Step 20: Let's Get Smoking!

What good is a double-barrel smoker if you don't know how to use it? 

This video will take you through the basic steps of using your double-barrel smoker.  Keep in mind that you'll have to "learn" your specific smoker, but the basic steps are the same.


*** UPDATE!  Video is still pending.  I had some difficulty with my old copy of Adobe Premiere (apparently it doesn't like Windows 7) so will have to purchase a new video editing package.  Hopefully will have the video done by the following weekend.***

The basics:

Since it seems to be taking an act of God to get my video software to install on my computer, I'll give you some text instructions on how to use the smoker until such time as I can get the video functional.

1.) Dry your meat.
I see a lot of people just yanking their meat out of the package... k, that's probably a poor choice of phrase, but don't just open the meat and begin to rub it with the dry rub.  No matter what the meat is, dry it before you start to flavor it.  The reason will become more obvious in the next step.

2.) Use a fat in your dry rub.
When smoking, you can always use a little more oil to keep it from drying out.  You can use any fat substitute: Olive Oil, butter (though I wouldn't recommend using butter due to its smoke point being near 250oF, and the fact that temperature spikes over 250oF are possible.  If you prefer the flavor of butter, might I recommend you give some ghee a shot?)  I personally prefer to use lard, or bacon grease.  Simply add your salt (lots of salt) and dry rub to your fat additive, and rub that all over the meat.  This will help on a number of levels.  For starters, it will bind the oils from your rub (which is where your flavor comes from) into the fats of the skin and marbling of the meat much better than the dry rub alone, and the additional fat will prevent the meat from drying out.

3.) Everything cooks at the same temperature.
Ideally you want everything to cook between 220-225oF.  The less yo-yo'ing you get of the temperature, the better quality the result will be.  But don't listen to the people who try to make smoking sound difficult.  We've been doing it since the dawn of time, for Flying Spaghetti Monster's sakes.  If a neanderthal can manage it with a couple of rocks and a three day old carcass, I'm pretty sure we can pull it off with power tools.  If the temperature drops to 215 for half an hour, or spikes up to 245 for 15 minutes, it is not going to rip a hole in the space-time continuum that a demon will step through for the sole purpose of dropping a duce directly on your meat.  Nearly every smoking website and forum I've read pretends like this is rocket science and it's the end of the world if the temperature fluctuates.  It's not, don't worry about it.  Just try to keep it in the 220'ish range and you're fine.

4.) Everything cooks at different times.
As a general rule, fish takes about an hour, chicken around 6 hours, ribs around 7-8 hours (depends on how much you want them to fall off the bone), and beef takes roughly the same amount of time it takes to have a family.  I did a brisket for 10 hours once, and it wasn't nearly enough.  It was delicious, don't get me wrong, but definitely not the fall-apartness it should have had.  I've read they should go 18 hours, and I believe it.  Beef ribs are equally as painful.  Keep them in about 12 hours to get them to really break down.  Pretty much everything else (pork picnics, boston butts, etc.) will fall into the 10-11 hour range.

5.) The USDA is not your friend!  The internal temperature is important!
The whole idea of the slow cooking is to break down the proteins that hold the meat together without hozing up the integrity of the meat flavor.  In fact, it's the exact same idea as cooking "en sous vide" and this is precisely where people make the biggest mistake.  The federally recommended temperature for chicken to be cooked is 165oF, so there's a significant temptation to slap a thermometer in the chicken and wait for it to get to 165oF and call it a day.  These numbers were mandated for the layman.  Basically, to make sure some dolt that would normally ask if you'd "like fries with that" could keep it straight.  Bacteria doesn't live and thrive at 164 degrees, then suddenly implode at 165.  The fact is once you get over 105 degrees, the bacteria starts weaken.  (This is why our bodies actually give us a fever when we get an infection).  By 135 degrees, they start to die, and by 145 degrees, they'll die rapidly, nearly sterilizing the chicken within 10 minutes.  If you actually wait for the interior of your chicken to hit 165, you'll dry it out because it will have to stay on for two more hours than it should.  Once it hits 145, just let it sit for about 20 minutes at that temperature, and then remove it.  Let it set for a bit (it will retain that internal temperature a bit longer) and you're ready to eat, and it's perfectly safe.  This is basically only the rule for poultry, since your other meats you want to get up to the 180-185 degree mark.  At that level, they'll start falling apart.

