There are already quite a few instructables out there for Alton Brown's Little Brown Egg smoker, but I thought I would share my improvement to the lid design.

One of the hardest parts of this smoker is finding the suggested pottery piece for the lid.  I ended up using the drain pan for the pot size that I picked.  I also didn't like the idea of using a Teflon pan sitting on the burner (something about carcinogens being released at temperatures as low as 464°F), so I opted for an 8" cast iron skillet.  I hated to destroy an otherwise perfectly good cast iron pan, but it was worth the sacrifice for a quality wood chunk vessel.

Step 1: Materials

Materials Needed:

1    Flower Pot
1    Flower Pot Drain Pan
1    Single Burner
1    Grill Grate
3    Flower Pot Feet
1    Fence Gate Handle
2    Screws Long Enough to hold it the handle through the lid
2    Nuts for the screws
4    Large Washers
1    Grill Thermometer
1    Masonry Drill Bit (of appropriate diameter)
1    Sheet Automotive Gasket Material (Not Shown)
1    8" Cast Iron Skillet

<p>I wonder about the lead in the clay pots. Is there any concern about that by anyone else?</p>
<p>No need to worry. This calls specifically for &quot;unglazed&quot; pottery. The lead is in the glaze.</p>
<p>You know those pots actually come with a hole in the bottom</p>
I'm happy to see someone else drilled the floor of their smoker to run the hot plate wiring on the outside. This really makes breaking it down to move, store or clean a lot easier. However, I left the burner housing (I have the same model you used) intact and set the bottom pot directly on top.<br /> <br /> To drill the terra cotta, I just turned my garden hose on to a trickle and set it on the surface while the masonry bit did it's job.<br />
I didn't actually drill through the floor of the smoker, I&nbsp;only drilled through the top piece for the thermometer and the handle screws.&nbsp; The flower pot I&nbsp;got already had a large enough hole in the bottom (which would ordinarily be used for drainage). &nbsp;<br /> <br /> Good idea with the garden hose, I used the same technique recently for drilling through some glass - definitely don't want to be breathing that dust. <br /> <br /> Post some pictures here of your smoker, I'd be interested to see it.<br />
I see. Since I left the hot plate housing intact, routing everything through the drainage hole put stress on the wires. If the coil teetered when dumping ash and adding chunks, the contacts could come undone. Needless to say, reconnecting these in the middle of a 12-hour smoke was not fun. Now I understand your steel tubing standoffs (I had thought those were acting as a conduit, routing the wiring through the floor), which seem to achieve the same goal as my drilling through the floor, keeping the coil level and stable. I've also noticed the wires take a bit of a beating, even with the thermal insulation, when they are routed inside the smoker.<br /> <br /> I'm planning to smoke a brisket Saturday, so I will take and post some pictures then.<br />
Why would there be stress on the wires if your pot is on top of the burner and not inside the pot? I'm glad I read your post because I wasn't sure why no one else brought up this idea.
