A smoker comes with a firebox and a cooking chamber, making it easier for you to smoke some meat.
Instead of spending a lot of money buying an expensive smoker, you can build a cost-effective smoker that will help you smoke meat from the comfort of your home.
Working on a simple DIY project like this will make it easier for you to understand how a smoker works.
So, are you wondering how to make a BBQ smoker that can help you smoke and cook some meat, yet?
Since types of smokers function differently while smoking meat, we are going to take you through the various steps that you should follow while building a homemade smoker. We are also going to show you the different tools that are used to make smokers for smoking meat. Each step might take a certain amount of time, depending on the complexity. However, this is a great and easy project to make your DIY smoker.
Let’s dig deeper.
Tools Needed to Make Good Smokers
These are some of the simple tools and accessories you might require to make a good barbecue offset smoker:
- Angle grinder
- MIG welder
- Abrasive wheels
- Tape measure
- Permanent marker
- Safety equipment
If you are not confident at using these tools, then you should enlist the help of someone who is.
— Deborah Langdon (@LangdonDeborah) March 12, 2021
Step 1: Choose the Equipment and Materials You Want To Build The Smoker From
The first thing to do is to choose the type of equipment and materials you want to make the smoker from. Examples of such equipment and materials include oil drums and propane gas tanks. You can also opt for other materials like steel to build the firebox.
An old oil drum might be a suitable choice for you if you are planning to build a small BBQ smoker for preparing tasty meat just for yourself. On the other hand, a propane gas tank might be ideal if you plan to cook lots of meat at the same time.
Apart from that, make sure that it is the right type of steel that is needed to build a firebox.
Step 2: Cleaning the Drum
Before you start working on the old drum, make sure that the interior is clean and rust-free. You should clean it thoroughly and get rid of any liquid residue that might be in the interior parts. Such residue might affect the taste of meat.
Since most drums are used to store flammable liquids, you first need to clean them with water before you start building a smoker. Fill the old drum with a lot of soapy water, then shake it for a while. After that, rinse it with a lot of clean water. Pour the water from the drum. Let the old drum dry off completely.
In some instances, the old drum that you are planning to build the smoker from might have some paint on the exterior part. You have to remove it from the surface of the drum before you start to build the smoker. Attach a wire brush to a drill and scrape off the paint.
When the paint is exposed to high temperature, it starts to melt. This can be a health concern especially since we usually barbecue meat at a very high temperature.
Umm, I smoked my wings for 2 hours in my Smoker, then put them over a charcoal bbq for 15 minutes. My wife told me my wings tasted like bacon. The highest praise ever. Also, real Albertans bbq all year long.
— Kane Lambert (@KaneLambert3) March 15, 2021
Step 3: Cut the Doors of the Cooking Chamber
The next thing to do is to cut the doors of the cooking chamber from the top part to the bottom part of the smoker. A good door makes it easier for you to access your steak as you are smoking it.
Once you finish prepping and cleaning the drum, mark the different sections where you are going to cut. You can use a permanent marker, an engineer’s square, and a ruler to mark out the section that you want to cut. The door of the BBQ smoker should be cut several inches from the edge of the drum.
Once you cut the BBQ smoker door, remove that piece from the drum and place it somewhere safe.
Step 4: Weld the Chimney of the Smoker
Next, weld the chimney of your BBQ smoker. A chimney makes it easier for the smoke to escape from the chambers. You can use a circular steel metal part with a diameter that is between 70mm – 100mm. Weld two circular steel parts at a 45 degrees angle. Make sure the connection doesn’t have any leaks. You can turn the chimney upside down and examine it.
Step 5: Cut Out the Lid of the Chimney
If you are planning to build a small smoker to smoke some meat, you can cut out just one door. On the other hand, if you building a large smoker for smoking meat, one door might be cumbersome to lift. So, you need to cut out two doors.
Place the drum on a sturdy support. Use a permanent marker and a ruler to mark the section you want to cut out in your smoker. Once you have clear lines, use an angle cutting disk and an angle grinder to make the cuts.
Step 6: Welding Strips to the Drum
To prevent any smoke leakages, you need to weld thin steel metal strips around the front edges of the drum where the door is going to rest. Such strips should cover all the sides—top and bottom.
Measure the length of the side curves using a tape measure. This makes it easier for you to calculate the length of the steel strip that you are going to put on your smoker. Once you have determined the length of the strips that you are going to use, weld them on the edges of the cooking chamber. Check for any section that might cause smoke leakages.
Step 7: Add a Grill Grate Support
Removable cooking surfaces such as grill grates are more efficient and easier to maintain than permanent cooking surfaces. Due to this, you need to add different parts that will support a grilling grate.
