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My Smoker/Grill Build

steveaggie

Newbie
27
10
Joined Jul 18, 2016
****UPDATE 3/21/17****

Well I've finally finished it!  I ended up deciding not to pour my own countertops because it was going to be too much of a headache and I wanted to make sure it looked good.  We ended up putting granite on it because it seemed to be the best for outdoor applications.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  For anyone who is looking to build something like this, I always wanted to mention where I sourced my products because that seemed to be the most difficult part.

Brick and Firebrick - A local brick supplier.  Firebrick was about $1.69 ea.  

Mortar - Home Depot, white, type S

Refractory Mortar (for firebrick) - Rutland #610 https://rutland.com/p/104/refractory-cement

Steel - Metal Supermarkets https://www.metalsupermarkets.com/  (Note: it's much cheaper to contact the store for a quote than to buy online)

Damper, spiral handles, temp gauge - BBQ Smoker Supply http://bbqsmokersupply.com/

Propane Grill - Home Depot

The trays and doors are hard to source, so I ended up making them myself.  I bought a MIG welder from Harbor Freight and a Dewalt Chop Saw and taught myself to do it.  It's not that hard.  Metal Supermarkets will cut your steel to your dimensions which is hugely helpful.  I used a drill with a 6" hole cutter from Home Depot  (I forget the brand) for the chimney.  I used an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel to cut a rectangle in the door for the intake damper.  Metal Supermarkets wanted too much $ to do it for me.  I attached the metal frames to the brick using Tapcon screws.  I highly recommend a hammer drill for this!  

So far I've done some ribs as a test and a couple briskets.  Using all wood tastes a lot better than what I was getting off of my WSM.  The amount of space in this thing is amazing!  






****UPDATE 2/27/17****

I have mostly finished the smoker side with the exception of the counters.  I'm now thinking I may purchase the counters instead of DIYing them.  That's an important part to look nice.  The smoker has been siting for about 30 days.  Over the course of a few days I made bigger fires.  I then smoked some ribs on Saturday.  Everything turned out great!  I'm learning to use this smoker and how to regulate the temperature.

Now I'm working on the other part where I'll put in a built-in stainless propane grill.







****UPDATE 1/25/17****

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm a little bit further along than this.  I've made the metal trays for the firebox and the grill and the firebrick in the smoke box is a couple courses higher.  Right now I'm debating on how I'm going to finish off the top of the smoker.  I have a steel plate that I'll use in which I've welded a 6" chimney and damper on to.  Just need to figure out how to make the brick look nice.  Then I need to make the doors.



****UPDATE 12/29/16****

Been making some progress.








****UPDATE 12/13/16****

I ordered almost all of the material I'll need and got started.  This is my first time laying brick, so it's slow goings at first.  I found the hardest part of the project so far was figuring out how to cut a stupid brick consistently.  I don't know how people do it with chisels or trowels.  I ended up welding together a jig to hold a brick and score it with a masonry bladed circular saw.  Then I hit it a few times with a cold chisel.  Takes a little longer, but it's clean and consistent.

Here's a few pictures before I cleaned up the brick.




****UPDATE 12/8/16****

Drew up some scaled drawings.  Did all of the planning I could.  I'm not sure there is anything else I can plan, so I went ahead and ordered the materials.  From the scaled drawings I was able to see that I was probably going to be a little shy on the brick count, so I went ahead and ordered a new cube.  Our house is only 3 years old so the brick is still available.  I also found firebrick available for $1.69 ea from the same brick supplier.  I was not looking forward to paying the $5 ea that the big box stores wanted so this is much better.  

I've already decided on a couple slight modifications to the scaled drawings, but I can work through those as I build.  Drawing it out like this really helped me catch a lot of design decisions I wouldn't have otherwise.  Probably going to go with 1.5" thick counters, shrink the overhang to 1 or 1.5", and cut back on the depth of the charcoal grill.

Here is a link to the calculator I used to design it.  I checked out some custom built steel vertical smokers to see what their dimensions are.  I started with what I wanted for the smoke chamber and worked backwards from there.

http://feldoncentral.com/bbqcalculator.html?cc=0,0,0,36,24,20,17280.00,5760.00&fb=20,20,16,0,0,6400.00,5760.00,111.1&ch=8,320.00,6.37&fi=0,0,0,19.20,0&fc=8.08,11.42,51.20





***************************

I figured I should go ahead and start a thread since the wife has green lighted this project. 

I've been researching on and off for a while.  Love this forum and all the ideas and info I've gotten from it.  As everyone knows, there's not a lot out there!  

