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Newbie building smoker for hubby, advice/input needed please.


Joined Mar 22, 2019
Hello all! This is my 1st post (It’s a little long)! We live in FL and love BBQ’g. My husband has been wanting a “smoker” and wants to build one...I’m the builder of the family and would love to surprise him. I wanted to include a rough sketch of what I was thinking based on how he likes to cook, but I can’t figure out how to do it.

I’m somewhat confused as to if I’ll actually be building a “smoker” or some type of BBQ pit? We aren’t interested in cold smoking, everything we cook is done in no more than 7 hours. Anyhow, I have several questions before I can start. I’d also really appreciate detailed advice/tips/etc that may help.

He likes to dig a pit down into the sand for his fire so I’m sticking with that since this is how he cooks everything already. He uses 2 bricks and places an old grill grate over them, starts a little charcoal and adds oak when it’s time. My plan for the foundation of the smoker is to be 2 rows of cinder blocks, one below ground to keep the pit from filling in with sand and one above to secure the house part to. The floor will be open to the sand so he can do his fires the way he likes them. The door/house will be large enough for him to clean the pit out when he needs to.

The house portion will be tall enough for 3 removeable cooking racks and rods in the very top for hooks if he ever decides to hang anything. I’m planning on framing it with pine, but I’m not sure if that’s ok? I also am not sure what to use on the sides, other than plywood. I was going to use cedar shingles to cover the plywood so it looks cool. My thoughts on the roof was tin, but I’m questioning the tin. There will also be a side similar to an open lean to that will allow dry wood storage.

More details-

Above the fire will be a removable grate (below the cooking grates) for an option of using water/wood chips.

I’m using an air inlet pipe on the side of the cooker with the overhang, that will go underground and enter into a cinder block that’s laid on its side, allowing pipe input. The rest of the opening in the block will be cemented and closed off sealing it from sand entry. The inlet pipe will be topped with a damper.

The air outlet will be a pipe coming from the top with a damper on it or possibly something else that will block rain better.

The door will be one entire side, I know, that’s a lot of heat loss, right? We cook outdoors over an open flame now, I think we can adapt well to this. I know when tending to the fire there will be the element of oh my goodness I can’t see anything and my eyes are melting, but we already suffer from this with leaning over the fire to turn the meat and we have found a solution...swimming goggles, lol.

The questions I can think of are these:

1) What type of wood is acceptable for the outside?

2) Is untreated pine ok for the house frame?

3) Do I need to line the inside of the wood portion of the cooker with anything?

4) What type of pipe is ok to use for the air inlet/outlet? What size?

5) Is expanded metal ok to use as the cooking racks?

6) What type of material should I use for the roof?

7) Is there a need for any type of insulation on the roof?

I know that was long, but I REALLY appreciate all the help I can get to make sure I build hubby a great anniversary smoker :)
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