A grilling grate has to be at the same level as the bottom part of the smoker’s door. To add grilling grate supports to your smoker, you can weld different metals on the inside part of the smoker. All the supports should be parallel to each other and should be adequately spaced to allow you to support and turn the meat easily.
After welding the supports to the interior part of the smoker, give them enough time to cool off.
Step 8: Drill Some Holes and Attach the Door to the Cooking Chamber Using Hinges
To attach the door to the cooking chamber, you first have to mark the sections where you want to attach the hinges. Use a permanent marker to mark the section where you want to drill the holes on the exterior surface of the smoker.
Drill the holes on the drum and the door. Once you drill them, attach the door to the drum using bolts.
Open the smoker door and turn it to see whether it swings smoothly or not.
Step 9: Build a Firebox for the Smoker
A firebox has to be at least ⅓ of the total volume of the cooking chamber. In short, it should have enough space to fit charcoal.
You should also use steel sheets and steel pieces that are thick enough to prevent too much heat loss to the adjacent environment. The most suitable thickness is ¼”. Anything less than that will lose too much heat to the environment. To prevent heat losses, you can insulate your firebox on the top part and the sides.
While you can pay your local steel supplier to cut the steel metal sheets to your specifications, you can also cut them at the comfort of your home. If you choose the latter, you can use a circular saw to cut out the different parts of the firebox.
Once you have all the parts that you require, weld the different metal sheets to create a functional firebox that doesn’t have any smoke leakages.
Woke up at 6am cleaned the house and the smoker, then gave both dogs a bath, showered, then started seasoning the meat for the bbq, put the ribs on the smoker now I’m drinking a Yuengling and watching Set It Off
— Unruly 👑King Haize (@CEOHaize) March 14, 2021
Step 10: Attach the Homemade Firebox to the Cooking Chamber
Fixing the firebox to the cooking chamber is quite simple.
Start by marking the section that you want to cut on the drum. The firebox should be fixed halfway on the drum. Use a permanent marker and a ruler to mark the section. Once you have marked the section, cut it to get an opening that has a semicircle shape.
Attach the firebox to the drum. Weld the connection between the two parts. Counter-check the connection by checking whether there are any openings on the edges or not. Such an opening might cause smoke leakages.
Weld a Handle on the Lid of the Barbecue Smoker
A handle makes it easier for you to open the barbecue smoker as you are smoking meat at a high temperature. You can build a handle from four different steel square sections. Just weld the steel square section at a 45 degrees angle to get something that looks like a handle.
After that, mark the different points that you want to put the handle on. Once you finish that, weld the handle into the door of the smoker. Let it sit there for a while as it cools. You can also add insulation to the grip of the handle, making it easier for you to handle it while it is hot.
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Build a Frame to Support the Barbecue Smoker as You Are Smoking
A-frame is made up of various rectangular steel tubes and steel pieces, which can be folded for easier storage. The size and dimensions of a foldable frame depend on the type of drum that you are using. If you are using a large smoker drum, then a large foldable frame might be suitable for you and your backyard.
Cut the rectangular steel tubes and steel pieces to get desired lengths. You can use a hacksaw to cut such sections. After that, use an engineer’s square to measure right angles as you are welding different parts together.
Mark the centre parts of the rectangular steel section that you have created. This makes it easier for you to create a movable hinge. Drill a hole on each side.
Attach the two rectangular sections using bolts. Open the foldable frame to check whether it operates smoothly or not.
Weld Handles on the Side of the Drum
Side handles make it easier for you to carry the barbecue smoker from one point to another. Mark the points you want to position the handle using a permanent marker. You should mark points on both sides and in the same position. After that, weld the handles into position. Side handles should be put in the same position.
Fixing the Grate Into Position
Since you have welded grill grate supports in the interior part of the drum, you have to create the perfect grill grate for your smoker.
You can either order a grill that fits into your drum perfectly or you can create one yourself.
The most perfect material for a grate is stainless steel. It doesn’t rust easily, and it’s quite durable.
To test whether your smoker works perfectly or not, you need to test it. Fill the cooking chamber and the firebox with charcoal, then ignite the charcoal and see if the smoker works perfectly at the normal smoking temperature.
Make Your Own BBQ Smoker
With those few steps, we hope you know how to make a BBQ smoker in the comfort of your home. Many people think that it’s quite hard to build BBQ smokers but with the right tools, it’s a simple process. This is a simple DIY project that helps you save some money. Plus, it makes it easier for you to learn how a BBQ smoker works.
While building a smoker might take a long time, a homemade smoker is quite cheap and efficient. It can take you around 2 days to work on this easy project. Once you finish all the work, test your DIY smoker to see whether it works efficiently or not. After that, you can cook and enjoy some smoked meat.
Have you ever made a BBQ smoker? Do you have any tips for us? Please share with us in the comments.