6.) Use a charcoal chimney.
When you first start your smoker, invest in a simple charcoal chimney to get it started. Anything you burn in your smoker will influence the flavor of the food, even when the sellers of the petroleum based charcoal lighting fluid insist it won't.  You don't need it, and for what you'll spend on a few bottles of lighter fluid, you can get a simple charcoal chimney.  They work perfectly, every time, even in high wind.  Something I can't say about lighter fluid.  Additionally, there's the following point:

7.) Do not use charcoal briquettes.
Briquettes are manufactured in a bunch of different proprietary ways.  They have binding agents, lighter fluid-like additives, and in the "green" scenarios, are made out of scrap lumber that could have any number of additives.  Additionally, you don't know what type of wood they're made from, or what flavor they'll impart.  (I would hope that the chemicals they put off are at least regulated, but I'm not holding my breath.)  Additionally, with this smoker you'll be using regular, real hardwood, so that means you need very little charcoal, so go ahead and splurge for the real, hardwood charcoal that actually comes in chunks that look like wood. 

8.) Use real logs to smoke.
The ideal log is a year old log that you can split and still see the tell-tale markings that you can use to identify the wood.  For instance oak has those little "dotted lines" (for lack of a better description) that you should be able to see to identify it.  Always use hardwoods, as soft woods tend to have a lot of sap, and produce a lot of creosote.  For the same reason, don't use freshly cut green logs.  I've also gone the other direction, and used logs that were too dry to the point that when you split them, they didn't really look like oak anymore.  The food was certainly still edible, but there was a bit of soot on them.  The wood chips, even soaked in water, will simply burst into flames in a smoker that's this big and gets this hot.  The little chunks of wood you can get in the bags are almost as bad, burning so fast it's hard to regulate the temperature.  But a year old log (or well aged log) will burn low, and slow, with a beautiful, steady blue-white smoke.  I prefer oak, hickory, and mesquite, but at the moment I'm left with very old oak.  While not ideal, it certainly hasn't stopped me from using it.  I've seen those cast-iron chip holders designed for turning a charcoal grill into a smoker, and haven't had the chance to use one yet.  My suspicion is that for a smoker of this size, the sheer volume of chips you'd have to stuff into that little box wouldn't be realistic.

EDIT:  So here we are about a year later, and I have to say I've done a complete 180 on this particular point.  (I'll do a proper edit eventually.)  Kingsford makes some excellent charcoal that I've found is just all around easier to regulate both the temperature and the smoke with.  By wrapping some wood chips in heavy duty aluminum foil, and placing them near enough the charcoal that they'll turn to charcoal themselves without melting the foil, you'll get your hardwood smoked flavor and it will be far, far easier to get that perfect smoke every time. 

My inexperience shined through at this point in the 'ible, and while I tried to remain what I thought was a smoking "purist" I found that the end result was unpredictable at best.  After actually having to throw away an entire batch of ribs/chicken/picnics that were ruined by an unruly wood fire batch, I finally succumbed to the manufactured stability of charcoal.  My new favorite method is something called the "minion" method where I fill the basket with Kingsford Mesquite charcoal briquettes, and some set my foil wrapped chips near it, then dump a chimney full of lit coals on top.  I wait until the early "harsh" smoke subsides, and the internal temperature gets into the 200 range before putting the meat on. 

9.) Don't OVER smoke.
Just because you don't see smoke coming out, don't be alarmed.  You don't want smoke absolutely pouring out of a smoker like this. Your smoke should be a light, steady white to blueish stream.  It shouldn't look like a steam engine heading up a mountain, but more like a chimney in a cabin in the woods.  (The video will help a lot here.)  If the smoke is greenish, thick, and dark, you need to open everything up and let it burn itself off quickly.  That smoke will produce creosote that'll coat your food.  Take the hit on the temperature spike, and try to burn off the wood quickly, then get the temperature back under control using the oxygen vent.

10.) Only use the damper when absolutely necessary.
The oxygen vent should be your primary method of temperature control.  If you find yourself like me, and you slacked off in the making of the flue, and your seals on your fire box are breaking down from too much heat (still working on that one) so your firebox continues to get far too much air even when the air vent is completely closed, only then should you use your damper to bring down the temperature.  Using the damper will "stall" the smoke in the smoke chamber, and stalled smoke will begin to settle on your meat creating soot.  Flowing smoke is ideal.  While it may seem like closing the damper would "trap" the heat and should bring the temperature up, it's actually quite the opposite.  The chimney itself heats up causing an updraft (the taller the chimney, the stronger the updraft) that sucks air completely through the whole smoker.  So the air will be sucked in through the air vents, heat the fire, collect the smoke, and drag it through the smoker, over the meat, and up the chimney.  Using the damper kills this updraft and everything begins to cool down.  Again, only use the damper if you've already sealed up the firebox, and the temperature is still rising.