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<p>Great write up. We used a Walmart single burner hot plate that was 1000 watts. Disassembled the thing and managed to reuse the thermostat and even the neon lamp to indicate the burner was on. The hot plate had a single long screw to hold it inside the metal base. I replaced the screw with a 3&quot; long 1/4&quot;-20 carriage bolt. Drilled out the small screw holes that held the reflector to the metal cover and used 2&quot; long 1/4-20 carriage bolts as legs to hold the burner off the bottom of the pot. The longer center bolt and large washer on the outside means there is only a single nut that holds the burner in place and it will not move around once its mounted. </p><p>I ran the cord out of a slot near the bottom center hole. A Dremel tool with a ceramic tile bit works wonderfully on the terra cotta pot. Some high temp RTV sealed the bottom slot where the cord comes through. On the side near the thermostat and neon lamp I drilled three holes. A 1/4&quot; hole for the neon lamp to come through. Sealed it with high temp RTV. A second 1/4&quot; hole for the adjusting portion of the thermostat. A 1/8&quot; hole near the thermostat hole to allow a drywall screw to hold the thermostat in place along the side of the pot bottom. I found that keeping the thermostat inside really allows for an easy temp adjust of about 210 degrees internal temp. It cycles on an doff perfectly. I can adjust the temp externally without removing the lid by using a small screw driver through the 1/4&quot; access hole to the thermostat. </p><p>Finally I used red RTV and some thin felt from the home improvement store as a sealing gasket for the lid. We also used three bolts through the side of the pot to help secure the cooking rack inside the unit. The results are nothing short of phenomenal! </p>
<p>Here are a few pics</p>
<p>210 internal temp is just a bit low. </p>
<p>I am going to remove the thermostat that is internal and instead use a PID controller for the next one. The original thermostat only allowed internal temps in the 220F range and that is just a little to low. </p>
<p>I like the way it came out. My recommendation here is that if you're going to use some sort of silicone sealant around the lid, use Permatex Ultra Black or equivalent. It's rated for extremely high temperatures (they use it for sealing things like engine head covers) and it seals without acting like an adhesive, so you'll actually be able to get your lid off again. Everything else looked really, really awesome. </p>
<p>Outside of removing the burner from the plastic casing is there anything you did with the wires before attaching it to the bottom of the pot? If not, wouldn't any exposed wires beneath be dangerous if exposed to dripping? I would love to try this, just considering the charcoal alternative because of this.</p>
<p>I personally never had a problem with the electrical wires. The biggest risk of fire was the charcoal drying out and getting covered with grease. When I opened the lid, sometimes it would spontaneously combust due to the sudden introduction of oxygen (kinda like the movie Backdraft).</p><p>You might have a problem with a pure charcoal version unless you develop some sort of loading mechanism. Otherwise, you would have to remove and replace the meat every time you needed to add fresh charcoal. Regulating the temperature accurately would also be much more difficult.</p><p>(As a side note, I no longer have this smoker and haven't used it in over 3 years)</p>
<p>A couple of things to consider and a couple of suggestions:</p><p>You was talking about carcinogens, I would be worried what the warm latex (sealer) would be giving off. The same for the automotive gasket material that you used, the smoke loss would only be minimal. A wet towel in between the two and another over the top and it would be safer and sufficient. Make sure the towel stays wet however, it will dry out and then begin to smolder. </p><p>Instead of stressing over the chore of finding the lid, just get a pot of a different size. </p><p>Nice job and very ingenious! </p>
<p>How about using silicone instead of latex? Would that work?</p>
<p>I like this smoker! I already have one that a friend gave me. Mine, though, is one pot inverted over a larger pot. While I like mine and use it quite often, lifting that pot off can be a pain. I don't have a handle but I put on a glove, take the thermometer out of the center hole and with a leather glove lift the pot off by sticking my finger into the hole. Not comfortable in the least. I like how you used a drain pan for the lid. I also use a 9&quot; X 9&quot; baking pan. It's not as heavy as an iron skillet but does the job quite well. I too use an electric single burner. It's much easier than maintaining a fire. I have the control outside of the pot so that I can easily reach it for adjustments. Great job. Thanks to you I'll be modifying my lid. Thanks!</p>
<p>Nice...simple, easy to understand &amp; build....I like it...A LOT! 8 )</p><p>For the benefit of those who do not know/do not realize, Galvanized pipe is poisonous...until you burn off the Galvanizing(which usually takes a very hot fire &amp; upto 30 minutes in that fire to burn off the galvanizing....The same goes with ANY steel pipe that may have oil on it(commonly used to keep it from rusting).</p><p>Q: would not a pipe cap work in place of the cast iron? I'm talking 8 inch pipe cap, or larger....(I have several laying about the place, hence why I asked)</p><p>Teflon Pans:</p><p>Like galvanized steel pipes, the teflon can be burned off...it takes a very hot fire, &amp; (usually) the better part of a day to get the job done, but if that's all you have, it can be done.....</p><p>another option is, to build a rocket stove using cinder blocks, &amp; place the empty teflon coated pan on top of the stove....since a rocket stove burns hotter than any other home made fire burning device/fireplace/ etc., it shouldn't take as long.....or just take a wire brush mounted on a drill &amp; remove the teflon that way..... </p>
<p>I would get online to like appliance part company with a model number for your stove. I would order the oven door seal and use that to seal the lid. I have a stainless washer drum for a frontload washer I plan to mod later when I have vacation. I will mark this page for reference when I do my build. Thanks for all the ideas</p>
If you don't want to build one of these just get a used oven from the local store &amp; connect a plug on it. You only need the oven to work &amp; if the hob top works its a bonus. Set it up in your outdoor area &amp; get a plug installed behind it &amp; away you go ! Temperature controlled, light, hob top &amp; even a warmer drawer are optional on ovens so find one that will suits what you want to do with it and happy outdoor cooking !
