How to Build Steel Drum BBQ Smokers

Written by michelle nickolaisen
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How to Build Steel Drum BBQ Smokers
Smokers create delicious meals. (meat on grill image by blaine stiger from Fotolia.com)

Barbecuing is an American tradition. One of the most popular styles of barbecuing is slow cooking food using a smoker. Smokers can be expensive, though. If the cost of a smoker is preventing you from buying one, try building one at home.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Steel 55-gallon drum
  • Cutting torch
  • Welding machine
  • Charcoal
  • Sheet metal
  • Sheet metal cutters
  • 1 inch round magnets
  • 4 bolts
  • 4 washers
  • 4 nuts
  • Grate that fits in the drum

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Instructions

    Building a Smoker

  1. 1

    Prepare the drum. For this project, use a steel 55-gallon drum that has a food grade rating. To prepare the drum, burn charcoal inside several times to clean it of any foreign particles. Make sure there is nothing left in the drum that could change the flavour of the food or make it unsafe to eat.

  2. 2

    Install something on which a charcoal basket can rest. Since this should be a permanent part of the smoker, it is a good idea to weld it into place. Almost anything made of metal can be used. Make sure it is elevated a few inches to allow air to flow from the bottom of the smoker to the coals.

  3. 3

    Build a charcoal burning basket. To do this, use the sheet metal and sheet metal cutters to make a bowl shape. The size of the bowl can vary. Consider making several baskets in different sizes to allow for different amounts of charcoal. Make sure that the charcoal burning basket can stay upright when it is inside the smoker. Make the bottom of the basket flat if it will sit on a flat grate. Make the bottom round if it will sit in a holder.

  4. 4

    Make holes in the bottom of the smoker to allow air to enter. Use a cutting torch to make four holes in the bottom of the smoker. The holes should be roughly 1/2 inch in diameter and located below the charcoal burning basket. Once the metal cools, place a one-inch round magnet over each hole. These will help regulate air flow when the smoker is being used. Create airflow by removing some of the magnets. Constrict airflow by covering the holes with the magnets.

  5. 5

    Install the grate by using the cutting torch to make four holes, level and evenly placed, around the smoker. Once the metal cools, insert the bolts into the holes. Then fasten the nuts and washers into place. Place the grate onto the bolts.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure to keep the drum lid to cover the smoker when it is operating.
  • If you do not have access to a cutting torch, you can use an electric drill with large drill bits.

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