How to build a brick BBQ smoker

Written by donna earnest-pravel
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How to build a brick BBQ smoker
Enjoy smoked barbecue from your own smoker (barbecue image by petar Ishmeriev from Fotolia.com)

Backyard barbecuing is a favourite past time for many people in the U.S. and UK. Brick barbecue pits and smokers are becoming more and more popular as people enjoy cooking and entertaining outdoors. The aroma and taste of smoked meat, seasoned with a great sauce, is hard to beat. To do it yourself, you can either build a station or surround to slide in a free-standing grill, or you can build a barbecue smoker from scratch. You can even design an entire outdoor kitchen.

This barbecue smoker plan comes from a cookbook published in 1954 called "Today's Woman Barbecue Cookbook."

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Things you need

  • 8 wooden stakes
  • Spool of twine or string
  • Metal measuring tape
  • Scissors or pocket knife
  • Shovel
  • 30 by 120 cm (1 by 4 feet) wooden boards
  • Saw
  • 2 saw horses, optional
  • Handful finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • 1 bag sand
  • 1 bag gravel
  • 1 bag quick mixing concrete, minimum
  • Burlap to cover wet concrete
  • Mortar
  • Bricklaying tools
  • Metal fireplace unit 635 mm (25 inches) high, 710 mm (28 inches) long, and 212 mm (18 1/2 inches) wide
  • 30 200 by 400 mm (8 by 16 inch) full cornered breeze blocks
  • 14 200 by 400 mm (8 by 16 inch) bull nose breeze blocks
  • 7 430 by 535 mm (17 by 21 inch) cinder chimney blocks
  • 2 100 by 200 by 400 mm (4 by 8 by 16 inch) breeze blocks
  • 2 25 by 635 by 825 mm (1 by 25 by 32 1/2 inch) wire reinforced cement caps
  • Bricks for exterior finish, as desired

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Choose a spot for the fireplace. Consider drainage, fire hazards, accessibility to a water hose, and lighting if you plan to barbecue at night.

  2. 2

    Measure 1780 by 840 mm (70 X 33 inches) for the base of the barbecue smoker and 430 by 535 mm (17 X 21) for the chimney. Hammer in wooden stakes at each corner. Use string to mark off where the walls of the smoker will be. Simply tie some string around one stake, pull some string down to the next stake, wrap string around the stake a few times, and repeat all the way around the perimeter. Tie a knot to secure the string to the last wooden stake. Use scissors or a pocket knife to cut any remaining string.

  3. 3

    Dig out the dirt inside the perimeter to 305 mm (12 inches) in depth.

  4. 4

    Build a wooden form along the perimeter of the hole. Use inexpensive 30 by 120 cm (1 X 4 feet) boards and a few finishing nails. Two boards will measure approximately 1780 mm (70 inches). Two boards will measure approximately 840 mm (33 inches). Nail these boards together to make a rectangular frame for the base. Next, measure and cut two 430 mm (17 inch) boards and one 235 mm (21 inch) board. Nail these boards together. They form three sides of the chimney. Nail the chimney frame to the base frame. You may want to use a T-square to make sure all of the corners are square.

  5. 5

    Mix a bag each of sand and gravel into a wheelbarrow and pour into the hole. Smooth and tamp down with your feet.

  6. 6

    Mix concrete according to directions. Pour a few inches over the sand and gravel subbase. Lay down a strip of hog wire fencing for reinforcement. Fill the rest of the hole over the fencing. Allow the concrete to rise 50 to 75 mm (2 to 3 inches) above the level of the ground. Make sure the concrete is smooth and level.

  7. 7

    Cover with wet burlap. Leave the form in place for a week.

  1. 1

    Prepare mortar for bricks according to directions found on the mortar cement package. Typically, two parts dry mortar cement is mixed with one part builder's lime in a bucket. Then one part of this "premix" is mixed with three parts sand in a wheelbarrow. Water is added a little at a time to control the amount of moisture. If there is too much water, more sand can be added. Work fast, because mortar sets up quickly.

  2. 2

    Stack, or lay up, seven 430 by 535 mm (17 by 21 inch) breeze blocks directly on top of each other for the chimney. The blocks stand sideways, with the holes of each one forming the flue of the chimney. Use mortar to adhere the blocks to each other.

  3. 3

    Use a level or plumb bob to make sure the chimney is straight.

  1. 1

    Lay out six blocks in the centre, just in front of the chimney, on their sides. Make sure they are perfectly level. This makes a smooth surface for the asphalt.

  2. 2

    Lay a course of blocks on each side to start the walls of the fireplace. Make sure they are level and straight at the outside edges. Keep the mortar joints on each side of the 100 mm (4 inch) blocks as thin as possible so the centre section is no more than 485 mm (19 inches) wide.

  3. 3

    Lay two more courses of breeze blocks on each side. Alternate the vertical joints.

  4. 4

    Install the metal fireplace unit.

  5. 5

    Put the 25 by 635 by 825 mm (1 by 25 by 32 1/2 inch) cement caps in place in a thick bed of mortar.

  6. 6

    Allow the mortar and concrete 3 days to set and harden. Your barbecue smoker is now ready to use. If you would like a brick finish, lay some brick work in a traditional, herringbone, or other beautiful pattern on to the exterior walls of the breeze blocks of your smoker.

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