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Exotic timber smokeshed

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by zootalaws, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    Today I am starting my smokeshed - smaller than a smokehouse, but bigger than I probably need. I am anticipating that when my friends find out what great stuff I am producing, it will get more use :)

    I live on the humid, hot and insect-infested island of Borneo and as such, all my materials will be sourced locally, including the Meranti timber ( Luan/Philippine mahogany)

    I opted for 6x1 planks of rough-sawn Meranti on a carcass of 2x2s - because it was dry, cheap and resists bugs, rot, and screws together well. I won't show you the state of the shipping case that we put outside under the carport after 12 months - suffice it to say, it looks like a pile of rubbish has been dumped there. You can tell that it once was plywood, but apart from that, not much of a clue as to what it was. 85%+ humidity and 25-35C temps with a lot of insect action is enough to destroy anything that isn't from here. It was made from pine 3ply and made a tasty meal for all the locals.

    My dimensions are: 1200w, 1000 deep, 1200 high (48"w, 40"d, 48"h), for a total internal volume of  1440L or 50cuFt.

    I will be hot and cold smoking, but more cold than hot, initially.

    The door and roof panels will be made from tongue and grooved 6x1s - the door will have a frame to strengthen it, but I didn't bother drawing it - I will just size/cut it after I have made the frame. I will be using a kreg jig and stainless screws for the frame and countersunk stainless screws for the planks.

    My smoke source is a Smokai venturi smoker from my homeland of NZ (kai = Maori for food - so smoke+food :) ) and I am waiting for delivery of a PID setup to go with my single-element cooktop for my source of heat.

    My daughter is bringing the Smokai with her when she visits over Xmas. I need to have all my goodies brined, dried and ready to go when she gets here- it will only be 6 days to Xmas.

    If anyone sees me making a complete hash of things, just sing out. I'm not proud and the quality of my woodworking is definitely of the 'bush' variety.

    I didn't put in a chimney deliberately, but if I am wrong in this, someone give me a reason to put one in. The sliding dampers will allow me to close it right up when not in use to stop the local ant colonies from deciding to set up house - I have counted more than 20 varieties of ant just around our property and they all love to find places to set up shop.

    I haven't been able to find a suitably fine mesh to use to keep the small insects out, so I just went for a completely closed box approach. I have some half-centimetre mesh which I will double over to give me a near quarter-cm mesh to keep out the flying buggers while I am in operation and I will stand the legs of the box in old bean tins filled with engine oil to keep the crawlers from venturing up the legs. Making sure it is free-standing is the key here - I had a piece of timber leaning against a stack of plywood and two months later when I went to my ply rack, three of the 3/4" sheets were ruined as an ant colony decided to take a couple of layers off both sides of a sheet and the two sheets facing that, to make a nice ant farm. If oyu give them an easy route in, they will take it.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  2. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    The timber - pretty straight for round here:

    My 'workshop' is a nightmare place infested with mosquitos, continually bombarded with bamboo leaves (big bamboo jungle next door) and with the odd visitor - like cobra or 10ft pythons who like timber to hide in. To keep th attentions of the mossies to a minimum, I wear long trousers and a long-sleeved t-shirt - and then you sweat like a fat boy running for the bus. It's a fine line between getting any work done, staying alive and hydrated. I can go through 2L an hour of water. The next house we get will have an air-conditioned double garage for me to house my CNC router :)

    The wire mesh I will be using and the tip of my Asian Safety Boot (flip-flop/jandal/thong) showing up in frame.
  3. Hello.  The chimney helps with drawing air as I am sure you know.  I can understand why you left it out.  The basic design seems sound.  You may/may not need more vents and or chimney but these won't be too hard to add if you find you need them.  I'd go with the design and give 'er a try.  The  only real problem I can see is outside temp and humidity for cold smoking.  That might be tricky.  Ice blocks ( water frozen in gallon jugs ) in that smoker might work.  Hopefully some one else has a better idea.  Good luck.  Keep us posted.

  4. jweller

    jweller Fire Starter

    That looks like it will work well. As mentioned, if you need a stack you can always add it later.

