Barbecue transcends just being a type of food that happens to taste good. It is an art form that has become ingrained in American culture, and it is here to stay. Whether you’re grilling for the kids on a Saturday afternoon or opening up your first barbecue shack, you’re going to need good equipment.
Offset smokers have changed the barbecue game. This “grilling” technology has introduced a whole new quality of meat flavor and consistency that’s virtually unmatched elsewhere.
The simple act of providing dinner for the family has evolved into a redefined craft for the meal giver. Before you know it, quick twenty-meals over the stovetop turn into four hour-long smoke sessions. You begin to feel accomplished for experimenting with new seasonings and flavors, and “compliments to the chef” become a new form of respect.
So you’ve heard how powerful introducing a smoker into your cooking arsenal is? That’s great!
You’ve had enough of cheap offset smokers breaking down and want to build your own from scratch? That’s also great!
This guide will provide you with the answers that you need to build an offset smoker. Let’s begin!
How to Build an Offset Smoker
Before we get too deep into the details, you will need some integral parts of the offset smoker you would like to build.
All of the following parts are necessary to have in your building process:
- Cooking chamber (Any type of tank is really fine!)
- Baffle plate
- Some angled iron for the frame
- Vents (Have both bolts and sheet metal)
- Four casters
- Grill thermometer
- High-heating Paint of your choice
- Expanded Metal for a fire basket and cooking grate
- Two wooden handles (preferably reinforced with aluminum)
- Cooking shelf
- Four wheels
Additionally, you’re going to need tools to operate that will allow you to build the smoker from scratch. Please have the following items on standby and ready to go:
- Welding device
- Mini-Grinder (with both Grinding and Cutting Discs)
- Solo pliers
- Chipping hammer
- Wire brush
- Tape measure and a marker
- An emphasis on safety equipment (including a welding shield, welding gloves, safety glasses, and a proper face shield)
Keep in mind, welding is an essential part of building an offset smoker. Welding is also a legitimate trade that some people spend their entire life doing, so naturally they become experts. You do not need to be a certified expert to successfully weld.
Consider purchasing a wire-feed welder (we recommend using SUNGOLD as they are known for their quality and efficiency) if you are new. With a beginner tutorial and some practice on spare metal, you should be nearly proficient enough within a few hours!
Just remember to practice best safety techniques, and do not come in contact with any heated surfaces or conductors.
As always, for our more visual learners, we have found a great video that demonstrates the entire build process from start to finish!
Now that all of that is out of the way and has been clarified, let’s start outlining the exact steps of assembly!
Step 1. Build the frame of the offset smoker
The most important step in any journey is establishing a strong foundation. You absolutely must make sure that the base of the offset smoker is attached flawlessly. The last thing you would want is an accident to happen while the smoker is live, active, and scorching.
Start by welding the legs onto the base, or the cooking chamber, so that the offset smoker can stand up on its own. Once standing, proceed to attach braces between each set of legs to add additional reinforcement to the smoker’s foundation.
The final parts that you will need to add to the smoker’s overall frame itself are your wheels and casters. Casters are important because they will determine the ability that your smoker has to roll around on its wheels. Assemble these parts by installing the wheels and casters directly to the legs of the smoker.
Test the mobility of the offset smoker by moving it very around gently in your general vicinity. If you have combined all parts together successfully, then there should be no problem attempting to transport the smoker anywhere! Lock the casters after you are done testing the wheels so that the wheels do not move.
Let’s continue making great progress!
Step 2. Create the door to the cooking chamber
The cooking chamber is where all the magic happens, so you need to make sure that the door is on properly and is easily accessible.
Grab your mini grinder and add a cutting disc to it, then set it aside for the moment. Measure out the desired dimensions of the smoker’s door that you would like to have as an opening, and illustrate this by using a marker.
Now, pick up your mini grinder and slice the cooking chamber open until you have harvested the metal for the door. At this point, (since you have measured beforehand to ensure the length matches the smoker), you can attach the wooden handle. The wooden handle should be long enough to eliminate difficulty opening the door.
Give the handle a light tug to test the sturdiness of it. Once it passes this test, you are good to set the door aside momentarily.
Step 3. Attach the firebox to the cooking chamber
For this step, you may need to create an opening on the side of the cooking chamber if there is not one already. The firebox needs to be attached directly to an entrance to the chamber, because the wood will be burned there. Smoke from this section will then transfer into the cooking chamber, and get released through the chimney.
Take your trusty mini grinder once more and cut a passageway for your firebox to connect. Remember, you’re going to attach these two sections together, so the length of the chamber opening must match that of the firebox.
After this action is completed, proceed to weld these two components together to make one. We suggest creating a plate with bolts fit to the cooking chamber to provide extra stability in the firebox’s function.
Use the same method that you created a door for the cooking chamber to create a door for the firebox. Wood goes in here to get burned, so it’s important that the heat created is sealed tightly, and travels effectively throughout the entire system.
Step 4. Add the baffle plate, cooking shelf, and chimney to the smoker
If you’ve seen how an offset smoker looks before, then you’ve definitely seen where the meat goes within the contraption. That area is called the cooking shelf. Below this section is where you typically find the baffle plate.
The job of the baffle plate is to filter direct heat away from the food that you are cooking, and to only allow radiant heat to pass through. This will protect your food from becoming overdone, a situation nobody likes to find themselves in.
Take both your baffle plate and your cooking shelf and truncate both until they fit comfortably inside of the cooking chamber. Apply a bit of pressure to the cooking shelf, and you should be fine if it passes again.
Following suit of the firebox, you’re going to want to do the same thing for the chimney (or smokestack) and designate a space for it. Cut out a hole for the smoke stack and weld this section to the smoker itself.
Step 5: Attach doors to the remaining gaps in the smoker
Now that the heavy-lifting has been completed, the last thing that you need to add is the door to the cooking chamber. With the angled hinges that you have, align the longer “L” shapes inward toward one another, and weld them onto the door. This will allow for flexibility in opening the door easily, so you should have no problem if done correctly!
Apply the same tactic to the firebox, and use the rest of the angled iron that you have left to attach the door to the box.
Test out each section to ensure that all parts are working correctly, and congratulations!
You have now learned how to build an offset smoker!
We hope that this guide on how to build an offset smoker has been extremely informative and solved all problems you were having!
Please share any and all experiences you have had building an offset smoker, we love to see people succeed!
Still having trouble with the steps required? Nothing to be ashamed of! Eliminate the labor involved by reading our best offset smokers review and find something you like!
Thank you for your time! Happy smoking!