Cabinet Smoker Build: Take 2 (Long, Lotsa Pics, Good Info)

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Robert, that is a beauty! Nice work.

Thanks so much. I definitely learned a lot from the first one and tried to apply what I learned into this one.

The appearance and attention to detail make for one fine professionally built smoker

Very much appreciate it my friend. One of my objectives on this one was to have it look more like a professional fabrication versus the backyard built version the last one was.

Very nice Robert! BTW, those were not mistakes....it was research and development!

Good point Keith. i'll accept that. We all know however that R&D can be time consuming and costly. I can attest to the accuracy of that :emoji_laughing:

Robert
 
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I’m a big fan of cabinet smokers! You will be able to have a major party with that thing!

Thank you!! I just ordered a massive load of Dino ribs so there will be a party in the future, I can promise you that. On a different note, with the advent of the tools you recommended that I bought this one took WAY less time to build and was 2X as much work. First one tool 3 weeks to the day to complete. This one was 9 days to build, paint on day 10, and out onto the patio on day 11. Your recommendations cut the build time in half for a much more involved build.

Below is what I visualize as the finished product if I attempted to build a smoker.

Thanks so much Jeff for the kind words, but don't sweat it. We can make what you built work....somehow. It'll just take a bit of thought and creativity.

Beautifully crafted and thought out. Best of all, it works!

Very much appreciate it. I did learn a lot building the first one. Then with all the testing I did on it, as well as a whole lot of thought prior to starting the second one, it came out as I'd hoped, and yes, there was a LOT of thought that went into how to overcome the mistakes.

Robert
 
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Thank you!! I just ordered a massive load of Dino ribs so there will be a party in the future, I can promise you that. On a different note, with the advent of the tools you recommended that I bought this one took WAY less time to build and was 2X as much work. First one tool 3 weeks to the day to complete. This one was 9 days to build, paint on day 10, and out onto the patio on day 11. Your recommendations cut the build time in half for a much more involved build.

Robert
Well enjoy, there is nothing like a good smoke after creating the cooker!

PS the right tools make a huge difference! Cutting 1/8 steel with that rip saw is like butter! Oh and all that choping....no more vise and angle grinding.... makes cutting angle safe.....
 
That's another great looking build Robert! Look forward to seeing many more cooks on it!

Ryan
 
Very much appreciate it Dave. BTW, I did read your post about the accident. Very sorry to hear that sir. When I was a sophomore in high school I destroyed my left knee playing football. Was down for the count and on crutches for 9 months, part of that time being recovery from surgery. I feel your pain buddy and wouldn't wish that on anybody. Best of luck to you!!



Thank ya thank ya. Don't know about the "master fabricator" part though. I just took my time and tried to focus on the details.



Thanks Warren but truth be told, I still have your address from our Christmas exchange in 2020. Problem is that I don't think either of us wants to pay shipping for this thing. Although much smaller than the last one I'm guessing this tips the scales in the 800 pound range. Probably be cheaper to load up the steel and tools, drive to your house, and build it on site :emoji_astonished:

Robert

Come on down but wait for better weather.
Warren
 
A few weeks ago I posted a cabinet smoker build I'd done and at the time, I was really happy with it, especially based on an extreme lack of metal fabricating experience. After running the smoker through the paces a few times I realized there were some major deficiencies. I was confident that the concept was sound but there were some fundamental flaws in execution. Did a couple mods to it which improved performance but it still missed several of my intended marks by a bunch. I decided to build a new one and turn the first one into scrap metal for future projects...whatever they may be. Once the decision was made to build a new one I spent hours doing every test on the first one I could think of. Wanted to find every possible way to improve the second one to meet (or hopefully exceed) my expectations. Here are the results of my testing:

Heat Distribution: I did not allow nearly enough opening space between the fire box and cook chamber for efficient transfer of heat and smoke. I used 2) 1" x 3" channels on each side as openings between the firebox and cook chamber. Those actually netted me 3/4" x 2 3/4" taking into account the thickness of the steel for a total of 8 1/4" square inches. Nowhere near enough. My thoughts were that by default the heat would effortlessly rise through the channels according to the laws of physics. That was a misnomer on my part.

Lower Damper Placement: I set the lower dampers fairly high to allow easy access to the control knob for the propane valve. Bad idea. The way the heat was coming off the heat deflector, and not having enough space to rise into the cook chamber, the heat was going right out of the dampers.

Chimney Placement: I installed the chimney on the first one centered left to right but at the back of the of the unit. Not efficient in the least. As the heat started to rise into the chimney and creating a draw as it's supposed to do, it was pulling the heat from the front to the back. I had balanced temps top to bottom but not front to back. It was about 20 degrees hotter in the back than it was in the front.

Heat Retention: I chose to use the steel on the first one based on the Rec Tec and the Weber. Both of those cookers have very thin steel but maintain temps effortlessly. I used much thicker steel but it did not have the same effect. Another misnomer on my part....and I should have known better.

