My smokehouse build and some Questions form Australia!

Discussion in 'Smoke Houses' started by oohsam, May 4, 2014.

  1. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    G'day guys, 

    I'm a keen hunter and have quite a supply of meat in my freezer. Was thinking I should make jerky and the mrs was about to head out and buy a food dehydrator. Then I found out about smokehouses, so that night, I started making one (last night). Took me about 3 hours so far, im about t 90% finished, but I ran out of timber. 

    I have a few questions. 

    1. I have space for insulation in the side and rear cavities, I also have some spare cermaic fibre blanket from my furnace build that I was going to use. How important is insulation, Australia doesnt get too cold unlike some of the states in USA, so I'm unsure if i need it. Should I insulate, and how effective is this insulation really. 

    2. Is it ok to use a two burner electric cooktop, one for generating smoke, one for controlling heat. I cant see how that would generate enough heat to cook the meat to temp. I'm amazed that some of your smokehouses get up quite hot, I cant imagine this working! maybe i just lack imagination. 

    3. I have a small gap between the door (where the hinges are) and the frame. Should I seal this up. 

    This was a design flaw that happened as I didn't fully think out my door mount. I naturally have some gaps as I am using tongue and groove boards, and its not completely air tight anyway, but this main gap (about 2mm wide the entire length of teh door) is quite large. 

    Thats all I have to ask, here are the pics. Hope you like it. 


  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Place a piece of trim wood inside the door to seal the space.... that should do nicely....

    Speaking of nicely..... the smokehouse is coming along nicely and looks good......

  3. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Thanks Dave! 

    Yes the trim is a great idea. I'll screw it onto the door so it overlaps the gap. Should still open freely enough. 

    Any ideas on the other quetsions. Mainly the hotplate. the insulation is sort of a no brainer. 
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think you can get along without the insulation... The hotplates are another problem.... Installed in them, is a snap switch or some other type of device to keep them from operating at full temperature... that avoids the wiring / case and other stuff from melting... If you notice, they won't get as hot as an element on an electric stove.... are you folks on 110v or 220 v for residential use... If you have an old hot plate, you can strip it and reassemble it in a safe manner, using non flammable materials and pull the "over temp" device out.... I've done that in my "Totem Smoker".... reinstalled the "thermostat" knob for a poor mans version of temp control.... (it works)...
    For some larger volume smokers, folks have used 220v elements and a PID controller or other device... all depends on what temps you expect to operate.... cold and warm smoking, you should be fine..... if you need additional heat, you can always smoke the stuff and put in the oven..... You don't need a smoke house to be an oven....
  5. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Thanks dave

    I ended up insulating it. lol 

    I thought about it for a while and decided that since its here, may as well do it properly. 

    Here it is as it stands. i put a strip of oak behind the door gap and its sealed nicely. i also made fake sidewalls to house the insulation on the sides and back, you cant really tell in the pics. 

    Thermostat installed and door lock. 

    I still have to do the base and install shelf rack supports again. very  happy with it so far. 

    I think ill pull apart a hot plate and re-wire it. I have enough electrical knowledge. 

    we are on 240v. 

    You're right about the oven thing. Im overthinking this i think!!

  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well...... I guess we are waiting for some Thin Blue Smoke to emanate from the structure.... and a Q-View of a hunk of Roo or something on the shelves......

  7. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    I have updates. 

    So as I stated, I insulated the walls with some ceramic wool. I thought i should do the same for the door. 

    This posed a problem, as my thermometer probe is in the door, and it would not poke in long enough through the insulation cavity. So I had to build a small enclosure for it to ensure that it still gets temp readings. 

    I'm not the best carpenter but I managed to get it done. 

    The floor has a fake floor and then insulation and then a real floor. I guess a fake floor is not really fake, as its there, there's just two floors! 

    It was probably overkill to put insulation in the floor, but I wanted to make sure that heat didn't escape. 

    now, the only place I didn't insulate is roof. Basically the attic part of smoke house is un-insulated. I'm unsure if this will pose a problem or not. and im unsure if it is common practice to insulate the roof. If somene can shed light that would be ideal. If it needs doing, i can easily make it work as i can insulate it from the inside.

