Instructables

Making of a Drum Smoker

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Picture of Making of a Drum Smoker
Smokers can be anything from garbage cans to custom steel fabricated smokers costing $1,000.00 of dollars a drum smoker is just above the cost of a garbage can and will last for many years. This design is using an automatic temperature control device, if you want to build this smoker and do not wish to purchase an ATC system, drill four 1" holes spaced evenly around the base, 2" up from the bottom. Then fashion a cover over each hole so that you can control the draft.

The drum smoker is easy to make with many components already made. Some knowledge of steel fabricating and welding is required.

If you do not have a small welder you can just tighten the bolt and nut in the hole and tilt the rack every time you have to move the racks. There is room between the grill rack and barrel wall so you will not over tilt the meat.

Material List:

1 55 Gallon Drum, open top
1 1/8"(T) x 3/4" (W) x 12" (L), Handle
12 1/4" x 1.5" Bolt & Nut
2 1/4" x 0.75" Bolt & Nut
2 3/8"x 0.75"(L) Bolt & Nut
4 22"Weber Grills
1 18" Weber charcoal grate
2 1/4" x 36" Steel Rod
1 24"x 24"Expanded Steel
1 16" terra-cotta dish

Automatic Temperature Control Device
Rocks Bar-B-Que, Stoker
 
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Step 1: New Drum

Picture of New Drum
This design uses a new open lid 55 gallon drum with no special lining; the cost was approximately $50.00. The drum is the right size to use 22" Weber grill racks. If you purchase a closed lid drum, you will have to cut one end off for your opening. If using a closed drum measure and cut the top so that you may use the lid from the Weber kettle for your top.
zamo277 months ago
If I get a pid temperature control like the Rex C-100 to run a 12v fan, similar to
a computer one can I achieve a good air supply to smoke and BBQ in the same barrel? Will it be enough air supply?
gordo58 (author)  zamo277 months ago
My fan is a 5 CFM fan, I don't what the Rex C-100 had for a fan speed but that is what you need to look at. In the winter months I may use my 10 CFM fan as I need more heat to combat the cold temps.
alex990010 months ago
Hi! thanks for posting this great instructable. I wanted to ask you about the cooking process: what is the optimal cooking temperature and for how long do you keep te meat inside? how do you know when thicker meat is ready? Thanks again!
gordo58 (author)  alex990010 months ago
I would purchase some BBQ books as every meat is different, but the temp as always around 230 degrees. If you would make this drum without the fan system put about 4 holes with a adjustable cover in the botttom about 1" in size.

Good Luck and happy smoking
ulfilas3 years ago
 I have an old galvanised dustbin that was in our garden when we moved in 10 years ago... it's never been used by us for anything other than putting a disposable barbecue on it when upturned! I love the idea of turning it into something much more useful - I hope to eventually adapt it following some of your ideas. I don't think I'll be able to go down the elecric controller/fan route though - can anyone suggest an alternative?
Never use glavanised materials as they contain poisons which can make you very ill! Get hold of a food quality drum. I use ones from fruit juice!
DO NOT use galvanized metal, when heated it gives off toxic fumes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_fume_fever
kevman00442 years ago
What kind of airbrush paint did you use and how well does it hold up with all the heat?
gordo58 (author)  kevman00442 years ago
I used just plan old paint for the hardware store. After many uses it's still looks good, but now after a few years it should be re-painted but then all my smokers look like they should be re-painted.
Mr.Sanchez2 years ago
So the Heat dont remove the paint...?
gordo58 (author)  Mr.Sanchez2 years ago
This is a smoker NOT a burn barrel. You need to look at all the pictures the charcoal is in the middle of the barrel and does not touch the sides. Now after a few years of using the smoker the paint is starting to fade, but I think the sun and low heat is probably the combination of that. You can touch the outside of the barrel during a smoke.
Thnks to reply ...I´m working on a similar Smoker...your info is so valious...
p.johnshea3 years ago
I like how you stacked multiple cooking grates in there. How much does the temp vary between the levels? Do you ever have to rotate the meats?
gordo58 (author)  p.johnshea3 years ago
As you know heat rises, but I don't find that much of a difference. However, I do rotate the levels just to make sure.
Thanks. Also, whats the weight and thickness of the drum you used?
gordo58 (author)  p.johnshea3 years ago
I didn't know that the barrels come in different weights, I have never seen that. Just buy a 55 gallon drum. You can find them on the web, so maybe you will see different weights but I wouldn't worry about that, it's going to be heavy then the grills you buy at the big box stores.
I found one that is 0.9mm. That seams really thin to me. What do you think?

I'm in Australia and drums- especially used one that didn't contain anything toxic are very hard to come by.

Thanks.
If it has been used for toxic stuff, get a hold of a propane torch on a hose like a:

http://www.flameengineering.com/Red_Dragon_Propane_Torch_K.html

burn all the finish off of the drum to bare metal. Then paint the outer shell with a high heat paint like VHT.

