DIY Smoker Plans – How to Build a Smoker at Home! (For Beginner to Advanced)

A barbecue smoker can set you back a couple of hundred (if not a thousand) dollars.

Not ONLY is a smoker expensive, but it also requires maintenance, and you might not use it often enough to justify the price.

If you’re on a tight budget, or you just don’t feel like buying a smoker yet. You can easily make your own homemade backyard smoker with a variety of items.

We’ve put together a helpful guide that includes ten BBQ smokers you can make at home plus Ive included what recipes work well with that unit.

Read on to find out what they are, what you’ll need, some basic skills you may require, and how to build them all!

Old Fridge Smoker

A cold smoker, also known as a smoking cabinet, is an extremely useful appliance to have.

Unlike conventional smokers, cold smoking accomplishes a multitude of different tasks.

We have a simply DIY homemade cold smoker here or see below for the fridge cold smoker!

For example, not only can it be used to smoke ham, but you can use it to cold smoke cheese, jerky, and much more! On top of that, you can even utilize it as a warming rack to ensure that your food remains warm. We’ve even tried baking a cake in one of these, and it works!

Materials You Will Need

  • BBQ thermometer
  • Bolts (6 mm)
  • Iron rods
  • Nuts and washers
  • Old fridge
  • Paint
  • Silicone sealant
  • Steel sheet
  • Steep pipe (1 to 2 feet / 30 mm diameter)
  • Wine corks
  • Wooden slats

Tools needed

  • Bench vice
  • Circular cutter
  • Coping saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Hammer
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal filer
  • Screwdriver
  • Sealant gun
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife

Basic Skills Needed

You’ll need to know how to use a drill, saw, and metal filer.

Guide to Building It

Before you do anything, you’ll want to make sure that the entire fridge is clean; both inside and out.

Next, you’ll want to decide on the number and length of the shelves you’ll be installing inside.

Then, you’ll need to cut the metal rods to the appropriate size
. Then you’ll want to make and install the chimney pipe; this will let the stream of smoke escape. You’ll need to cover up any unwanted openings with sealant, as well as ensure that the fridge is fireproof.

For your convenience, you might also want to attach a temperature gauge.

Click here to view the full step-by-step guide to building your own cold smoker out of an old fridge.

Ready to start smoking brisket and pork butts like a pitmaster?
See my guide to smoking meat for beginners. After you build your smoker you’ll need it to become the best backyard cook in your city!

Build your An Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS)

A standard DIY item to make BBQ smokers out of is an old oil drum or barrel. A classic drum or barrel smoker you can buy is the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Why would you pay that much for one when you can easily make a DIY drum smoker at home for way less?

Drum smokers are fantastic because they’re generally faster at smoking meat, and they’re able to hold a lot.

People usually highly recommend smoking brisket, chicken, and ribs in BBQ drum smokers. Here’s how you can make your own ugly drum smoker from scratch!

What to Cook On It?

Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoked Brisket

Materials You Will Need

  • Baling wire
  • Ball valve
  • Bushing (½ inch)
  • Expanded steel
  • Grill lid
  • Handles
  • High-temperature paint
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Oil barrel or stainless steel drum
  • Shelf clips
  • Shelving rail
  • Smaller grill grate
  • Circular grill grate (preferably steel)
  • Washers (M20 and Fender)

Tools Needed

  • Drill
  • Drill bits

Basic Skills Needed

You will need to know how to use a drill.

Guide to Building It

Before you begin drilling any holes, you’ll want to make sure that the inside of your 55-gallon drum is completely clean.

Next, cut out the top of your drum if there is no removable cover. You’ll then want to strip off its existing paint. You can leave the barrel bare or give it a coat of heat-resistant paint.

After that, go ahead and drill a hole at the bottom of the drum and install the ball valve.

When you’re done with that, you can begin on the shelving. Follow that up with creating and inserting a charcoal basket.

Install your temperature gauge — so you can read the internal temperature — cover the barrel with the lid, and that’s it!
Here is the full guide on how to build your own UDS.

DIY Smokehouse Built from Pallets

A busted fridge or metal drum isn’t the type of ‘look’ you want your DIY smoker to have. Which is perfectly understandable! Then how about constructing a rustic-looking BBQ smoker out of wood pallets? (Not to be confused with wood pellets!)

