Building an italian offset smoker

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There's another alternative...

The Reverse Flow Horizontal Smoker-Cooker

Now we're going to take a look at a different type of smoker-cooker which operates in a very different way.

Before we begin, we need to review the questions you have asked since there are some significant differences in the way this smoker-cooker works.

Let's take another look at the questions since some of the answers have now changed....

A-1) If built properly, water can be used in BOTH a horizontal and/or a vertical smoker. In this type smoker-cooker it is not necessary to place a container into the cooking/smoking chamber.

Water may be added directly to the 'Drip Pan' to provide moisture in the chamber if desired.

A-2) No. With this type smoker-cooker, due to its design and the way it is constructed, the heat always enters the cooking/smoking chamber in an indirect manner as you will see.

A-3) Yes. The 'bulkhead' in this type smoker-cooker is, in actuality, the 'Drip Pan'.

Note that there are no 'Tuning Plates' needed, nor is there a place to put them.

Now let's take a look at the graphics as I attempt to explain how they work...


One of the first things you will notice is the 'Exhaust Flue' is now located at the same end as the 'Firebox'
rather than the opposite end, as in the first cooker we looked at. The 'Reverse Flow' Smoker-Cooker
requires this for proper operation, as we will see.

The second thing you will notice is the absence of 'Tuning Plates' in the chamber, since there are none
needed in this type cooker.

The third thing you will notice is that we now have a 'Drip Pan' in the area occupied by the TP's in the
first cooker we looked at.

The primary purpose of the 'Drip Pan' is to cause the heat/smoke to enter the cooking/smoking
chamber in an indirect manner by acting as a duct to the end of the chamber opposite the firebox.

In doing this it also acts as a thermal mass that stores some of the heat, and releases the stored heat
in an even manner to the food above it, thereby causing the temperature to be fairly even throughout
the chamber.

In other words it acts as a buffer to tame and even out the heat thereby eliminating hot spots, and
this is accomplished without the need for 'Tuning Plates', or the tedious adjustment they require.

The end to end temperature differential is typically less than 10* in this type of smoker-cooker.

The secondary purpose of the 'Drip Pan' is to collect the fat (grease) that drips from the meat being
cooked and channel it out of the cooking/smoking chamber through the open drain to an external
container placed under the drain.

A third minor function of the 'Drip Pan' is that with the drain valve closed, water may be added to it
in order to add moisture to the cooking/smoking environment inside the chamber thereby, in effect,
causing it to then operate as a water smoker.

This will also help to moderate any temperature differentials inside the chamber.

In this graphic notice that as the heat/smoke exits the firebox that it must travel horizontally
and to the left underneath the 'Drip Pan' to reach the opposite end of the smoker-cooker.

During this time some of the heat will be transferred to its thermal mass.

As the heat/smoke arrives at the end of the chamber opposite the firebox it must turn upward
and reverse the direction of flow, then traverse the length of the chamber to the firebox end where
it will exit the chamber through the exhaust flue.

This smoker-cooker derives its name, 'Reverse Flow', from this reversing heat/smoke flow path.

As the heat/smoke is now above the 'Drip Pan' and is flowing toward the firebox end of the
chamber, it will flow around and over the meat and food items on the 'Cooking Grid'.

In addition, the heat stored in thermal mass of the 'Drip Pan' is constantly being released to the
food on the 'Cooking Grid' above it in an even and gentle manner.

As you can see, the heat/smoke will surround the meat and food items completely.

Any of the watery drippings which collect in the 'Drip Pan' will be vaporized into steam which will
add moisture to the environment inside the cooking/smoking chamber without the need to add water,
although water may be added to the 'Drip Pan' if desired.

Under normal circumstances, water would not be added to the 'Drip Pan.

The rendered fat (grease) would simply flow down and exit the cooker via the drain.


In this graphic, the view is from the firebox end looking toward the end opposite the firebox,
and is shown with water in the 'Drip Pan' for the sake of illustration.

The gray colored areas represent the end plate of the 'Drip Pan' and the drain tube.

As you can see, it is built in the shape of a shallow trough so that any drippings from the
meat being cooked would flow toward the center and down the drain and out of the cooker.

The space under the 'Drip Pan' is open and acts as the duct which carries the heat/smoke to
the end of the chamber opposite the firebox.

The 'Drip Pan' is constructed of flat plate and 90* angle.


Here are links to the websites of two different companies that build Reverse Flow Horizontal Smoker Cookers...both are located in the state of Georgia, in southeastern USA.

These websites have lots of photos that may be of help in planning the building of your smoker-cooker...sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Cookers and Grills is in the northern part of state at Union Point, Georgia.

Lang Smoker Cookers is in the southeastern part of the state at Nahunta, Georgia.

The 'Pit Builders List' has links to many other smoker-cooker builders.


Previous:  The 'Horizontal Offset Smoker w/ Offset Firebox'


I hope this has helped in some way...Good Luck in the building of your new Smoker-Cooker!...

