Started my New Smoker Today

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Legendary Pitmaster
Original poster
Nov 18, 2006
Hi All -

Well I didn't get all the parts yet but I started assembling my new smoker today. I got the frame built for the drum. I scrounged 3 lengths of uni-strut and some clips. It was enough for the barrel with a bit left over. I don't have a fire box yet so I'll add that frame in later. This should be easy to close in later for storage.

I'll cut the barrel tomorrow - my brother in law has a nice pneumatic grinder that'll cut much nicer than the jigsaw.

It's not much but it's a start!


Thanks guys!

I cut the barrel in half today using my brother-in-laws pneumatic grinder with 3 cutting wheels. It's realy nice to operate and it cut really clean. Glad he convinced me to use it instead of the cutting torch. I tried playing with cutting a few scraps of junk with the cutting torch and it was fun but really rough and lumpy looking. I would have had to grind that for the rest of my life I think! LOL

My brother-in-law said the stand was way over designed but I got the stuff for free so why not use it?

Order a chargriller side fire box like everyone suggested from Lowes they'll call when it comes in so now we just strip paint off and wait I guess.
debi, looks like you are gonna kinda use mine for a model. a few tips, if i may; keep in mind the mechanic did alot of the work for me, since i didn't have alot of time to do it all myself. 1. on the firebox, he took a piece of diamond plate steel and cut it so it fit over the hole where it mounts to the drum. then he put 2 x 3" pipes connecting it to the drum. don't do that. put one big pipe, or find a way to mount it directly without a plate covering the hole. i wanted to do it that way, but didn't have time to do it myself, or the materials to do it with one big pipe. 2. cut your smokestack just under your food rack on the end, 4" diameter at least. i have mine that way, and it works better than when i had it on the top. 3. i bought my smoker thermometers from academy, the smaller "old smokey" brand, $9 each. i mounted mine in the door, on each end (either side of handle). i am thinking of moving them so they are on the outside of the door. like they are, they are a few inches above the rack. 4. make sure there is a leg under the firebox to the ground. 5. regular flat black paint on the drum will suffice. 6. insulation will make a BIG difference on the drum. too bad you don't live close to me, as i have some left over. 7. have fun, and smoke alot.
Looking good....

Can I make one suggestion for the CG sfb. Since I have 2 now.....

Cut a piece of expanded metal and use it for the charcoal rack. The stock one is way to low.... if you don't already know. I got lazy and just put a piece of expanded metal on the "cooking" grate. Lots of room for ash, and no problem smothering your fire like using the stock grate. Some buy or make baskets..... I am going to put some all-thread rod in my 2nd one and lower the expanded metal. That will give my a lip so coals will not fall out the front like my first one. I will modify it later on.

Chris -

I am making mine like yours (I think) even ordered the firebox you suggested eariler. I was thinking of using the large bung hole for the piping and the small one for a vent. I think it's about 4" I'll have to check.

I don't know how big the fire box is so I haven't decided how to mount it. I'd like to go direct if possible but that remains to be seen.

Should I cut the smoke stack flush or extend it into the smoker? I was thinking perhaps extending it in some and cutting it off at an angle might be a good idea.

I was wondering about themometers. I saw a few on a site somewhere at like $30 a pop! Yikes! Wal Mart has some now for like $9 I wonder if they're any good?

I figured Id build the firebox frame exactly the way I built the barrel frame but smaller and closer to the ground. I think I have enough Uni-Strut left. Tough stuff! Once I get it all bolted together I'm going to tack it in place for added strength.

I saw some high temperature black paint in the garden center at Wal Mart. It's supposed to be for grills I figured that would work OR I may be able to get it powdercoated. I have to find out what kind of temperatures the powder coat will take. I think they cook it to like 400 degrees or something.

I was thinking (I know that's dangerous) if I can get a second barrel maybe I could cut out the ends, cut it in half a few inches shorter than the first and fit it inside the existing barrel for insulation. That would give me an air pocket to fill with some kind of high temperature insulation.

I have my ECB so I don't have to rush this project. I want to consider all the options and do it right the first time. Besides my brother-in-law is convinced this isn't going to work and I'm building it in his garage. So far he just watches and laughs. He doesn't understand why I don't buy the Chargriller at HomeDepot for $139. I know you guys understand!

I was thinking of using expanded metal for the grill surface and the firebox if I can find it un galvinized. I was pricing cast iron grills and it'd be close to $100 just for the grills! I'm still looking though! I'd prefer cast iron grills we'll see.

Thanks for the support Guys!

