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Concrete Block Smoker

8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
Ok so i have always used an electric smoker and decided to try something new. I wanted to buy a real nice trailer smoker but the wife was not going to allow that. I came across plans for a concrete brick smoker and said why not try it. 2 days later it’s done and I’m waiting to pick up the expanded steel grate and steel plate for the fire box with in the next day. I also still need to get the concrete block caps.

I’m debating on ordering a steel plate for the top of the pit also. Right now it’s plywood with a plan to add a heat shield to it but i can not find anything that would work.

has anyone ever used this design? I have seen quite a few and then seem to work great.
I need to get fire brick to line the sides of the fire box but other then that i cant think of anything else.

Any insight would be awesome!
 

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Palermo79

Newbie
12
3
Joined Apr 20, 2020
Ok so i have always used an electric smoker and decided to try something new. I wanted to buy a real nice trailer smoker but the wife was not going to allow that. I came across plans for a concrete brick smoker and said why not try it. 2 days later it’s done and I’m waiting to pick up the expanded steel grate and steel plate for the fire box with in the next day. I also still need to get the concrete block caps.

I’m debating on ordering a steel plate for the top of the pit also. Right now it’s plywood with a plan to add a heat shield to it but i can not find anything that would work.

has anyone ever used this design? I have seen quite a few and then seem to work great.
I need to get fire brick to line the sides of the fire box but other then that i cant think of anything else.

Any insight would be awesome!
I just built one a few weeks ago as a bit of a test. I fired it up and it smoked pretty well. I didn’t put any meat on it because I wanted a nice coat of black in the pit to lay down any dust. The only modification I did during that build was extend out the firebox and addition 8 inches so I could fit larger logs. I did use a 1/4 plate cover with handles welded onI also put a 22 gauge piece of metal on the bottom of each 3/4 inch piece of plywood over the pit area, this worked well but I left it out in the rain and it warped the wood.

Last weekend I moved the pit around in the yard so I wasn’t smoking out my neighbor and I decided to change some things.

1. I put some moisture barrier down beneath the pit area and poured 3 inches of concrete over it to make sure I didn’t have moisture drawn in from the ground.
2. I filled the cells with sand for extra insulation. I think a little over a 1/4 yard did the trick.
3. I went back with 3/4 treated plywood with a heat resistant paint and the 22 gauge metal back on the bottom of those.

Just wrapped all this up and I’m planning to smoke it pretty good tomorrow and get an idea of how she holds heat. All that fun stuff. If all goes well, which I’m sure it will, I’ll be shopping tomorrow afternoon for a butt, some ribs, and anything else that catches my eye. I may put a brisket on but haven’t decided. I’ll be feeding my neighbors Saturday night most likely, I’m sure they won’t mind.

4. The last modification, at least for now, is going to be putting in a 5” stove pipe with a damper and a rain cap. I have some mesh that I’m going to lay at the opening of the exhaust with the 5” stove pipe in the middle and I’m going to surround the stove pipe in the half blocks with concrete so the smoke willdraw through the pipe and I can control.

5. I said last, but I really want to put in a door where the draw is so I can watch the fire And mess with the logs a little easier. I’ll probably have to build this out of angle iron... more to come in that.

I’ll post about it this weekend. Have my notepad out this evening trying to figure out what exactly I’m in the mood to cook and what recipe I plan to use.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

SmokinEdge

Master of the Pit
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Joined Jan 18, 2020
Grate placement will be key in the cook chamber. Also will you have a plate to cover the fire box?

I built this same cooker when I first started. I learned a lot.
 

fivetricks

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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Joined Jan 7, 2017
I run this exact design. Let me give you some tips that will save you some trouble.

First you need to fill all of that block with sand otherwise you're going to be burning a ton more wood.

Second get a quarter inch thick steel plate just to cover the fire box. It would be entirely too heavy if you got one to cover the entire pit. For the pit I used a piece of 3/4-in OSB and covered it with several layers of aluminum foil to act as a barrier and prevent any bleed out from the OSB.

as far as your inlet to the cook chamber goes you may end up finding that you have to move it up one course of block. Maybe, maybe not.

also you need to add an upper air inlet to your firebox. I don't care what those plans say. It improves things a million fold. Efficient on fuel and your firebox stays at a much lower temperature. when I first built mine it looked just like yours and I had to burn so much wood so hot that it actually permanently arched my quarter inch plate and turned it red because I had to generate so much heat in the firebox just to get the heat to the cook chamber. when I added the upper air inlet that all changed. Now everything is cool and just cruises.

Also I might recommend adding cap blocks all the way around. They're very cheap, and they really make the whole thing look nice. I will attach pictures of mine below and you can get some ideas of what I have had to do to mine to make it sing.

You will notice I ended up adding mortar into all the voids on the inside of the chamber. It keeps it from leaking and keeps your air flow proper


go ahead and check out my post in the following thread. It has all the pictures and a brief summary of what each picture is showing. You will be able to follow what I am saying once you look at those pictures.

 

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Palermo79

Newbie
12
3
Joined Apr 20, 2020
I run this exact design. Let me give you some tips that will save you some trouble.

