Help to build Charcoal Smoker

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Original poster
Aug 27, 2006
Falls of Rough, Kentucky
I am new to the forum and new to smoking meats. We are building a firebrick smoker and have the concrete slab finished- 40" long x 32" wide. We need some expert advice on how to best do this so please help. What we plan to do: Have a metal door in the center front at the bottom for clean out. On the second round of bricks on the left side have an adjustable vent the size of one brick. Up a few rounds higher have another adjustable vent (same size) on the right side. Up 18" from the floor run 3 rebar the lenght of the oven that an oven rack can be set on to hold the meat. The charcoal would be placed on the bottom left and then tapered off across the floor for the Minion method. The meat would be placed oh the rack to the far right. A dial thermometer would be mortared into the brick in the front at the height of the meat rack so as not to have to open the oven to check temperature. The top would be fitted with a tight fitted piece of metal with handles. Now we are certainly open for suggestions for improvements. Also some questions- Should we also make some holes in the morter up a few inches higher so rebars could slide in to raise the cooking rack to give us more control? Is 18" abut right for the height of the cooking rack? We want to place a water pan in the oven over the heat but I think the 18" high rack would be too high. What height should it be? Will we need a grate on the concrete to put charcoal on or can we just put it directly on the concrete? Are the size and placement of the vents okay? We were planning to make in 34" high. Does that seem about right? It might need to be aslightly higher if we fix it for another higher cooking shelf. Please do help with info. I understand there are some very knowledgable experts in the forum and we really want to do this right but don't have a clue as to the best way to do this. Thanks.
Welcome aboard, tmarevans! At some point get on up to the roll call section and introduce yourself and tell us a little about you!

I have some comments and suggestions and I certainly hope that the others will review my comments.

First of all, is there a competent mason involved in this project? There are different types of mortars which can be used here.

I WOULD NOT build my fire directly on the concrete slab. Definitly line your fire area with firebrick. The fire, if laid directly on the concrete, will crack it all to smithereens in no time!

You are most correct in using grills placed over the rebar for cooking and the idea of a moveable shelf system is a good one.

With a 40X30 footprint you could go up a ways and make a larger chamber for smoking whole hams, hanging salami or summer sausage or whatever. Just a suggestion.

If you are going to this degree of effort to build a smoker then I would suggest an offset chamber as well for cold smoking. Again, just a suggestion.

Well, now that I have opened up more questions than answers I wish you the best of luck on your endeavour!
Thanks Monty for the quick response. I appreciate the new ideas and will give us something to think about. We had thought about going higher but thought maybe keeping it more compact would be more efficent. We did not know. We are just getting started so we really appreciate your help.
Thanks so very much for the link. It was really a big help and much appreciated. It certainly answered a lot of questions. Now we can proceed with the construction. I can't hardly wait to try out some of these wonderful recipes that I have seen posted.
Thanks for the reply.
Yes, that was one of the plans that was on the link that Smoke Watcher sent to me. That was a very impressive smoker pit. It was very helpful and I appreciate your sending it along. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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