9 DIY Smoker Plans for Building Your Own Smoker: From Novice to Expert

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Building your own smoker is a terrific project for any pitmaster who enjoys DIY and wants the pleasure of knowing that they not only cooked the meal, but also constructed the smoker it was cooked in!

The first thing you need do before starting work is to pick what kind of smoker you want to make.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 9 DIY smoker constructions.

There are several varieties of handmade smokers. We’ve listed what equipment you’ll need as well as links to step-by-step construction tutorials to help you narrow it down.

Lets get started.

1) Build your own ugly drum smoker

9 DIY Smoker Plans for Building Your Own Smoker: Beginner to Experienced

The ugly drum smoker is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. The aim is to convert a 55-gallon food-grade drum into a smoker in a matter of hours, with minimum effort and no welding.

The first thing you should do is find a drum. A brand new 55-gallon barrel costs roughly $150, while a secondhand one costs around $20.

When purchasing a drum, ensure that it has not been coated with an epoxy coating to prevent corrosion. The epoxy will not react properly when heated, and you don’t want to be smoking your meat in poisonous fumes.

After you’ve obtained your drum, you’ll need to clean it and then polish the insides using fine sandpaper. The remainder of the construction is as easy as installing four air intakes using widely accessible plumbing supplies, making a fire basket out of expanded metal mesh, and attaching a handle to the lid.

You can build a DIY ugly drum smoker in an afternoon once you’ve gathered your pieces and equipment, and best of all, you won’t have to weld anything.

If you enjoy the concept of an ugly drum smoker but don’t have the room or equipment to build one, the PitBarrel Cooker Company’s 18.5 Classic Pit Barrel Cooker is a terrific ready-to-use option.

Basic materials needed

  • 55-gallon epoxy-free food-grade drum with lid
  • 4x 24-inch-long -inch threaded pipe
  • -inch threaded 90-degree elbow joints
  • 12 x 48 inch piece of expanded metal mesh
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Various fittings (see step-by-step guide)

It may be more convenient for you to get a DIY Drum Smoker Kit like this one from Big Popp Smokers.

Tools needed

  • Angle grinder
  • Drill
  • Vise
  • Wrench
  • Cutting table

Skills required

  • Angle grinding
  • Sanding

Step-by-step guide

Visit popularmechanics.com for a complete discussion of this design, including an extensive inventory of all the components you’ll need, and howtobbqright.com for free PDF format CADD plans for your ugly drum smoker.

If DIY isn’t your style, we also offer a guide to the finest drum smokers you can purchase.

2) DIY flowerpot smoker

9 DIY Smoker Plans for Building Your Own Smoker: Beginner to Experienced

Don’t worry if you get a sudden hankering for smoked meat but don’t have a smoker. You simply need a pair of clay flower pots and a short trip to your local garden shop to make your own.

Yup, you heard right.

The first step is to drill ventilation holes in your clay planters. Start with a smaller drill bit and work your way up to the correct size to avoid shattering your pot.

Shave down a pair of wine corks to fit in the air openings in your pot to manage the ventilation.

One of your clay pots will serve as the charcoal holder. Put a brick in the bottom of the pot and a small BBQ grate on top to retain the coals.

Your top pot will be what keeps the smoke in. Because both pots will grow fairly hot, it’s recommended to add a handle to the upper pot by drilling two holes in the bottom and adding a standard U-bolt.

You’re ready to start after the drilling and cork shaving are finished. If you have access to a roll of BBQ gasket tape, you may use it to make a better seal between the pots, but it is not necessary.

Add the wet wood chips to the starting coals on the grate in the bottom of the kettle. Place your meal above it on a simple circular BBQ grill grate and seal it with the top pot.

Job done!

Basic materials needed

  • Two clay flower planters
  • BBQ gasket
  • U-Bolt (with nuts & washers)
  • Wine corks
  • Circular grill grate
  • Small BBQ charcoal grate

Tools required

  • Drill

Skills required

  • Drilling

Step-by-step guide

The Belairdirect blog provides a straightforward instruction to putting up a Flower Pot Smoker, and you can watch them make it in real time on YouTube.