11.) Don't be afraid to finish in the oven. 
If you're like me, you want to be a purist and take the meat directly out of the smoker and stuff it into your maw, but if you get to be in a hurry, and the stuff just isn't quite where it needs to be, you can take it out of the smoker and finish it in the oven at the appropriate temperature (around 300 for most stuff).  While this will seize up the meat on the outside (not entirely a bad thing) you can more quickly get the internal temperature up to that ideal 180 degrees this way.  It's been argued that after the first 6 hours, the meat stops absorbing smoke flavor anyway.  I don't know if it's true, but I finished a pork this way before, and it turned out great.

12.) Water isn't necessary, but doesn't hurt.
If you have a good place to stick a pan of water in the smoke chamber, go ahead and do it if it floats your boat.  Just make sure it doesn't sit beneath the meat and catch the drippings (unless you're specifically trying to make a smoked gravy).  The drippings should be allowed to drip and cake onto the bricks below, seasoning the smoker more and more the more you use it.  (Don't clean it!)  Water will help reduce the chances of your meat drying out (which I've yet to have happen) and in theory, it should make it easier to maintain temperature (which I've not really noticed the difference, I think the firebricks do that just fine).  I tried the first few roasts with a pan of water, and very literally noticed no difference in the end result between that and the subsequent smokes without water.  However, this said, I will use half a can of water with fresh herbs shoved up the chicken's personal space when making chicken.  I have always done my chicken this way, so don't know how much of an impact it has on moisture.  (Definitely has an impact on flavor, though!)

13.) Allow the smoker to heat up rapidly when you're done.
If you're done smoking, open up the vents completely.  If there's no fuel in it, it doesn't hurt to throw a log on.  The idea is to heat up the upper chamber to the 275ish range or higher.  This makes sure that any of the drippings that fell onto the bricks will cook in to improve the seasoning, and will dry out, getting a good coating from the smoke in the process.  If you've dripped a ridiculous amount of BBQ sauce into the thing, go ahead and scrape that bit out.  Moisture in the upper chamber will encourage mold growth, and unless you're specifically looking for innoculation when you use the smoker, it's safest to bring it up to temperature when you're done.  Now, realistically, the inside of a smoker is an incredibly hostile environment for molds and bacteria, I mean, that's why they smoked food in the first place.  But still, better to be safe than sorry, and it'll help your smoker to season to boot.

People have mentioned that the fat may fill the bottom of the chamber until it leaks into the fire pit, or that it may go rancid.  By purposely super heating the grill when done, I've not found this to be a problem at all.  Thus far, the fat has all cooked away to a crisp "shell" on the bricks with none running into the firebox or building up to go rancid.  I'll update you if this changes after the smoker has been put away for the winter.

The process:

So following on 6 and 7, get your charcoal started in the charcoal chimney by creating a "doughnut" shape out of newspaper, sticking that in the bottom, dumping coals in the top, and lighting the paper.  It's pretty straightforward, but there's plenty of videos on YouTube if you need clarification.

Once the charcoals have started to turn white in the top of the chimney (about 10-20 minutes) you're ready to get started.  Dump the hot coals in the charcoal basket made for the firebox.  Give them a shake to evenly spread them out, and pour some more charcoal on top, to just about fill the basket.  The air vents should be full-open at this point. *NOTE: Read previous edit on how this has changed.

Close everything up until your upper chamber comes up to temperature.  Use a spare piece of aluminum bar and the C-Clamps to clamp the upper lid closed (might not hurt to do the same for the firebox.  Gonna try that this weekend).  Let it get to about 235-240 since we'll be releasing most of the heat when we add the meat, and you want the bricks to be able to get it back to temperature quickly.

You should be at temperature right about the time the charcoals slow down their smoking.  Since the charcoal smoke will also impact the flavor of the meat, this is why we only use hardwood charcoal.  Now, add your meat to the smoker, close everything up, and use C-Clamps to seal it all back up.  Open the firebox, and give the coals a shake to make sure they're evenly spread.  When smoking, you want a large, cold ember bed, not a small, hot ember bed.  This will give you the best temperature and smoke control.  Add two small split logs (if you had about a 6" round log, and split it into quarters, two of those should be sufficient).

Now keep an eye on the temperature, and using the air vent (close to cool, open to heat) control the temperature down to the 220-225 range, and keep it there for the next three hours.  Use the damper only if it's uncooperative. 

Now it's time to have a beer or 12.

After 3 hours (or sooner if you find you can't keep the temperature up to 220), it's time to throw a couple more logs on the fire.  You'll notice it takes a bit effort to dial in the temperature each time you add more wood, but you'll get the hang of it eventually.

Keep this pattern up until the food has come to temperature (use a digital thermometer), has taken the right amount of time (the time is very forgiving), or you're too drunk (then call it a failed experiment and go to bed).

