building a smoker- have a few questions

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Nov 21, 2006
Waco, TX
i am building a smoker out of a 55-gallon drum. i am going to lay it sideways, with a 19"x23" rack to place the meat on. i have the grill part built. now i need to build the firebox.
how big should i make it? i planned on connecting the firebox to the food chamber via a pipe, probably 6", with a damper in it (like the chimney on an old wood burning stove). i am going to use some sheet metal (diamond plate) to make the firebox, and to make a deflector plate to keep the temp even in the food chamber. i have the smoke stack just a hair above the food rack, on the opposite end of where the firebox will be. i used the hole already in the "lid" of the drum. i screwed a 2" nipple into the hole, and screwed a 90° elbow on it. i need to get a 2" diameter pipe to finish the smoke stack.
the only parts i have to buy are the smokestack pipe, the pipe to connect the firebox to the foodchamber. and a thermometer to add to it. everything else i got from work. i used 1" square tubing for the legs. 1" angle iron to make a frame for the rack, and expanded metal for the rack. i am also going to use 1" square tubing to hold the firebox to the drum itself. i will make a shelf to mount to the front also.
any suggestions on the firebox?
Howdy Chris.....i'm sorry that i have no idea's for you but sure sounds like one heck of a smoker once your done. Will need to put some photos in here in case others want to build one like yours. But really this little note is to say what a cute baby...

Not an expert, but I think you may need a bigger exhaust stack. I've built two of these and the first one I did much like you are, and it really hampered the airflow. With a bigger stack you can always throttle it down with a damper, but it's hard to open it up larger when you need it. I used 4 inch pipe for my second one and it flowed much better. In a 55 gal barrel, you've got a lot of airspace to to move.

Just my .02

update: i bought a firebox. it is a char-griller one for one of their charcoal grills/smokers, i found at lowe's for $55. i bought a 4" rain shanty and a 4" pipe for the smokestack. i have to mount the smoke stack on the opposite end than i was going to. the firebox will be on the end i was going to put the smoke stack. so that works out i guess, bigger stack now.
i am taking the drum to work tonight to cut out for the firebox. i am going to cut two 3" holes for heat/smoke to enter the food chamber. i will be using two 3" pipes to channel it in there, with a heat deflector. we have a plasma cutter, an arc welder, and a wire feed welder at work i can use.

sound like a better idea, compared to what i was going to do at first? i will have pics when completed.

edit: bigger smokestack; taking entire assy to work to put it all together. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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