My Homebuilt Smoker

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Well I've tried to get this thing done so I could take some pics for you guys to look at. But every time I start to do something to it, my attention is drawn away by something else. So I'm just going to post some pics of the way it is now. I'll update later when it is finished.
I'm close though. Since my ventilation problems are solved I am sealing up the doors better, and then it's onto paint. You can see by the firebox that though this has been on ongoing project, (you can see tools everywhere) I still use it a lot.
The rain cap has a slight dome to it so rain will roll off. Not really needed since it's there's not much area, but I thought it would be a different and cool little addition.
I did include a pic of my homemade poker. The other stuff that I have built is at the powder coaters getting the handles done. These include a set of log tongs, meat tongs, ladle, spoon, and fork. Looks like it's going to be a little while before the powder coat is done, because he said he'd do it for free when he gets something else larger in the same color to do.
Anyway, there is a lot of finish work to do, grinding sanding, paint and whatnot.
If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
Thanks. But, "good start?"
Actually I've been using this for over 9 years. It worked, but was in need of upgrades. Hinges were piano type, grates were just oven racks sitting where they would fit, exhaust pipe was way to small at only 1 1/2 inches in diameter, fire box vent was to small and not adjustable, fire box door isn't sealed very well, and it obviously needs painted. It's also getting mounted to a better trailer once the paint is on.
Originally I made it to fit the receiver of my truck. It worked well, but took 2 people to mount it, as it weighs over 300 lbs. That was fine, but you know how it goes. There's always help getting ready for the food, but never any help cleaning up. And in my case, cleaning up involved dismounting it from the receiver. So it was installed onto a rickety old trailer. Now I have a custom built trailer just for the smoker. I have to get this thing done before Thanksgiving because I have 3 different functions to haul it to. And every time I get going, I get a different idea or a better idea of something it needs.
I've gotten pretty good at this smoking thing, and have a competition or 2 on my mind now. So I had to make the changes and make it appear nicer. Like I said, I'm almost there, but just a lot of little things left to do.
I'm still split on paint or powder coat. I want a durable finish, because I think appearance is pretty important. We have roadside BBQ stands all over here, and 1 thing I notice, is the ones that look bad are the ones that have little or no business. Not that I intend to sell anything, but I don't want someone sticking their nose in the air at my rig because it looks bad, because I really do make great food on this thing.
This forum has helped tremendously. I never thought of pre-heating wood before. I always put a camp coffee pot on top of my fire box for some delicious old fashioned peculated coffee. Now I am going to build a large flat area on top of the fire box to accommodate wood and my coffee pot. I'm also thinking of pre burning my wood (something else I never thought of before joining this forum). I use oak and hickory and quite frankly, throwing raw un-burnt wood into the box makes the meat to stout for me. I have noticed that when everything is pre-burnt and just glowing, my stuff isn't so stout. I might also be using a little too much hickory.
I obviously have a lot of adjustments to make, but It's been fun. I can't wait until it's complete though.
So sorry. Did not mean to offend... I thought you had just started this thing. Guess I need to read a little closer!

How about "Good Job"?
You didn't offend me. Like I said, any suggestions or criticism is welcome. It's really been fun to finally get serious with this. I like to fabricate and build things for little or no money. So far I have maybe 40 bucks into it. The rest is labor.
What kind of rig do you have? It looks like there is a pipe on the fire box side. I would like to see your's.
Naw, I knew your responce was light hearted... Check out this Howdy Post

It was my intro to this group and gives some pics of the various devices I coo k on...

Hey GS I've never been privileged enough to play with a big boy smoker. How about a brief explanation of what tuning plates are and how they work. I know what they are for and definately understand the why but am interested in the particlulars.

I've read some on them elsewhere when someone was asking questions about tuning a Gator Pit. He almost made it sound like they were just pieces of metal laying in the bottom of the pit. It seems like surely there is more to it than that.
There is a really good web site that has pictures of a homebuilt smoker with this system. I have not taken pictures of mine.
If they work the way they are supposed to, you should be able to regulate the heat better throughout the entire smoker. One thing I had a problem with is the top of the smoker was always so much hotter than the bottom. I think maybe I didn't get my firebox low enough, so the passage between the firebox and cook chamber is too high. Hopefully the reflector will cure this problem and not smother my fire.
I didn't have internet back when I started this project some 10 years ago. So the only reference I had was a Brinkman at the Wally World, and I only looked at it once. I have gotten a lot of great information from the web and here.
That website that shows the tuning plates is here:
The tuning plates worked!!! I checked the temp in all parts of the cook chamber, and it was identical from end to end. The bottom is now warmer than the top, but not by much.
If anyone has a smoker even remotely resembling mine, I strongly suggest the upgrade.
I keep thinking I've got this thing perfected and then I see a better idea. Maybe in another 10 years, I'll get her dialed in perfectly. Hope not though. I don't think I can wait that long to try the ground hog or coon. :roll:
I meant that to be funny. But you never know. I dated a Vietnamese American girl years ago that fed me egg rolls made from a cat that a friend of hers caught in the ally behind her apt. Had I known before I ate it, I wouldn't have this experience in my book of living. I don't know if it was the cat or the cook, but it was the best egg roll I've ever had.
A reverse flow is similar to traditional offst with a couple of exceptions. There is a solid plate that runs several inches below the cooking grate, from the firebox side to about 6" from the opposite end of the cooking chamber. This allows for heat and smoke to travel from the firebox end to the other under the plate then rise into the cooking chamber and back across the cooking grates and exit out the stack at the firebox end...

