Advice needed on my (unstarted) brick build (UK)

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Original poster
May 17, 2022
Hi everyone, I'm a new member; I found the forum as I was researching online.
I'm about to build a new brick smoker and grill in my London garden, having been thinking about it for several years. I was all ready to get going and then realised there are a few critical bits I didn't have answers to, and the more I've been going down the rabbit hole the more I feel like I could do with some advice from someone more experienced!

Space is limited and I have a specific concrete area that's earmarked for this - it's not huge but it's in the right place and we've structured the garden build around it (the two blue-outlined areas).

The grill is important for parties and I want it to be big enough to cater for a whole lot of people. We used to have a cheapo one that was about 1m x 50cm and it was fantastic, but it gave up the ghost a couple of years ago.

The smoker is the bit I'm really interested in. I have an old ProQ that all the fittings are falling off; it's also super leaky and basically showing its age. It's probably big enough for my needs I'd say, in terms of internal cooking space. I like to hot smoke but also want to cold smoke in winter months.

Here is the old kit when it was in its prime

My other half is also interested in a pizza oven, but at this point I don't think it's feasible to build in (we are considering a portable now).

I've had this great book for years and have based my design off one of their classics


Side note - initially I was going to go with an offset design with the grill and firebox on the lower level and the smoke box and a small pizza oven on the top level, but I didn't like the compromises to each of the components. I am now thinking the bottom is a huge grill, and the top is a bigger masonry smoker - fewer compromises; each piece is also simpler and there's less to go wrong. We may try to cook pizzas in the smoker as well!

So I have a couple of questions I would love input on; and of course if anyone has more general comments please send them my way!

Doors - I'm unlikely to find the pieces I need off the shelf I think; should I just bite the bullet and get them fabricated? Any tips or watchouts? Anyone know anyone local to London UK? :)

Fire bricks - That design above has them connecting straight into the masonry, but I've struggled with my designs to work out how to do that since they're subtly different sizes (to take account of the thinner mortar joints, but still doesn't quite work). Then from on here it seems I want a bit of a gap between the fire bricks and the standard ones to account for expansion. Is this the common practice? Any tips for how to accommodate that into the design above? Also, and most crucially, if the fire bricks are a standalone separate container, how on earth does the doorway work?

Thanks for reading!
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Welcome to the forum from North Dakota. I'm sure someone will be along to assist soon. Love to see when complete.
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Reactions: Kablo0M
Welcome from Iowa! I'm sorry I can't be of much help either but sure look forward to seeing it done!

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Are you looking for something like a smokehouse to smoke meats or sausages at low temps over many days? Or to fairly quickly roast a pig for a party, which is more like an oven? If you want an oven, it will take a several hours just to bring all the brick up to temperature and then several more to cook fully through a large animal. It will be fun and tasty, but it won't be anything like your existing large charcoal grill in the picture.

Just want to make sure you're aware of the time (and cooking wood) commitment involved in using this.
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Haha thank you :)

JD - Looking at builds makes me a bit jealous - in London my garden is pretty big but I no way have space for a lot of those style efforts.

Bill - ideally I'd like to do both; I'm definitely looking to build an oven. The big grill is for other fun party stuff, like chops, sausages, burgers, what have you.

Having said that, I think I'm making progress on my design, what do you guys think? Red brick is masonry, orange is fire brick.

Top down view (the bit at the bottom is a counter), and there will be fire bricks all along the base of both sections...

View from the front of the smoker/side of the grill - the grey bar is my height for reference

And an internal view of the fire brick layer and all the racks / baffles etc

Comments appreciated.

I think I've found someone who will make my doors; I guess I mount them inside the outer layer and butting up to the fire brick layer. At least that's how I've designed it at the moment after peering at people's pictures in detail!

My main concern is strength: the internal fire brick structure is essentially standalone, with a small air gap around it (or maybe insulation filled)...

Thanks again for looking!
what are you using for a door? you may want to size it according to something you can find at a reasonable price instead of having to order something custom later.
I can't find any doors that are anything like big enough - maybe I'm looking in the wrong places but the biggest I can find is about 2/3 the width and 2/3 the height of the fire door, never mind the cooking chamber. At that size it's not really worth doing at all IMO.
I found someone who reckons they might be able to fab it; I just need to discuss it with them to get an idea of price 😬
an old industrial refrigerator door? A sheet of steel plate?
I'm probably being a little prissy but this is a bit of a centrepiece of my garden so I want it to look nice :)
a fridge door might work for one of the doors but since I'm looking at 2-3 doors I'd want them to match. They'll also need vents etc so will need some work whatever I find. I have no metalworking skills sadly...
... I have spoken to one fabricator that could do it and been recommended another; I'll post pics when I find a solution but until then any recommendations always appreciated...
Thought I'd give you all a quick update - I'm doing this in 2 stages now. I've got the grill built first and am getting grate and grills fabbed first; the smoker part is following.

Here is my grill progress (it can do standard charcoal obviously but I'm also getting a brasero so I can run it Argentinian style, and eventually I will probably also get a rotisserie attachment for it.

You can just see the jutting bricks from the back of the grill for where the smoker will end up. I've also attached the drawings I've got so far for the fabricator to work from for the grill, and for the smoker doors (many more details to come!)

Incidentally if you like in the UK and are interested in a metalworking course, let me know - I'm thinking of learning to weld at the fab's shop while we make my doors and bits and pieces together.


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so, i'm along for this ride, as i'm also designing a backyard grill & smoker that i plan to build at least partially with reclaimed brick from my chimney that i removed last year. i'm interested in how far you got before winter set in. i have a few considerations and thoughts... so if i seem to ramble a bit, i apologize.

first thought - you only need fire brick for the parts that would get hot enough to potentially damage/explode regular masonry brick. i would just end the fire brick at that point, since you're also doing an external layer of 'pretty' brick. my plan for my doors is to get a sheet of 1/4" steel and cut it to the right sized pieces. a buddy of mine used to be a welder, and he said if i run electric to his garage he'd weld the things... so i'll pick up some 1" square tubing and cut what i need to reinforce the doors and cooking grates (expanded steel sheet - again, locally sourced most likely). i've found a place here locally that will do powder coating, so once assembled and cleaned, i'll drop it off there for an even black coat. not the grates... those i'll just season with smoke n oil. for vents, i'm torn between cutting a rotary vent into the firebox door or just leaving a gap on the bottom layer and blocking that with a concrete block that i can slide back and forth as needed. latches n hinges can be bought on amazon or locally... as available - there are some cool pressure latches that are available online that'll take the guesswork out of getting the doors super-perfect.

one thing i don't see in your build is something to catch & drain drippings from the cooking meat. this is (IMO) super important to prevent grease fires or, best-case scenario, nasty gummed up ash pans. might give it some thought. maybe some supports to hold an aluminum pan under the meat to catch those? i'll be doing an offset-style, so i plan to put in a drain and maybe a pan or just shaped concrete to get the drippings out of the main cook chamber.

keep the updates coming! looking forward to seeing how it turns out! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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