat to the top, rising vertically.  The walls contain it but the flow is from a bottom front vent to a top back vent, so your heat, and likewise your smoke, is contantly travelling upward.  You're containing the heat but allowing it to flow in a regulated manner up and out; it's not staying still and overheating the sides.  Yet, your temp is holding at 250°-280° in the center of the upper chamber as heat rises and that's where you want it at.  I've run it in the 40's and in the 90's and not had a problem keeping the temp in the recommended ranges.  I can also use only part of the burner and do lower temps too.

  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    It's called "Thermal Mass". Just like the walls in my house. They are machined logs---5 1/2 inches thick-----No other insulation in the walls. The house heats as well as any stick-framed insulated house I've ever had. No matter what your smoker is made of, it would be the open joint spaces that would lose heat---not through a good solid material such as plywood. 

  14. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You can use a different thickness of plywood as long as it is real wood. The only thing that you can not use is pressure treaded plywood then you are talking about arsenic is in the wood and that stuff just outright kills folks. Then you don't want to use particle board either for it wouldn't hold up under the weather and then you have alot more glue and it's on the surface of the plywood also. That might give off some nasty vapors that you don't want to flavoring your meat.
  15. mgnorcal

    mgnorcal Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Yes, from what I've read all plywood contains toxins including formaldehyde and and solid boards are suggested instead.

    Various state universities have released suggested plans and every one I've seen uses solid wood boards; none uses plywood.

    See here for an example:

  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Plywood companies have been cutting back on toxics used for many years, especially in CA. I believe the amount in plywood isn't worth worrying about. Even when it was really bad, it was only bad for awhile, because the gasses given off get less and less over time. I have read in the past (New Shelter--Rodale Press) that due to particle boards used in houses, people should let a brand new house set empty for 6 months to a year with all of the windows open before they move in. Do we know anyone who has done this???

    Many people have demanded plywood replace particle board in their new homes.

    If it really bothers us, we should immediately remove from our houses:

    Our kitchen cabinets

    Bathroom vanities

    Our floors

    Counter tops 



    TV cabinets & entertainment centers


    I would think living in and among all of these toxic things is like sleeping in a plywood smoker.

    In other words, if I were to build a wood smoker, I would not hesitate using plywood, but that's just my opinion.

  17. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, everyone, for schooling me about plywood and heat!

    I'll certainly use some thick, real-wood plywood whenever I begin designing mine.
  18. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    heres a thought. Not that plywood wont work, but you could go with rough cut pine for probably the same or less money than it would cost you for plywood. I built my whole smokehouse with rough cut pine walls and studs and I think it cost right around $180 or something like that. I'm pretty sure it was cheaper than buying plywood and it looks good too
  19. pantherfan83

    pantherfan83 Smoking Fanatic

    If you are concerned about plywood, why use it?  I'm going to make a 2x4 frame and cover the inside with cement board.  In the cavity of the 2x4's, I'm going to install insulation and on the outside, I'm going to use leftover siding from a pole barn.  Sure, it will be heavy, but it will be built it on it's permanent location and never moved.  I'm not wanting to build it like this because I'm concerned about plywood fumes, but because it will be more attractive, won't accidentally catch fire, and will withstand the weather much better.
  20. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The more insulated and weather-withstanding the better, I say.  These are the things that concern me most about a custom build.

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