Many professional and competition barbecue cooks make their own smokers to fit their own needs and style. You can make your own customized barbecue smoker from an old air tank, but you need welding equipment and skills. And you'll need to find an air tank, preferably a large one. Check contractors who use compressed air tools to find a used one. You can get ideas for your smoker by looking at commercial models at home improvement stores. All smokers need a firebox, a smoking chamber with a grate and an effective airflow connecting them.
Things You'll Need
- Welding equipment
- Air tank
- Angle irons or reinforcing bars
- Hinges for doors
- Door handles
- Stove pipe
Turn your air tank sideways and cut off one end with a cutting torch. Then cut two doors in the top, one for the firebox and one for the smoker, each door covering about half the tank length. Weld hinges to hold each door and weld on a handle. Weld a sheet metal baffle halfway down the tank, open on the bottom to allow smoke from the firebox to get into the cooking chamber. You can use part of the cut-off end for this. Make legs from angle irons -- weld a rectangular frame with diagonal braces on the legs, then weld the tank to the frame.
Weld angle iron lips around the cooking chamber to hold a grate; put a second set below these to hold a water pan if you want a water smoker. Then install or build a grate -- you can make one out of reinforcing bar or other rods. It will fit at the top of the cooking chamber. Add a grate for your charcoal or wood in the firebox for easy cleaning. You can use a fireplace type or weld one from angle irons.
Finish your horizontal air tank smoker by cutting an exhaust hole in the closed end and welding in a smokestack. You can use stove pipe or similar pipe. Install a damper in the pipe -- cut a round piece of sheet metal to fit in the pipe, then weld it to a bar and fasten it through the stack so it can rotate to open or close the flow of air. This will let you better control the heat and smoke in your cooking chamber.
Make a vertical air tank smoker by cutting off one end and welding angle iron legs to support it. Then cut off the top and either fasten it with hinges or make a lip for it to sit on the tank. Next weld three supports near the bottom of the tank to hold a fire pan -- you can use a galvanized wash pan. Your wood or charcoal will burn in this. Add a second level of supports just above the fire pan if you want a water pan. Weld lip supports around the top of the tank to hold a grate -- it's best to buy a round grate to fit the tank.
Finish your vertical air tank smoker by cutting a door to allow feeding of fuel to the fire pan and attaching it with welded, bolted or riveted hinges. Add a latch to close it. This door just needs to be big enough to allow you to add charcoal, hickory chunks or other fuel. Also add a vent to the top -- cut a hole and a cover for it, then fasten the cover with a bolt and washers so it can be easily opened or closed.
Tips & Warnings
- Be cautious using welding or cutting torches and wear protective gear.
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