Special thanks to the three girls in my life.  To Penny and Sandy for their help with the instructable, and to my wife who not only supports my crazy projects that take months to complete when I've promised they'd be done over the weekend, helped me with the build, and even continuously made laps in and out, up and down a flight of stairs, to take pictures for me as I was trying to put it all together.  I love you babe!
Thanks for the instructions, i followed your advice on the fire bricks, as you can tell i had to throw a few Harley parts on her to give it a biker theme. Ready for my first burn tomorrow, can't wait!
<p>How did it burn? Any feedback please.</p>
Since this is several years old now, it seems appropriate to ask how has it held up over time and through conditions? What modifications, if any have you made since your build? I noticed in several comments you stated youdid not want a side firebox door or a top mounted chimney. May I ask why? Was there a functional readonbor was this more about aesthetics? Great instructions by the way. The delivery made it easy to read. Could give ablesson on writing instruction manuals. Perhaps if more were written this way, fewer &quot;accidents&quot; wpuld occur!
Great questions!<br><br>&gt; how has it held up over time and through conditions?<br><br>So far, so good. Definitely some rust on it (I'll cover that later) but I use it quite regularly even still. <br><br>&gt; What modifications, if any have you made since your build?<br><br>None so far. Some I would've like to have made at the time of building, though.<br><br>&gt; I noticed in several comments you stated youdid not want a side firebox door or a top mounted chimney. May I ask why? Was there a functional readonbor was this more about aesthetics? <br><br>I wanted ALL of the heat to come from the firebox, and to conserve as much of that heat as possible. I knew with a large firebox (eg: large surface area) I would already be losing a lot of heat from the firebox barrel. So that's why I went with the stacked design, to attempt to capture more of the heat (as it rose) in the upper barrel. <br><br>The side-mounted chimney was to keep the flow of smoke moving over the food instead of just creating a vortex that pulled the smoke and the heat straight up and out the chimney without hitting the food. <br><br>In hindsight, there are a few things I would've done differently: <br><br>1.) I would've absolutely spent more time stripping down the paint. My biggest irk is that the new paint bubbled off due to the barrel's original paint not being able to take the heat. I knew this would happen, but did NOT realize just how difficult re-sanding and re-painting would be once the thing was assembled. I would've spent much more time stripping the barrels and repainting them before assembly. <br><br>2.) The fire-barrel's door needs to be reconsidered. It opens top-down meaning it won't hold itself shut through gravity, and any sort of &quot;lock&quot; mechanism just gets hot, and loose over time. Making it open bottom-up would be a serious burn risk. If I were to do it over, I think I would've used the &quot;scrap&quot; barrel to make a hinged door on the SIDE (top of barrel) of the fire-barrel that could swing open normally, and have a simple latch to keep it closed. <br><br>3.) The I really should've spent more time on the flue, too. The square flue made with old aluminum flashing was a bad call. Nearly impossible to get a good seal with, and I lose a ton of heat/smoke through that. It probably should've been bigger as well. <br><br>4.) The ribs to hold the bricks up (step 14, picture 1) didn't last nearly as long as I thought they would, and I've had to stick a brick under there instead (to keep the smoke/heat channel open). I would've just gone with that the first time around if I were to do it again. <br><br>Otherwise, it's still holding up well, and as I say, we use it regularly! I've even made a few bucks with it, bartering with a smoked pork picnic for some plumbing work. :D When it's up and going, the whole neighborhood knows it.
<p>I followed this design and about to do my first smoke tomorrow (although may be a little tough being December in Ohio). It certainly looks good and everyone who has seen it so far has said great things about it. Thanks for the instructions!</p><p>One thing that I did with the chimney (and it was by complete accident) was had a rotatable 90 deg elbow out of the smoke box. Now this allows me to rotate the chimney down for storage. This is especially nice for when I cover the smoker when not in use and don't have to wrap my tarp around the chimney. I can just cover it all.</p>
<p>How did it turn out? Any feedback?</p>
<p>Pretty good. The 2 times I've used it was in 20-30 deg F weather so it was tough getting temperature up but that is expected. </p>
<p> Very well presented, I think I'm going to build myself one.</p>
<p>Hi there. </p><p><br>After all these years it still attracts people and it seems one of the best no-weld design available. It has also been copied and uploaded all around the internet but I guess you know that by now. </p><p><br>That been said, I have one question. is there<br> any chance the top barrel to double as a bbq on its own? Smoking and low and slow is amazing but it is certainly is an everyday thing and I hate having 2-3 different BBQs sitting there, each for a specific use. </p><p><br>Thanx for the instructions. </p><p><br>Cheers from Australia.</p>