While you shouldn’t use wood pallets to directly smoke your food. As it is treated with chemicals and will emit toxic fumes — it’s perfectly safe to make a smoker out of this material.

Sure, this has been one of the trickier DIY projects that we’ve tried out! Especially when compared to the fridge cold smoker or the ugly drum smoker.

But it’s so gratifying to turn an ordinary pile of wood pallets into something so much more!

Materials You Will Need

  • Aluminum flashing
  • Aluminum screen
  • Corrugated metal roofing (4 by 3 inches)
  • Deconstructed wooden pallets (30 pieces)
  • Door handle
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Hinges (3 pieces)
  • Outdoor screws (1¼ and 2½ inches)

Tools Needed

  • Drill bits (⅛ bit and countersink)
  • Drill gun
  • Measuring tape
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Stanley knife
  • Staple Gun
  • Table saw
  • Tin snips

Basic Skills Needed

You will need to know how to use a drill, reciprocating saw, staple gun, and table saw.

Guide to Building It

You’ll first need to cut the pallets into the desired sizes. Next, set up the foundation for your frame.

During this process, you’ll want to keep in mind that there should be a door and an angled roof.

Once you’ve installed all of the panels, then you’ll move on to inserting all of the racks inside. Before the BBQ smoker’s complete, you’ll need to line the smoke chamber with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Then cut out vent holes on the side. The finishing touch will include attaching a tin roof on top. If you’re looking to smoke large amounts of meat, this is the DIY smoker for you.

Visit this link for the complete step-by-step guide.

DIY Smoker on a Budget

If you’re really on a budget, or if you want to make a makeshift BBQ smoker for camping trips, then we’ve got you covered.

While our other suggested guides are cheap, you might not want to spend $100 on materials. Or you might not have tools like an angle grinder or a welding torch.

Don’t worry because this DIY BBQ smoker is an ingenious idea that only requires a handful of items to make.

Materials You Will Need

  • Aluminum foil
  • Aluminum trays (2)
  • Charcoal or cedar wood
  • Cooling rack

Tools Needed

  • Stanley knife

Basic Skills Needed

As long as you know how to safely use a normal Stanley knife, you can definitely give this DIY a go!

Guide to Building It

Take one of the aluminum trays and cut out two flaps on the side of it. Place in the sizeable cooking rack inside and then poke through the metal skewers on the other side of that tray.

Next, you’ll want to fold up a piece of aluminum foil to use as a divider between the skewers and the cooling rack.

Finally, you can move onto the other aluminum tray.
Cut a flap into the bottom of the tray and then use it to cover your first tray. Then all you have to do is place it on a direct heat source, or have some sort of heating element beneath it, and voilà! That’s it!

Click here to watch the entire process of how to make and use your cheap DIY BBQ smoker!

DIY Flowerpot Smoker

If you’re on a tight budget and you don’t want to handle any complicated tools, then we recommend that you try out this DIY idea.

All you need are a couple of large flower pots, as your basic materials, and you’re now ready to make your simple smoker.

You won’t need to drill any holes because most terracotta pots already come with a drainage hole at the bottom. This flower pot smoker works just as well as any other DIY smoker on this list, and the best part is that anyone can make it.

Feel free to use it to smoke pork, salmon, chicken, a beef brisket, and much more!

Materials You Will Need

  • Big terracotta pots (2)
  • Bricks (3)
  • Grill grate
  • Grill thermometer
  • Heavy-duty metal tin or circular ceramic dish
  • Hot plate or some other heat source

Tools Needed

You don’t need any special tools for this project.

Basic Skills Needed

You don’t require any special skills to make this DIY.

Guide to Building It

Start by situating the first pot onto the three bricks. You’ll then want to set the hot plate or heat source inside the pot.

You can use the hole at the base to thread through the power cord — if you’re using a hot plate.

Next, you’ll want to place in your tin/ceramic dish filled with wood chips on top of the heat source.

After that, you need to balance the grill grate so that the pot walls can suspend it. Then you can cover the entire thing with the other terracotta pot. With that, you’ve made your own budget-friendly BBQ smoker!

Please click this link for a thorough step-by-step guide.

DIY Filing Cabinet Smoker

Every business office clears out their old items from time to time. And amongst the items that get thrown out, you are guaranteed to find an unwanted filing cabinet.