So now to the new build. You'll see a lot of similarities between this one and the first one. Here are the side panels. I used 1" x 2" instead of 1" x 1" tubing to create a much wider space from the fire box to the cook chamber. Please note that each compartment is banded with 1/2" x 1/2" steel angle. I also cut the damper openings about 3 1/2" lower.
View attachment 523875

I located some industrial grade high heat foam insulation that has a Class 1 / Class A fire rating, which is the same as masonry products or fiber cement board. It is 1/4" thick and super easy to cut for installation. Lined both panels with 2 layers of it
View attachment 523876

The second steel plate installed inside over each section
View attachment 523877

Complete both side panels and attach them to the back
View attachment 523878

Build the top. This time I centered the opening for the top stack.
View attachment 523879

Attach the top to the back and side panels. This is also used to square up the sides.
View attachment 523880

Add 4 layers of insulation to the top
View attachment 523881

Install the second steel panel.
View attachment 523882

Build the heat deflector plate, attach it to the first panel going in between the fire box and cook chamber. Notice the openings on the sides. I went from the 4 small channels to a full 1 1/2" width running the full 18" length front to back for a total of 54 square inches of space. That's about a 650% increase in volume over the last one for a cook chamber that's half the size.
View attachment 523883

Install 4 layers of insulation in the bottom.
View attachment 523884

Band the entire back panel with 3/4" x 3/4" angle and install 3 layers of insulation
View attachment 523885

Add the second steel panel to the back and install the bottom. This time I drilled for the casters and bolted them on before welding the bottom. Last time is was no fun at all trying to hold those things in place and getting the bolts through from the inside. This was MUCH easier. Oh well...live and learn I guess.
View attachment 523886

The cook chamber door. Also banded with 3/4" x 3/4" angle and 3 layers of insulation installed then a second steel panel welded over the insulation.
View attachment 523887

Mount the doors, spring handle, tack the lower dampers in place, and fabricate one of the door latches. Decided not to do all the latches yet because if the doors settle the least bit when I stand it up I'll be cutting all the stuff off and redoing it. Also, this time I didn't mess around with chintzy junk hinges. I used some seriously heavy duty ones this time.
View attachment 523888

If any of you are religious, I could use a prayer or two right about now please. This thing is heavy beyond belief!!
View attachment 523889

Prayers answered. Thank you!!
View attachment 523890

Weld the top stack on, fabricate and install the rest of the door latches
View attachment 523891

Build small shelves for the sides, sleeve through one side for access getting temp probes through, and tack on the first of the 2-part damper. The sleeve is offset intentionally.
View attachment 523892
View attachment 523895

Build and install the top damper.At this point it's time to buff, polish, and prep it for paint.
View attachment 523896

Paint done. Time for final assembly.
View attachment 523897

While the paint is curing I build the cooking grates
View attachment 523898

They fit!!
View attachment 523899
Install all the bling...and there's a lot of it, almost to the point of being gaudy. Thing is that I got tired of burning my fingers every time I needed to do anything with the other one so I put stay-cool spring handles on everything.
View attachment 523900
View attachment 523901

Out to the patio, it's final resting place. Install the propane burners, connect the gas line, and fire this baby up for the initial burn-in
View attachment 523902

Did the burn-in for about 4 hours and decided to toss some thick cut pork loin chops on for smoke and sear.
View attachment 523903

A lazy man's dinner but it was oh so good, and oh so gratifying
View attachment 523904
View attachment 523905

It seems as though a lot of people are getting creative and building their own cookers recently so I thought I'm go into a lot of detail here so others can learn from my mistakes on the first build. It also seems as though the cabinet style smokers are gaining in popularity, and for good reason{s). They are very efficient, very effective, and you can cook a ton of food on a smoker that takes up very little space on the patio. Some folks just don't have 6-8 feet to dedicate to a conventional offset. This one is 24" wide, 18" deep, and the entire box is 48" tall with a 3 foot tall cook chamber. With that small of a unit, I could probably still do 6 full packer briskets at a time.

To say this build was a success would not be doing it justice. It hit on every mark I intended with the first one...and I mean a bulls-eye hit. Heat retention is outstanding with the entire cook chamber being double walled steel and insulated. At 250 degrees the sides of the cook chamber are barely warm. At 325 the sides shot between 118 and 120. That's doing well keeping the heat inside where it belongs. When I fired it up Friday it was 55 degrees and the smoker was up to 200 in about 10 minutes and at 275 in less than 20 minutes. That tells me I got ample opening space between the fire box and cook chamber, and the heat is not flowing out the dampers like the other one. With the top stack in the center it is drawing heat evenly from all 4 sides so chamber temps are perfectly balanced throughout. Mission accomplished!!

Many many thanks to all who have braved this thread. Once again also, my apologies for the absence the past week and a half. This project has been very exciting and somewhat all-consuming. I've checked and read most of the recent threads but time has not been available to reply with this thing sitting in the garage begging to be completed :emoji_wink: Got a few other things to catch up on around the house then I'll have time to be part of the SMF family again....assuming I'm still welcome after abandoning you twice in the last couple months :emoji_astonished:

Off to get some breakfast going,
Robert
Awesome build - I’m looking at purchasing an LSG insulated cabinet. Curious, how would you compare flavor out of a cabinet relative to an offset?
 
