Build a Barbecue Smoker for $9





Introduction: Build a Barbecue Smoker for $9

I've made a cardboard box smoker before, but I wanted something a little more sturdy, so I made one out of a mini grill and some air conditioning ducts. The total cost for this project was $9 since I got the duct for $3 and the riveter for $6 at the flea market, and I found the mini grill in a dumpster (it's amazing what people throw away in rich neighborhoods). The hot plate belongs to my roommate, but you can use a charcoal or wood fire instead.

Step 1: Materials

1. A piece of sheet steel about 4 foot by 2 foot. Thickness isn't too important, as long as you can bend it into a circle. You might want galvanized or painted steel to prevent rust. I got my sheet metal by tearing apart a duct.
2. Mini grill, or a full-size grill for a larger-capacity smoker.
3. Rivets or screws to hold everything together.
4. Electric hot plate.

You will also need these tools:
1. Power drill.
2. Riveter or rivet gun.

Step 2: Build Process

1. Find the circumference of your grill to make sure the metal is big enough to make a full circle, then add a few inches for the overlap of the joint. Mine came out to about 4 feet.
2. Cut out the metal in the right size.
3. Bend the metal around a pole or other round object to make it into a cylinder.
4. Make sure that the cylinder will fit inside the grill, and that the grate will fit inside the cylinder, then tape the cylinder together.
5. Drill holes through the metal where the two sides of the cylinder come together and rivet these holes together to make a complete cylinder.
6. Add screws or rivets to hold the grate up inside the cylinder.
7. Add a coat of paint if you like.

Step 3: Fire It Up!

My favorite type of meat to smoke is pork ribs, but you can smoke all kinds of meat. My next project is to make elk jerky.

Add a sauce or dry rub of your choice to the meat (good recipes can be found here:,1977,FOOD_9936_11125,00.html and here: )

Place the electric hot plate in the bottom of the mini grill and turn it up all the way. Put a pie plate or other pan full of wet wood chips or sawdust onto the burner, then put the cylinder and the lid on top.

Put the meat on the grill and let it cook for a long time (I would cook it for at least 8 hours). Check on it every 30 to 60 minutes and add more wood chips as needed. You can adjust the vents on the bottom and lid of the grill to allow air in or smoke out.

When the meat is fully cooked, take it out and enjoy!



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    I have a barrel from Anodize aluminium - is that OK to use?

    Sure, if you don't mind early onset alzheimers ...

    I am also a sheet metal worker and I totally agree with AbraxialF, You would never use galvanized tin in an environment that would pump zinc gas into your food. the reason why all the roman emperors were nuts like Caligula, and Nero, was by drinking wine made in lead coated copper pots..

    Find a piece of light guage black Iron pipe, or have a sheet metal shop make you one, build your smoker and heat it up to 500 degrees for at least an hour, then paint the inside and outside with pitt bull barb-b-que paint, then heat it up again, then you can use it.

    Better to use type 316 Stainless steel, type 304 won't do the trick, it is not food safe.

    type 316 is very expensive because of the high nickel content, and because it is hard on the machinery used in cutting it.

    A piece of 24 inch round pipe would use over half of a ten foot sheet of 24 guage type 316 so plan on buying the whole sheet, plus labor

    One sheet of 316 type b stainless steel 48 inches x 120 inches would cost about $440.50

    i am a sheet metal worker by trade.

    Absolutely do bit use galvanized or coated metal.

    Get uncoated steel, remove the oil and other contaminants from the factory, generally by heating and/or scrubbing with a solvent and then heating to remove solvent, then use high heat special purpose barbecue paint like Pitt Bull paint, if you want to prevent corrosion.


    Yep, I just checked Craigslist. I'm in the Bay Area (SF/Oak) and found 3 available $0 FREE!!


    How about go on Craigslist and search for a used smoker for $20 and not risk poison or developing cancer? Probably even one for FREE out there if you are patient in your search.

    DO NOT MAKE THIS!!! Galvanized piping is poisonous. The sheet metal is galvanized with a coating of zinc. Heat releases the zinc in a gaseous form which will penetrate the food you are smoking. BAD BAD BAD IDEA!!!

    You MUST remove the galvanization from the sheet metal, or use stainless steel.

    I don't have the expertise to comment, but while looking up other smokers, I found this on the Popular Mechanics website:
    "We had a local sheetmetal shop cut the pieces to size and then roll the drum sections for us, which cost about $200. You can use just about anything made of steel--as long as it's not galvanized. If you can find one, try a food-grade steel barrel."

    Read more: Build Your Own Backyard Smoker - Popular Mechanics
    Here is the link:

    Disect a 20gal steel drum (salvaged for $0.00). Apply paint stripper to sheet material according to directions,including cleaning procedure.Rinse after stripper process with cheap store-brand charcoal starter.Allow to dry,then assemble smoker...

    Dudea, I AIN'T going to wait 8 hours for my BBQ...