I'll introduce myself.  I live in the Texas  in the 'burbs.  I have a decent sized covered patio.  It was builder installed so it is part of the foundation.  I currently use a Weber Smokey Mountain, a small charcoal grill, and a small propane grill.  Looking to upgrade to something nicer.  I don't want to spend an arm and a leg, so that's why I want to build it myself.  I'm an IT guy by trade but consider myself fairly handy.  That being said, there are going to be a lot of firsts on this project.  I've never laid brick, never welded, and never poured concrete (counters).  

We have some extra brick from building our house that I'll use.  I've decided to fabricate my own doors and use concrete counters to save on cost.  

The main questions I have at this point are:

- I see a lot of people use cinder block, brick, and fire brick.  Is cinder block mainly for the strength?  I've only designed the outside of the build, haven't thought too much about the insides structurally.

- Is it ok to have fire brick butted up against another type of block?  I saw someone say on this forum that you should leave a 1.5 inch gap between the 2 due to fire brick swelling.

- Ok to use regular mortar in the hot areas, or do I need the fire clay stuff?

- Is chimney length a big concern?  I'm doing a vertical smoke chamber and the calculator says that counts as part of the chimney.  Not totally sure what to add

- Since my patio is covered, I'm thinking about putting a 45* angle on the chimney to vent it out from the eave.  Thoughts?

- How are people closing off the top of their firebox and smoke chamber?  I haven't really seen anyone use fire brick, rather just some various techniques.  I'm thinking about using steel plate or a concrete plate, but I think steel will be more of a sure thing.  Am I missing anything? 

Here are some preliminary sketches I made on an airplane ride last week.  The POST is one brick post of my covered patio.



PS, thanks Wes for getting this forum created and being active in helping everyone out!
 
Last edited:

SmokinAl

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I can't help you with your build questions.

But from your drawings you are going to have quite a outside kitchen when this is complete.

I'm very much looking forward to following you along with this build.

Al
 

steveaggie

Newbie
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Joined Jul 18, 2016
That looks good.  That's my current thinking of just using a cement plate.  I doubt I will pour it in place though.  Just find some able bodied humans to help me move it into position.
 

bmudd14474

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tarheel adam

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Joined Jul 13, 2016
I'm in the middle of a similar build of an outdoor kitchen.  I'll try to offer my ever-learning weekend warrior DIYER advise.  These answers may be a bit late, it looks like you've figured most of it out on your own and job well done.  

The main questions I have at this point are:

- I see a lot of people use cinder block, brick, and fire brick.  Is cinder block mainly for the strength?  I've only designed the outside of the build, haven't thought too much about the insides structurally.   Looks like you've used mostly brick and some block.  It doesn't really matter.  More dimensional aspects than anything.

- Is it ok to have fire brick butted up against another type of block? Yes   I saw someone say on this forum that you should leave a 1.5 inch gap between the 2 due to fire brick swelling.

- Ok to use regular mortar in the hot areas, or do I need the fire clay stuff?  Regular type S masonry mortar works fine, may have problems down the road sooner than fire clay, but mainly fire clay retains temperature.

- Is chimney length a big concern?  To an extent, just so that you have enough air draw.  When in doubt, go a little longer   I'm doing a vertical smoke chamber and the calculator says that counts as part of the chimney.  Not totally sure what to add

- Since my patio is covered, I'm thinking about putting a 45* angle on the chimney to vent it out from the eave.  Thoughts?  I have a hip roof pavilion with a cupola in the roof for venting, along with a ceiling fan.  My wood-fired pizza oven is vented through the roof, but my smoker will just vent vertically up, underneath the pavilion.

- How are people closing off the top of their firebox and smoke chamber?  I haven't really seen anyone use fire brick, rather just some various techniques.  I'm thinking about using steel plate or a concrete plate, but I think steel will be more of a sure thing.  Am I missing anything? I chose to use firebricks for my firebox roof.  A steel plate is fine, but it will lose heat much more quickly and if anything needs to be temperature sensitive on top of it, it will probably get quite hot.  I cannot tell from you recent photo if there is room to cast some concrete above the steel plate over the firebox?  That may help control temps, but probably not much of a concern regardless.  
 

steveaggie

Newbie
27
10
Joined Jul 18, 2016
Thanks for the reply Adam.  I am pretty much done at this point.  I am working on getting some bids to do the countertops for me.  For the top I ended up going with steel plate and then covered the top with brick for appearance sake, but you're right it will also help with the heat/insulation.  For the firebox I just have a steel plate on top.  There will be about a 3" air gap and then the countertop.  The counter might get warm there but I don't think it will be a problem.

