1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

How to build a WSM mini..... (This thread is incomplete and will be added to)

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by fwismoker, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Ok first of all there are two types of minis...one is made from the Smokey Joe Silver and one is made from the Smokey Joe Gold.  what is the difference?

    Smokey Joe Gold (SJG) has two 1" holes on each side of the bottom half of the grill.  If you were choosing only a grill imo it's NOT the best spot to have the intake air.  If you are making a smoker out of it then it's better to have the air from the sides (if) you have a charcoal basket made for it.  This is very easy to do. 

    Smokey Joe Silver (SJS) This grill has the intake air introduced from the bottom of the grill.  This is GREAT for grilling but not so much for smoking because the ash clogs up the air intake.  This can be partially remedied by having a pet bowl or can placed over the air intake and drilling or punching holes into the side of the bowl so the smoker can still get air despite the ash build up.

    When i was searching  mini threads i decided to go with the SJG for the reason that it had less modifications that were needed to be done for a  really good smoker.  *** Note.  Either grill can be made into good smokers. 

     OK the next thing to think about is whether you want your mini to perform like a UDS or a WSM.  What do i mean by that???

    What i mean is typically in a UDS which is a Ugly Drum Smoker the drippings from the meat fall into the fire basket which then in turn flash back into the smoke and help add flavor to your cook.    Some folks don't like the flavor of lots of  the fat coming back onto their meat and prefer to catch them ALL with a bowl.   Sometimes that bowl is filed with water and sometimes that bowl is foiled. 

    WSM... WSM's are sometimes referred to as water smokers.  Don't let this term confuse you because you can do with out the water in 95% plus of your cooks and get great results.  The water in a water smoker will help with temperature control but it will also chew through more fuel in charcoal then you need to go through. ****Note ******  Water does NOT add moisture to your meat.

    Alright onto the basics of the build. 

    SJG mini build.   Nothing needs to be done to the grill itself but only the tamale pot that you choose. (to be continued)
  2. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    [​IMG]   I am watching.
  3. little smokey

    little smokey Smoking Fanatic

    Please hit every detail and part being used and why.  I am waiting out the holidays to get my Tamale pot since I am sure they will go down in price soon after.  Otherwise I have a old smoky Joe silver I am going to clean up and paint while I am waiting for the pot.  Also another request, as you are building and explaining can you also explain why each part of the build would be different on a Silver or what you would do to make the silver work.

    Thank you I was going to ask if someone would do this, so thank.
  4. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    [​IMG]  lets do it!
  5. jsclow

    jsclow Fire Starter

    I am very interested in this build as I am a newbie, have a SJ Silver and am looking for good options to get started and some smoke in the air. I have been looking at a Smoke Hollow 4 in 1 but it is an expensive buy here and after reading about all the mode, I would like to get started cheap and easy and ASAP.  Anxiously waiting...

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  6. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    My friend… If you're looking to smoke on the cheap then look no further than building yourself a mini.  And the best part is that these are high quality smokers and in many cases are as good or even better than one you could buy from a retail store. 

    If you've already got the smokey joe, then another 75 bucks or less will get you a versatile grill that transforms into the best pint sized smoker ever. 

    You will find in this area detail explantation on how to build one. Do some reading and ask questions. 

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Yea i do need to finish this i guess...lol       I'm mainly doing this one as for a SJG build but it can be modified to perform  like a gold.    Golds perform better with out question imo.   
  8. JckDanls 07

    JckDanls 07 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    BY ALL MEANS... you are heading in the right direction with this build.... I was in the same boat your in.... I had the WSJ (weber smokey joe) already and wanted something pint sized to take camping... found the Mini Weber Smokey Mountain... built it... have been using it ever since... I have a barrel smoker and it hasn't been used in over a year.... The Mini is my go to smoker... Even used it in a Competition a week ago to smoke a Boston Butt and it performed flawless... Cheap, Efficient, Portable, Easy,... you will also still be able to use the SMJ as a grill as it was origionally intended for...

    A set of Maverick Digital Thermometer's(ET732 or ET 733) will also be your best friend.. or the smokers best friend...
  9. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

                 Continued.............                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Ok the next step in the process once you have your pot will be to cut out the bottom of the pot.  Some will drill holes in the bottom of the pot.  I didn't do that for a couple of reasons.

    1) I want the ability to stack more charcoal into my basket for longer burns and cooks such as pork butts. 

    2) I want to use the steamer pan that comes in my pot as my only diffuser... unless i do two level cooks and will address this later. 

    Choosing the right pot.... there are basically two brands of pots you'll want to look at.  One is a Imusa 32 quart tamale pot which you can find at any Walmart and the other is the Vasconia 32 quart tamale pot.   Not all the pots will be the right size meaning that they could be off a tolerance here or there.    Normally Vasconia's work great but I've seen where they can be off also.  If you go with a Imusa i'd look for the one with the insulated handles but that isn't a deal breaker but i would wait until you have your grill and physically take it into Walmart or where ever and fit the grill lid on each one until you get one that fits properly. 

