Need Help on a Hot/Cold Smoke House Design

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kent k

Original poster
Jan 5, 2011
(I think I posted in the wrong place last time, so here goes again)

I have been wanting to build a smoke house for some time now and I am in the planning/design stages to do it this summer.  I have some ideas but want some good input and advice on size, etc, and what mistakes I may be making.

Here are my random thoughts, please comment and tell me I'm stupid if it needs saying.  I want to do it right!

Location is western oregon, winters are wet, average temp in winter is 45 degrees? and summers average are 75 degrees?  with humidity usually fairly mid to low.

My goal is to build a smoke house to be used for either hot OR cold smoking

Common smokes will be (in order of priority):

Sausage (up to 200 or 250 pounds, or maybe I need to look at 100 lbs at a time?)  This is an extended family affair

Salmon/fish (20-30 pounds max)

Jerky/meat sticks



Possibly ribs, shoulders, and briskets  (currently done in a Traeger)

Cheese and Nuts

I am not set on the building materials, but it will either be framed with 2x4, insulated with foam and covered with concrete backer board on the inside, or I will build a CMU block smoker.

Cold smoking will be performed with a wood stove/fire box located about 7-10 feet from smoker with standard flue to start fire and then a tee with a shutoff to direct smoke underground through a sealed vent pipe and up into the center of the concrete floor

Hot smoking will be performed with a fire in the bottom of the smokehouse, and a small door will be cut in the side, or the main door will be split so I can open the bottom only to tend the fire.  Possible baffle to stop flames and direct heat as required

I am thinking approx 7'-6" tall, gable roof, vents at each end, and at bottom for air, footprint of 4'x4' minimum, possibly up to 6'x6' while being concerned about getting too large and not being able to succesfully hot smoke/cook?  This is the area I am not familiar with.  Can I get to 225 to finish a pulled pork or brisket in a 6'x6' smoke house? 

more thoughts?  
Seems like you have a handle on what you are trying to do.  I am not comfortable with 225 -250 in a wood smoke house but that is just me.  Sounds like the materials you are using will hold up just fine.    If you insulate the smoker I would think one problem you will have is cold smoking in the summertime.   If you regularly get summer time temps in the 90's and you can expect the sun and smoke source to add another 20 - 30 degrees you are at the limit of a reliable bacon smoke.  But you can always do the bacon smoke in the evening or just do 100 lbs in the winter and freeze for the summer.

Since you are building a cold smoke source you can add an electric hot plate or even better a propane camp stove to the smoke house instead of building a fire under the smoke house.  I suggest this because I would think you will have better temp control.

You mentioned that the tubing for the cold smoke will have a tee to vent off start up gasses.  Is there a similar exhaust for the fire built beneath the smokehouse for hot smokes?  I found that by leaving the smoke house door open when I first start the fire seems to work pretty well and reduces the engineering and costs.

Good luck, I'd like to see the build process and final design.

I do cold smoke and sausage smoke (135 - 160) in my plywood smoke house.  Only problem I have is with our weather it gets to hot to do cold smokes in the summer and the roofing glue I used tends to get soft and stain the outside of the smoker when I do a sausage smoke. 
Great advice..

The Marianski book  "Meat Smoking And Smokehouse Design" has a lot of info.

I got my copy at Amazon.

 Good luck and have fun!!

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Thanks for the responses so far!  I already have and have been reading the Meat Smoking book.  I am still working on my plans, and continue tweaking and changing my ideas to better fit how I plan to use the structure.  Any more input would be greatly appreciated.

I will post my design as I finish it!
Hey I built my smoke house in 2009 its 8' tall and 4'x4' wide it has a firebox to the side about 4 feet from the smokehouse i can cold smoke depending on outdoor temp around 70 degrees at the top of smokehouse and can get a max if i wanted to which i never do upto almost 300 it is on a concret slab i poured and is made of 1" thick wood board planks i had milled. It has a steel roof and the thermometers i hang on door and run them inside for internal meat and air temp control so u dont have to open door all the time to get internal temps still in the process of making some shelves but mostly i just smoke sticks,jerky,bacons,sausage,bologna in it from wildgame we kill It works great now that i figured out everything as in what it will do as far as draft and dampers go. I started out small with a smoker from the Sausage Maker but like u i wanted to be able to do 150+ pounds in it which we know the smaller ones cant do. It is Traditional split wood fired no extra heat source in it and it is not insulated so far i do not see a need to insulate it so if i was u i would leave insulation out for now and see how urs does before buying and throwing any in. Ill insert some pics for u any questions get back to me!! I will never build or buy another smokehouse or design a different one as i am very pleased with this one. It took time to study and design but im sure u will build a great one Goodluck Buddy and have fun!!
Thanks for posting the pictures.  I am getting more ideas from others as well.  It sounds like I need to reconsider my smoke pipe going underground and up into the center of the floor.
My smoker is pretty close to the one above. Mine is roughly 9 ft tall and is a little bit bigger than a  standard out house just to give you an idea. It is a pretty big smoke house but it isn't a walk in one. I can get around 100 lbs of sausage in my smoker at a time so if you are going to do 200 at a time you are going to need a pretty big smoke house. I am able to cold and hot smoke in my smoker all year around. If you insulate it really well you are able to cold smoke even in the summer unless it is really hot out or something. Insulation works both ways. It keeps you warm in the winter and it keeps you cool in the summer. The walls of my smoker around 4-5 inches thick with all the material. I would also suggest looking at cowgirls smoker as you are going to need it pretty big and getting it up to 225-250 will be interesting if it is that big. I have no trouble getting mine up to those temps with just a standard turkey fryer burner/stand right in the smoker. With the size you are thinking it will be great for cold smoking and doing sausage and fish around the 150 degree range but if you are looking to get to 225 or 250 it might be harder depending on what you use for a heat source. The funny thing when I make mine I though I would use it all the time but after the first few times of using this huge smoker and only seeing one or two pieces of meat I though this is stupid to fire this huge thing up for this little amount of meat. That is when is when I built my UDS and I use that for smaller smokes and when I have a big amount to do then it goes in the smoke shack. It sure is nice to have all of that room when you need it. Good luck on the build and keep us posted.
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im in the same boat. im new to all this and just learning the difference about cold and hot smoking. im wanting to build a lil smoke house to use for hot smoking to cook ribs and ect.

Greetings from the Gorge.  Did you finish your smokehouse?  I came across your questions and I had planned many of the same features.  I'm planning the size to be a full 4'x4'x6' inside so as to do 2 pigs at the same time.  Sidewalls will be 6" and insulated to help hold the heat.

What I can't decide on is the floor.  If concrete board, then grease buildup would be a major pain to clean, lest it get rancid over time.  I still plan to use concrete board but to make up a pan from galvanized to collect any drippings.

This is the first forum I visited that mentioned problems with cold smoking in the summer.  Excellent precaution as I'm in the rain shadow and summer temps can hit triple digits - so the smokehouse will only be usable from mid fall to mid spring.  That's OK, I don't want to butcher during the summer anyway.



BTW, attached is the oven (with or without smoke) that I made for wrapped quarters, pizza, etc.
I want to build a smokehouse but don't know where to start. Seen 1 I want to build and love but like I said no clue where to start is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.