3) Offset smoker using an old gas tank

This setup is a little more involved, but if you have the expertise and equipment, it’s a great way to create an offset smoker on the cheap.

The cooking chamber of the offset smoker is formed by the old gas tank in question, and the DIY portion is adding the frame and the firebox.

A word of caution. Unlike the ugly drum smoker or the flower pot smoker, this is a complex project that requires the use of specialized equipment, skills, and a significant amount of time.

Steel box pieces must be cut and welded together to form the frame, steel plate to form the firebox, and steel tube to form the chimney.

There is also some rather complex metallurgy required to connect all of the elements together and ensure that there are no leaks and that the airflow circulates the smoke in the cooking chamber properly.

However, if you want a challenge and have a workshop, this is a wonderful method to recycle an old gas tank into something usable again.

Basic materials needed

  • An old gas tank
  • Steel box sections
  • Steel sheeting
  • Steel pipe

Tools required

  • Lathe
  • Angle grinder
  • Welding torch
  • Pivot drill
  • Vise

Skills required

  • Welding
  • Drilling
  • Lathe use
  • Advanced metalwork

Step-by-step guide

A complete video of this kind of smoker being made can be seen on the TJMake channel on YouTube, as well as a much bigger version produced by Taste of Texas Barbecue.

4) DIY file cabinet smoker

This project is about as simple as it gets when compared to making an offset smoker out of an old gas tank. You’ll just need an old metal file cabinet, a drill, and some free time.

You’ll need an unpainted file cabinet because, like the unsightly drum smoker, the epoxy coating used to prevent corrosion emits toxins when heated.

Once you’ve purchased the file cabinet, which should cost approximately $110 new or $60 used, you’ll need to spray it with heat resistant BBQ paint.

After that, drill air holes in the cabinet’s top and in the bottoms of the drawers. Then, on the side of your new smoker, install two temperature gauges, one at the top and one near the center.

The bottom draw will serve as your firebox, while the other draws will store conventional BBQ racks. This project should take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

Basic materials needed

  • An unpainted filing cabinet
  • BBQ racks
  • Two temperature gauges
  • Heat resistant paint

Tools required

  • A drill

Skills required

  • Drilling

Step-by-step guide

Drilling holes in a file cabinet doesn’t need much instruction, but if you want to see this kind of smoker in action, watch this video by Broke Yakin.

5) DIY smokehouse built from pallets

Unlike many of the smokers on our list, this one is both huge and totally constructed of wood.

The build part of this project is quite simple.

You disassemble old wooden pallets to get the basic materials needed to create a rudimentary outhouse, which you then line with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

The shelves that hold the food are constructed of pallet wood and aluminum screen door material, and the bottom is a firebox made of aluminum flashing.

You may purchase used pallets for this project, or you can get free pallets for reclaimed wood projects. If you can acquire your pallets for free, you can rapidly transform them into a smoker large enough to cook an entire pig corpse for about $100.

Basic materials needed

  • 20-30 pallets, deconstructed
  • 2 1/2 inch screws
  • 1 1/4 inch screws
  • Aluminum flashing
  • 4×3 corrugated tin roof *must be raw metal, not galvanized
  • Heavy-duty tin foil
  • Roll of aluminum screen
  • Handle (for the door)
  • Hinges (3)

Tools needed

  • Reciprocal saw with a bimetal blade (used to disassemble pallets)
  • Drill gun, preferably a cordless one
  • Drill bits 1/8 bit and countersink bit
  • Measuring tape
  • Metal/tin snips
  • Utility knife
  • Skil saw, or table saw
  • Staple Gun
  • Safety Glasses
  • Work Gloves

Skills needed

  • Woodworking
  • Drilling

Step-by-step guide

On diyprojects.com, you can discover a full tutorial on how to deconstruct your pallets and reassemble them into your smoker.