First you need to fill all of that block with sand otherwise you're going to be burning a ton more wood.

Second get a quarter inch thick steel plate just to cover the fire box. It would be entirely too heavy if you got one to cover the entire pit. For the pit I used a piece of 3/4-in OSB and covered it with several layers of aluminum foil to act as a barrier and prevent any bleed out from the OSB.

as far as your inlet to the cook chamber goes you may end up finding that you have to move it up one course of block. Maybe, maybe not.

also you need to add an upper air inlet to your firebox. I don't care what those plans say. It improves things a million fold. Efficient on fuel and your firebox stays at a much lower temperature. when I first built mine it looked just like yours and I had to burn so much wood so hot that it actually permanently arched my quarter inch plate and turned it red because I had to generate so much heat in the firebox just to get the heat to the cook chamber. when I added the upper air inlet that all changed. Now everything is cool and just cruises.

Also I might recommend adding cap blocks all the way around. They're very cheap, and they really make the whole thing look nice. I will attach pictures of mine below and you can get some ideas of what I have had to do to mine to make it sing.

You will notice I ended up adding mortar into all the voids on the inside of the chamber. It keeps it from leaking and keeps your air flow proper


go ahead and check out my post in the following thread. It has all the pictures and a brief summary of what each picture is showing. You will be able to follow what I am saying once you look at those pictures.

You have me rethinking my plan to put in a stove pipe, looks like you have more air in and out on your pit.
 
8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
Grate placement will be key in the cook chamber. Also will you have a plate to cover the fire box?

I built this same cooker when I first started. I learned a lot.
Yea i am picking up all the metal parts today. A plate for the fire box. They are wielding the expanded steel to angle iron and putting handles on it to make it easier to lift out.
In the plans they seem to have the grate placed a little high. Not sure a large pig would fit under so i think I’m going to move it down or make it adjustable.
 
8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
I run this exact design. Let me give you some tips that will save you some trouble.

First you need to fill all of that block with sand otherwise you're going to be burning a ton more wood.

Second get a quarter inch thick steel plate just to cover the fire box. It would be entirely too heavy if you got one to cover the entire pit. For the pit I used a piece of 3/4-in OSB and covered it with several layers of aluminum foil to act as a barrier and prevent any bleed out from the OSB.

as far as your inlet to the cook chamber goes you may end up finding that you have to move it up one course of block. Maybe, maybe not.

also you need to add an upper air inlet to your firebox. I don't care what those plans say. It improves things a million fold. Efficient on fuel and your firebox stays at a much lower temperature. when I first built mine it looked just like yours and I had to burn so much wood so hot that it actually permanently arched my quarter inch plate and turned it red because I had to generate so much heat in the firebox just to get the heat to the cook chamber. when I added the upper air inlet that all changed. Now everything is cool and just cruises.

Also I might recommend adding cap blocks all the way around. They're very cheap, and they really make the whole thing look nice. I will attach pictures of mine below and you can get some ideas of what I have had to do to mine to make it sing.

You will notice I ended up adding mortar into all the voids on the inside of the chamber. It keeps it from leaking and keeps your air flow proper


go ahead and check out my post in the following thread. It has all the pictures and a brief summary of what each picture is showing. You will be able to follow what I am saying once you look at those pictures.

Caps are on order. For some reason Home Depot Lowe’s and menards are not carrying them in stock right now.

I’m definitely going to add the upper air inlet.

I do plan on adding mortar and sand once i try it out and i make sure i don’t need to move anything.

funny thing is we are actually selling this house in sept and moving to a bigger one with a nice barn. So this is more of just a test so i can build the final one at the new house. However buys this house is getting a good smoker and grill combo lol
 
8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
I just built one a few weeks ago as a bit of a test. I fired it up and it smoked pretty well. I didn’t put any meat on it because I wanted a nice coat of black in the pit to lay down any dust. The only modification I did during that build was extend out the firebox and addition 8 inches so I could fit larger logs. I did use a 1/4 plate cover with handles welded onI also put a 22 gauge piece of metal on the bottom of each 3/4 inch piece of plywood over the pit area, this worked well but I left it out in the rain and it warped the wood.

Last weekend I moved the pit around in the yard so I wasn’t smoking out my neighbor and I decided to change some things.

1. I put some moisture barrier down beneath the pit area and poured 3 inches of concrete over it to make sure I didn’t have moisture drawn in from the ground.
2. I filled the cells with sand for extra insulation. I think a little over a 1/4 yard did the trick.
3. I went back with 3/4 treated plywood with a heat resistant paint and the 22 gauge metal back on the bottom of those.

Just wrapped all this up and I’m planning to smoke it pretty good tomorrow and get an idea of how she holds heat. All that fun stuff. If all goes well, which I’m sure it will, I’ll be shopping tomorrow afternoon for a butt, some ribs, and anything else that catches my eye. I may put a brisket on but haven’t decided. I’ll be feeding my neighbors Saturday night most likely, I’m sure they won’t mind.

4. The last modification, at least for now, is going to be putting in a 5” stove pipe with a damper and a rain cap. I have some mesh that I’m going to lay at the opening of the exhaust with the 5” stove pipe in the middle and I’m going to surround the stove pipe in the half blocks with concrete so the smoke willdraw through the pipe and I can control.