Happy BBQing! It's damn cold here in Chicago, Il. right now.
Jim
gordo58 (author)  wirechief3 years ago
You should stop tring to promote your business.
p.johnshea3 years ago
How tall is the actual charcoal basket?
gordo58 (author)  p.johnshea3 years ago
Ok, the legs are 3" high, the side is 6" high in the basket and it's 14" dia. I use a weber charcoal grill grate for the base. I hope this gives you the answer's. I can put about 8 pounds of charcoal in it and it will last for about 6-7 hours depending on how I set the stoker system temp.
gordo58 (author)  p.johnshea3 years ago
The legs are about 1.5" and the basket is about 8". I will be using this smoker tomorrow so I will get the correct dia. and send you the answers again this time I would guess.
ktemms3 years ago
Where do you put the ter cotta pot? Do you put a grate above the firebox, then put pot on it?
gordo58 (author)  ktemms3 years ago
you got the right idea. I have three racks the frist one is for the heat plate, the top two are for the meat. I also made a steel plate with around the sides this works good but it is heavy to lift out if and when you need to add charcoal.
2 stroke 3 years ago
really 50 dollars i got mine for 10 at the flea market
gordo58 (author)  2 stroke 3 years ago
I purchased a new barrel that would handle food, at a flea market you don't know what was in the barrel before, so clean it well before you use it. I'm all for cheap but I want to live after I eat.
it carried laundry detergent and thats what i never thought about
gordo58 (author)  2 stroke 3 years ago
Wash it well and use chlorine in the wash, if you have a weed burner use that as well. Good luck I use mine all the time, I just finished building a new smoker from an old air compressor tank for the smoke chamber and a 8 gallon fork lift tank for the burn box. I cleaned the LP tank out with what we call super chlorinated water three different times and had chlorine residual over 2000 ppm then you have to neutralize the chlorine before you dump it into the environment (thats what I do for a living). I'm thinking about doing an instructable on this project, I also use the Stoker system with this as well.
sorry knda late but my bq is built now
Lesedi3 years ago
Anybody know where I can get a barrel like this in South Africa?
gordo58 (author)  Lesedi3 years ago
It is just a plain 55 gallon drum, it should be a problem just make sure that it do not have anything toxic in it before. I download the flame design from a web site for car paint (can't remember the name) and purchased a cheap air bush.
dkeltner3 years ago
I've found in my UDS that if you load the charcoal basket all the way up, but only start it in one corner, (probably on the same side as your air intake), you get much longer smokes. I've gone for over 16 hours on load at a time before. 
dgrolan4 years ago
Will you provide some information about the automatic temoerature controll and its instelation? I didn't find any mention of this in the instructions. Thanks
gordo58 (author)  dgrolan4 years ago
See my reply to Foxtrot on Aug. 27th it has all the information
Sparky674 years ago
Looks great, I also picked up a identical drum to the one you used. It has a tan sprayed on paint or coating inside. From all the research I have been doing that coating is a liner and needs to be burnt out before you cook food in it. Don't want to smoke your meat with paint or epoxy fumes..
branonls4 years ago
All the cutting and welding you do to the body and you use a stick to prop the lid open instead of making an adjustable vent?
gordo58 (author)  branonls4 years ago
I know isn't that just a cool way of adjusting the draft. Now to be serious, I live in the Pacific Northwest and what you have heard about rain is correct we get a lot. So when I was laying everything out I decided that I would do it this way so that the drum would not get rain water sitting down in the bottom of the drum. I would have to be draining the water or have a rusting bottom on the drum. Sure I could have extended a draft pipe above the lid, but then I might have problems transporting this to BBQ contest. Also with the ATC system you really do not need a big opening as the forced air will find a way out of your smoker. Maybe the next one will have a draft tube
vernsolo4 years ago
wow! great idea. i was going to modify my weber bullet but i think ill make one of these instead. you said it burns for 6-7 hours. is that with all your charcoal started ? if im doing a long smoke like a brisket i start some coals then add more on top and let them slowly start . i can usually get 10-12 hours out of it with out adding more at about 200 - 225 deg. are your temps pretty stable with the ATC and how low can you keep your drum? nice work and thanks for the instructable.
gordo58 (author)  vernsolo4 years ago
I use a minion method as well with the ATC system. I only start one side and let the fan control the rest of the burn. I fill the basket up to the top. I have gone as long as 8 hours before I have to add more charcoal, you need to remember that area inside the smoker is about 2 1/2 to 3 times the size of the bullet. This system will control the temp to within 2 degrees for hours, in over 30 years of cooking over open fires and smoking I have never had this good of control and I have 7 smoker/grills. This barrel smoker is my one smoker all the others take a back seat. I have smoked at 150 degrees with no problems you just set the temp and the Stoker does the rest.
Foxtrot704 years ago
Where do you purchase the ATC device?
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