The website also includes a three-part video that demonstrates how to accomplish it in real time.

6) Trash can smoker

The trash can smoker is an excellent technique to transform a commercially available hot plate and an aluminum garbage can into a fully functional electric smoker.

Simply cut a hole on the garbage can’s side to let the flex from the hot plate to escape.

The heated plate is then placed at the bottom of the trashcan, with your wood chip box on top.

The food is held at the top of the trashcan by a conventional circular BBQ grill grate, and when the wood begins to smoke, the lid is closed.

You’ll need to drill some air holes in the lid to promote circulation, as well as a hole in the side for a temperature sensor, but the whole operation should take you less than 30 minutes and cost less than $50!

Basic materials needed

  • Trash Can w/ lid
  • Electric Hot Plate
  • Grating
  • Wood Chip Box
  • Temperature Gauge

Tools required

  • Drill with metal nibbler bit

Skills required

  • Drilling

Step-by-step guide

Cruftbox.com has a detailed step-by-step instruction, but because you’re just drilling a few holes in a garbage can, you may not need one.

7) Wood and cinderblock smokehouse

If you want to construct something more permanent to smoke your meals, a wood and cinderblock smokehouse will allow you to create a large smoking space without breaking the budget.

This project’s concept is just a cinder block foundation with a wooden smoking cabinet on top. The smoke is produced by a tiny heat brick-lined firebox separate from the smoking cabinet.

The advantage of constructing a wood and cinderblock smokehouse is that it is fast and simple to construct, and once completed, you have a permanent smoking spot with plenty of room.

This extra room is great for smoking entire carcasses, massive sausage links, enormous portions of ham or beef, and your own cured foods.

Basic materials needed

  • Trash Can w/ lid
  • Electric Hot Plate
  • Grating
  • Wood Chip Box
  • Temperature Gauge

Tools required

  • 2 x 4 cedarwood
  • Black stove pipe
  • Stove door
  • Concrete blocks
  • Clay bricks
  • Fire bricks
  • Fire clay mortar
  • Bolts
  • Door hinges
  • Doorknob
  • Bolt lock
  • 2-1/2 inch deck screws
  • Wood screws
  • Three pieces 16 gauge steel plates
  • Metal mesh

Skills needed

  • Woodwork
  • Bricklaying

Step-by-step guide

You can find a step-by-step explanation of how this kind of project is put together on the smokingmeatforums, as well as plenty of useful tips from other forum participants.

8) DIY smoker on a budget 

Some of the DIY smoker projects on our list are simple to construct and cost less than $50, but for the ultimate in low-cost DIY smokers, here’s how to make one in five minutes for around $10.

This project requires just two aluminum foil baking pans, stainless steel cooling racks, wood pellets, bulldog clips, and heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Your smoker’s body is comprised of two aluminum foil baking pans stacked on top of each other and secured together with bulldog clips. Inside the pans are your stainless steel cooling racks, which should be supported by a convenient brick.

Wrap your wood pellets in foil until they resemble a tortilla. You then cut an air hole in the bottom pan’s side and the higher pan’s top.

With a blow torch, light your pellet burrito and set it in the bottom pan, near to the airhole on the side. Place your meal on the stainless steel racks, clip the pans together, and you’re done!

Basic materials needed

  • 2 aluminum foil baking pans
  • Stainless steel cooling rack or searing grates
  • Bricks (optional)
  • Bulldog clips
  • Hickory pellets
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil

Tools needed

  • Utility knife

Skills needed

  • None

Step-by-step guide

A short and easy tutorial to this basic smoker, as well as a terrific recipe for smoked burgers, can be found on the Sous Vide Everything channel.

9) Building a smoker from a propane tank

This is an amazing example of how you can transform something that would typically be abandoned, such as a 100lb expired propane tank, into the DIY larger brother of the very famous Weber Smokey Mountain smoker.

