How to Build Your Own Backyard Smoker

How to Build Your Own Backyard Smoker

With tons of TV shows, national competitions and websites available, barbecuing has become a popular new trend.  People from all walks in life are looking to get in on the craze.  One of the biggest crazes is smoking meat.  This is what many consider traditional barbecue, not grilling.  With that, custom smokers and large store brand smokers can become quite expensive, so several people are turning to building their own backyard smokers.  While not an easy task, building your own will save you money and can lead to a feeling of accomplishment when the final project is complete.  In order to build a functional smoker, do plenty of research in order to help you with this process.  Included are a few ideas and steps to help assist you in taking on this task.  The following should help you with how to build a bbq smoker.

Items needed and steps required to build your own bbq smoker

  1. Find a barrel
  2. Find a good welder
  3. Acquire the necessary hardware
  4. Assemble the smoker
  5. Season the smoker

Step 1: Find a barrel

how to build a bbq smoker step 1

When looking for a barrel or drum to act as the main component for your smoker, I suggest buying a food grade barrel.  This means it was designed to hold food.  Try to avoid drums and barrels that held used car oil or any chemicals as it will require much more cleaning to ensure safe smoking.

Step 2: Find a good welder

how to build a bbq smoker step 2

Unless you have welding skills and the proper tools on hand, creating a good fire basket to fit in the bottom of the drum can be difficult.  For a few dollars, find a good welder, draw up a design which you can find online, and let them do it.  The fire box should sit on a platform and be easily removable.  There should be a solid base to hold the wood and coals, while using a wire mesh encasement to allow the smoke to easily flow out into the drum.

Step 3: Acquire the necessary hardware

how to build a bbq smoker step 3

You will need to purchase a few items to make sure your build comes out right, and they should be easy enough to find at a chain hardware store.  Handles, nuts and bolts and a large enough grill grate to fit in the drum are a good start.

Step 4: Assemble the smoker

how to build a bbq smoker step 4

Using a 1” drill bit, drill intake holes around the bottom of the drum.  These holes should be about every 24” and should be at least 2” to 3” from the bottom.  This allows air into the drum and will force the smoke up towards the meat.  Next measure your grill grate and drill the appropriate holes 7” from the top of the drum.  Attach the grate using nuts and bolts to secure it in place.  Finally, drill an exhaust hole in the drums lid, and cover it with a moveable strip magnet.  This way you can control the amount of smoke you are venting from the drum.

Step 5: Season the smoker

how to build a bbq smoker step 5

The last step will burn off any old residue and create a clean tasting environment for your smoker.  Rub the entire inner walls of the smoker with some sort of cooking oil, then start a fire in the fire box.  Use enough wood to really get a high flame.  This high heat will kill any remaining bacteria on the drum walls and burn away any chemicals.  Let this process unfold, usually 5 hours or so, then the drum will be ready to use.

Following these simple guidelines, and doing some additional research, should enable you on how to build a bbq smoker.  While it may take some effort, it’s not an incredibly difficult task.  Many people have done it and the end results are well worth it.  Remember to take your time, find the right person for any jobs you can’t do yourself, and in no time you’ll be smoking like the pros.


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