5. I said last, but I really want to put in a door where the draw is so I can watch the fire And mess with the logs a little easier. I’ll probably have to build this out of angle iron... more to come in that.

I’ll post about it this weekend. Have my notepad out this evening trying to figure out what exactly I’m in the mood to cook and what recipe I plan to use.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Yea i am having an issue with trying to figure out what to cover the pit with. I know that plywood is not going to work. I thought about 3 pieces of steel plate with handles. But I’m not sure yet.
 

Palermo79

Newbie
12
3
Joined Apr 20, 2020
You have me rethinking my plan to put in a stove pipe, looks like you have more air in and out on your pit.
Would you recommend something like this....
1587736098829.png
stacked 2 high to match the demensions of the block for the upper area of the fire box?
 

Palermo79

Newbie
12
3
Joined Apr 20, 2020
Caps are on order. For some reason Home Depot Lowe’s and menards are not carrying them in stock right now.

I’m definitely going to add the upper air inlet.

I do plan on adding mortar and sand once i try it out and i make sure i don’t need to move anything.

funny thing is we are actually selling this house in sept and moving to a bigger one with a nice barn. So this is more of just a test so i can build the final one at the new house. However buys this house is getting a good smoker and grill combo lol
That is funny, I started this project because I wanted to find something to put a whole hog on as we have quite a few wild hogs on our farm. Just testing it all out before I build one out there too.
 
8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
That is funny, I started this project because I wanted to find something to put a whole hog on as we have quite a few wild hogs on our farm. Just testing it all out before I build one out there too.
That’s my goal. I want to do a whole hog. Done a few roasts but i always used someone’s else’s roaster.
 

fivetricks

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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809
Joined Jan 7, 2017
Would you recommend something like this.... View attachment 442016 stacked 2 high to match the demensions of the block for the upper area of the fire box?

This is what I bought. Menards actually doesn't carry them in stock as a policy. You just order them and they have them ready for you at the store


I promise the blocks look much nicer than the picture.

As far as mine having more air flow, yes this is absolutely true. It took me A couple of years and a couple of modifications and some advice to come up with this final design. And now it just comes. It's not even describable how much more efficient it is
 

Palermo79

Newbie
12
3
Joined Apr 20, 2020
Fired mine up today with a lot of heat and it was really starting to roll, pit got to 245 and the heat caused the 1/4 inch plate to warp and I lost all my heat through the lid... I'm going to run up to the hardware store and grab a couple half blocks for an upper air inlet... Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way. Want to get this dialed in before meat goes on tomorrow.

One silver lining is that my temp variance at grate is a little less than 10 degrees from from to back.
 

SmokinEdge

Master of the Pit
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★ Lifetime Premier ★
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Joined Jan 18, 2020
What are your recommendations for grate placement?
Grate bellow exit, but exit as high as possible to create draw or draft. These chambers are large enough in volume to allow the heat to go straight up to the lid, and the lid is very leaky. I found it difficult to push the heat down in the cook chamber without burning a lot of wood with hot fire. Then that would make overall chamber temps too high. Your right that the original design has the grate and exit too high for a whole hog, these are some of the reasons why that I have stated. In a whole hog cook the heat radiating from directly bellow the meat is best. Such as coals that can be added as the cook progresses. Otherwise the hog will get done on the inlet side and be under cooked on the outlet side. I actually had large pieces of meat cook on the top, and be rare on bottom. I even tried to make this design work as a reverse flow. Then I abandon the design for draft cooking, but would use this design with the ability to add hot coals under the meat during the cook. This is just my experience. Ymmv
 
8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
Well i got it fired up. Warped the steel plate right away Guess i need to order a thicker one. I didn’t take any temps but figured I’d get it hot and let it run for a while to cook any crap off the steel and rebar.
Found a few leaks that are not bad. The biggest one is the steel plate.

this is my first time ever using a smoker like this so I’m sure i have a ton to learn. Especially with maintaining temp and a good fire!!
 

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fivetricks

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
1,667
809
Joined Jan 7, 2017
So, re: your now warped lid:

Add a block or two to extend your chimney. This will increase draft.

Get yourself a 5 gallon bucket full of sand. Remove your metal lid and shovel sand on top of the blocks where the lid sits. Place lid on top of sand. This will fill and close the warped area.
 
8
3
Joined Apr 23, 2020
Update:

After testing it a few times to see how it holds temp I used it yesterday for wings. Came out awesome. I tossed on a Arm Roast just to see. It came out with good flavor but dry.

Realized i actually have about two or three different temp zones. The middle i kept around 225-250. The end near the fire box was around 275-300. Other then that, which i can use to my advantage it worked perfect.

No major leaks and it didn’t take much wood to keep it going.

Just ordered 90lbs of wood. Have a lot more smoking to do!!
 

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Palermo79

Newbie
12
3
Joined Apr 20, 2020
Looks great, I need to fire mine up soon. The fire zone's were something I found as well. I thought there would be less of a variable. It's fine as long as you know about it and you can plan your cook out.
 

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