Having said all of that, I prefer to cook on my "Big Ugly Pit". It is at the welding shop right now having some mods done and getting a decent trailer setup under it. When I get it back, the reverse flow will go back out to my in-laws place.

My big pipe has the stack coming out the end opposite the firebox, and a damper plate about 15" long about 6" below the cooking grate where the fire comes into the cooking chamber. I use a SS steamtable pan full of water on top of that damper plate as a heat sink. The heat flows acroos below the grate forming a constant "heat bubble in the cooking area. Temps check out within 10* @ any spot on the grate.

Another design I've built puts a wall about 3/4 of the way up the chamber and 10" from the firebox end of the oven. On the other end of the oven , there's another wall going from the top down about 3/4 of the way to the bottom. the heat comes in the top on one side, and vortexes across and out the bottom of the oven. Real even temps across, but hot corners w/ that one.

If your're using seasoned wood, and having creosote problems (too stout) you either need more airflow, or you're letting the temps drop. When you add a log, do you open er up until the smoke thins?

Those doors look heavy. Have you considered adding a counter weight to them?

You should start a show and call it $40 a smoker instead of $40 a day like Rachel Raye.

Looks like you're going to have quite a unit there, but I still want to see the Q tools!

What I've done with the deflector and the tuning plates is working out great. I get an even smoke and even heat now.
I figured out my problem with the food being to stout. I was just using way to much hickory. A lot of my smoking takes place in the dark and I wasn't separating my oak from my hickory very well. Now I keep them completely separate and use 1 hickory split to maybe 2 or 3 oak splits. As far as TBS goes, I don't put my meat on the grill unless the wood has burned down to coals and TBS is gently exiting my pipe. And I learned years ago, that preheating my splits on the firebox helps combustion take place a lot faster. As soon as I get the burn barrel done, I'll be pre-burning all my wood and I'll probably go to a larger split.
The bad thing about this is, I was doing fine before I joined this site. It's opened a world of possibilities up for me and my cobbled together smoker. Now I must strive for smoking perfection, and it all y'all's fault. I hope your proud of yourselves.
Really though, I have a lot of hobbies, and I have joined many discussion forums over the years. This is most definitely the best one I've ever joined. I've read almost every post, and I see no huge egos, no bad language, and no out and out arguments. Everyone here is more than willing to share experiences and information. It's like a huge smokin' family. I feel really welcome here. THANKS guys.
I might try the water pan though. Mainly because of what I used to do with my ECB. I used to put my marinade in the water pan and throw all my veggies is there too.
I only have one thing to say Gunny, Before you do too much think' on smokin' perfection, read my tag line.

It's interesting to me that you have problems w/ creoste more w/ hickory than oak. I never have a bit of trouble w/ hickory. If there's ever anything I do have trouble with, it's post oak, and I just won't hardly even use red oak. Suppose maybe there's a difference in the type of hickory up there and down here?

Good Luck, adn Good Log Splittin",
DDBBQ, I don't think my problem is with creosote. The food tastes good to everyone but me. It tasted over smoked. I'm the only one that feels that way though. So my goal was to find a happy medium that everyone including myself would enjoy. In fact I took some of that last deer roast to work and everyone that had a sample said it was the best deer they'd ever had. Again, nobody has ever complained about my food. They keep inviting me back, so it must be good. As I've said in an earlier post, I make a ton of deer sticks and jerky every year for all the locals. I just think it's a difference in my taste buds.
This may sound silly, but a while back I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm fine now, so don't worry about me. :D But I had to get a radiation treatment every day for 30 days. Ever since those radiation treatments, my taste and smell has gone haywire. No one, not even my doctors can explain it. But it's true. Colognes and perfumes that I used to love give me an instant headache. And some that are on the lighter side, I can smell from a mile away and that's no kidding. It's very weird. But since I'm the gourmet cook in the house, I need to cook stuff that I like or there isn't any reason to do it.
I use shagbark hickory and white oak splits. We have 4 types of hickory here and this is the one of choice for me. It is SLIGHTLY sweet, and very mild compared to the other hickory wood, but still imparts a strong taste if used in to big a quantity. I've always been under the impression that oak is a relatively mild smoking wood. And in my experience it is.
All of the oak that I get here in N. Texas is way more mild than any hickory I get... Have you ever tried pecan? Pecan is my absolute favorite to cook with. It works great with everything from fish to poultry to pork to beef to wild game etc...

I've never used pecan. No pecan orchards around. And to my knowledge, we don't grow wild pecan. I try to get all native wood, because it's cheap. That's why I can't get cherry. I have never seen a cherry tree here. I used to live in Traverse City Mi. Now they have cherry trees. I'd like to try pecan. I've heard it's good, but unless I can find logs or splits, I'm out of luck. I won't use chunks. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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