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Outhouse Smoker Build

Nate52

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Joined Jun 22, 2021
Looking for some input on my smoker design.

First of all, I'm a DIYer and I don't weld, so I've been working on an idea for a wood sided smoker. I'm also cheap, so I'm trying to be as efficient as possible with as little materials as possible.

Here are some details on the plan:
-I found a plywood at Home Depot with a soy based glue, so there's none of the extra added nasty stuff. I've seen some varying opinions on if this even matters, but I've got three kids 4 years and under, so I'd rather just not take a chance.
-Using two sheets of plywood, I can make it about 6' tall, with inside dimensions of about 2'x2'.
-My primary heat/smoke source is a small charcoal grill. Kind of like a mini Weber. That will go in the lower section.
-I'll also going to add ports to give me some versatility. I'd like the option in the future to use an electric or propane burner. And I'm going to have another to attach a stove pipe for cold smoke.
-The inside of the structure will be lined with cement board for heat retention.
-Adjustable vents at the peaks at the front and back for smoke and one on each side at the bottom for air intake.
-I want it to be easily portable, so there will be wheels to move it like a hand cart.
-Dowels and grill grates will be adjustable through the entire height of the upper section.
-A piece of cement board can be used inside as a baffle if I need to shrink the size of the smoke chamber for any reason.
-There will be a shelf to the side

I feel like everything should work the way it should, but dimensions are my biggest concern. Is 2'x2' big enough for things like full racks of ribs, briskets, and turkeys? Would I be better off making it wider than it is deep? I could also do 2.5'x1.5' or anywhere between without having to buy a third sheet of plywood.

Please pick this thing apart and let me know if there are any details I might not have though of. I've been re-engineering this thing over and over for a long time, but I just don't have the smoking experience to know how practical my ideas are.

smoker sketch2.jpg
 

SmokinEdge

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Welcome from Colorado.
I would say you will be fine the way you are thinking. 2x2 can’t be far off from the MES that so many use.
When I built mine, it was stationary and I went 3x3x7. For what I do it works well and is none to big, but I do a lot of sausage and hams.
I’m not sure where you are geographically, but if it’s humid, I would suggest pro panel or steel roofing for lining the inside. Cement board holds moisture and can cause temperature problems. I lined the bottom 3 foot all around with hardi-backer and have no problem, but I’m at 6400’ with average humidity of 10-15%.
 

kilo charlie

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This belonged to my neighbor who passed away a couple of years ago. Clearly is hasn't been used since. ( His widow won't sell it to me haha)

There are 4 chains inside.. one in each corner with S hooks to hold the shelves. The shelves can be set apart for things like turkeys or just a couple inches apart for making jerky.

Just a propane burner in the bottom with a box for wood chunks.

It's plywood outside and lined with Cedar on the inside.

A small vent on the back near the top.

I've seen it run as low as 150F up to 275F

20210623_180702.jpg
20210623_180726.jpg
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20210623_180757.jpg
 

SmokinEdge

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This belonged to my neighbor who passed away a couple of years ago. Clearly is hasn't been used since. ( His widow won't sell it to me haha)

There are 4 chains inside.. one in each corner with S hooks to hold the shelves. The shelves can be set apart for things like turkeys or just a couple inches apart for making jerky.

Just a propane burner in the bottom with a box for wood chunks.

It's plywood outside and lined with Cedar on the inside.

A small vent on the back near the top.

I've seen it run as low as 150F up to 275F

View attachment 501052 View attachment 501053 View attachment 501054 View attachment 501055 View attachment 501056 View attachment 501057
That is a great box. Sad it’s not being used.
 

kilo charlie

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That is a great box. Sad it’s not being used.
Yea.. I'm not sure why she won't let it go.


And yours... that's amazing! I like the dowel setup and it seems to work great!

Do you have a screen behind the intake vent to prevent bug infiltration?
 

Nate52

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Joined Jun 22, 2021
Welcome from Colorado.
I would say you will be fine the way you are thinking. 2x2 can’t be far off from the MES that so many use.
When I built mine, it was stationary and I went 3x3x7. For what I do it works well and is none to big, but I do a lot of sausage and hams.
I’m not sure where you are geographically, but if it’s humid, I would suggest pro panel or steel roofing for lining the inside. Cement board holds moisture and can cause temperature problems. I lined the bottom 3 foot all around with hardi-backer and have no problem, but I’m at 6400’ with average humidity of 10-15%.
I'm in the northeast. The humidity varies, but it can get get extremely bad at times. I'm wondering if different cement boards would perform differently. I know that some of them have wood fibers imbedded in them, but the stuff I'm looking at is just cement and a fiberglass mesh.

I'm hesitating to line it with metal. Anything that would actually work for heat retention and still be affordable is most likely to be galvanized. I'd just like to avoid going down that road. I'll research some other materials to see what else is out there.

I love your setup. The dowel setup is exactly what I'm going for.
 

Nate52

Newbie
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Joined Jun 22, 2021
This belonged to my neighbor who passed away a couple of years ago. Clearly is hasn't been used since. ( His widow won't sell it to me haha)

There are 4 chains inside.. one in each corner with S hooks to hold the shelves. The shelves can be set apart for things like turkeys or just a couple inches apart for making jerky.

Just a propane burner in the bottom with a box for wood chunks.

It's plywood outside and lined with Cedar on the inside.

A small vent on the back near the top.

I've seen it run as low as 150F up to 275F

View attachment 501052 View attachment 501053 View attachment 501054 View attachment 501055 View attachment 501056 View attachment 501057
Its a shame to see that thign go to waste.
 

kilo charlie

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Both the intake and exhaust are eve vents that are built with screen on the back.
Great!

