Building a smoker, could use some help

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Original poster
May 8, 2007
I'm building a smoker out of a 450 gallon oil tank. I'm currently in the cutting/cleaning process.

Here is my plan. The tank in its current state is 5 feet long, 27" wide, and probably 4' tall. Its profile is essentially an elongated oval, with half-circular tops and bottoms and rectangular middle.

The plan is to cut out the rectangular middle, and then hinge together the two semi-circles to form the bulk of the grill. Expanded sheet metal will be used towards the bottom of the grill for the coals (when I'm using it as a grill/small scale smoker) and expanded stainless will be used towards the middle of the grill for the meat.

The rectangular portion that was removed will be used to make the firebox, which will be below the grill on the right hand side. It will be plumbed into the grill to allow the smoke to enter. A chimney will be added to the top left of the grill to create a draft for the smoke.

Using this design, do you think I'll be getting too much heat by having the firebox below instead of on the side of the barrell?

Any other comments/concerns? I will likely use charcoal for just grilling and burn wood in the firebox for smoking.

Any guidance would be much appreciated.
Awww man. Personally I'd keep it the way it is. The shape give you plenty of space for multiple racks. And if you keep it as is, you could get an old drum for your firebox. Possibly attach it to the back like a Diamond Plate. Add some dampners in the pipes connecting them for some heat control, and your in business. But thats my opinion.
Well, I'd like to do something like that eventually, but storage space is at a premium and I generally only cook for 2--4 people. I'll be moving out of the city next year where I'll be able to have more storage space/people over, but for now...this is the best I can do.

Unless of course you want to keep it at your place and drive it up to Buffalo when I need it?
I understand the issue about storage space. My wife keeps telling me I have to buy a new house with a bigger yard before I can buy a new cooker.(Like that will hapen. The yards are small in this town) I'd love to store it for you, but until gas is back under $3, I can't afford to drive anywhere that isn't a must.
Looking at your dimensions and the tank, it looks like you're only going to make the thing like a foot smaller...What's 12 inches??? I'd try to keep it whole! Obviously it's yours and you'll do what you want, I'd just hate losing that cooking room!
Hi AAlmeter -

First you need to go the the roll call section and introduce yourself. Everyone will want to meet you and greet you properly.

Looks like a good idea to me. An extra 15 cubic feet you don't need will use a lot of fuel. And it gives you the materials to build you firebox with no added cost.

When you add the chimney just make sure it's level with the food grate to get good air/smoke flow and on the opposite side.

There re some really great builders here that can give you much more details on refining the smoker and they are usually here later in the evening.
if it were me, i would build a firebox out of 1/4" (minimum) plate steel. i would make it pretty big (roughly 3' x 3' x 3', maybe bigger). cut a hole in the end of the tank, and one in the firebox, so that they will match up when they are welded together. i would cut in the smoke stack just under the food rack, on the end.
Thanks for the input everyone. Some great suggestions here
I have a drum like that too with the same idea, but what i found is the piece u cut out of the middle, the metal is to thin for a firebox, dont think u could even weld it. cooking for 3 or 4 people would cost u a fortune to heat that monster! just my 2 cents
It's weldable, looks to be 10 ga to me. I'm more concerned about it rusting out quickly due to the heat...but either way, I will probably rebuild it in a year when I move and have more storage room. Then I will likely use 1/4" plate since i will be having it on a trailer. Right now, it will be transported in the back of my truck, and I don't want to add on much weight.

I'll probably only be using this one when I want to do a really cool smoke, or the couple times during the summer/fall when I have large groups. First we will have to see if I can even cook with this thing. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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