DIY Smoker Build


SatelliteGuys Master
Original poster
Feb 16, 2006
As many of you know, I was looking at purchasing a second smoker after not having enough room during our Easter smoke. I did much research and decided to give building a smoker a try. I decided that I was going to do a UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker). I was able to pick up the drum attached locally from a drum manufacture. I know that I could have gotten some cheeper off of craigslist but I wanted to make sure that I knew what the drum was used for. I also figured that since this was going to be for me, I wanted to make sure that it was built well and would last for many years.

The design of the smoker is completed. The theme is going to be the Columbus Blue Jackets. It is going to be painted blue, red and white with their logo on the front of the smoker. Even though "ugly" is in the name of the smoker, I am hoping that it looks very nice in the end. I also figure that if this project goes well, I might make building these as a hobby that self funds itself.

Step one in my build was to purchase most of my accessories. The grill will have three grates, with two being used for cooking and the third to hold a water pan (if needed) or a drip pan. I have also found a local iron company that is putting together a charcoal basket for me real cheep (pickup on Tuesday). I have never welded and do not know anybody that has one handy so this was the easiest way to get one welded up for me.

Step two was to prepare the drum. I have a propane torch that hooks up to your propane tank from the grill. I used this to burn out the inside of the drum. I wanted to build a big fire but being in the city, I did not want to risk a nice ticket for burning. The torch was fun to use but I did get carried away a little with it. During the process, I did notice that I burned some of the hair off of my arm. Nothing else was burned but there is a nice patch of hair missing right now. :eek:

I wanted to take it out this weekend and prime the drum but the wind prevented me from doing that. I need to have it primed before I start drilling the holes that are needed. I figure that I should measure twice and drill once so I need to be able to mark the drum. Being that it is black marking it is a bit difficult. The holes that need drilled will be used for the air intake. I am going to drill four holes and then place 3/4" pipe nipples into them. Three of the holes will then be capped of and the 4th will have a gas control nob installed. This will allow the regulation of air flow. The top of the tank will have a 2" OD smoke stack installed.

Next step is to also find a good thermometer for the smoker. I drove to a few grill speciality stores as well as the local big box stores but nobody had a thermometer that I liked. I need to get two ordered online so they get here over the next week or two. I will be installing one right below the bottom grate and the second one on the cover. It will also have a couple of access holes for a couple of remote thermometer's to keep an active eye on the meat temperature.

There is where the project stands right now. Sometime this week when the wind dies down, I will do one more burn out with the torch and then prime the tank. I will include photo's and updates through out the project.


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Will you need to use special paint and primer, due to the heat?

From all of the reading I have done, it doesn't make a difference on the paint since the smoker will never get that hot. Now if I was going to grill on it as well then it would need to have high temp paint. I figure since the paint did not cost much it would be worth a shot. At worse case, I will need to use auto engine paint which is available in many different colors.
How are you side firing this (cool / cold smoke) or are you going from directly below (warm smoke)? How will you control that direct heat contact if coming from below?

I have done a few DIY smokers, such as a chest freezer and a cardboard box (YEP) but the trick to the best smoke is always side fired as opposed to directly from underneath.
My first attempt will be from directly below (warm smoke). I am working on what I will do for the direct heat control. Most likely I will be stealing ideas from other vertical smokers. The biggest piece to this will be air intake control. Keep the fire burning at a lower temp will be key. For this attempt think of many of the other vertical smokers on the market such as the WSM.
Thanks. You will get a lot of use out of it. I did almost 40 lbs of pork butt on it. That thing held a temp range between 250-270 the whole time. Your drum actually looks like a thicker type than mine, so it should do great. Let me know if you need any help. Glad to lend a hand (keyboard)
The start of the charcoal basket.


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stimpson said:
Looking good so far. What do you plan to use to pull the basket out of the drum? Or are you going to do it by hand after it cools down?

Slow down there mister. ;)

This is a fly by the seat of your pants build and I have no thought that far yet. :D

Most likely I will make a hook to pull the basket out.

SourDough...! A Sad Passing...!


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