2 comments...first..im making the same exact thing, except for the thermometer, i've read many instances where the dial thermometer was anywhere up to 25-50 degrees off, so i got the maverick digital, dual thermometer(which actually my local bbq joint uses as well) it has 2 leads, one for ambient air temp and one for meat temp. and the other thing is im using a wood stove door gasket for the lid portion, figure it protects from clanging damage and it seals it up, looking at probably $35-$50 all together for both. im having the same problem as you with the lid, i couldnt find a bowl to fit it, that wasnt online and costs under $50.00 so after doing this several times, do you think it makes any difference? i know that the dome shape is ideal for convection and even heat distribution but does the flat lid make any difference or should i keep looking for the round lid?
I built one of these and the el cheapo element I bought from walmart made it about 2 hours into a smoking session for a Pork Belly for Bacon and pooched so now i get to Rebuild the thing and pretend it was DOA to get my cash back from walmart anyone have any suggestions about my next hotplate purchase?
Anyone have suggestions for mounting / regulating the thermostat so that it cycles properly? The first few times I rigged up a foil structure afixed to the bottom pot so that it cycled. took a few hours to fine tune it so it wouldnt get too hot. <br><br>I cant imagine it would take much. maybe just an electrical box attached to the bottom pot? Any other thoughts? the littlebrownegg.com hack doesnt address the fact that he thermostat has to cycle and as they have it, it wont cycle, just continuously heat.
This particular design doesn't use a thermostat. The hot plate has a variable power potentiometer that you set and forget. There is no &quot;cycling&quot; to speak of (cycling power to the hot plate on and off). The grill thermometer is to monitor visually to verify that the temperature is correct throughout operation.<br><br>If that doesn't answer your question, please rephrase.
It looks very much like what you have is a bimetal thermostat and not a potentiometer. A bimetal thermostat has 3 parallel stips of metal. 2 for making contact (turn the knob) and a 3rd that is the bimetal. The bimetal bends with heat and moves one of the contacts away from the other to break the flow of current. When it cools the flow is reestablished. It does indeed cycle on and off. <br> <br>Consequently the thermostat works differently whether in, near or away from the pot. I have the same thermostat from a nearly identical hot plate. Most hot plates anywhere near this price range use the same. <br> <br>Here is where some folks get frustrated with temp control. The thermostat inside the cooker will get too hot too often and keep cycling off reducing the temp inside. Thermostats that are remote react to heat from proximity or worse reacting to ambient air temperature. Close proximity can create a fortunate situation where the cycling keeps the temp close to desired. Too far away from the smoker and the thermostat never cycles off and the heating coil goes full bore and the internal smoker temp hits 300 degrees and more. <br> <br>Right now my thermostat is inside the smoker with the heating element. I did some testing and was able to bend the bimetal strip ever so slightly in order to get it to make the disconnect of current at 240 degrees. A bit high but still testing. The smoker gets to 240 and the thermostat shuts off the current. Temp slowly drops to 220 and the current flows again. Time after time. I can tweak it down pretty easily. Remove coil, make adjustment and plug it in. I put my AC current tester on the power cord and watch both the amps and temps to see when the hot plate unit is off or on. <br> <br>I love this smoker. <br>
Fully loaded with wood and salmon my smoker heated up to 140 rather quickly and the settled into a slower temp climb. The thermostat is cycling every few minutes with a sort of two steps forward and one back. It rises 5 degrees, shuts off and then drops 2.5 degrees before turning on again. About an hour to get to a steady 210 or so. Perfect.