Hello! Thank you for the compliments! Some time early next year I plan on doing another one with a single-barrel design that will emulate the &quot;Green Egg&quot; smokers, so stay tuned for that!<br> <br> To answer your question, yes, you <em>can</em> certainly use it as a briquette charcoal grill, but it's a little sloppy.&nbsp; You'll need to get something to use as the &quot;grate&quot; (such as this: https://www.colourbox.com/preview/2373664-metal-grate-isolated-over-white-background.jpg - the same stuff used in the instructable).&nbsp; I'm not a big fan of that stuff because it wears out pretty quickly.&nbsp; The heat causes it to quickly rust, but I've not found anything cheaper/better.<br> <br> Then, you'll want to cut it up/bend it/wire it together into something like this:&nbsp; http://i.imgur.com/eU9u29v.png&nbsp; (sorry for Powerpoint quality, it's all I had.)&nbsp;<br> <br> Finally, put that on top of a large pan/tray to catch the ashes.&nbsp; If you put your charcoal in that, you can use it as a charcoal grill.&nbsp; You do have to be careful about clean-up prior to smoking though, as you don't want those ashes getting stirred up into your food, or even flavoring it.&nbsp; Make sure to use the catch-pan to catch ALL of the ash!
Great instructable! Well done and thought out. Wife was apprehensive when i started on it, but after the ribs last night she loves &quot;the dutch oven&quot;!<br>Thanks alot!
:D That's awesome! Thanks so much for the picture!
<p>A truly exemplary instructable:<br>Humor, culinary history (given its humble origins, why is brisket so expensive now)?<br>Culinary terminology (sous vide), insight into the design process, information on use of the product. What more could one ask?</p><p>I have an idea on how magnets could be made to work: what about aluminum standoffs/brackets riveted to both the door and the body of the grille? one could even put a piece of wood between the bracket and the magnet (and the piece of steel or iron on the other standoff). <br><br>One could even put on another bracket to hold the door open for you.<br><br>Anyway, thanks for doing this. Your generous and skillful sharing of your project has benefited many people.<br><br>Don't know if I will ever get around to it, and your project will certainly serve as an inspiration if I do. </p>
Thank you for the kind words!<br> <br> To answer your question on brisket, it's for the same reason that chicken wings, Spare Ribs, and baby-back ribs are expensive. They all used to be &quot;throw-away&quot; meats. Ribs were thrown to the dogs, and chicken wings were considered &quot;garbage&quot; meat, so was used to make chicken stock.<br> <br> Who the first was to cook the ribs up is anyone's guess.&nbsp; But once we figured out how to make them &quot;fall-off-the-bone-delicious&quot; their value skyrocketed.&nbsp; Baby-Back ribs, while having a slightly higher meat/bone ratio - but a lower fat content, were considered the &quot;inferior&quot; ribs.&nbsp; That is, until Chili's (the restaurant) single-handedly went on a campaign to make them the &quot;it&quot; thing, and now they're more popular than spare ribs.&nbsp; Similarly, a woman that worked in a bar had her son and a bunch of his friends come in looking for some snack food.&nbsp; All she had left in the kitchen were a bunch of chicken wings stacked up to make stock with, so she cut them down into the &quot;drumettes and flats&quot; that we recognize as chicken wings, fried them, and served them to the kids with some hot sauce and butter.&nbsp; The buffalo wing was born, and good luck finding chicken wings on the cheap now.&nbsp;<br> <br> Brisket has a similar story.&nbsp; Basically, the whole front of the beef (shoulders/brisket) would just be separated from the carcass&nbsp; and smoked.&nbsp; When people would ask for a piece of inexpensive &quot;smoked beef&quot; they would either ask for a &quot;lean&quot; piece (shoulder) or a &quot;fat&quot; piece (brisket).&nbsp; Over time, we came to respect the brisket for what it was - a well marbled piece of meat that when prepared correctly, can be among the best of BBQ.&nbsp; As a result, its price, too, skyrocketed.
<p>What a great sense of humor! I chuckled many times at your remarks in the article. My wife said &quot;sounds like you only with less cussin'..&quot;</p><p>Well written instructable; was a joy to read through! I'll be making a new one soon to replace my aging 19 yr old one, but with more &quot;grill estate&quot; space :)</p>
<p>Thanks for the great instructions and inputs</p><p>I've made one myself, with slight changes (i cheated and did some welding after all just b/c it was easier...) </p>
Thanks for the instructions, followed your advice for the fire bricks. As you can tell I'm a biker, had to use some of my Harley parts to give it the biker theme. First burn planned for tomorrow! Can't wait!
<p>Ha ha! That's just gorgeous.</p>
<p>Recommendations for where to find good, used barrels?</p>
<p>Hey man, love your project. Great BBQ system using the barrels. I myself made a barrel stove outdoor wood burning furnace - I put up an instructable here too, but my originating site has much more info :) Instead of the firebricks like YOU used, I instead used clay bricks I had laying around. I will prob upgrade to refractory fire bricks next season as this is my first season using this! <br>Thanks! <br>https://diybarrelstoveoutdoorfurnace.wordpress.com/</p>