Well debi let him laugh tell him your just starting with this and tell him to show us pics of his homebuilt smoker lol. I think its great that your building a smoker and my Hats off to you. Keep on building Baby.
my smokestack extendes into the smoker just a bit. i also do not use the stock charcoal grate that came with the firebox- it bent pretty bad the first time i used some mesquite splits on it. i use a heavy rack out of the old LP grill for my rack in the firebox now. i don't know the exact size of the firebox. for the food rack, i used some metal we have at work, that is sheet steel, with a bunch of round holes all over it. i am going to make a new one, as i don't like this one; the holes are too small. if i could have used the stuff with bigger holes, i think it would be ok. couldn't use it at the time though. make sure your smokestack is on the opposite end of the firebox. my smokestack is 4" diameter. i think that is big enough for a 55-gallon drum with side firebox. here is a pic that shows the firebox, and trhe smokestack going into the smoker.
Yeah my brother-in-law can be a butt-head sometimes. He doesn't quite understand the smoking thing yet. Although I had to show him how to make Jerky tonight. The dollar store was selling some jerky spices - Nesco or something - cheap so he bought some. Who knows maybe he'll get interested in smoking after teasing me so much about it. He loves the Pastrami and turkeys.

Chris -

Thanks for the pix I wasn't sure how far down to put the stack. I planned on going in the big bung hole.

I tacked the frame together tonight. Not to much else I can do till I get the fire box. I think I'll run maybe 1x1 angle iron all the way around the halfs to beef it up a bit. Might hold the heat/smoke in better too.

I do not know if this would work but, I was wondering if a person could use blow on insulation on the outside to insulate the barrel. I do not know if the insulation would take the heat. If it would that would be the easiest way to insulate the barrel.
I love all the info and pics,great's awesome to see people do things from scratch...keep it up Deejay !
What an ambitious project. You'll have to keep us updated w/ all the play by play.

Chris is oh so correct about keeping the stack @ cooking grate level. That will keep the convection current flowing below the meat and create a good uniform "heat bubble" in the cooking area.

Your bung hole will not be large enough for a stack. It's more like 2 1/2", not 4". You won't need a vent, that's what your stack is. You'll be controlling your temp by the size fire you build, and how much air you allow through the firebox.

Light guage expanded metal makes excellent cooking grates, especially if tacked into a 1" angle iron frame. If you call around the metal dealers in your area, you should be able to pick up a piece of "drop"(leftovers from someone else's cut)

Good Luck, I'm sure you'll do well,

SmkyOky Tim -

Thanks I'll try that. I was shopping online or a 4x8 sheet but I really don't need that much. Gotta be some metal fabricators around here someplace!


T-Bone Tim -

It's my quest now! EURAH!
Debi sure does look like your really getting into this and that is great. Your getting tons of good advice and it is great to see that it's all coming together for you. I don't have much to add to all this since i'm not much for manufacturing something like what you are tackling. But i wanted a new thermometer for my CharBroil electric smoker and i bought one from Wally World and when i put it in some boiling water it showed 213. i just clean off the tip after each smoke and it works great for me. So keep on inching along and keep the photos coming. Great work.

Hi All -

Still waiting for the fire box. I don't dare do anything else until I know how big that thing is and where I have to put it. I'm don't even know if it's a left side mount or a right side mount. ARGGGG!

I did do some calling around for the expanded metal. No luck yet. I haven't found handles yet either. I check Lowes and Home Depot - nothing. I did find some really nice diamond plate though - expensive stuff, but pretty I love diamond plate. It'd be nice to enclose the cabinet with that. Still looking!

I appreciate the help you all are giving me - just goes to shoe what a great place this is!

the firebox is right hand mount, if it is the char-griller brand. char-broil is left hand mount. i got the handle for my smoker door off my old LP grill. the wheels are getting donated from it too for my smoker one day. i used the racks out of it also, the food rack is what i made my ABT rack from, the lava rock rack is what i use in my firebox for the charcoal/wood to sit on.
WOW You guy`s & gals really are the best !! you`ll are a inspiration to me !!!
As for looking for those metal scrap pieces ,,,check you`r local welding supplie shops for the guy`s that are fabricators in your area ,, Explain to them what you`r doin and what you`r looking for ....also bring some pics with you ....a little show & tell , that will really tickle know what i mean !!! ok tc and good luck searching....
Looking forward to updates & pics .....charlie
If you can't find the expanded metal you want....take some measurements...and check out Wally World...Home Depot...they have a variety of replacement charcoal and cooking grates that just might work....would be an easy fix..later on... when they wear out...than trying to have a custom made one out of hard to fine material for ya... is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads