Smoker Design Advice

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by mountbaldy, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    So first off, I apologize for posting a random post like this.  I'm just a little lost about what exactly I "need".  First off, I am a scrounger when it comes to smokers.  I have 2 and got rid of one, all of which I either "saved" from the dump or inherited.  I never paid a dime for any of them.  

    I have made very good smoked trout and pork butts on my main vertical colman smoker grill. It was intended to use propane but the old warn out propane parts weren't compatible with the new style tanks so I scrapped that and burn charcoal in it.  It has no baffles so I put tin foil in the vent holes to manage my draft.  Most times I run it completely closed down.  The smoker actually runs very good.  It's un-insulated and I have still kept pork at 200* F when it's 30* F out.  

    The other of the two I have is a Little Cheif.  This one I have done cold smoked trout on but it doesn't hold temp very well and never gets very warm.  My intention was to build an insulated cover for this and use it to smoke fish and other cooler temp items.  But after reading on here..  I'm thinking of scrapping that idea and building something that I can use for everything.

    I want to build something I can fit an entire ham or turkey inside of and that I can hold anywhere from 110 - 225*F and do so for up to 3 days.  I'm throwing the idea around of doing an offset design but I really like the inline setup I have now.  I just don't know what will give me the most consistent temp over the entire smoker for the entire smoke.

    My idea was to build a box big enough to hold the largest item I want to smoke, and then design a fire box big enough to fuel it.  I'm thinking of either using charcoal or electric.  The other issue is wanting to be able to smoke things during the winter (-20*F).  I was thinking of just building the box out of OSB or plywood and then lining the inside with stainless sheeting.  Then on the outside using foam board and steel siding or ply wood over that.

    Another parameter in my build is that I want to make something that is somewhat portable.  So I don't want it too heavy or made of permanent materials.  

    I already have plywood and foamboad on hand.  I'm interested where folks are getting stainless sheeting for a decent price (if their is a thing.)

    What are the benefits of doing an offset design versus an inline?

    Any ideas are appreciated.   


    Joe Gill

    Townsend, MT
  2. Joe

    I don't know where you are going to get stainless at a food price. A lot of people are using firebrick at the bottom then just wood for the top.

    Have you thought about a UDS? Maybe a fridge conversion?

    Spend some time looking around the build section and see what others are doing.

    I see this is your first post. When you get a chance will you drop by roll call so everyone can give you a proper SMF [​IMG].

    Happy smoken.

  3. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter


    Thanks for the response! I'll be doing lots of research on here before I purchase any materials.  I think you're right, stainless is probably out of the question.  

    How about aluminum flashing for covering the walls and ceiling?    

    I'll have to go do some looking at the other builds.   I'm headed to the Roll Call. :)  


    Joe  Gill

    Townsend, MT
  4. Check with local fireplace or AC/heating shops. That is where I got my stainless. I used 24 gauge to protect a portion of my smokehouse from the heat of the burner. I just called them up, they cut to dimension for me at no charge.
  5. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    Thanks Bladebuilder!  I saw your build and that was what made me think about using stainless.  I'll keep checking around.  I have some connections locally too I need to visit with.  There's a stove builder in town too.  


    Joe Gill

    Townsend, MT
  6. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    Well I did some figuring and I think I would like to make a 24"D X 24"W X 48"H smoking chamber and then do either an offset or vertical fire box.  For the chamber I believe I'll use ply wood or MDF like I mentioned and then line the fire box with either aluminum flashing or steel.   

    I'm thinking of going wood/charcoal fired for my fire box.  How much space is required from the top of the coal pan to the ceiling in your fire box?
  7. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    Well after much thought and reading and thinking...  I've decided to repurpose an old doghouse that was here when we moved in.  I started on the repurposing project today. :)  I cut the pitched roof from the original doghouse down to be 32"H x 47"L x 35.5"W.  The box is made out of good 3/4" plywood and had a galvanized roof on top.  

    I'm having a hard time deciding on whether to put the box horizontal or vertical.  I like the idea of doing an offset with a reverse flow..  But I also really love my vertical smoker. As long as I can smoke whole hams, turkeys and large salami, I'm happy.  Being able to to a small hog would be nice which would be a plus I can see of going horizontal on the box.  

    Anyhow, I'm making progress! 

