If you enjoy cooking, you’re definitely familiar with smoking. It is a technique for preparing food that includes exposing it to smoke in a sealed space. It also cooks the food and imparts a smoky, earthy flavor. It is also an easy way to preserve food, particularly meat dishes.
You need a smoker to smoke your food, and there are several options available on the market. If you can’t afford one, what then? You can make one by using your welding and making abilities.
We’ll demonstrate various do-it-yourself smoker projects that you may use to create a custom smoking machine.
Idea 1: Creating a Smoker from a Trash Can
The first idea that you can try out is converting a trashcan into a smoker. The utter of the name trashcan may get many by surprise, considering it should hold trash. In this case, you ought to go for a new trash can. Avoid the used ones for hygiene purposes unless you can restore them to a decent form.
A new trash can costs a fraction of a smoker’s price. As such, you can use it if you are on a budget. Below are some of the items you will need to start you off.
- A new steel trash can with its lid
- A grilling thermometer
- Cutting tools and hinges
- Measuring tools, such as a tape measure
- An assortment of nuts and bolts
- Aluminum foil or barbecue gasket and grilling grates
You may need more items depending on how you want your smoker to appear
You start by plotting out the charcoal door at the bottom. Measure around 5-inches from the bottom and mark this spot. You then measure the height and width of the door. Nine by thirteen inches is a good size for your door.
Also, mark spots where you will have your hinges. With all the markings in order, you can cut out the door. Fix the hinges and, if possible, smooth the edges for safe and easy handling. To prevent smoke from escaping the smoking chamber, line the door with aluminum foil. A barbecue gasket will also do the trick.
You then fix the grilling rack. A circular rack will work well with a cylindrical trash can. You may fasten it by welding or with grills to improve its carrying capacity.
Finally, create a hole for the thermometer on the upper part of the can. Follow up by making another hole for the vent on the lid. You can finish your smoker with high-temperature stove paint.
Idea 2: Turning a File Cabinet into a Smoker
If you have an old or unused file cabinet, you can easily turn it into a smoker. It is an easy project, requiring drilling skills. For this project, you will need a file cabinet. It should not be so big. A four-drawer cabinet is perfect for smoker conversion.
Get a well-functioning hand grill that will help you drill holes. The holes are the points you will attach to your grill racks. You can also drill atop the drawer to create space for the smoke outlet.
You should remove the cabinet’s paint as it can be toxic. You can check out this simple way of removing paint from metal surfaces to help you out. After removing the paint, you can give it a quick clean-up, and if possible, provide a stove paint coat. Forrest Paint 1990 stove paint is one of the best you can get for a fresh coat.
After the paint dries, you can set aside the bottom drawer for charcoal and the upper ones for the grill racks. The upper drawers will serve as the reservoir for your food. You may also install a thermometer for monitoring heat.
Idea 3: Use a Metal Drum or Barrel
A metal drum or barrel can make an excellent smoker. To make the smoker, a 55-gallon drum will do. There are two ways you can create your cooker, each taking a different orientation.
You can choose a horizontal or vertical drum. We shall choose the horizontal orientation in this instance. Among the necessary tools is a saw, and an electric saw will work perfectly. Other useful components include a thermometer, a grill, nuts, bolts, and hinges.
Cut the drum horizontally first, avoiding the lids. Cross the lid’s edge arcs and descend to the bottom half of the opposing side. Clean it well after removing any paint, if any. Applying a coat of high-temperature stove paint will serve as a shield.
Make holes where you’ll be fixing the hinges, grill racks, thermometer, and air vent. Utilize screws and bolts to secure the hinges. You might also solder the hinge to the surface of the drum. Place the grills in place and join the air vent.
Due to its horizontal design, you should factor in a stand for stability. The stand may have wheels and an extra table, among other additions to meet your preferences.
You can also check our detailed article and find out which are the finest drum smokers of 2022
Idea 4: Creating a Flowerpot Smoker
Do you know that you can use your flower pots as a smoker? With some modifications, It is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to have this cooker in your backyard.
Highlighted below are the items and tools you need to create a smoker from flowerpots.
