How to Make Your Own Smoker Grill Steel Drum

Written by david roberts
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How to Make Your Own Smoker Grill Steel Drum
The double barrel smoker/grill will give you plenty of cooking area. (sausages on a bbq image by green 308 from Fotolia.com)

The first issue to resolve is the difference between a smoker and a grill. For those who are barbecue enthusiasts, this is an important distinction. The smoker uses indirect heat from charcoal and hardwood that is close enough to cook your dinner, but not close enough to cook directly. The air vents draw in air and send the hot smoke around the food to cook indirectly. The grill uses a direct heating method with charcoal or wood directly under the food. A smoker/grill can do both types of cooking. The steel drum barrel serves as a perfect base.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • 2 Steel drums
  • 4 Barrel supports
  • 2 Male metal collars
  • 2 Female metal collars
  • 2 Vent pipes (placed in between barrels)
  • 2 Stove pipes
  • 4 Hinges
  • 1 small grill grate
  • 1 large grill grate
  • Sharpie
  • Metal cutter
  • Mason blocks
  • Wood deck
  • or Sleepers
  • Drill
  • Bolts
  • Nuts
  • Lock washers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Clean each drum with a wire brush inside and out. It's best to find a steel drum that has been used to transport biodegradable materials or food and not toxic chemicals.

  2. 2

    Build a fire in each drum to burn off residues of food or debris. This fire should burn hotter than what you would use to cook food, and should be allowed to burn completely out. This may take a full day.

  3. 3

    Wash out the cooled drums and empty the ashes and contents. The barrels are now ready to be converted to your smoker/grill.

  4. 4

    Turn the barrel on its side and secure it in place with mason blocks. Draw a line on the side of the barrel 2 inches from the top with a wax pencil or Sharpie. Draw another line 2 inches from the bottom of the barrel. Connect the line at the top with the one at the bottom to create a rectangle shape. This will be the door into the smoker/grill. Use a metal cutter and cut out the shape you drew. Bolt two hinges at the top of the rectangle piece and the barrel.

  5. 5

    Turn the other barrel on its side and secure it in place with mason blocks. Use the wood metal collars as a guide and cut two holes in the top with a metal cutter. One should be 6 inches from the top of the barrel, the other 6 inches from the bottom.

  1. 1

    Bolt the support frames of the double barrel kit to the bottom barrel, this will be the barrel with the two holes in the top. The male metal collars will fit into the holes and can be secured using bolts. The supports can be placed at either end and secured into place with bolts.

  2. 2

    Bolt the second set of support frames to the bottom of the barrel with the vent holes and secure the frames to a wood deck or a couple of sleepers. The barrel should be sturdy and level. Insert the wood stove vents into the metal collars on the bottom barrel and secure them with bolts and washers on four sides.

  3. 3

    Lift the second barrel over the top of the first, with the door facing outward. Set the barrel down on the supports, and use a sharpie to mark the position of the vents. Use the small vents as a guide to find where you will cut the vent holes into the second barrel. Remove the barrel and cut the holes. Insert the female metal collars into the holes, and use bolts and washers to hold them in place. Lift the second barrel again and place the two vents into the holes on the upper barrel. Use bolts to attach the upper barrel to the female metal collars.

  4. 4

    Cut a large door into the bottom barrel and attach hinges as you did with the upper barrel. This will be your feeder door where you will put wood or charcoal. Slide the small grill grate into the barrel. There should be about 3 inches of open space available under the grate in the bottom barrel. Drill two holes on the outside of the barrel that are lower than the grate. This will allow air flow into the grill/smoker.

  5. 5

    Drill two holes into the top barrel just under the bottom of the door frame and two holes in the rear of the barrel. The holes should be at the same level. Insert two bolts into the front and secure them with lock washers and tighten. Repeat for the holes in the rear of the barrel.

  1. 1

    Set the large grill gate into the top barrel on top of the bolts you installed. This will be your cooking/smoking surface.

  2. 2

    Install one stove pipe vent on each side of the upper barrel. Use the metal cutter to create a hole that is smaller than the diameter of the metal collar on the stove pipe vents. Bolt the vents to the smoker. The vents will draw the smoke and heat from the bottom barrel up to the upper barrel.

  3. 3

    Install handles on the lids by using metal screws. Drill a small hole in the upper barrel lid and insert a grill thermometer. Your smoker/grill is now ready for service. For smoked foods, use the firebox beneath. For grilled foods, place the smaller grill grate in the upper chamber under the large one and put charcoal in the upper barrel.

    How to Make Your Own Smoker Grill Steel Drum
    Charcoal in the bottom barrel yields smoked foods. (charcoal on fire image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com)

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