<p>I was wondering if you thought about putting it on casters/ wheels. I am thinking about entering some competitions and it would really help if t was mobile</p>
<p>I would have to agree with the creator of this instructables. I ended up building this smoker with minor modifications, I did however use steel for the legs and a few other modifications. I would not recommend trailering this thing anywhere. We did hook mine up to a trailer and bring it somewhere for a catering event. It made the trip, but some bolts even with lock nuts loosened, and more importantly the bricks need to be reset after the trip. Not something you want to do. you want them to season and seal. <br>If you wanted to make it trailer friendly, you would need to weld this thing. Meaning also using steel legs and welding the connections. it would really sturdy this thing up and make it more resiliant to travel. <br><br>This smoker however does work amazing! I actually just smoked for 21 hours and the thing held temperature very well, every ... couple hours i would need to throw a log or two on. I've used this thing more than once, and the way i start it is to put roughly 3/4 of a charcoal chimney in the bottom barrel spread out, than 3/4 to 1 charcoal chimney that is ready to go dumped across the unlighted coals. Used this to get it to temp, and it worked well with not much fuel. Than on went the wood. And pretty much use wood after that. I did use fireplace roap around the doors, and also wrapped the connecting area with fire rope. The only thing i think i may do, is look into putting rope around the inside of the food barrel, around the 3 sides of the brick, but thats just me. <br><br>A friend and i are thinking about making a similar version with one firebarrel and two food barrels attatched at the top. </p>
<p>I've been working on this build with my dad for a few months now whenever we get a chance. We also swapped aluminum tubing for 1&quot; angle iron. We also used gasket rope for the door seals. I think we paid $10 for each 7' long kit (including epoxy) <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Rutland-96-6-Grapho-Glas-Gasket-Replacement/dp/B000KKICBY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409067139&sr=8-2&keywords=gasket+rope" rel="nofollow">HOLY MOLY THAT'S CHEAP!</a></p><p>I put a 1/2&quot;x 30&quot; axle on one side of the smoker and 4 Harbor Freight 10&quot; tires making it a dually and somewhat portable. At least one of these cheap wheels either has, or already was bent, making the roll a little wobbly.</p><p>For the flue, I used a 6&quot; stove pipe that was 8-10&quot; long. We drilled a 6&quot; hole in each barrel, ran the pipe between them, then cut slits on each end to &quot;star-burst&quot; them out against the bottom/top of the insides of the barrels. </p><p>Instead of JB Weld (with a rating of up to 500F) we used a Fireplace cement rated to 2000F. We bought 2 tubs and spread it completely over each star-burst of the flue, the chimney's star-burst and on all of the exposed stove pipe between the barrels. We used all of one tub and maybe a quarter of the second. A second application may be required after subsequent burns. I also used it around the 3 sides that the bricks touch the upper barrel. </p><p>I wasn't satisfied with how flat I could get the door scraps that were going to serve as the bracing for the upper barrel bricks. We had a friend that works in a metal shop donate a piece of 18&quot;x26.5&quot; 16 gauge steel. This is supported by 3 scrap pieces of 1&quot; angle iron at about 17&quot; a piece. This adds to this beast's already extreme heft, I imagine well over 100lbs.</p><p>We also removed all the paint on the barrels where they meet with a paint removing drill bit attachment. This task was very time consuming and forearm numbing. </p><p>We've now completed our first burn, with a fire in both chambers to set all cement and the gasket rope adhesive. We didn't have a thermometer inside because I wanted to see how sealed we can get the doors, and I haven't found a suitable silicone grommet to feed the thermometer cables into the barrel yet. Our next burn will have at least one thermometer on the cooking area, and possibly a second sitting in the flue. I've got some spare fat I trimmed from a <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/pulled-pork-recipe/" rel="nofollow">picnic</a> for our seasoning burn (before we try to cook food on it). </p><p>In close to 2 hours, our first burn completely went through 2 charcoal chimney's worth of charcoal (one in each chamber) with the doors shut, and the vent all the way open. With no thermometers installed we were definitely flying blind. I'm concerned that my top barrel isn't retaining heat well enough. My top door didn't turn out as big as I'd like it, some of it rests on the gasket rope instead of covering it. If it's a problem I may either buy or attempt to make a welding blanket, or use something like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006STT3QE/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=4RZ1PWAM6E8S&coliid=I2GMK4OD1SEK74" rel="nofollow">this</a>, although it will look dumb and probably isn't going to hold stove paint. </p>
<p>&quot;In close to 2 hours, our first burn completely went through 2 charcoal <br>chimney's worth of charcoal (one in each chamber) with the doors shut, <br>and the vent all the way open.&quot; </p><p>This actually sounds about right. If you're getting 2 hours out of a single charcoal chimney (one per) you're doing good. When I'm smoking, I'll go through a whole big bag of charcoal to do an 8-9 hour burn. (Less if I supplement with wood, obviously). </p>