I'll have some finished pics up as soon as the counters are in, but I'm very happy with the way it turned out.
 

ahumadora

Smoking Fanatic
559
74
Joined Aug 28, 2015
Nice build,  now you got me wanting to build a brick smoker.

Very nice set up.
 

smokedad

Smoke Blower
107
27
Joined Aug 16, 2016
Beautiful project, steveaggie, it looks amazing.  I was going to buy an electric smoker because I was using a Weber kettle and wanted to upgrade, but my wife is OK with the idea of a brick smoker/grill so I plan on doing that instead.  The plans that we have come up with look almost exactly like your build, so I'm glad I found your post.  I have never laid brick or welded either, so this will involve a lot of firsts for me, too.  I had a few questions on your build:

- From your pictures, it doesn't look like you made any air vents in the wall where your fires for the smoker will be.  Did you find that you needed any, or are they vented from the top?

- What did you use for the supports where the racks of meat will sit, just pieces of metal?  Did you just put them in between the layers of firebrick?  If so, did you chip some of the brick away so they stayed level or just put them in the mortar?

- Did you make the doors yourself or buy them?  How did you attach them to the brick?

- How did you attach the 1/4" steel plates to the brick?

- Did you end up using regular mortar for the firebrick?

One other thing that I'm not sure of is what type of base I need under a concrete pad for this type of build.  I have to pour a new pad to build this, and we have clay soil which doesn't drain real well so I think I'll need gravel under it, but I don't know how deep I need to go or how thick it needs to be to support the weight.  Any suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated. 
 

steveaggie

Newbie
27
10
Joined Jul 18, 2016
 
Beautiful project, steveaggie, it looks amazing.  I was going to buy an electric smoker because I was using a Weber kettle and wanted to upgrade, but my wife is OK with the idea of a brick smoker/grill so I plan on doing that instead.  The plans that we have come up with look almost exactly like your build, so I'm glad I found your post.  I have never laid brick or welded either, so this will involve a lot of firsts for me, too.  I had a few questions on your build:

- From your pictures, it doesn't look like you made any air vents in the wall where your fires for the smoker will be.  Did you find that you needed any, or are they vented from the top?

- What did you use for the supports where the racks of meat will sit, just pieces of metal?  Did you just put them in between the layers of firebrick?  If so, did you chip some of the brick away so they stayed level or just put them in the mortar?

- Did you make the doors yourself or buy them?  How did you attach them to the brick?

- How did you attach the 1/4" steel plates to the brick?

- Did you end up using regular mortar for the firebrick?

One other thing that I'm not sure of is what type of base I need under a concrete pad for this type of build.  I have to pour a new pad to build this, and we have clay soil which doesn't drain real well so I think I'll need gravel under it, but I don't know how deep I need to go or how thick it needs to be to support the weight.  Any suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated. 
Thanks smokedad!
  • There is an intake damper on the firebox door.  It slides open to reveal a 3x10" opening.  Then there's a 6" chimney.  I highly recommend this calculator.  I can attest that the ratios they give you feel right when you're smoking.  http://www.feldoncentral.com/bbqcalculator.html
  • The tray supports are just 2" x .125" flat steel.  They are just held in with the mortar between the bricks.
  • I used refractory cement for the firebrick.  It's more expensive than regular mortar but I wanted to do it right.  Says it can withstand 2000 degrees... and I don't have to worry about cracking.
  • I made the doors.  More info in my recent edit at the top.
  • The 1/4" steel plates are held on with mortar and pressure from the brick above.  Mortar has a bit of a glue effect with steel but it's not super strong.  The weight of the brick on top will keep anything from moving though.  It's very solid.
I'm afraid I'm not much help on the base.  There are some other posts on here I've seen where people make some pretty serious foundations of cinderblock.  I don't really know what is required.  I built mine on my slab.  I figured if it's good enough to hold a house it's good enough to hold a smoker!
 

smokedad

Smoke Blower
107
27
Joined Aug 16, 2016
Thanks, steveaggie, for all the information you provided on where you got your supplies, it helps greatly.  I did have a few more questions for you.

- How thick are your doors and door frames?  Are they a special type of metal to hold up to the heat, especially the firebox door?  Did you use anything (insulation, etc) around the doors to keep heat or smoke from escaping?

- How did you attach the chimney to the steel plate on top of the smoker?  How far down into the smoker does the chimney go?

Thanks again for your help.
 

acovjo

Newbie
3
10
Joined May 4, 2017
First of all... amazing build!!!!! 

I have one question that I don't recall seeing here in the thread. What did you use to hold up the bricks going across the gaps of the grill? I will include a picture of what Im asking about specifically.

 
 

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