The first thing you’ll need to do is add some water to your gas tank through the valve. It doesn’t have to be a lot of water, just enough to sit within the tank where you’re drilling or cutting and prevent any remaining propane from igniting.

Drill a hole in the tank’s bottom, then fill it with water via the valve to displace any residual propane. Allow it to drain when it is completely filled.

Cut the top with the valve off the tank using an angle grinder. Then design two doors, one for the firebox and one for the meat shelves. The portions you cut out will just need hinges to be welded on and then reattached as doors.

You’ll need to cut an air intake in front of the firebox door and remove the valve at the top of the tank, which will be replaced with a steel pipe chimney.

If you can locate ordinary round BBQ grates that fit, the grates may be built of expanded metal mesh. Then all you have to do is drill a hole for a temperature gauge and you’re done.

The original builders recommend placing a circular metal plate and a huge water basin over the wood fire to protect the meat while also retaining and regulating the interior temperature.

Basic materials needed

  • Expired propane tank
  • Steel pipe
  • Expanded metal mesh
  • Hinges
  • Heat resistant handles
  • Temperature gauge

Tools needed

  • Spot welder
  • Angle grinder
  • Drill

Skills needed

  • Metalworking
  • Welding

Step-by-step guide

Andrew W offers an amazing step-by-step construction instruction on YouTube for converting a discarded propane tank into a smoker, and he even includes his recipe for ribs cooked in his DIY gadget.

Wrapping it up

As you can see from our list above, purchasing a smoker does not have to be costly. You may create one out of a garbage can, flower pots, or even metal pans and paper.

Do you want to show off your homemade smoker? Perhaps you’ve constructed one of the ones we’ve featured and have some tips for other pitmasters? We’d appreciate it if you could tell us in the comments!


How to build a basic smoker?

In a terracotta pot, place a hot plate, a metal pie pan filled with wood chips, and a small grill grate. Invert another pot on top to create a temporary hot smoker. To make a fast cold smoker, place a hot plate, a pie pan with wood chips, and a big grill plate in a galvanized steel garbage can.

What is the best metal to build a smoker with?

Anything lighter will lose heat faster, requiring you to burn more fuel, and will distort and burn out over time. The insulation is not required, but it does increase the smoker’s performance.I would suggest utilizing at least three.

What is the best wood to build a smoker?

What Is the Best Wood to Smoke Meat With?
Oak. The classic choice for smoking meat is oak.
Hickory. It is the most adaptable option since it can be used to smoke wood in a variety of ways.
Maple. It is one of the most mild smoking woods, imparting a more faint smoke taste.

How long does smoked meat last?

How Long Does Smoked Meat Keep? When properly packed and preserved, smoked meats may survive for a long time, according to experts. They should keep for 1 to 2 weeks beyond their “best or used by” date if stored at a proper temperature and humidity level.

What can I put in my smoker to keep it from rusting?

Canola or grapeseed oil are recommended by certain manufacturers. Once you have a good covering of oil, you must heat it to a temperature that will enable it to soak into every defect in the smoker’s metal surface. This forms a barrier that repels water and prevents your smoker from rusting.

What is the best material to insulate a smoker?

Jackets that provide insulation

They are often constructed of an aluminum-covered cloth or silicon. These two materials absorb heat and hence offer insulation. Furthermore, metal reflects heat and is one of the greatest methods to insulate a smoker.

Are pellets or wood chips better for a smoker?

Wood pellets outperform wood chips in virtually all smoking circumstances because they burn drier and slower, allowing for improved temperature control and efficiency. They also create more taste.

What is the simplest meat to smoke?

7 Best Smoked Meats for Beginners
If you’re new to smoking meat, we suggest beginning with Boston Butt (pulled pork).
Chicken, whole.
Brisket of beef.
Ribs de porc.
Shank of lamb.
Cheeks of beef.
Steak Tomahawk.
We’re all about going slow and low.

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