Building an inexpensive meat smoker at home has never Been easier.
Have you ever wanted to smoke a whole hog or deer but had to rent a smoker? They can be expensive if you can even find one. Most designs to build your own require 10 years of welding experience, thousands of dollars in steel, and dozens of hours of time. But here I will walk you through how to build an inexpensive meat smoker with easily bought items that don't require welding.
What you will need:
- Concrete blocks -16" x 8" x 8"
- 13 gauge diamond metal sheet -8' x 4'
- One sheet of metal roofing -12' x 3'
This smoker design is 8' x 4' x 3'. It is up to you to decide how big or small to make your own. I recommend these dimensions, because that was the size of the metal grade (which refers to metal cutting). It allowed for a fire in one end of the smoker and for the meat to be in the other. Smoking meat is about exposing it to wood smoke for a long period of time and keeping it away from direct flames. This is not grilling a steak, but slow cooking.
First, lay two layers of brick in a horseshoe shape -no mortar needed. Make sure that you turn one brick on its side to expose the holes and allow for optimum airflow. The turned brick should be in the middle of the 4' section on the bottom row.
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Next, lay the metal grate across and add two more rows of brick on top of that. The additional brick will secure the metal grate and provide a small chamber at the top for the smoke and meat. Make sure that your metal grate is made of thick steel to support the weight of what you are smoking and also that it's bare metal. Avoid steel coatings like galvanize or rubber so that those chemicals don't get into your meat. Bare stainless works best.
The final piece is to add a covering. Take the sheet of roofing metal and cut it into four-foot sections. For the 8' x 4' smoker you will make three. Allow the final piece to hang over the open end where you will build the fire to catch smoke from billowing out the opening and away from your meat at the other end.
That's it. Build time should be one to two hours at most. Now acquire some hickory or apple wood, build a fire in the large open end, and put your meat in the other. Cover the top, and turn the pieces every few hours. 160 pounds of hog took 18 hours in our smoker.
All photos by Ryan Ross.