Introduction: "The Jerky Making Machine" - a Low Heat Meat Drying Oven


This is the first of (hopefully) many instructables made by the crew of "the boys house" wich is a 90 square meter garage that 10 guys are renting together to make stuff, cook stuff, brew stuff and fix stuff.

In this instructable I will be showing you how we modded a refrigerator into a jerky making machine, or a low heat meat drying oven.

Step 1: The Fail

We went to a flea market and found this crazy looking thing (pictured) the flavor wave oven delux, a quick google found a video of Mr.T who endorses this oven, competing with george forman.

Anyway we "had to" use it so a long story short,,,  we stripped the fridge of everything, the motor in the back, the plastic from inside the door and all wires except the ones going to the lightbulb inside the fridge.

Drilled, and hacked our way through the top of the fridge, and through the freezer box, put this amazing oven thing on the top.  stuck a thermometer in the fridge, it produced a great amount of heat,  we celebrated too soon, opened a few beers and got some meat and made jerky,,  the jerky tasted awesome, but the freezer compartment melted badly,,, FAIL   

back to the drawing board.


Step 2: What You Need...

A fridge = free if you hunt around
A jig saw =   its pictured :)
A drill =  and a few drill bits  for various tasks
A Leatherman = a must for all jobs
A space heater = small floor type
A few beers = if you are of age
A few long electric wires
A Thermometer = good if it records highs and lows
and probably a few more things that will be in the steps later on

Step 3: Strip the Fridge

I dont have allot of pictures but its pretty simple

take the motor out and the big metal sheet (freon pipe thingamajig)  at the back of the fridge, take the crisper shelves and basicly everything that makes it a fridge.

keep the shelves.

I took the plastic shelving/eggcrate out of the inside of the door "just nicer that way"

all you should have left is a big white box, and two wires running from the light inside the fridge  (they should stick out the bottom where the motor used to be)

Step 4: Saw a Big Hole

saw a big hole in the top of the fridge and the bottom of the freezer compartment (if there is one) 

next saw a hole (the size of your space heater) in the back of the fridge as close to the bottom as possible,   my fridge had a small space where the motor used to be, so I found it nice to put it into that space.

then you should get some caulk,,,errr,,, cauck,, uuh,,,, cock.. however you spell it its the white stuff that comes in a tube,      spread it over the cuts in the fridge, because you will be eating whats in the fridge,, witch means you don´t want any open cuts on the plastic...

Step 5: Take the Space Heater Apart (optional)

(completely optional)
and not pictured at all, but farely easy.
take the space heater apart and extend all the wires running from the Controls to the heater itself, fit the controlls in a small electronics box witch you can get from any radio shack or similar store.
have the wires long enough to reach the place where you want the controls,  I put the controls in the door. it looks cool  but completely unneccesery  because you can access the controls in the bottom of the fridge.

Step 6:

next you should fit the space heater in the hole we cut before, and then caulk,,callk,,,cock,,chaullk     put the white stuff around it sealing it and holding it, but dont worry about making it air tight, just make sure it stays in its place,,

Step 7: Optional But Fun...

cut the power cord running from the heater, get the wires running from the light in the fridge, use a plastic connector  (pictured)   to join the positive wires running from the space heater and the fridge light bulb to the power cord.   do the same with the negative and ground if needed, tape it all up and "voila"...

Step 8:

this is what it should look like when you are finished...

the heater at the bottom blows air and heat from the bottom out of the holes in the top, (you may want to put mouse wire on the top hole to keep insects and well,,, animals out of your jerky depending on where you live..)     experiment with heat, low heat works best but takes the most time, we put a thermometer inside, now we are getting closer and closer to finding the sweet spot on the space heater,,,  every heater and fridge will be different, have fun finding yours.

we are currently developing a rod system to hang our meat on inside the fridge, but right now we are still using the shelves from the fridge....

"the jerky maker masheen" makes jerky in 7-8 hours depending on how thick you cut the strips and how much heat you set it on...

Step 9: One More Thing,,,,

what dries jerky the best is air flow, not really heat, so the next thing we plan to do is to put a fan inside the freezer box, blowing outwards sucking humid air from the meat and blowing it out,  we haven´t done this yet, but when we do we will put a picture here,,,

but the plan is to run that off the same electricity as the bulb and the heater run off, without the wires showing and being able to control the speed of the fan from our control unit,,, 

so figure it out for yourself,,, or wait till we teach ya...