<p>My doors arent closed quite as well as i would like, i can get them closed to close with the use of some c-clamps on the uprights. BUT! i've done smokes with the doors open and that top barrel really does retain heat very well, even with the door cracked. Let the smoker get up to temp, and you'll be surprised once every hour and a half or two hours i add another log or two. On a 21 hour smoke it really wasnt bad at all, every two hours, i think at one point i used a second chimney pretty far into the smoke.</p>
<p>I would only consider this if different bolts/aluminum piping were used. I think these legs are kinda pegged out at their weight limits here, but I can get away with it due to the force strictly being compressive. I think any sort of shear force (eg: the wheels get caught by a rock or something) would possibly cause the legs to buckle. Those bricks in the barrel are HEAVY. But again, if the wheels are big enough, and you use a thick/sturdy enough frame, I don't see why not.</p>
<p>I plan on starting this build as soon as I've gathered all the required pieces. I plan on buying the components in phases just to spread out the cost. Barrels first. Since I won't be buying everything at once, I'll be able to spend a little bit more than I would on 1 trip to home depot. My question is;</p><p>If you were going to build another, and buy in phases (allowing a little bit more $ to be spent, but still trying to stay cheap), would you consider using something like a 6&quot; stove pipe as a flue (like armorer243 suggested)? </p><p>Also would <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Magic-18003-QuikSteel-Temperature/dp/B0084AA2LK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1397050723&sr=8-2&keywords=high+heat+epoxy" rel="nofollow">this </a>make a better sealant to connect the stove pipe to the two barrels as a flue?</p>
<p>If I had it all to do over again (and I probably will rebuild it eventually anyway, coz I love the thing) I would make three major changes: </p><p>1.) Carefully strip / sand blast / burn / whatever every bit of paint from the barrels, and then paint with several coats of heat resistant paint after the barrels have been cut. Everywhere the paint flakes off from use, it rusts.</p><p>2.) Most definitely switch to stove pipe for the flue. The aluminum one I made just simply doesn't seal well, and I lose a good bit of temp through it. Would need a good sealant (I'm not familiar with the one you showed). </p><p>3.) Seals. Better seals everywhere. Cheaping out on the fiberglass rope was a horrible idea. </p>
<p>If you plan on using a rope for the sealant like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Rutland-96-6-Grapho-Glas-Gasket-Replacement/dp/B000KKICBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409668257&sr=8-1&keywords=grapho+glas" rel="nofollow">this</a>, I'd recommend using something other than masking tape to guard it from stove paint. The tape tried it's best to pull up the rope once it was time to remove it. I'm not sure if over spray would even be that terrible on the rope, but masking tape really made a mess of the rope at its ends. <br>This version is slightly portable, but I wouldn't want it on a trailer. I can roll it around my yard, but due to it's heft, I try not to any more than absolutely necessary.</p><p>Much props to the author, this was the best father-son project ever.</p>
<p>Seeing other people's builds makes me downright giddy. :D Especially with the changes to make it even better! Gotta get a weight for mine.</p>
<p>Seeing other people's builds makes me downright giddy. :D Especially with the changes to make it even better! Gotta get a weight for mine.</p>
<p>Thanks for the ideas. I made this with the 2 Volzang kits; door and coupler kits. I had extra parts and decided to make an open grill. I used &quot;adult erector set&quot; angles to make the legs. Then I mounted both on a trailer. They are great for events.</p>
<p>If I may ask, where did you buy the barrels for $20?</p>
<p>From a farmer a couple hours away. He was also a proported &quot;bee keeper.&quot;</p>
<p>hi. I'm in the process of building my own smoker. Can you tell me what the circumference of the barrel/drum at the rim? And at the inset? I want to insert the drum into my 22.5 inch weber grill to convert it to something resembling the weber smokey mountain. </p>
This is a very well explained instrucable for a great project. I have a few comments, however. <br> <br>First, kiln-fired clay brick certainly is being made today all over the world. <br> <br>Second, the frame appears flimsy, and liable to give way. To fix this, add X-bracing to all four sides. Also, care should be taken to assure that the smoker is level and the barrels are parallel to each other. <br> <br>Third, steel and aluminum have different coefficients of thermal expansion. This is not a great problem for anything, except the flu. between the barrels. Over time you may find a seal impossible to maintain. <br> <br>Fourth, you didn't mention if your firs food cooked in the smoker was good or bad.