- Two clay flower pots
- A U-bolt for the handle
- Barbecue gasket
- A charcoal burner or electric plate
- Grill and charcoal grid
The clay pots should be sturdy enough to serve you for a longer time. One of the pots will be at the bottom, and the other will act as a lid. Drill some holes on the lower flowerpot to create ventilation space. Be careful when drilling to avoid breaking the pots. Start with a small drill bit before going for a thicker one to expand the hole.
Drill two holes on the covering pot for the U-bolt that will act as a handle. Add a few ventilation holes. Line the edges of the two flowerpots with a barbecue gasket. It provides a firmer grip, preventing the lid from slipping and escaping smoke.
Fireblack Hi temp smoker gasket is an excellent gasket to rely on. It will provide a firm adhesion. You may now assemble the other components of the smoker. Place the charcoal, followed by the charcoal grid, then place the grilling rack.
Place your food and seal the smoker. For temperature monitoring, shut one of the lid’s ventilation holes with aluminum foil. Create a small space in the foil where you will insert the thermometer.
Idea 5: A Brick Smoker
A brick smoker is another DIY smoker idea that you may opt for. It is an excellent idea if you want to set up a permanent smoker, maybe in your backyard. The main downside to creating this type of smoker is that it is labor and time-intensive. However, if you have masonry skills, pulling it will be a walk in the park.
You start by plotting out the area you want to install it. Create a strong foundation, at least 8-inches deep with brick and mortar. Let it rest for some time while you cure it to improve its stability.
Build the upper structure factoring space for charcoal, followed by the grill. You should also put a door and roof for its all-around functionality. After completing its construction, you have to cure it by spraying water.
The water helps make the mortar strong. In a few days, you will have your smoker ready for use. Its size will determine how much it will cost you and the effort required. A bigger one will need more resources and time to be ready.
The good thing is that it guarantees you long service due to its robustness.
Idea 6: A Cardboard Smoker
If you are on a tight budget, a cardboard rack can come to your aid. It is quite cheap, as it only requires basic household items to build. This project won’t take much of your time, maybe a maximum of 30-minutes, to have it ready for use.
Below are the items you need for this cardboard project.
- A sturdy box with a decent height
- Eight dowels that can fit the width of the box
- A disposable baking tray
- An electric cooker
- Wood pellets
- A thermometer
Cut out the box at the bottom, like a door, to make space for the electric cooker. Poke the box to fix the dowels. Four will support the grill; the other four will hold the baking tray, which acts as a drip tray.
Bring in the electric cooker and place a pan of wet wood chipping on it to heat and produce smoke. Introduce the food on the grill and seal the box. To check on the internal temperature, poke a hole and insert a thermometer.
Note that the cardboard box smoker is a temporary creation. It may only serve you for some days before it breaks down.
Also, check our guide to learn how to make your own charcoal
Things to Keep In Mind When Creating A DIY Smoker
DIY projects are fun, and most of the time, they help us save some bucks. When going for a DIY smoker project, there are things to keep in mind for a smooth process and excellent results. Highlighted below are some of them.
Your skills matter a lot when creating a home smoker. You have to consider the skills you have before picking a specific design. From the ideas listed in this piece, you realize that some projects require masonry, drilling, or welding skills.
The design you pick should be compatible with your skills and experience.
The Safety Aspect
You have to be keen on safety when building this cooking appliance. Wear protective gear like gloves, especially when cutting through metal. For welding, have safety glasses.
In the case of restoring metallic materials like steel barrels, ensure they are clean. Remove the paint and any impurities that may prove harmful.
The Project May End Up Being Expensive
One reason for going DIY mode on the smoking appliance is to spend less. It is not usually the case as the construction process may be quite costly. The price of acquiring tools, components, and other things like labor and electricity charges may shoot up the cost.
However, at times, the cost is not an issue as you want to have fun constructing a functional item.
A smoker is a must-have appliance for anyone who loves cooking. With this utility, you can explore a different dimension of meal preparation. If you cannot afford one, there is no need to despair as you can build one at home.
This article shows you six ideas that you can experiment with to come up with a smoker. Pay attention to the skills you have, as some of the DIY projects need a high dexterity level. You should then pick a suitable project and have fun designing and building a cooker to smoke your food.