    Ok let's get to cutting the bottom of the pot out.  Tools you'll need will be a drill and small bit plus a skill saw with a metal blade works the best.   Lay the pot  upside down and use the joes charcoal grate as a template and trace it with a black sharpie.  (This is a pot from a different size build) but the concept is the same.

    Next drill a starter hole for your saw blade and cut out the hole.

    Again different pot than the Vasconia i used but you get the idea.   This is the  pot to my Jumbo mini build ...another incredible smoker.

    Step 2 after you cut the bottom hole out is to drill holes for your top rack.   You will drill three holes for your bolts to hold it.  Drill three 1/4" holes  equally around the diameter of the pot 4" down from the top.  This will give you plenty of room for cooking things such as chickens , pork butts etc...   Measure the circumference of the pot and divide by 3 and use a step bit for your holes.   If you don't have a step bit just go to a Harbor Freight (the cheapest) or Lowes HD etc... 

    A trick i did to get the holes even was to mark my first hole with a sharpie and  cut a piece of straight card board off a box or something the length to the next hole....continue and to mark and drill the other two holes.

    Hardware you will need will be.

    Three 1/4 " stainless steel bolts about 1 1/4" long ...a little shorter will work also.

    Three stainless steel  1/4" acorn nuts

    Three 1/4 " lock washers

    Three 1/4" wing nuts or regular nuts

    Three 1/4 fiber washers ( optional) but they help from grease dripping outside your pot.

    Double this hardware if you choose to do an additional grate.

    To be continued. ....
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    So Why do golds perform better? Have you made a Mini out of a Silver and run them
    Side by side... Mods or not? Bold statement without any data. My Mini-WSM smokers made from the Silvers work
  11. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The only thing I could think of would be the vent position on the gold units eliminate the need to make an ash guard. Which is no big deal to make. 
  12. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Case you modded yours for a reason...that's why your silver works good.   After reading what seems like a thousand posts and builds on mini's i've seen where people have switched to the gold and had better results.     Modding a silver is fine also if  one wants to go that route.   It just comes down to air flow from around the sides of a charcoal basket vs from below. 
  13. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Brian it just comes down to airflow around the sides of the basket but you have to have a basket for the gold to work well that way. 
  14. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yup.  I agree. Also if your going to truly tailgate with the thing I'd say the gold transports better because it has the bailing clamp for the top of the unit . Kind of keeps the SJ all together.

    I bought the gold because I had seen an number of mods on the silver units where folks were drilling the holes in the side to help with the flow you mentioned.

    At the end of the day the gold unit cost about 10 bucks more than the silver. So the price wasn't an issue.  Both units are inexpensive and true to Weber fashion, a great value.  

    The  tiny negative is that most of the big box retail stores only carry the silver unit.  I had to order the gold from amazon.  Not really a negative because I was waiting on the Vasconia pot anyway …. 
  15. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I also have to question why there are many gold owners who now feel the need to add bottom venting for high temp searing. Not having a gold I have no idea, but there seems to be bunch that are.

    Back to the main topic, since this is a How to build a mini thread it should include how to make a silver smokey joe mini also or be re-titled.....

    The Smokey Joe Silver smokes just as good as a gold.
  16. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I addressed in the intro  that both can be made into really good smokers Case.    I think folks will get an idea of which way they want to go...one takes less modifications is all.

    You did bring about a good point about searing and i was and will be talking about that further into the build thread.   I can sear with the gold fine but if it did have bottom air it would sear hotter (like my Jimmy mini) does.   It's an easy fix to add a bottom air inlet for high heat searing  to the gold just as it's easy to add side air holes to a silver for smoking...6 of 1 or half dozen of the other.   This thread i just want to focus on the smoking component though.   
  17. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit


    Ok the second rack, this is optional.    I'm personally not a fan of two rack cooking in the mini just because i feel it's a pain but sometimes i have used it.     My second grate i put 4"  below the top one.  5 "'s down might work out better for you, you'll just have to play around with it and see what you like.  

    UDS style or WSM style diffuser

    This build i did the UDS style because i like the drippings coming from the meat going right into the charcoal basket and combining with the smoke to further flavor my food so with this build i am using only my steamer pan that came with the pot as the diffuser. 

    I borrowed this pic from someone else but it's as simple as this.  The drippings will still hit the coals below the pan and the pan will diffuse the heat nicely!    The only real maintenance that's needed is to scrape off the steamer or unplug the holes with a screwdriver if they get clogged with grease and drippings.   Especially if you do lots of chickens like i do.   It's important to scrape it off every 2-4 cooks or as needed depending on what nice tasty foods you're smoking. :)

    If you want your mini to work like a WSM.

    There are lots of builds out there where people use terracotta pots or such.   Those pots can be helpful if you are two level cooking to even out the heat between the two racks but i came up with another alternative that will even out the heat for two rack cooking but still let all the drippings hit the coals below.  I call it a double diffuser.    This will be addressed next.

    To be continued......