That's a lesson I learned many years ago after I put some vents in a shed I built and ended up with a wasp nest! The screens prevented any further intrusions.
 

Nate52

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Joined Jun 22, 2021
Can anyone give more input on the humidity issue with cement board?

From everything that I can tell, any masonry product is porous and will hold moisture. This includes everything from backer board to cinder blocks to ceramic tile. I've seen plenty of smokers on this site with backer board with no complaints. And who knows how many thousands of cinder block smokers there are out there.

How bad can backer board really mess with how it heats?
 

SmokinEdge

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Nate, I didn’t mean to suggest that cement board is a problem, rather that metal may be a better choice. Cement board retains moisture and is a thermal mass. If you line the whole inside, you could see longer times for the smoker to heat up and you may have to fiddle with the heat source more as the thermal mass radiates.
When I built mine, I cement board lined the bottom 3’ where the propane burner sets. I left the top 4’ bare wood. I don’t have any issues. People who have built both ways seem to prefer the metal lined. There is no real problem though with cement board.
 

Nate52

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Joined Jun 22, 2021
I finally got around to my build. 60 hour work weeks, three kids, and about five minutes of recreation time got in the way.

I've been stockpiling Lowes gift cards for a few years, so my only out of pocket expenses were two sheets of plywood, the vents, and a some screws that I hadn't factored in. The whole thing was probably 50% paid for by gift cards. So even the wife couldn't complain.

Here's a few pictures of the build:
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20210808_102123.jpg

I absolutely had to make it portable. Not only do I have to stash it away at the house, but it would be nice to take it on the road.

20210807_083747.jpg

All the plywood pieces cut and ready for assembly.

20210807_182912.jpg
20210807_194156.jpg

Instead of lining the entire thing with cement board, I decided to do just the sides. I really wanted to have something to ensure more even heating. But I do have the lower section lined.

20210808_112414.jpg

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20210808_121806.jpg


I hadn't put the cement board on the back of the door yet at this point, but you get the idea. The picked up the little charcoal grill a couple years ago at a Gander store closing sale. I think I paid $9 for it. If you look close, to the right of it, theres a cutout in the cement board so I can eventually use a propane or electric burner if I want. Theres also a 5" cutout directly behind it to have the option of hooking up a stove pipe for cold smoking.

Its not completely done yet. I have a spare section of plywood that will make a great shelf on the side. I also plan on painting the entire thing.

I got a little impatient and just had to fire it up to see how it would do. At this point, I really wasn't sure if that little charcoal grill would be enough to get it up to temperature. But I was ready with a little pork loin that I had brined overnight, just in case.

Everything started off alright, but it stalled at around 185°. It was stuck there for about 40 minutes. I think it goes back to the warning about the moisture in the cement board, because it definitely had some. As soon as I got past that, the temp shot up quickly to about 290°, and I had to shut it down to get back to temp.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the loin, but I stumbled onto this one last last night. I can't think of a better way to test her out.
https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/pork-chops-smoked-seared.291730/#post-2010012
I ended up doing a rough version of this brine, just so I'd have something to throw on the smoker.

I put it on with at about 275°. It was only 1.5 lbs, so I pulled it at 141°IT after an hour. I let it rest and it came up to 148°. I sliced into it when it dropped back down to 140° and couldn't be happier.

20210808_153602.jpg

The grain makes it look a little dry, but I turned the flash on to see the shimmer. I can't remember that last time I've ever made a more tender and moist piece of pork. The wife agreed that she's be happy to serve this to any level of guest in the future.

This was a nice way to test the smoker, but it was only a snack. It'll make some fine lunches for the week. After I pulled the loin, I kept the smoker going for a 2" thick ribeye for dinner. If I can get any time tomorrow, I'll do a write-up on that one. Its another meal that I'll definitely be doing again.

All together, I'm very happy with the way the smoker turned out. I was a little nervous that it would be too big, but the cooks were perfect. I'd rather it be big enough to have the option to feed an entire party than be stuck with just a family's worth of food. I'm gonna need to spend some more time with it to work out the kinks, but I'll be more than happy to.
 

SmokinEdge

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Nice craftsmanship. You have a fine smokehouse. Only thing I would have changed, you should leave an air gap between the cement board and wood frame, with about a 1” air gap at the bottom and a gap at the top for air flow to keep the framing cool. Even though the cement board is fire proof, it will transfer heat to the framing if directly touching. Wood starts to smolder at about 400* and you can easy have that in the bottom where the heat source is located. The cement board holds heat and it will transfer without an air gap. Otherwise very nicely done. Can’t wait to see the amber colored meat that will come out of her.
 

Nate52

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Joined Jun 22, 2021
I had thought about that, and I'm kicking myself for not doing it. I was so intent on getting it running yesterday that I blew it off.

Its not too late. I'll have to cut the side sections, but but I should be able to just pull them off, add shims, and screw them back on.
 

chopsaw

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Its not too late. I'll have to cut the side sections, but but I should be able to just pull them off, add shims, and screw them back on.
Nice looking build .
Just for the sake of it , cement board only carries a rating if installed per a certain UL number . As it is in any of the smoke houses shown on this site , there is no rating .
Not saying it won't work , and an air gap will help with some of the heat transfer .
Did you use Durock or Perma base ? If it was advertised as light weight , it will be full of foam pellets .
I know that's a popular choice for guys that build these , but as someone that has installed my share of cement board it leaves me scratching my head .
Really nice construction on that smoker . Looks great .
 

Bearcarver

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Looking Great, Nate!!
Nice Job!!
Can't wait to see it in action!
Like.

Bear
 

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