Until Later...
Last edited:
Hy Coley

Tank you for your explanations
Your plans are excellent and very clear. They helped me a lot.
I'd like to build a smoker like the one in the photo, with the same sizes
(lang 48Patio - 60mobile)

I have a lot of questions to do:

1) Which kind of fuel is better to use?
Wood, charcoal, or a mixture between both???
It is very important for me to understand this concept

2)Which are the difference between a normal smoker and a reverse flow smoker and which is the best between then??

3) Could I build an horizontal smoker using another kind of plan? which kind of plan could I use to build it??

4) which is the best horizontal smoker?
I'd like to see some photos to copy the project

5) Which is the peculiarity of this smoker??

6) Are there any popular plans to build-on one's own thereverse flow and the normal smoker?

Thanks to all
BUT WAIT!!! There's more!

I have seen a sort of hy-bred or at least a slightly different take on the reverse flow, tuning plates and water pans!

The reverse flow had a tube that carried the heat to the far end of the cooking chamber. The tube was (I am guessing) a 10" or 12" square tubing like for a building column. The tube was situated in such a manor that one corner was up or what I would call on edge. As far as I could tell the tube was not attached to the cooking chamber, just the fire box or that end of the chamber, which is a story in itself. Soooo, all four sides of the tube could radiate heat and the far end was open for heat and smoke.

The tuning plates/water pans/drip pans were jus that! About 10" wide 1/8-1/4" steel plate with angle iron welded all around to form a pan. These were placed on angle iron rails and rode just above the heat tube. Adjusting the spacing between the pans/plates helped to spread out the heat.

Never saw the beast in action, but it looked like an old school design and it looked like it had seen alot of action!

Interesting in that the fire box had some clever damper controls for a rear firebox air inlet, a firebox to cooking chamber damper, a firebox out damper on the firebox stack, a cooking chamber out damper on the chamber stack and a damper on the door the the firebox. It looked like this thing could be tweaked for all conditions or preferences.
Hi Zapper

I'm sorry,but i couldn't understand well your answer.
Could you explain me those concepts with any plans and a most comprehensive language?

Thank you.

Sorry, sometimes what I think does not come out of my mouth well and usually what comes out of my mouth was not thought about very well.

I was just commenting about a reverse flow type smoker that I have seen. It differed somewhat from what would be the "standard" style as pictured in the post above (#21)

The differences were that the heat and smoke left the fire box through a square tube/pipe and traveled to the far end of the smoker in this tube/pipe. Typically I think that the reverse flow smoker channels the smoke and heat to the far end of the smoker by using a flat steel plate to create the ducting tube.

Also the unit that I am talking about did not have a permanent built in drip/water pan. Instead it used several smaller removable and movable drip/water pans. By carefully installing these drip/water pans in stratigic locations and spacings, the heat inside the cooker could be evened out or fine "tunned" So these were also used as tunning plates.

Sorry, no PICs.
So Zapper the drip/water pans were actually water filled tuning plates ad the square channel sends the heat to the opposite end of the smoker first?
Yep. But like I said, I did not see the beast in action. It looked like a clever idea because no matter where you dump the heat into the cooking chamber there is gonna be a hot spot, so even with the reverse flow you still get the option to tune things

Are the differences between an horizontal smoker with baffle plate and tuning plates; between an horizontal smoker with baffle plate and "tuning tube"; and a reverse flow smoker (lang smoker)

I don't konw if I'd like to to build a horizontal water smoker in particolar a “lang clone” model. 48 Patio

or a "[size=-1]Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker clone" [/size]using a 35"x24" propane tank

Thanks to all
Now for the silly question. Is there a difference between an Italian smoker and an American one? Or is the smoker in question just being made in Italy?
Hi Ryoma!...

I offer my apologies for the delay in trying to answer your questions, but due to my ISP discontinuing service to all their dial-up customers I was completely offline for almost 2 months beginning on July 2, and was therefore not able to work on any of this material.

Over the course of the last few days I have updated the information contained in Post #3,
and also that contained in Post #21.

Please review the material as it will be of benefit to you, and should help in answering some of your questions.

Thanks you for your patience in this matter.

Now let's take a look at some of those questions...

The choice of fuel for most folks will vary depending several things such as personal preference, cost, availability in their area, etc.

Either wood or charcoal can be used quite successfully and with good results, whether used individually, or in combination with each other.

One popular method of firing the smoker is the use of charcoal to make a good bed of coals, then add wood as needed to maintain the desired temperature, as well as to maintain the bed of coals.

Another way is build a fire in the firebox of the smoker using only wood, letting it burn down to coals, then beginning to add wood as needed to maintain the desired temperature, and here again to maintain a good bed of coals.

Another method is the use of a 'Burn Barrel' with which to burn down the wood to coals, then shovel the coals as needed into the smokers firebox...This method requires more work, but the results are usually well worth the effort...

This is one of the more traditional way of producing wood coals for cooking barbecue here in the southeast.

It must be remembered...those coals from the 'Burn Barrel' will produce the 'Thin Blue Smoke' you need to properly smoke your food items, without the necessity of adding raw wood to the firebox when using this method...