Ahh, gotcha. Mine is an old school thermostat. Just searching for some answers on a quick, easy, and cheap fix to better control the temp.<br><br>Got extremely lucky the first two times i used it as it was hot and calm outside, so a foil housing did the trick. But I'd like something more permanent.
Well i really like this build, being from Texas I BBQ with my family alot but we rarely ever smoke anything so I want to give this a try at the next BBQ competition even if its just to sit out and make something for us to eat for ourselves at the end of the day. I am pretty good at modding things but I need a little bit of guidance. What size flower pots did you buy I just need the size of the one on the bottom I can just go and look for a drain after that. Also what size grill did you end up using. I plan on rewiring the control into a project box about a foot or more down the power cord for easy adjustments. I can make an instructable on the wiring I suppose if anyone is interested.
Hey, thanks for the comment. I'm also in Texas, and this makes some decent BBQ. Really, I just wandered around Home Depot picking up pieces that fit together until I had something that looked serviceable. There really aren't many rules here. If you really want a size reference, the tiles on the floor are 12&quot;x12&quot;. If I had to guess, I would say the bottom diameter of the pot is 8-10&quot;, the grate is maybe 14&quot;. Good luck!
Anyone looking to build your own flower pot smoker or discuss design and mods is welcome to join littlebrownegg.com. It's a community of people who love the DIY smokers.
Instead of ruining a good cast iron skillet look for a cast iron pie plate. Camp Chef has one.
I got my skillet at Walmart for $12, and it fits perfectly. I dont understand how something that is harder to find, more expensive, and not the right size would be an improvement. Could you explain further?
Where did you get your replacement grill grate if I may ask,that is the only thing Im lacking at this point,my hotplate isnt the coil type its flat,and looks as though it were made for what im doing,it has one bolt to where&nbsp;the burner&nbsp;can be raised off of the base&nbsp;about an inch or so,it was $18.00 which I thought was kinda high for a single burner hotplate,but what the hey it should work&nbsp;well.
The replacement grill grate came from Lowes in the grill section.&nbsp; Its actually supposed to be the grate that you put the coals on on the bottom of the grill, but its the right fit for this application.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> $18 is a little steep for a single burner hotplate, but if it works I say go for it. &nbsp;I think mine was $7 with a coupon at CVS, but I&nbsp;got the incredibly cheapo version that I had to rig to work properly.<br /> <br /> Come back and post some pictures when you get yours up and running!<br />
Great,thank you,yea my hotplate came from walmart,I wouldve got the coil type had they had it,but Im really making it for my brother as a birthday gift so I wont complain too much,and like I said it looks as though it were made with this project in mind,we shall see,and I will post some photos when finished,but Ill have to get my brother to show me how to do that,Im pretty O.K. with my hands but my computer skills are lacking to say the least..Thanks again for the info.
That hotplate I got woudnt work with having to cut and extend wires,a whole lot of extra work,so I did like you and got the cheaper one,which is what I should have done to began with.
Too bad... did you keep the receipt for the original one?&nbsp; Hopefully the new one you got will work out better for you.<br />
Yea,but I took it apart,Ill put it back together and use it in hot water blueing smaller gun parts,I needed another for that as far as apperance goes.<br /> &nbsp; I was going to ask,how important do you think the temp.guage is,and if its a have to,can I get that a lowes or home depot?
