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Questions for building a smoker

ab canuck

Master of the Pit
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 Hello all. I am working on a build for a smoker. I would be using it to hot smoke mostly, but would like to cold smoke as well. 

I have an old upright commercial freezer i picked up, aluminum and stainless. I also came across an old bread proofer although it is nothing like the ones I have seen on the site. I have been toying with these or going to a smokehouse build. 4'x4'x7' 

We make sausage a 100-200 lbs at a time so the smoker is mainly for sausage and jerky. we do smoke pork roasts, butts, and would like to do brisket, bacon and hams. so I'm torn on size of smoker to build. I have a small old fridge set up cedar lined with propane for use now and am not satisfied with it. 

  If I go with a smoke house (insulated as I am in a northern climate for half the year) is their anything to know for sizing to heat ratio? I understand the basics and need for airflow, but I am unsure of what else to do. An external heat source for smoke but I need to put another form of heat to complete the hot smoke. What is the best method? should I look at going electric + Pid? or is gas a better option? I have been toying with installing a fan from a convection oven into this for a more even smoke and temp. to better finish our products. Has anyone tried this or similar?  

  I can go with a smaller build ( freezer or proofer ) which may be easier to do size wise, but back to doing smaller batches of sausage. Again I am not sure of sizing heat ratios. Is there a general guide/rule of thumb for this? Also Circulation, Is a fan ( oven convection fan) a bad idea? I have seen a fan in a smoker before and from past experience thought it might help. 

  Any suggestions and help would be appreciated. Thx.
 

forluvofsmoke

Smoking Guru
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Joined Aug 27, 2008
I don't have much to offer in advancing your build, other than suggesting that you look around HERE in the fridge/freezer  build section.

I have been offering my views on THIS build for troubleshooting temp control issues...that may give you some insight on how to set up your internal configuration, PID, baffles and venting if you decide to go electric.

I know you probably don't want  to fire with propane for hot smokes based on your experience with your current fridge build, but unless you do a serious insulation job it will take a lot of BTUs to heat up and maintain temps in a larger electric smoker. With propane it is by no means set and forget it, but over time you can learn where to set your flame to achieve approx temps rather easily. Once you reach target temps and add meat, the temps drop...you know that...let it ride and it will recover after the meat's thermal absorption rate drops off as it begins to warm through. The only thing that will really mess with temps after that is changes in ambient (changes in wind or temp, onset of precipitation), but with proper insulation those temp drops should be minimized.

Hope this helps...I know it's not exactly what you're looking for, but a start. Good luck on the new build, and shout back if you need more info. You might be able to toss a PM at some of the guys who did refer builds and get info on minimum BTU output necessary for your area based on cu ft interior capacity and insulation type/thickness. I know some areas of Canada, like the USA, can have brutal late fall/winter weather conditions...I still cook outdoors regardless of the weather.

Eric
 

ab canuck

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
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Joined Nov 20, 2016
  Thx, for the info, I have been researching some and found a few different BTU calculators, With that I am thinking maybe going to propane for heat as well as an external source for smoke in a smoke house. I am thinking of 2 builds now, 1 for our cooking and events, but also building a larger version ( smoke house ) for doing all of our sausage, hams, bacon etc. I am torn between the 2 and can't start until spring due to weather and work.

 Just not sure what to do. 
 

forluvofsmoke

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
5,170
405
Joined Aug 27, 2008
Ah, well, at least you still have a few months to figure out which direct to go, and more to plan your design. You'll be on top your game by then, for sure.

Shout back if you need anything else, and let us know how the build goes, too...and some pics of your upcoming smokes...gotta have that, right?
 


Eric
 

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