    The Doghouse smoker has begun!  

    Just if you're wondering...  The previous owner's dog must not have used the house much because it doesn't smell of dog at all.  You can see where they insulated the inside of the house at some point...  Due to the old construction adhesive inside...  But it's nothing a sander can't fix.  
  8. [​IMG]
  9. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

  10. Any progress or pictures ?
  11. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    Ok so I was sick from Christmas until February and didn't get any time to work on my build. During that time I acquired some things and finally today assembled my new design. Now all I need to do is figure out how to upload some pics from my kindle.
  12. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    This is what I've done so far.  I'll take more pics in the day light tomorrow and when I do a dry run.  I inherited a wooden food dehydrator that is 46" H x 22" W x 22" long.  It came with really nice steel screen shelves (probably 20 of them) and has plenty of room.  I'll be doing some remodeling on it tomorrow before I do the dry run.  After doing much research, I decided on going with the cinderblock pit for now.  I am not going to mortise any of my joints yet either.  I have pressure fit cement board on most of my holes.  I'll post more as I can! (Now that I'm finally making headway!!)
  13. I'll get the popcorn  popping    Be watching 

  14. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    Yesterday I got a little more done.  I worked on my fermentation chamber controller most of the day wiring and testing it.  I got it completely done but it cut into my build time on the smoker.  I cut my hole for the intake pipe on the smoke chamber and mounted the pipe into the fire box.  

    My intake on the smoke chamber is 5" diameter.  The Excel smoker design sheet suggests I have two, is that overkill?  I plan on mostly cold smoking and rarely getting over 160 - 175 inside the smoke chamber. Any ideas here would be helpful.  A 5" inake seems plenty big enough....  <<<<------

    The bottom hole you see here is where a fan was when this was formally a dehydrator.  I'm going to put a small fan here for cold air intake to control temps inside.  I'll also wire in a hot plate.  Also the doors need some work.  They aren't tight.  I'll be working on those here too.  But this thing came with tons of trays.  I'll be putting in some smoke sticks to hang stuff up top too.  

    Here is a pick of the controller mounted on the side of the smoker.  I"m going to use this to control temps on the smoker as well as the fermentation chamber.  

    Anyhow, I'm glad to back at it!  I've had a turkey in the freezer now for about a month waiting to get this thing done. :)  I'll be hopefully doing a dry run with this thing here this week or next weekend. :)
  15. Be waiting on the smoke  

  16. mountbaldy

    mountbaldy Fire Starter

    Well.... I've been busy working on my smoker!  I added a damper after the fire box before entering the smoke chamber and on the exiting stove pipe on the smoke chamber.  I added a fan on the bottom of the smoke house in hopes of being able to bring cold air in to cool off the box if it got too hot.  That idea failed but is worth revisiting.  

    I ran a test smoke last week and decided to smoke a yard bird.  The results were awesome! I broke down and used charcoal for fuel and added chips for smoke.  It still worked very well.  I used alder and mesquite for flavor.  I also rubbed the chicken first with a Jamaican rub I cloned from a visit down south.  Ultimately I smoked the bird for about 2 hours and then finished it on the firebox.  I discovered that a large Webber grate fits perfectly inside of my smoker and also fits perfectly over my firebox.  On the initial run I discovered I needed another way to control the flame.  First off I made the mistake of loading up the firebox with coals.  Big mistake.  My firebox isn't completely sealed air tight and needless to say I had to cool down the coals a time or two to avoid hitting higher than I wanted temps.  Ultimately, adding a second damper did the trick.  

    So after the first smoke, I decided I had better do another this weekend!  I had been wanting to try making Summer Sausage.  So today I did the Venison Summer Sausage recipe in Rytek's book.  I started making the sausage this morning at 8 AM and it's now 11:46 and I still haven't finished smoking...  The smoker is holding temp fairly well but the meat will not get over the 138 degree mark...  I'm smoking it at 165-170.  I initially had trouble balancing things out at 165 and was hovering right around 160 for about the first hour of cooking. 

    Pics of the final sausage post will come in the morning.
  17. Cool !!    Sure want to see some pics

  18. mr b

    mr b Fire Starter

    Do anyone know where i can buy these at?
  19. mr b

    mr b Fire Starter

  20. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Hey man, any good scrounger should have one of these.

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