Built a new smokehouse and firebox need some help

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mike w

Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Oct 13, 2014
436
30
Virginia
Hey gang,

I built a new smokehouse based off archeyrobs design with daveomaks tweaks thrown in. I finished it up today and the only thing left will be the door and air intakes.

I’ve ordered a plain 8 x 8 cleanout door. I need some advice on an upper and lower air intake though so I can control the airflow.

The door area is 14.5 inches tall and 9 inches wide.

This was the first time I’ve layed brick and block and also framed walls and a roof so excuse the ugliness
 

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What do you have for exhaust vent in the smokehouse ??

Also something to keep in the back of your head... If you notice it a little warmer in the bottom corner where the firebox is... I see in your pictures that you have the fire pushed way up in the back of the firebox... try keeping the fire right inside the door instead and that might help...

Now the fun starts in learning what it likes and dislikes .. Have fun ..

Nice smokehouse by the way ...
 
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Fabricate some plate steel to mimic what is below.. Bolt it to the brick so it is sealed... It can be on hinges or what ever... Then the floor of the FB will be even for easy clean out...
Drill a bunch or 1" holes near the top of the side walls for exhaust.. Probably a dozen or more... Drill them 360 around the smoker for even air flow...

Smoker Exh and Intakes 2.jpg
 
There are 2 sliding vents on the same side as the firebox. One vent on the left side and the cedar siding on the opposite side of the firebox has some gaps.

Thanks for pointing that out about the fire, I try to keep it centered on the stack on the fire box, I can move it closer for sure.

What do you have for exhaust vent in the smokehouse ??

Also something to keep in the back of your head... If you notice it a little warmer in the bottom corner where the firebox is... I see in your pictures that you have the fire pushed way up in the back of the firebox... try keeping the fire right inside the door instead and that might help...

Now the fun starts in learning what it likes and dislikes .. Have fun ..

Nice smokehouse by the way ...
 
Ahh ok, thanks Dave, I was hoping there might be something already manufactured I could buy. I don’t have a welding machine so I’ll have to check around and maybe price it out.

You mentioned in one of the posts about having a floating roof on the firebox so mine isn’t mortared down. It’s heavy as hell but I can lift it off.

I can drill some more holes on the opposite side in the cedar planks.


Fabricate some plate steel to mimic what is below.. Bolt it to the brick so it is sealed... It can be on hinges or what ever... Then the floor of the FB will be even for easy clean out...
Drill a bunch or 1" holes near the top of the side walls for exhaust.. Probably a dozen or more... Drill them 360 around the smoker for even air flow...

View attachment 406145
 
Floating roof is a good idea... That lid will expand a lot and it could have blown out the brick..
You can also.... slightly raise that lid to allow air into the FB for an upper air inlet if extra air is needed... or put holes in it, by the door end, and slide a piece of steel over the holes for adjustment... Smoke may come out of those holes until the smoke house warms and starts drafting... There's lots of ways to skin a cat... A lawn chair and several pints should bring out the creativity... Staring at the smoker is part of the process....
 
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Yes sir, that’s what I’m doing this morning with some pork butts. I drilled some 1” holes into the opposite side for more draft.

I have 4 pieces of 3/8 rebar in there as a fire grate that the logs can sit on and coals drop through to create a bed. Would there be any issues with that and food safety? I’m wondering whether I should cut those out or not now.

Pic attached for reference.
 

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It will be interesting to see/hear how the cook went... When I tried using a set up in the firebox like yours I had a hard time keeping the wood burning with the hot coals falling to the floor away from the wood... I put some expanded metal in so the coals wouldn't fall through but the ashes did... That did the trick for me...
 
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I really like that idea. I could toss the metal sheet on top of the rebar and have at it. The rebar is about 3” away from the floor so it was easy to get a bed of coals in 3 hours

I had the temp up to 200 in about 4 hours. The thermometer probe was sitting on top of the ceramic pizza plate. The Outside temp this morning was 63.

I wasn’t being aggressive with the firebox though because those bricks got hot and I found out real quick how much thermal transfer there was when I burnt my fingers haha.

I ordered a clean out door and that arrived today so I’ll put that in when I can get some plate steel with holes in it to put above and below the door like Dave’s picture.

On the previous test burn without food, the heat coming out of the pipe into the smokehouse was 330 degrees. I didn’t have the rocks I so I could shoot the stovepipe with an IR thermometer.

The internal temp of the pork was 90 when I transferred it to the oven to finish up.

It will be interesting to see/hear how the cook went... When I tried using a set up in the firebox like yours I had a hard time keeping the wood burning with the hot coals falling to the floor away from the wood... I put some expanded metal in so the coals wouldn't fall through but the ashes did... That did the trick for me...
 

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I used the #9 thicker (not home depots) expanded (flat) diamond plate ... 3" off the floor is perfect ... Is the clean out door the same size as the opening on the FB ?? I imagine you could take the door and Dave's picture to a fab shop and they could hook you up with vents... If you need to fill in the opening on the FB (to the size of the new door) maybe put the top vents on that piece of steel.. The bottom vents on the bottom of the door... And the door all the way to the bottom of the opening making for lipless clean out...
 
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It’s an 8x8 so it will be smaller than the brick opening. I checked with the local welding shop for shelves and they wanted $175 for 2 shelves. Which is more than I want to pay. I’d imagine a custom job would be similar in price.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of using metal conduit and set that in mortar for the air holes along the bottom. Still looking for an economical way to do it

I used the #9 thicker (not home depots) expanded (flat) diamond plate ... 3" off the floor is perfect ... Is the clean out door the same size as the opening on the FB ?? I imagine you could take the door and Dave's picture to a fab shop and they could hook you up with vents... If you need to fill in the opening on the FB (to the size of the new door) maybe put the top vents on that piece of steel.. The bottom vents on the bottom of the door... And the door all the way to the bottom of the opening making for lipless clean out...
 
Is it good ??? Looks good.... I guess the smoker worked OK for now...
Yeah it tastes pretty darn good along with that sauce! I added a bit of gojuchang and beef concentrate and it was yummy

I put down a pork belly for bacon today also. Cold smoking will be a breeze with this one. My kid has been bugging me for smoked cheese so that’ll be coming along soon too
 
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You can buy a welder and make your stuff for what that shop wants...

One of my wife’s coworkers said the same thing, he’s an amateur welder but he said he thinks it would be beyond him. I may ask to borrow his equipment in trade for some smoked meats
 
I used a 55 gallon stove door I was able to find laying about. I'd get a cheaper wire feed welder and make you something up. What Dave showed you can be made with simple cold rolled steel or what ever you can scrounge.

Don't go too cheap on a welder, because, once you make one thing the ideas are going to flow for other projects. You buy that welder, you might as well buy an angle grinder. They go hand in hand with metal working.

How about closing your opening with another brick and using the 8x8 door. Drill a hole and larger plate with a hole that can cover it and a lock washer to bolt it on under tension. A handle on the plate and slide it to adjust the holes ability to draft air.
 
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