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CAustin919 04-01-2009 04:09 PM

Building My First Smoker "Smoke N' Barrels"
For a long time now grilling and smoking has dominated my cooking. Well, at least for 3 seasons out of the year, winter sucks here in Michigan. The last few seasons we have been smoking pork A$$, brisket, sausage and a few other things on a Weber kettle. We have tweaked a setup in the kettle that turns out some pretty good que’. But it is most definitely a pain in the A$$. Constant temperature fluctuations… always reloading wood chunks and coal… Severe size limitations… I kept thinking I needed something bigger and better.

So for about the last 2 years me, my dad, and a couple of my buddies have been talking about how fun it would be to “build” our own smoker. Nothing fancy, but just something we could call our own and get the job done a little better. I started to do some research on the net. I had no idea where to start. Then my dad said he had (3) 55 gallon drums at his machine shop that he wasn’t using anymore. And that’s how it all started.

I kind of started with The Big Baby in mind. But I wanted to make it a little more portable and make a few other mods. So with that in mind here we go…

These pictures are a result of our first brainstorm. The focus was just on the “cart” as a solid base.

Then I bought some heavy duty casters from Great Lakes Caster for more mobility. They have a 300 lb per caster capacity.

We decided the casters would bolt on for easy removal later on, so we added some more support.

A few 3D models, just for fun.

The proposed dimensions.

So I bought 5 pieces of 1” square steel tube 12 feet in length with 1/8” wall thickness. I know its overkill; we got it at a pretty good price. Just this past week I cleaned it up and cut it to length with my angle grinder.

As far as the drums… When I got them they had a pretty serious coat of blue paint. So we started by rough sanding as much of the old paint off as we could. Then I went at them with the angle grinder to remove the rest and to prep the surface for the high temp paint. The first picture shows some of the original paint. The second picture is a drum after sanding, and the third is a drum after grinding. The last picture shows all three stages.

I have also ordered a fire door and a couple of dampers from Vogelzang.

So this is where we stand today. The steel for the cart is prepped and ready to be welded, which I will probably do on Saturday. I plan on dropping the top 2 supports so that the top is flush. Also I am going to wrap the whole cart in sheet metal, possibly stainless. We do have quite a few more ideas going forward, but any input is always appreciated.

If nothing else but to entertain myself I will post updates through the end of the project which I hope will be within a week or two.

CAustin919 04-01-2009 04:15 PM

Link to my picture album.
All of my pictures are hosted at photobucket so I don't use space on this site. Here is a link to the album.

The album password is: smokin

Norcoredneck 04-01-2009 06:40 PM

Looks like you got a plan. Do you have a lot of wood available?

JD McGee 04-01-2009 07:13 PM

Cool...lookin' forward to the finished product. Great plans...thanks for sharing! :-P

bocephus 04-01-2009 09:58 PM

man that is over the top... cool plans... I wish I had the tech to do all that... mine will be sad if it was sat next to yours... heck I just used 4 garden post along the ends to hold mine togeather and up

Weiser 04-01-2009 10:23 PM

Looks great, nice plans with one exception.
You have the barrels positioned horizontally,
they should be stationed Vertically!
You'll use much less wood and they will be much easier to control.

Just my two cents worth, and you got it for free.


CAustin919 04-02-2009 08:36 AM


Originally Posted by Weiser (Post 892012)
Looks great, nice plans with one exception.
You have the barrels positioned horizontally,
they should be stationed Vertically!


Don't worry Brother, I am going to attack a UDS or 2 later on this summer... :mrgreen:

Wesman61 04-02-2009 11:51 AM

Seems like it would be a pita to keep the door on the bottom barrel open.

Barbarian 04-02-2009 12:15 PM

good job cleaning the outside of the drums, but what type of coating is on the inside?

CAustin919 04-02-2009 01:28 PM


Originally Posted by Barbarian (Post 892371)
good job cleaning the outside of the drums, but what type of coating is on the inside?

No coating. Just a little bit of rust, which I am not too worried about.

I mounted the Vogelzang fire door on the bottom barrel today. I will post pictures later...

CAustin919 04-02-2009 09:19 PM

Mounted the fire door.
I apologize if you all have seen this before, but I am having fun with the build and feel like sharing.

So I made a little progress today. I managed to get the Vogelzang fire door mounted on the bottom barrel.

Marked up and ready to cut.

I made all the straight cuts with a .045 cutting wheel on the angle grinder and the curves with a 20 tooth per inch blade on the jigsaw.

When drilling the holes for the bolts I realized that it would be easier to drill a pilot hole first and then open the hole up to the finished size. This keeps the bigger drill bit from walking all over the place.

I dropped in the door and ran the drill through the holes again to ensure a smooth fit for the bolts. Then dropped in the bolts.

Tomorrow I think I will try to cut the top barrel and cut out the door from the third barrel. Just tryin to knock a little bit out every day. :|

Porky 04-03-2009 02:24 PM

Excellent detailing. This is real easy to follow for those us us that are less talented and mechanically minded. Thanks

puff 04-03-2009 05:29 PM

When I first got the Q bug I was going to build one of those.
Looking forward to the rest of the build. :cool:

CAustin919 04-06-2009 11:14 PM

Been trying to run down a full sheet of expanded steel in Metro Detroit here the last couple of business days. An order as small as mine isn't a high priority I guess.

Anyway I did get my cooking grates designed so that when the steel does get here I will be ready to cut, clean, and weld...

The cooking surface will be 2 grates so that they will still be easily removable. I did want to fabricate something though to maximize the cooking area. The pre-made grates that I had didn't reach to all four corners. With this I can squeeze out a few extra square inches...:roll::mrgreen:

cowgirl 04-06-2009 11:20 PM

Looking great so far! :cool:

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