HOME > Chowhound > BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling >

How would I go about making a smoker?

SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 12:01 PM

Someone suggested making a smoker on a previous post of mine, and now I've been trying to find a guide to building a smoker, preferably without needing tools for welding. I've got a basic tool kit, a dremel tool for plastic, wood and basically, soft materials. I'll be fine if it means I can only make a salmon smoker, but I've never built anything like this before, so I'd love it if someone went through the procedure step by step, and explained why it's set up that way.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. letsindulge RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 12:08 PM

    Hotel pan, smoke chips, rack, fish on plate. Ignite chips with torch, or stick lighter then quickly cover with heavy duty foil making sure to form a tight seal. Place astride burner(s) set to low. Timing is dependant on thickness of fish. No soldering necessary.

    1 Reply
    1. re: letsindulge
      SummerBoredom RE: letsindulge Jun 26, 2013 12:15 PM

      So I would cover the whole makeshift smoker with the foil? What about ventilation? It seems important in most discussions about smokers.

    2. kaleokahu RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 12:26 PM

      Hi, SB:

      Not enough information.

      Is this a project for inside or out of doors? Do you want to cold smoke, or will this be a kippering operation?

      Many a fine outside hot "smoke" job has been done with a 5-sided aluminum box, a few cinder blocks, and a gravel screen. About the only tools needed are a drill motor and a pop-rivet gun. I'd suggest pieces of sheet aluminum, oh, about the size of a large traffic sign.;;; If you don't have anyone to bend 'em, just get some aluminum "L" channel for the edges (to rivet to). Rivet on handles while you're at it. Build fire, put food on grate supported by blocks, put box over everything.

      If you want a cold smoke setup, the Redneck Way is a derelict refrigerator set 20 or so feet up a slope, and you lay 6" drain pipe or tile down to where you build your fire. Cut holes in top and bottom of reefer. Pipe goes in bottom hole. Food goes on racks.


      1 Reply
      1. re: kaleokahu
        SummerBoredom RE: kaleokahu Jun 26, 2013 12:35 PM

        Sorry, I'm really just a student, so I'm not even sure what a kippering operation is. I'm thinking of outdoors smoker, probably the hot "smoke" job setup you were describing. I suddenly regret having gotten rid of our old dead fridge now!! That would have been perfect. The hot smoke job could be manageable for someone with as little experience as myself though, so I'll be looking into the costs of the supplies. Thank you for posting!

      2. BiscuitBoy RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 12:39 PM

        Alton Brown's Claypot Smoker....throw me a message and I'll send you a quick pdf

        4 Replies
        1. re: BiscuitBoy
          SummerBoredom RE: BiscuitBoy Jun 26, 2013 01:26 PM

          Is there a message function on this website, or should I use email? Btw, LOVE Alton Brown, we have his first season cookbook.

          1. re: SummerBoredom
            BiscuitBoy RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 01:32 PM


          2. re: BiscuitBoy
            fourunder RE: BiscuitBoy Jun 26, 2013 05:18 PM

            Didn't Alton Brown make a smoker out of a cardboard box on one of his shows to smoke Salmon?

            You can use a Wok if you have one.


            1. re: BiscuitBoy
              girloftheworld RE: BiscuitBoy Jun 26, 2013 05:20 PM

              this is the one I was going to post..

            2. tim irvine RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 04:52 PM

              My first smoker was an Old Smokey. I imagine you can giggle a diagram. It looks as if it would be easy to approximate with a trash can, but it wouldn't be any cheaper. I made some fine barbecue on mine.

              1. JayL RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 07:28 PM

                UDS - Ugly Drum Smoker - smoker made from a 55 gallon drum (or a 30 gallon, or a 15 gallon, or a big tamale pot).

                No welding needed. Do a google search and you will likely find more plans on how to do it that you possibly need.

                3 Replies
                1. re: JayL
                  kaleokahu RE: JayL Jun 26, 2013 08:22 PM

                  Hi, Jay:

                  Sprechen Sie "J.B.Weld"? Or, if you have a sufficient # of old Visegrips, you can hold together almost anything. If there'dve been a Redneck in steerage, the Titanic would still be afloat.


                  1. re: JayL
                    gaudreaur RE: JayL Oct 14, 2013 08:41 AM

                    This is the best response you have receive. A UDS is the way to go to build your own. you will get a solid smoker that will burn 12-14 hours on one load of lump charcoal and you can probably build it for under 100$. Here are instructions to building one. http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/84...

                    Also, look up Ugly Drum Smoker on Facebook for plenty of ideas.

                    1. re: gaudreaur
                      JayL RE: gaudreaur Oct 14, 2013 11:15 AM

                      The UDS isn't a cold smoking machine, but if you're wanting to create some smoked BBQ it is a great way to go.

                      I have heard of some folks going 20+ hours on one load of coals in the right weather.

                      I may build one at some point, but I have a fairly new WSM to wear out first.

                  2. Sid Post RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 08:29 PM

                    Wal-Mart out here has a little offset smoker for $90. Nothing fancy but a place to start. A Webber Smokey Mountain is what you really want for a smoker that will do awesome things without great expense or a large amount of space.

                    Myself, I'm looking at a bigger offset smoker now - a real stick burner.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sid Post
                      emglow101 RE: Sid Post Jun 26, 2013 08:47 PM

                      Agree with Sid Post. I tried to make a similiar smoker as A.B did out of the terra cotta pot. I ended up using it for a planter. Forget about it it is bs.

                      1. re: Sid Post
                        ted RE: Sid Post Jul 6, 2013 04:58 AM

                        I have several co-workers who have various inexpensive offset smokers. All I can say is, don't do it.