Wow! That is incredible craftsmanship! You have me second guessing the horizontal offset I ordered!

Thanks so much Jed. As far as I know however, there's no written law that says you can't have both. Ya sure can't pull the plug on Craig at this point but you can pull the trigger on a cabinet to be built :emoji_wink:

You may have found a great part time job if you wanted one...

Appreciate the kind words but I have no inclination to start another career as I'm about to retire.

This is not just a hobby anymore , I can see orders coming in,

Thank you David. The orders can pour in and will sit unfilled forever. This is just a hobby...just a hobby :emoji_laughing:

Robert
 
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Wow Robert, that smoker is a thing of beauty and a testament to your skill as a fabricator!

Thank you Joe but I'm far from being a fabricator. I'm just a guy that has finally learned some patience and has a determination to see a project through to completion.

PS the right tools make a huge difference!

Oh I know this. I spent my life working in the construction industry and have quite an extensive tool collection. This is just a new hobby and it's taking a bit of time to get the right equipment procured. Heck, till you replied to the last thread I didn't even know those tools existed...so thank you again for the info.

That's another great looking build Robert! Look forward to seeing many more cooks on it!

Thanks so much Ryan. Got some goodies ordered up that I plan to run on this baby...and one of those orders may entail several friends in attendance.

Robert
 
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Awesome build - I’m looking at purchasing an LSG insulated cabinet. Curious, how would you compare flavor out of a cabinet relative to an offset?

I've not done a comparison and doubt it'd be worthwhile. There's probably no difference in flavor at all. Both use the same heat source so if using the same wood and same seasonings you should get the same flavor.

Simply amazing Robert. You never cease to amaze me with the stuff you come up with. Truly a work of art my friend.

Thanks buddy. This one was a ton of fun because I had the confidence it'd come out right...and it did. Was a bit intimidated with the first one but this was a walk in the park.

Nice work!

I might have missed it, but how thick is the steel in the walls/skin for this one?

Both layers of steel are 1/8" for a total thickness of 1/4" plus the insulation. Thus far it's working great.

Robert
 
Thank you David. The orders can pour in and will sit unfilled forever. This is just a hobby...just a hobby :emoji_laughing:

Robert


Very good Robert , Nice to be able to retire , all the time to do what ever
your better half says is OK. Sounds just like here . Well except the retire thing,
as my boss is a prick and says not for a few more years yet. ha ha

David
 
Very good Robert , Nice to be able to retire , all the time to do what ever
your better half says is OK. Sounds just like here . Well except the retire thing,
as my boss is a prick and says not for a few more years yet. ha ha

David
We must work for the same guy! :emoji_blush:

Ryan
 
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Oh I know this. I spent my life working in the construction industry and have quite an extensive tool collection. This is just a new hobby and it's taking a bit of time to get the right equipment procured. Heck, till you replied to the last thread I didn't even know those tools existed...so thank you again for the info.

I also have these in my tool chest.....

The vari speed is nothing short of AWESOME!
https://www.zoro.com/bosch-5-variab...switch-and-dust-guard-gws13-50vsp/i/G3308201/

and this is the tool that you just need......
https://www.zoro.com/dewalt-1-12-40mm-die-grinder-dwe4887/i/G9090794/

I would love to have a vari speed die grinder but oh man they are proud of them!
https://www.zoro.com/metabo-variabl...-amp-paddle-switch-gep-710-plus/i/G401073136/
https://www.zoro.com/dewalt-2-in-50...rinder-with-no-lock-on-dwe4997nvs/i/G7364464/

edit.....
One last tool.....
https://www.zoro.com/milwaukee-deep-cut-variable-speed-band-saw-kit-6232-21/i/G4172621/
I have the harbor freight version of this one that I mounted to a mini table I made.......LOVE this thing!!!!!!! Use it it for both metal and wood!
https://www.harborfreight.com/power...p-deep-cut-variable-speed-band-saw-64194.html

I paid for the 2 year warrantee on the HF and burned one up 2 weeks before it expired so new one free.....If the second one burns up....milwaukee it will be...
 
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Awesome. some how I missed this great thread , life gets in the way of important stuff sometimes lol
 
Hey tx smoker, I'm planning out building a vertical brick smoker and poring through the smoker build threads to figure out what kind of design I want to go with. I was originally thinking of going with an offset firebox, but I got enough feedback saying it would take an offset brick smoker a long time to get up to temperature, so I'm leaning toward a vertical build. I like the look and concept of yours here, you did an amazing job with it!

Do you find that you get a pretty even temperature through the whole cooking chamber? I've also been looking into this kind of vertical reverse flow concept:
1678926944072.png

It looks like, instead of having channels to carry the smoke and heat all the way up the sides and then pull them down through the cooking chamber with a chimney opening at the bottom, you just put two open channels between the firebox and the cooking chamber, and then have a chimney at the top. Could you share why you went with this method after trying your original method, and instead of the one pictured above? I really like the simplicity of your design compared to this other one, and I'm leaning toward take it the way you did, but I'm curious to hear your reasoning. Thanks!
 
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