Has anyone built a smoker where the smoke box was underneath or behind the cook chamber and the smok

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Feb 1, 2011
Ive been thinking about building a smoker from a 50 or 100 gallon propane bottle as the cook box and a 35 gal steel drum as the smoke box. I was going to pipe the smoke in through 3 or 4  6inch steel pipes with dampers on all of them so I could control how much heat/smoke is coming through to the cook box. Ive looked all over online and have seen very few smokers built this way. Any thoughts or comments- I had a cheapy unit that had the smoke box on the side and the heat throughout the cook box tempature was always uneven, thats why Ive decided to put the smoke box underneath the cook box and control the smoke intake with dampers Again any thoughts?

for cold smoking that would be great. For hot smoking i' afraid you would have trouble maintaining  225-230°. But, never having tried it ,Who knows?

Looks like you have the equipment to make a reverse flow smoker.  You may want to check the posts from people doing that.  I am not sure how having multiple pipes is going to give you the heat control you are looking for unless you intend to vent excess heat to the outside.  I believe if you have the pipes dampered down the gasses in that pipe will just get hotter not really solving your problem.  NOW if the pipes enter the cooking chamber and exhaust on to a heavy steel plate that will evenly distribute the heat you may have something.  If the fire chamber can be dampered to slow or speed up the fire you have even more control.

We generally control heat by the amount of oxygen that gets to the fire.  Not the amount of fire/smoke that gets to the cooking chamber.

Hope my rambling helps in some small way

for cold smoking that would be great. For hot smoking i' afraid you would have trouble maintaining  225-230°. But, never having tried it ,Who knows?

I agree with Eman,

I've seen a few wood built smoke houses where the fire was in another place, like in the ground, in a woodstove, or in a barrel, and then piped or trenched into the smoke house. Great cold smoking.

I guess you could probably get a lot more heat, since your heat won't be far away.

Both of these maintain temps at a decent rate. Not the most efficient but decent.

When I built them I knew nothing about the forums and it just seemed like a good way to go about things.

The first has actually been used for tons of jerky and my buddy said he couldn't be happier. He only had to rotate racks from top to bottom.

The second was built from four drums pieced together making it somewhat insulated.

Both have a small diffuser plate to help avoid a hot spot.


Thanks so much for the responses, I need to explain a little more about what I had in mind in addition to what I originaly said the smoke box would have a damper to controll how much oxygen would come in and the cook box would have a damper to control the exhaust leaving it also.  My fire box would only be like 4-6 inches beneth the cook box, so its pretty close. Im definatly no expert, but I would think that the longer the smoke travels the cooler it gets, so if it only has to travel 4-6 inches upward I would think it would still be hot.  Heres a link I found that uses the design Im thinking about only I wouldnt be useing 55 gal drum, id be using a large propane tank and a 35 gallon drum for the smoke box

check it out

Tom37 Can you maintain 200 degrees? If so how long can you cook before the temp drops and you have to add fuel? Is there a damper controling the smoke going in?
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The both of these will hold and maintain 200/250 no problem. The second one went to a wanna be smoker and he can't/wont use it so I honestly cant give a time frame on that one. I did cook on it twice before he took it tho, and it did great.

The first pic is single wall so it did not do as well as the second. I just tried to call my buddy and get a time frame on holding 225 but he didnt answer. It was built in 2004 and I would be guessing if I was to give a time frame, as soon as he calls back I will post the results.

Its going to make him sad asking about it since he just lost custody of it in a nasty divorce.
. And she won't even use it, poor thing is gonna rust away.

Poor guy, bless his heart. I'm gonna have to set him up with a nice little compact rig so he can get back to smoking.
Thanks for the response. So if a smoker has thicker steel it is more efficient? Is it important for the cook box and the smoke box to be heavy steel or just the cook box?  I have a large propane tank for the cook box but I only have a 35 gallon drum like yours for the burn box (thinner than the propane bottle).  I could probably scrounge up somthing thicker for the burn box. Does it make a pretty big difference to have a thick burn box as to keeping the coals burning for a long time?

Thats a major issue for me. Currently, I have a brinkman bullet style smoker and it doesent have a way to regulate the air intake into the burn area so the coals burn out within 2-3 hours. I want a set up where i can crank the air intake down and have it burn a long time.  So again the question is (aside from the intake air being regulated into the smoke box) Does the wall thickness of the smoke box allow it to burn/STAY HOT longer? 

Thanks for all your help



Imo, the thicker metal does help hold the heat a little better.  Thinnner metal will burn out a little quicker too.  I built a smoker similar to what you have in mind.  I don't have any dampers between the fire box and cooking chamber, but I regulate the temperature from a damper on the fire box.  I really enjoy mine.  Maybe it is because I built it myself.  I solve the hot spots where the pipes come into the bottom by using water pans.  I am sure that a regular side fire box or a reverse flow work fine also but I wanted something a little different than what everyone else has.  Here is a pic of it before I added the wheels and painted it.
Thanks for the post andy. Could you tell me what the dimensions are on your cooker?  What you have designed is exactly what I had pictured in my mind. How do the water trays work

Thanks Sean
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The fire box and the cooking chamber are made out of 16 in pipe.  The cooking chamber is around 40 inches long and the fire box is around 18 inches long.  Imo, 16 in pipe is almost too small of a diameter for the cooking chamber.  I works okay for the firebox.  For me 24 in  would be ideal.  The water trays set in the cooking chamber, under the grate and right above where the pipes come in the bottom.  They diffuse the direct blast of heat you get from the firebox being underneath.  If my smoker wasnt under a mountain of snow I would take some pics of the water pans and post them for you.  I may dig it out later and get some.
Hey Sean, I'm in the middle of a rear firebox build now. It is a 6- long rottisserie with a 6' long firebox mounted below and to the rear of the cooking chamber. I have 4 -  4" x 10" dampers between the firebox and cooking chamber to control smoke and heat. I think it will work great. I'll post some pictures tomarrow, but in the meantime go to www.sybbq.com and click on their 6' BBQ Smoker and you will see what I'm talking about. Mine is very similar to theirs. Good luck with the build. Almost forgot, I also have dampers to cut down on air entering the firebox to extend the life of the burn.
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This maybe a new approach, or maybe not. I havent been able to find a build like this, but I am building the below project! It will feature a propane rail that we built and used in the previous smoker we built, the previous unit had a cooking camber 5 times the volume and would reach 400 degrees in 4 minutes, and a max of 900 degrees. The intention on this smoker is actually a dual purpose. I would like to use it as a traditional smoker, using the propane rail to preheat and actually ignite the wood fire then shut off the propane or if I want to cook steaks, salmon, etc I could use propane and obtain an extreme high heat for quick searing.

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