                        The problem is that even the better ones aren't that airtight, and you need to make modifications to them so they work better (baffle between chambers, e.g.). They've made them even worse (for "convenience") by making the bottom of the firebox a removable ash pan with all sorts of open gaps.

                        Air control is fire control. Controlling the fire means you can control the temperature and reduce how much futzing with the whole thing that you have to do while cooking. Not to mention you can upgrade to a fan system and set-it-and-forget-it.

                        You can knock the WSM for being a pain to open up, but they got the sheetmetal part of it right from the start.

                      2. John E. RE: SummerBoredom Jun 26, 2013 08:55 PM

                        I bet you could spend $40 - $50 or even more on the parts needed to make a homemade smoker. A couple of years ago I went on Craigslist and bought a 22-1/2 inch Weber kettle grill with the grill rack that lifted up to add wood chips. It cost 10 bucks. I've sometimes had an easier time smoking meat on the weber than I have on our offset smoker with the side fire box.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: John E.
                          emglow101 RE: John E. Jun 26, 2013 09:05 PM


                          1. re: John E.
                            Sid Post RE: John E. Jun 28, 2013 07:05 AM

                            A Weber kettle grill isn't a smoker in the true sense of the word but, I must admit I did some awesome grill/smoking over pecan .... who needs briquettes when you have pecan available!!!!

                            1. re: Sid Post
                              John E. RE: Sid Post Jul 5, 2013 09:00 PM

                              Some of my best smoked pork ribs and smiked pork shoulder have been on decades old Weber kettle grills.

                              I know peoole rave about the Weber Smokey Mountain, but I would not buy one. The vertical thing drives me nuts. If I have to lift a rack with meat on itcto check on or get to meat on a lower rack, I don't want it. I once had a Brinkman of similar design and I hated it. I have a smoker with the side firebox. I realze kt is not as effecient, but I rarely smoke meat over 4 to 6 hours. I might be interested in a vertical box smoker with racks like a refrigerator and a side fire box.

                              1. re: Sid Post
                                Tatoosh RE: Sid Post Oct 14, 2013 11:49 PM

                                I smoke pork shoulder, pork chops, bacon, and even medium sized turkeys on my Weber 22.5 kettle. I use a Smokenator 1000 insert which is great and I recommend if you want to smoke occasionally but don't have a lot of spare room. But you can smoke without it or come up with a make-shift one for your Weber grill. And as other replies here show, there are a lot of choices in smokers whether commercial or DIY versions.

                                It really depends on what you want to smoke. Weber charcoal is great for hot smoking and not so good for cold smoking. But cold smoking is simple you can do it with a cardboard box - see Alton Brown for details.

                            2. cowboyardee RE: SummerBoredom Jun 28, 2013 11:37 AM

                              Hey summerboredom

                              Here is a link to the soldering iron/can trick I mentioned in the other thread. It works easily inside a weber or another grill, though it can be adapted for a number of enclosed environments that are at least partially non-flammable.
                              This would be for cold smoking (such as for salmon or cheese).

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                John E. RE: cowboyardee Jun 28, 2013 02:07 PM

                                Your cold smoke hack looks interesting. I have an electric loop charcoal starter. I think I might be able to do something similar using a coffee can or maybe just using a disposable aluminum pan.

                                1. re: John E.
                                  scubadoo97 RE: John E. Jun 29, 2013 04:41 AM

                                  The charcoal started will put out too much heat if used in a cold smoke application. But outside of that should work well as long as it doesn't ignite chips or chunks

                                  1. re: scubadoo97
                                    John E. RE: scubadoo97 Jun 29, 2013 10:18 AM

                                    I wouldn't use charcoal in that manner, just soaked wood chunks/chips.

                                    1. re: John E.
                                      scubadoo97 RE: John E. Jun 29, 2013 12:29 PM

                                      Uh, make that charcoal starter

                                  2. re: John E.
                                    Sid Post RE: John E. Jul 3, 2013 09:03 PM

                                    Buy a cheap electric coil hot plate from your local drug store for $5 and press on. It will work a whole lot better than charcoal starter because you can control the heat output to get a nice even smoke with no flames or overheating.

                                2. d
                                  DeborahL RE: SummerBoredom Jul 3, 2013 04:49 PM

                                  Hi SummerBoredom.

                                  Over on CHOW we had a project outlining how to turn your charcoal grill into a smoker:



                                  Also how to turn your wok into a smoker:


                                  Hope some of this info is helpful!

                                  1. BiscuitBoy RE: SummerBoredom Jul 9, 2013 10:34 AM

                                    petel - my offer still stands

                                    1. k
                                      kimfair1 RE: SummerBoredom Jul 9, 2013 11:25 AM

                                      I made my smoker years ago from a new aluminum trash can and some sheet metal, according to a design by the Frugal Gourmet in his first cookbook. I use it at least once a year, and it's still going strong after over 10 years of use (even after my neighbor almost ran it over with his car and dented it!).


                                      1. r
                                        rich in stl RE: SummerBoredom Oct 7, 2013 10:36 PM

                                        Craigslist usually has Weber Smokey Joe's for little money, then just follow the guys here http://virtualweberbullet.com/miniwsm...

                                        1. r
                                          Richard5315 RE: SummerBoredom Oct 11, 2013 03:57 AM

                                          On Century Bl. Between Western & Normandie is "Sweet Daddy Rose BBQ's" Go buy a Barrel smoker all built already

                                          1. EWSflash RE: SummerBoredom Oct 12, 2013 08:15 AM

                                            Check instructables.com or maybe punkdomestics.com

                                            Alton Brown has done several shows about home smoking, maybe you can find something on cookingchannel.com

                                            Show Hidden Posts