The temp gauge is fairly important, you want to keep the temperature right around 200.&nbsp; The actual temperature inside the smoke will be slightly higher (210 - 215), but I think its a little cooler near the lid where I&nbsp;put the temp gauge.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> I got mine at Lowes in the replacement grill parts section, so you should be able to find one there.<br /> <br /> You should post an instructable about hot water blueing, that sounds interesting.<br />
Hot water blueing requires equipment and cemicals that are fairly expensive&nbsp; ,to do things like gun barrels and receivers anyways,to tell you the truth nowdays there are cold blue solutions that do just as good of a job if instructions are followed,but certianly if I get one to do,Ill get my brother to help me download an Instuctable on it.Thanks for the info on the temp gau.,I guess Ill get this smoker done one of these days.
looks yummy!<br /> <br /> If I could make a plea, please don't cut the handle off a vintage cast iron skillet, at least not until the Chinese learn how to machine the insides smooth.<br /> <br /> Import cast iron is all over the place and you can tell by the fact that it's got a rough, as cast, finish in the cooking area. Heck even recent domestic pans skip that step nowadays.<br /> <br /> I can tell from your photo (besides the fact that you said it was new), that the inside surface has not been machined. I'd hate to see a classic Griswold destroyed, even if it was for the purpose of creating 'q<br />
You can specifically see the &quot;Lodge&quot; label in the picture on the materials page (made in Tennessee!).&nbsp; I&nbsp;bought it at Walmart for $10 or so.<br /> <br /> I also am not concerned about the cooking surface being machined smooth, since this is just used as a firebox.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Thanks for the comment and general cast iron knowledge, but I'm not sure what your argument is.&nbsp; <br />
not an argument.<br /> <br /> I'm asking other people to not ruin quality cast iron.<br /> <br /> I've got a few Wagner's <em>1891</em> Original cast iron pieces myself, and they're unfortunately nearly useless for cooking anything except deep-fried because of a lack of a smooth cooking surface<br /> <br /> I got 'em cheap at a a yard sale. The former owner looks like she tried them once or twice, and then gave up. If I don't use them for casting lead or pot metal, they may be smoothed via power tools (though I'm afraid that's going to be a crap load of work) and pressed into service.<br />
You can reface them,it is a little bit of work,or if its not pitted too bad you can clean it ,season it and use it for frying foods that produce their own grease,such as pork,even beef as long as its got a&nbsp;good amount of fat.It may take a year or so depending on how often its used but it will fill in,you just have to be careful in how you clean it,useing and caring for cast iron cookware is an almost lost art form.Im also glad to know there is at least one other who knows and&nbsp;appreciates fine cast iron cookware.
There is a world of difference between my antique cast iron dutch oven (which is finely finished on the bottom and sides, and then I seasoned it well) and this newly produced cast iron made here and abroad.<br /> <br /> As I said, the newer pieces work great for deep-frying, but you will never, no matter how well seasoned it is, get an over-easy egg to cook right in that pan.<br /> <br />
Totally agree the new mass produced stuff leaves a whole lot to be desired,the iron itself isnt nearly the quality of the older,say before the turn of the century iron,and its not just with cast iron cookware,its woodstoves,railings, furniture you name it.
Oh, you said &quot;reface them&quot;. Do you have any hints for what power tools to use?<br /> <br /> I was going to start with a random orbital sander.<br />
That would be the way to go,if pitted really bad you could use a handheld grinder to remove the pits and then go with your sander with a course grain and step down to a finner grain to finish up,then as you know seasoning it is an important step,but you sound like you have seasoned one or two in your life.If not pitted bad than you could use your sander with course down to finer paper and it will turn out well.
Youre right about the cast iron coming out of china,I have very old pans and dutch ovens that have been in my family since well before I was thought of,and Im forty something,I wouldnt take anything for mine,once seasoned ,they very rarly have anything stick and dont you just love the way they hold heat..

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