Question about my smoker

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jun 28, 2006
My smoker(which is pictured in my avatar) has an offset firebox which is rectangular and quite large. It has a grate with bars a couple inches apart. When I get a good fire going the temp will remain constant for around 40 minutes and then the coals start to slip through the grate and land in the ash. I am then left with a piece of wood which many times starts to burn out since I don't have any coals under it. I have to stay on top of it constantly and feed the fire often to prevent this from happening. I suspect when the coals fall through they get smothered by the ash and I am losing heat from them also. Has anyone used a firebox which has two grates? The grate on top for burning wood and the grate below for catching the coles and keeping them out of the ash. I feel as if I am not getting enough heat from my coals before they fall through the grate and land in ash. Of course I do clean out my firebox before each cook but it doesn't long for the ash to build up. Any input on this from others would be appreciated.
You can also use some expanded metal sheets and build you a charcoal box.
I built a charcoal box for my firebox that sits a little higher in the firebox than the original grates that came with the smoker. This gives me a bit more time during a longer smoke before the ash needs to be cleaned out.

But, when it comes to cleaning out your firebox during a smoke there are a couple solution. The first is to buy a piece of sheet metal from the local hardware store and to bend it until fits into the curvature of the firebox. But the trick then is to find some way to pick up the piece of metal during the smoke which will bring the ash with it.

The second way, which I choose to do because I think it's simplier, is to build a speciality rake. Take a very small piece of sheet metal and use some tin snips to cut out a half moon shape, that sort of fits with the curvature of the firebox. Then drill a hole in the center of the shape, 1/4" hole is good. Then buy 1.5 feet of 1/4" all thread and two 1/4"-20 nuts. All parts are easily available at the local hardware store. use the nuts to secure the plate at the end of the all-thread.

Then just have a metal bucket on hand to rake the ashes into. You'll never get the perfect shape just cutting the metal with tin snips, but I can get 85% of the ashes out during the smoke and I was trying to keep things simple, and that gives you lots more time and good air flow.

I will take a picture of mine a little later today to try and explain a little better
This is the first time for me posting a picture so I hope it works. This is the ash rake that I made and anybody should be able to make being that it doesn't require welding or anything. Feel free to ask questions.

And make the hangle extra long to keep your hands cool!

Keep on smoking!
On a different note, what kind of charcoal are you using? It seems like you are generating a large amount of ash during a cook. My Lang only produces about a large coffee can full of ash during a 12-14 hour cook. However, my cooker isn't as large as yours, and I pretty much only burn sticks.
Thanks for the help guys. I left a message with a friend of mine who has a welding shop. He has some real thick expanded metal sheets and I hope that makes the difference. I am also thinking of lining the inside of my smoker box with brick to keep the heat in. A few modifications will hopefully save me a lot of wood.
Hey Rub,

The expanded metal should take care of any problem you have with ash. Are you burning all wood or charcoal/wood mix?
I am burning all wood. I honestly don't know if charcoal would put off enough heat to get my smoker up to temp. I used some whole chunk charcoal(to experiment with) that I bought at Home Depot last weekend and it didn't cut the mustard. Luckily I just came across a dried and already cut up cherry tree that the owner was glad to give me to get off his property. Also, I have enough apple to last me for a year of cooking. I might as well use wood since it is free and in abundant supply. My firebox is made of 1/4 inch steel and seems to lose quite a bit of heat. I have to keep the fire real hot to keep the temp up. That is why I am looking into lining my fire box with 1 inch fire brick. Hopefully that will help. Unfortunately I have to leave the firebox door open a crack for airflow since my air intake valve on the firebox doesn't seem to allow enough air in. I open it full bore and close the firebox door and the fire starts to smolder. Note that I have been using my smoker in hot and humid weather. I think when the air cools a little the airflow will be better.
Also, I did get a piece of thick expanded metal that I am going to try out tomorrow when I do 4 racks of ribs and a couple chickens. I think it make a huge improvement. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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