Building my own with 'value' wood.

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Original poster
Jan 19, 2014
Wyoming, Michigan
I decided to get into smoking my own meats/fish but the idea of building my own smoker was intriguing. I could have gotten one from craigs list or Cabela's but thought it would be more fun to build one. I found a bunch of 2x3s in the 'value wood' section (odds and ends or twisted and warped) at Home Depot and figured they would work for the box. I was going back and forth with what to use for the walls, etc. and decided against the osb I had purchased and priced out cedar ($$$). I found a bunch of 1x4s in the 'value wood' section at Menards and even though they weren't the 6 footers I wanted they were 3 feet or so and I figured two rows of boards wouldn't be so bad.

I have the frame built and I need a section of 1x3 to fill in the back wall and the front door(s) as it will be 27 inches wide. I was looking around for racks to use and figured old oven racks would work well but I was having trouble finding any. My wife called a few appliance stores to see if they had any from ovens that had been scrapped and one place said they had some. I stopped in and they had five that GE sent that weren't the right size for the customer and had been sitting on the shelf. I picked them up for $20. 

I'll try to attach some pictures as I go. Any advice would be very welcome.


Here are the side walls.

The box frame put together.

The stack of 1x4s for the walls.

Yea lookin good man, do you have a small budget for this build? I ask as you mentioned a lot of bargain wood. You lookin to cold or hot smoke? I am using fiberglass insulation and durock cement board to line my inside.
My budget is always small.

Originally I was thinking of hot smoking but a friend was talking about smoking cheese which sounds really good so I might try that too. I was looking into durock at least for the base, I'm not sure if I can get it into the whole interior. I'll have to think on that.  Thanks!
Yea I hear ya on the budget. I told the wife around 500 on mine. I'm a little over and only half way done. My problem was I'd start building and think "ah I definitely need to do that". It adds up. So for now I am going to finish up mine without the Side Fire Box and cold smoke cheese with AMNPS.
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Also you might want to watch using value wood inside the cook chamber as it may be stored in a bin with other woods that could cross contaminate yours with chemicals. Would consider lining entire thing in durock. I'm hoping to finish mine in the upcoming month or so and will show you what I mean.
I just bought some high temp spray paint but I'm not sure if I'll use it or not. If it doesn't insulate the wood I'm not sure there's any point in using it.
No it won't insulate the wood but if you are using anything treated with chemicals (wood, galvanized fasteners', etc.) you will need to coat it with that paint.
I finally got back out to the garage to get a little more work done this evening. I got the rack supports cut and installed and started on the cladding. I discovered that I'm an idiot and that 1x4s are not 1"x4" ( I remembered that for everything else but brain farted on the 1x4s). I'll have to fiddle with them to get everything covered properly. I discovered another drawback of using the cull lumber, none of the boards are really straight so I have a lot of gaps between them. We'll see if that is a problem with holding smoke. I bought some casters so that it will be easier to roll in and out of the garage but I'm not putting them on until later. I still have to figure out what to do for a roof and a base and I'm still tossing idea's around with myself on how to do vents.

The rack supports are in (2x2s) and I'm starting the 1x4 cladding on the outside.

Another perspective that shows the 1x4s not being straight or level.

How the sides will look from the inside

and from the outside.

Any ideas of alternatives to durock? Is insulation really necessary? Keeping in mind that I live in Michigan it may be if I want to be able to smoke year round.
Well IMO you can leave it un-insulated but it may/may not be difficult to regulate the heat. Many leave it uninsulated. As for the cracks in the wood it is good to have some areas to breathe.
The kids were home from school for the third day in a row so I took the day off to help keep the peace. I took advantage of the day to get some more work done on the smoker. I have the side and floor done and just need to do the roof (suggestions?) and the front/doors.  I decided to add durock to the bottom half for safety's sake. I'm planning to use a double hot plate for heat and smoke but in case of flare up better safe than sorry. I'm still kicking around ideas for the roof and the doors. I might still have to insulate the top and/or wrap it in something if I can't maintain temperature or smoke level.

The first piece of durock in place, I had already done the lower portion of the other side before deciding to add durock so I had to slide a piece in that side.

First completed side.

I had to take a break and make supper for the kids and the wife. I had rumaki nachos. They didn't.

Three side completed and durock in the lowers.

A little bit better view of the side.

The back of the smoke completed.

The floor goes in.

The stopping point for the night. Floor and lowers covered with durock and the sides clad. 

I visited the Habitat for Humanity ReStore looking for materials and found some nice sturdy hinges and I think I want upper and lower doors. I didn't find anything that jumped out at me that would work for a roof. Any suggestions for that would be welcome. I don't really want to do shingles, etc if I can avoid it. I'm thinking I should be able to find a piece of something waterproof to cover the top.
It is looking good. I to am from Michigan. I usually have to wrap a shipping blanket around my smoker lately to keep the temp up. I like the smokehouse though i am also thinking about building one. I have seen people use fiberglass insulation in the wall.
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Lookin' good.  Any reason you wouldn't use durarock clad in the lumber for the roof?  We'll need to get together this summer and compare notes!

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I always like the look of a slanted roof. This is one done on a birdhouse but you can easily work it in on your smoker. Just make a box with no top or bottom, cut through the whole thing at an angle and nail on some boards on the slanted section. Also with all those cracks between boards you might want to add some kind of putty or caulk maybe to keep more heat in if it's cold out. Also with that slanted roof you can cut out a hole just below the eave and put a vent there. That way you can let more heat out in the summer and keep more heat in in the winter keeping your times for smoking meat about the same between the two season. You could also do a off ridge vent but I don't know how easy that would be to make waterproof in case it rains.

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Just a FYI durock over osb is a concern depending on your heat source and higher temps. As others have found out the durock will absorb enough heat to combust the osb.
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Thanks, guys! I hadn't read about the durock/osb concern. I'm planning to use a dual burner electric hot plate for heat and smoke so I don't think my temps will get very high. Do you know at what temperature that becomes a concern? I'll do some research on it. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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