    I understand that heat will escape from all uninsualted im just unsure if the roof needs insulation or not.

    I am yet to install vents. I was going to install 1 vent in the bottom  on the side, and 1 vent in the roof, that can be opeend and closed. 

    Do you think this will be enough. 

    I've also given it a nice lick of stain, which makes it look nice, have also put some trimming around it and I think it looks quite nice. 

    also I 've put some pavers on the floor, for fireproofing and what not. I've taken photos of the insulation process i ncase people are interested in future on how to achieve this, even though its a no brainer. 





    Last edited: May 6, 2014
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Consider a vent in the apex of the back or front wall near the peak.... a side wall vent won't drip condensate back in the smoker and maybe on the food as a roof vent/stack would....

    looking really nice....
  9. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Thanks mate, 

    I'll put a vent up on the apex peak, easy done. 

    Should I put a vent in at the bottom on the side also. Or is one vent enough. 

  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bottom of one of the walls.... If you can find the vents that have adjustable dampers built in, that would be cool... Close them off to keep the dust out...... and maybe some of those 1 step snakes you have over there..... 7 of the top 10 I hear... and one that will chase you until you run out of beer too.... nasty critters.....
  11. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Yep, i was going to make a vent with adjustable dampner for both top and bottom! Sounds excellent. 

    Do you think I need to insulate the roof?

    Oh yes, gotta keep the snakes out mate. We have some pretty deadily stuff over here. But its quite safe, i assure you! 

    Otherwise, i'll be having smoked snake tonight! haha
  12. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You are getting good advice from Dave but my 2 cents is this. Vents are a good thing because. They give you the air to run AMZPS when your smoking at low temps.
    Other stuff you need is probably covered by out of Victoria.
    You don't want this to hot ,I have never needed more than 135c that my MES puts out.have you thought about a metal drip tray to stop liquid soaking into your floor?
    Your a pretty neat chippy !
  13. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Thanks Moikel! I'm actually a computer programmer but I like to build things, so this was fun. 

    I can now smoke all the meat I hunt which is great. 

    I actually went to mistygully and I bought the amazn pellets system, and 10kg of hickory pellets, which is just great. Cant wait for that to arrive hopefully tomorrow so I can smoke some stuff by the weekend. I'm trying to workout what the formula is for using wood. I have a ton of merbau from the deck I built, which smells lovley when its being burnt, but im unsure if you can just use any wood for smoking...

    In relation to heat, I wanted to also hot smoke in this. Do you think i would be unable to hot smoke.

    I read that typical hotsmoke temps are about 80 degress celsius. 

    The reason I insulated it was so that the electric cooktop wouldnt be overworking. 

    I have a pid that I am connecting to a 1000W electric cooktop, hopefully tonight I'l have time to pull it apart and bypass the safety cut off switch. The pid is simple, it has a thermostat and just turns on the cooktop and turns it off when its within a 2 degree range. And the amznps will be my smoke controlller.

    I'll make the vents tonight and hopefully it should work well.

    The only big problem i have is that I need to make some shelves. I cant find stianless shelves that fit anywhere, so i may need to use expanded metal or make a wooden frame and put in some cake cooler trays as I have seen someone else on this forum do.

    Sorry for all the questions, I'm quite new to this and I find it really hard to find exact specific detail that i need. 
  14. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have my own way of doing things & I smoke a bit hotter than some of our American friends on some things.
    My bacon is a variation of Bearcarvers method which is a bit hotter .Same for ham hocks,beef tongue. But I am very much a feel & eyeball guy.
    I do fish hot smoked at 80 to 90, but I also cook roasts in mine at 135c.
    Airflow from under & airflow upper are important so you can set & forget knowing your pellets won't go out. Microwave your pellets for a minute helps.
    I have found pecan & apple pellets work well.
    I don't do electrics but can build brick pizza ovens,well 1 at least.
    Can you adapt some shelves from an old fridge or oven?You can just hang stuff from spacer bars until you sort it.
    I started doing pork bones bought cheap in Chinatown,played around with my brines.
    They are great in soups big margins for error ,boiling them anyway. Get it right & you wil never buy those strange coloured ones in the super market again.
  15. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Update Time. 