The preferred charcoal to use is 'Lump Charcoal'...It burns hotter but for a shorter length of time than charcoal briquettes...

On the other hand, briquettes will burn for a longer time, but with a reduced heat output.

The Horizontal Smoker-Cooker w/ Offset Firebox section in Post #3, and the section on the
Reverse Flow Smoker-Cooker in Post #21 have both been updated over the last few days and are now more or less complete.

Please refer to those sections for a description of the difference between both these types of cookers.

The updated material should now offer a clearer understanding of the differences between them.

As to which is better...Neither is necessarily better or worse than the other.

All smokers will exhibit their own individual 'personality' and it is up to the person operating the cooker to learn the kinks and quirks of their smoker, and how to bring out the positive aspects of its personality, while at the same time working around and minimizing the negative aspects...

I wish I could give you a better answer to this, but unfortunately, these 'personality' traits are individual to each smoker...even in ones built identically to each other.

Each type smoker will have some advantages, as well as disadvantages over another type of smoker.

Let's look at just two points:

1.) The smoker represented in Post #3 would probably be easier and less complicated to build, however would be somewhat harder to operate initially, at least until the tuning plates are adjusted properly.

2.) On the other hand, the smoker represented in Post #21 is somewhat more complex in design and would be harder and more complicated to build, however it would be much simpler to operate from the start since there is no tuning necessary in this type cooker.

Again...Please refer back to Post #3 and Post #21 for more information on this.

Sure you can!...I haven't researched it, but I would imagine there are probably many different plans on the internet which you could work from in the building of your smoker.

Or...You could draw up a set of plans of your own design to include the features you would desire in your smoker also.

You're limited only by your imagination!...

I'm not certain exactly how to answer this question.

Are you asking which is the best:

What exactly?

Let me know and I'll come back and edit this post to include the answer you're seeking.

Hi Ryoma!...

Text character quantity constraints would not allow space for editing in the answers to your updated questions in this post.

Please refer to your Post #43 for the answers to those questions.


I've edited Cheech's quote to include your 3rd question from your Post #1, which he was answering.

Basically what Cheech was saying is that a reverse flow smoker such as the Lang's DO have the 'bulkhead' that you were asking about.

That 'bulkhead' in the Lang Reverse Flow smoker is known as the 'Drip Pan'.

I have explained all about this in Post #21 which I have updated during the last few days.

I haven't researched this, but there are most likely many plans available on the internet, however I'm not certain of this.

At your convenience, try doing an internet search for these kinds of plans.

Hopefully there will be lots of them.

I hope these answers will be of help to you!...

Thanks again for your patience...

Until later...
Last edited:

Do these graphics look anything like what you were talking about?...




Let me know how close they are to what you saw...

The air intake dampers are not shown...


Until later...
@ Coley

Yep, it looks about like I remember as far as the general idea goes.

The fire box did not project into the cooking chamber as you have it drawn. I seem to think that it did not even share a common wall and at about this junction there was a gate type damper operated by a lever.

There was only one stack on the cooking chamber. (Closest to the firebox) But two stacks with dampers would add to the overall adjustability and confusion!

The fire box had, as I recall, a short wide ash clean out door at the back. Above this there was a row of holes with a matching sliding damper. There was also a damper at the side away from the cooking chamber and one on the door to the fire box. I am thinking that the dampers were reclaimed from old wood stoves or the likes and applied to the homemade firebox (which in and of itself could have also been reclaimed from maybe an old boiler or commercial application) The firebox had its own stack (dampered I assume) but I don't recall if the firebox section could have been used as a high temp grill. I am assuming that the top of the firebox could be used as a warming surface for pots and pans, but I just don't recall seeing if there were provisions to use a grate for grilling inside of the firebox.

I spent a little time marveling at the Beast, but I did not take any photos out of respect for the builder. I didn't want to be too obvious that I was stealing alot of what I thought are clever ideas (Maybe next year if I return)

Your drawing looks good, what program are you running to draw with? I have a couple CAD programs, but no time to master them (I struggle)

Extend the cooking grate/grill to the ends of the cooking chamber along with the waterpans/tunning plates/drip pans, and you pretty much have it
I'm having to use MS Paint...Don't have a CAD program here!...

Like anything else from MS...there's LOTS of aggravation in the time of using it!!...

If I could only find my Corel disk......but that's another story......

If you're in the 404 or 770 area...maybe we can get on the 600 ohm service sometime...

Until later...
Hi Coley

I'll send you an answer as soon as I'll translate the text

Thanks to all

I do commend you on your drawings. It really wouldn't matter what program you are running, the details are what matters and that is done by the operator and not the program.

OK, I'll bite, What is the 600 Ohm service? Phone?

I live down here by the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but I work mostly on the north side of the big city.
Sorry about that!...
...The '600 Ω'...or '600 ohm' service would refer to the telephone...

Being a 'Ham', I tend at times to use some of the same common euphemisms for the telephone as do other 'Hams'

Just thought if you were local to 770 that maybe we could discuss this cooker in that manner...

If so...just shoot me a PM with a #....

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