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How to Build a Smoker: 5 Steps to Kickstart Your Backyard Picnic

by Outdoor Cooking Pros September 01, 2021

How to Build a Smoker

Are you up for an afternoon of grilling barbecue? Do you want to entertain some guests with a DIY picnic? If your answer to both questions isyes, a smoker is your best bet.

We highly encourage you to stay on because we’ll show youhow to build a smoker in 5 simple steps!

Trust us and you’ll be on your way to smoking those meats in no time.


If you’re ready to begin building a smoker, carefully read and follow these steps:

#1: Preparation Is Key

Safety and preparedness go hand in hand. Review the design beforehand, andset aside space for your smoker. 

You wouldn’t want your companions to be coughing up the smoke, so make sure to look for an area where the smoke hasenough space to dissipate! 

Preparation Is Key


Just like magazines, there is a variety of smokers you can make, but the average smokers usually consist of the following parts: 

  • Smoke chamber
  • Stovepipe/chimney pipe
  • Firebox
  • Frame

Now that we have the parts all set, the next step is to figure out the best materials to use! Here are a fewtools and materials that you will need as you go along: 


  • 4 x 10 ft Steel sheet
  • 1” thinwall square tubing
  • Wooden handles
  • Bare metal/food-grade steel barrel
  • 5/16” bolts and brass spacers
  • Chimney pipe
  • Water pipe
  • Firebricks
  • Wingnuts


  • Wire-feed welder
  • Sabre saw/4” angle grinder
  • 2” hole saw
  • Cutoff wheels/plasma cutter
  • Pop rivets/sheet metal screws
  • Firebox damper

#2: Structural Integrity

Use a wire-feed welder (115-volt) or a flux-cored wire (0.035”) to weld the 10. ga steel sheet on the 1” thin wall square tubing. 

Use heavy gauge steel (thickness: less than ⅛) to help absorb the fire’s heat.

Use a 2” hole saw tocut the steel sheet and create door holes. Saber saws and cutoff wheels are also good tools, but a plasma cutter would be your best option!

#3: Building the Chamber 

Potential dimensions for themain smoke chamber are 36” (length) and 18” (diameter).

Building the Chamber

You can ask metal shop professionals to cut the bare metal and fit the sections together, or you can use a food-grade steel barrel. 

Use metal hinges (pop rivets, sheet metal screws, etc.) to keep the doors sealed. For the wooden handles, make sure to sand them with paste wax before attaching them to the smoker with the 5/16” bolts and brass spacers.

To ensure proper smoke management, you can attach a 3” chimney pipe to the smoker. 

#4: Firebox

Use a saber saw or a 4” angle grinder to cut the sides of the steel sheet, then weld the sides together. 

Cut an opening for the door and openings for the connection of the firebox to the smoke chamber.


Make sure to placefirebricks along the bottom of the firebox for insulation purposes. Other relevant functions of firebricks are the following:

  • Prevent the stove from overheating
  • Help ensure that the food gets cooked through proper smoke circulation
  • Act as a barrier between the fire and the smoker’s surface, ensuring a rust-free smoker 

Take note that you will also need a  firebox dampener. There are usually two types of dampers:

  1. Intake Damper: Distributes oxygen to the fire
  2. Exhaust Damper: Helps combustion gases (CO2) exit while pulling in oxygen through the intake vent

For this smoker, you may use any round metal sheet (e.g., soup can lid). 

#5: Connections and Finishing Touches

Connect the firebox and the smoke chamber with a 2” water pipe, and use pipe union collars for nuts. Use bolts and wingnuts to ensure that it is tightly sealed. 

Do you still smell hints of lingering oil? You can remove this by  building a fire in the firebox. 

Connections and Finishing Touches

To achieve that distinct smoky flavor, you can use wood chips (e.g., apple, cherry, maple, pear). Once everything has cooled, wash it and use vegetable oil[1] to ensure that the smoker doesn’t rust.

The Smell of Success

Congratulations, you’ve built your very own smoker!

Make sure to carefully  clean and maintain your smoker  so that it will last for a long time and smoke a number of meals with family and friends.

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