If you find yourself with an old filing cabinet, take the opportunity to try your hand at making this simple DIY filing cabinet smoker.

The pre-installed drawers mean that you won’t have to worry about making any shelves for your smoker.
Your only challenge will be searching for the perfect-sized grill grate to place inside.

Materials You Will Need

  • Grill thermometer
  • Metal filing cabinet (one that has multiple drawers)
  • Metal hinges
  • Propane burner
  • Rectangular grill grates
  • Water pan
  • Tools Needed
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Sand paper or scouring pads

Basic Skills Needed

You need to know how to use a drill.

Guide to Building It

We think that this might simply be one of the easiest DIY smokers to put together. All you’ll need to do is sand off any existing paint, as it’ll be toxic to inhale once you introduce it to heat, and then drill in a few holes for ventilation.

With that said, we understand that you’ll probably like to check out the detailed instructions behind building this smoker. Please click this link to read the in-depth guide.

Cinder Block Smokehouse

If you don’t want to deal with any drills or pesky drill bits, but the flower pot smoker is a little too simple for your tastes, then check out this DIY cinder block smokehouse idea!

While it looks expensive, cinder blocks are reasonably cheap to buy. If you’ve got some basic bricklaying skills, then we’d recommend that you try making this DIY smoker.

Materials You Will Need

  • 48-inch flat metal bars (4)
  • Bricks (25)
  • Cinder blocks (45)
  • Metal grates (2)
  • Metal sheet
  • Plywood

Tools Needed

No special tools are required.

Basic Skills Needed

You will need basic bricklaying skills.

Guide to Building It

Jirby BBQ has an excellent step-by-step video that walks you through the process of constructing your own cinderblock BBQ smoker.

Propane Tank Smoker

DIY Propane Tank Smoker

Empty propane tanks aren’t the easiest to dispose of. So, why not breathe new life into the old thing by transforming it into your very own BBQ smoker?

If you’re comfortable with using an angle grinder and a welding torch, then this is the DIY for you. Depending on the size and length of your propane tank, you can fit in quite a lot of cuts of meat in there to smoke.

Materials You Will Need

  • Empty propane tank
  • Steel box sections or smaller gas tank
  • Steel pipe
  • Steel sheets
  • Circular metal grate or clean grill grates

Tools Needed

  • Angle grinder
  • Metalworking lathe
  • Drill
  • Pivot drill bit
  • Steel bench vise
  • Welding torch

Basic Skills Needed

You will need to know how to use an angle grinder, bench vise, drill, metalworking lathe, and welding torch.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making this DIY is to ensure that the tank is empty before beginning anything.

After that, you’ll want to be wearing work gloves through the entire process. You certainly do not want to cut yourself on the sharp metal edges.

Guide to Building It

Please watch this video for the complete step-by-step guide on how to turn an old propane tank into a BBQ smoker.

Trash Can Smoker

If you have about $50 or $60 to spare, how about creating a trash can smoker. Don’t judge this DIY because it involves a trash can. It’s really not gross.

Just make sure that you clean it before you begin with the process — or you could always opt for buying a new one, as they’re so inexpensive.

One thing’s for sure. It’ll show how thrifty and creative you are!

Materials You Will Need

  • Aluminum foil tape
  • Aluminum foil pans
  • Charcoal grate
  • Grill thermometer
  • Latch and hinge
  • Metal washers
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Tin cans
  • Trash can (with the lid)

Tools Needed

  • Angle Grinder
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Hacksaw
  • Hammer
  • Ruler
  • Screwdriver
  • Tin snips
  • Wrench

Basic Skills Needed

You will need to know how to use a drill and a hacksaw.

Guide to Building It

Firstly, you should cut a rectangle near the bottom part of the metal trash can.

This opening will allow you to safely and easily access the heat source. You’ll also use the latch and hinges to make it a functioning door. Using the six-inch hex bolts, you’re going to have 4 of them poking through the trash cash.

These will help support the charcoal grate that’ll hold and suspend your meats. For finishing touches, you’ll want to install your temperature gauge and tin can vents.

For the complete comprehensive DIY trash can smoker guide, click here.

Have Fun DIY-ing a BBQ Smoker

As you can see, you don’t have to break the bank to own a backyard BBQ smoker.

These DIY guides show that you can make your own smoker out of old or unwanted items! Such as filing cabinets, flower pots, or even a worn-out fridge.

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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