<p>:D All fair questions. <br><br>1.) Yes, perhaps &quot;kiln-fired clay brick&quot; is still being made... But in the U.S., it's hard to find, and *generally* more expensive than the resin pressed, easily available stuff.<br><br>2.) While the frame does appear flimsy (a concern I was myself worried about initially) the using of the barrels themselves as support seems to have made an exceedingly strong framework. Going on a year now without the slightest bit of warping.<br><br>3.) You MAY be right there. Couldn't tell. I did such a shit job with the initial flue that it's impossible to tell if the problem is thermal expansion, or shit work.<br><br>4.) The food cooked was horrible when I first started, mostly coz I didn't know what the hell I was doing. After the first few burns, however, it moved into the &quot;OMG AMAZEBALLZ&quot; realm. The food is so good I've got neighbors wanting to use the smoker, and though we're in the middle of winter, I'll be firing it up on the first &quot;warm&quot; day we've had in awhile this weekend. It truly is amazing now that I know what I'm doing.<br><br>Thanks for the comments!</p>
Thank you very much for the write up, you have inspired me to attempt one of my own! I am making a couple changes since I have access to a welder. Just FYI, I found some 1/4" graphite gasket rope on Amazon for $10 for a 84" long rope. I will order some and use it on the doors when it comes to that point. An option for the flue between barrels is using black stove pipe. I am going to weld mine, but you could cut a hole the same diameter as the pipe, slip the pipe through the barrels, and cut the pipe so an inch or so sticks into each barrel. Then using a cutoff wheel (or other cutting tool of choice) cut slots in the stovepipe and bend the tabs over to the inside of the barrel. Then secure with rivets or screws and it should seal pretty well. I am taking that approach but welding the pipe and barrels together. I am also putting a flue in that pipe allowing a little more control if necessary. The stove pipe will cost $8 and the damper another $6. Once again, thank you very much, your write up was a lot of help!
Awesome job! I will be making this very soon
DREMMEL cutting discs! A little more time, a lot more accuracy with a much cleaner cut.
Great instructable. I was going to comment on the magnets, but saw you learned the way I tend to learn things, the hard way. One advantage of learning this way, you never forget it again. <br>One thing I liked besides the product was the goals you set out at the beginning and then plan accordingly. It made me think about a few things I am thinking of building, and changed me approach towards the project. <br>Thanks for that and the time you invested in this instructable.
LOL! I suppose that would make you the &quot;astute observer&quot; I was talking about! Thanks for the compliments!
nice instructable, and it includes a good honey story.
Excellent! Great idea, clear instructions on how to make AND how to use! And best of all, gave me some awesome ideas I will use when making my Rocket Stove styled grill! Thank you!
Using the end of your scrap barrel, you could cut out a circle just smaller than the end of your burn barrel, then just place a bolt in the center of each. Should make a good seal, don't have to try hammering the curved part super flat. And you could cut a patch open in the burn barrel then put in sections of different sized holes in the disk... even more 'fine' control of the air flow! Even if you stick with your basic method, a disk would be less likely to slip out of place, while not scratching the barrel. Definitely great plan though, much better than mine!
Thorough! Great prepper/resiliency idea! I wonder, wouldn't you get more smoking effect for your efforts by putting the inter-drum flue on the end opposite the chimney, instead of on the same side? Maybe you don't want that? <br> <br>Anyway this instructable is a keeper, thanks!
Thank you!<br><br>I opted to put the flue and the chimney on the same side because I wanted to use the bricks to spread the heat and smoke evenly. So far, it seems to work well! Particularly as the bricks get seasoned, they'll &quot;seal&quot; up even more. (See step 2, image 2.)
Good instructible, especially for those with no access to welding . I have one very important suggestion to make. <br>1. The air intake holes should be on the opposite side of the firebox to upper drum FLUE. <br>2. The chimney in the upper drum must be on the opposite side of the FLUE, or the same side as the air intake on the lower drum. <br> <br>This creates a FORCED path for the heat to stabilize, and the smoke to waft evenly over the grill on its way out. The air enters the intake, and as it heats up, it rises, and needs to find a way out. It has to travel across the firebox to get to the flue, and rise into the upper Drum and grill. This time the only way out is across the Meat/ grill to the other side, where the chimney is located, carrying all that nice smoke with it. <br> I have built many smokers and BBQ cookers in the last 40 years, and this has been the only way to get EVEN cooking, and equal smoking. <br>Happy smoking !!
Thank you for the compliments, and input! <br> <br>To your points: <br>1.) Agreed. While I didn't call this out specifically, this was definitely part of the plan. <br>2.) I actually purposely did NOT design it this way, because of the flow of the heat and smoke. The heat now gets distributed through the bricks, being routed around them, as does the smoke. The routing of the smoke also allows any ash to fall out before reaching the meat. If I didn't have the bricks in there rerouting the smoke and heat, I would definitely agree!

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