    I used to work for a company that did a lot of work in Indonesia, I really miss it. Beautiful country and great food. We would find ants in our electrical boxes all the time, along with geckos. I never saw the tin can full of motor oil trick, but that sounds like something the locals would come up with, very resourceful people.
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I like the design of the air inlets and exhaust.... excellent.... you will find they don't drip on your food... The only way to vent a smoke house... :2thumbs:
  6. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    Temps are a problem, but there are a couple of commercial smokers around that seem to cope pretty well. Cleanliness is key, I think. The ice idea is interesting - I will look up some old ice-box designs and see if I can incorporate them. I can buy solid blocks of ice pretty cheaply - a couple of bucks for a 20L block. 

    Our meat is super fresh - when I go down and buy my pork at 9am, it has been killed that morning (4-5am) and I can buy it before it has been butchered from primal cuts. The same goes for chicken - killed the morning I buy it, although all our beef comes in from Australia, either frozen or chilled (mega $$$ for chilled!).

    I would like to make salami, etc, but short of buying an old fridge and making it into a PID-controlled humidity/temp cabinet, I will have to settle for awful processed muck.

    Thanks for your helpful comments, Dave. Appreciate it.
  7. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    What with the christmas rush, picking up relatives, etc. the build ended up being a bit rushed.

    I went for a sliding door, rather than a hinged and latched one.

    First smoke went fantastic - 2 chickens, a side of salmon, 10 kg of streaky and loin bacon and a couple of ham loins.

    I couldn't get my hot smoke high enough so took it all out and finished it in the oven. I need to find a better heat source - my single pot boiler just couldn't cut it, even with all the vents closed.

    I've seen a two-ring electric element down at the local Chinese supermarket for about $25 - I will get that an cannibalise it.

    I need to work out a way to heat the box without getting food splatter on the heat source.

    Any ideas from the pros?

    I found a good source of used aluminium baking trays - large, bakery sized ones for $15 - I think I might set one up as a shield, with a bend in it to act as a drain, from there it will go to a disposable aluminium roasting tray. All the drippings will funnel down and into the disposable roasting tray. I can probably rustle up an old roasting tin from my shed if that works out.

    Off to smoke some chili green-lip mussels and a side of salmon :)

    I'm enjoying this lark!
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Zoot, morning.... Hey, there's nothing immoral about finish cooking stuff in the oven... That was the process years ago... Smoke it for long term storage.... cook it when you get the time...

  9. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    Thanks Dave,

    Good to know :)
  10. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    And I think I do. I deliberately didn't permanently fix the roof, so I can rearrange things to add a chimney. It does seem to draw OK, but having a stack would tidy things up and allow a 'managed' circulation of air.

    Have done quite a bit in it over christmas - smoked salmon - hot and cold, loin ham, bacon, fish, mussels, cheese.

    I have become quite interested in smoked cheese as a sideline. I can get 2.5kg blocks of mature cheddar at a good price - they are just the right size - about 3" x 2.5" on a side so they cut neatly into 200gm portions at around 1.5" thick. I have a couple of varieties that should have matured enough now that they no longer smell like an ashtray :)

    I've invested in a vacuum sealer, which is much neater and cleaner and more hygienic than using glad wrap.

    The smoked salmon was superb. I was concerned about the ambient temps, but it ended up just perfect. The only problem with that is getting good sides of fresh salmon here. Frozen is no good - the texture is all wrong. We did have a once-a-week shipment from Australia, but the supplier has stopped shipping here - too small a market, I suspect.

    We have a local variety of catfish that is cheap and plentiful. I brined and smoked some to use for kedgeree, fish cakes, fish pie, etc. It was good, flavour-wise, but the texture is too soft to pass for haddock or cod. I'll keep looking.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Zoot, morning...... If you want to try and firm up the fish..... You can try the salting/cure method for Lox.... salt, cure, spices.... weighed for the individual filet.... sprinkled on..... weighted to compress the fish.... wait... rinse/dry/pellicle formation and smoke...
    Try something.... like in this thread..... you may come up with a winner.... go into business... travel the world... maybe even to Omak...


  12. zootalaws

    zootalaws Newbie

    I hadn't thought of that, Dave. :)

    Travelling sounds l like a good idea.