    So I went out looking for a single electric cooktop. Could not find one anywhere. Went to Kmart, Target, electical stores. Only found a double, which I dont want. 

    I then had a look at this 2000W bbq plate style burner. Turned it over, and it just had a bit element running through it 

    I thought, hmm. I can work with this...So I bought it. Was $29

    The legs and handles are plastic, so I pulled it all apart. And quickly welded up some legs. Nothing fancy, but they work. 

    Once all the bits are removed, and its a raw plate with element, I just have this to connect. Quite easy, One is Load, one is Neutral, and the middle is earth/safety. I didnt connect the earth / safety, becuase in Australia, its not a requirement to have a device earthed. All our powerpoints and powerboxes have safety switches, as soon as there is a short it trips. 

    I insulated the cables in heat sheild insulation, hoping that is enough to preotect the cables from the heat. I'll keep an eye on it though. 

    I hooked up this Temp controller to it (I stuffed up the first time and blew my test light!) all good, got it working eventually and it seems to work well, switches on and off perfectly. 

    Its a willhi temp control unit. Basically lets you connect any device to it, and you set the paramaters, Low temp setting, High temp setting, and its super easy (apart from blowing test lights) 

    The only issue i have is that the pan takes up the entire floor of my smokehouse as you can see in the images. so in order to fit the amznps I have to mount a shelf above it. Im sure this wont cauase any problems, ideally I'd want it next to the unit and not above it, but there's not much I can do with that issue. 

    Last night i minced up 3 rabbits I shot the other day, and 1 hare. I made some jerky marinate, and they've been marinating for 24 hours so far. 

    Planning to run it today for about 8-10 hours. Am putting it in the backyard in full view of my living room so i can keep an eye on it. fingers crossed it all goes well. 
  16. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    ok, So i finally got the smoker going today. Made 4 trays of Rabbit jerky and chucked it in the smokehouse. 

    Took me a good hour to get the AMNPS tray lit, I chucked it in the smokehouse, but after 10 mins I had no smoke...

    This was an ongoing saga all night. I decided to put more two more vent holes in the sides of the smokehouse where the Shelf fo the amnps is. The holes are just above the amznps. I thought that would help, but it did not. The thing keeps going out. I couldnt get it stay lit at all. 

    Im not sure what to do now. Other than addeing a smokebox (mail box)  to the outside of the smokehouse...anyway, good news is the whilly temp control unit is managing the temp perfectly. Between 60 and 75 degrees celcius quite easily. 

    If anyone has any ideas about how to fix my pellet issue, please let me know. It may be the location of it, you can see teh little shelf i created for it in the pics below.

  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    1.... dry the pellets for a couple hours at 275....
    2.... were they cherry pellets ??? they won't burn without some other pellet added....
    3.... place the AMNPS on a wire rack so oxygen is more readily available....
    4.... relocate to a lower elevation property.... higher elevation has reduced oxygen... (5,000 ft. don't work)
  18. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Thanks Dave

    They are Hickory pellets. I put them in the microwave for 2 minutes before I started. Maybe I needed to put them in or for longer. Or put them in the smokehouse while its warming up..

    When you say put them in at 275, you mean Fahrenheit, and in the oven?

    I'll change the shelf to a wire shelf instead of a sheet metal one, and see how I go. Failing all of this, I'm going to move the amznps outside the smokehouse in a metal tray with some vent holes cut in it and pipe heading into the smokehouse. HOpefully that wont need to be done if the wire rack mod works.

  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    F... 135 C...... that works for me..... also I dry them in my smoker during the preheat.... in the AMNPS.....
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  20. oohsam

    oohsam Newbie

    Awesome. Thanks heaps! I'll give that a go next time and let you know how the results are! 


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