How To Build A Meat Smoker

One rite of passage, for any man, is the ability to go out in the yard and grill or smoke a meal for your friends and family. Grilling can be done on any level, but smoking takes special abilities and patience. Simply knowing how to smoke your food is not enough. A good smoker is in order and building one on a budget will give you back that smoking freedom. With the following steps you will have the skills to build a meat smoker, and build it on the cheap.

What you need to build a meat smoker:

  •  A 20 to 31 gallon galvanized metal trash can, with lid
  • 1 bag of sand
  • 1 grill/grate big enough to fit in can just above the bottom
  • 1 grill/grate big enough to fit just below the top of the can
  • Charcoal
  • Wood chunks (apple, peach, pecan, or any other wood you like for smoking)
  • A barbecue thermometer (giving you degrees)
  • Drill with drill bits in various sizes
  • Meat thermometer
  • Safety glasses

How to build a meat smoker:

  1. Put on your safety glasses any time you are drilling or modifying the trash can. Also protect your eyes when adding charcoal or wood to the smoker during the smoking process.
  2. On the outside of the can, mark a line all the way around about three inches up from the (inside) bottom. Use the line as your center point for drilling. Drill ½ inch holes in the can, using the line for your center mark. You just need enough holes around the can to allow a good 360 degree vent for the charcoal. In the lid, drill three ½ inch holes on one side. Using the appropriate drill bit size to drill for the grill thermometer on the other side of the lid and mount it.
  3. Fill the can with the sand. You want to stop just below the bottom of the holes previously drill in the bottom of the can. The sand serves two purposes: (1) Acts as a weight for the can to prevent tipping while full of meat and hot coals (2) Acts as an insulator against the high heats when grilling or smoking. The sand insulates the bottom against high-heat warping and keeps the hot coals off the metal.
  4. Place in the smaller grill/grate and it should rest just above the holes you drilled around the bottom of the can. This grill/grate is where the charcoal and wood chunks will be placed during grilling or smoking. Put in the charcoal or wood and bring your new smoker up to temperature. Add the wood chunks and begin the smoking process.
  5. Place in your larger grill/grate, put on the meat, cover with the new smoker lid and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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