Big Smokey BBQ
Big Smokey BBQ

I saw this type of smoker used on an episode of the All-Star BBQ Showdown. It looked pretty impressive, so I had to find out more. I came across this great website with step-by-step instructions on how to build your own “Big Smokey” for just a few bucks. It actually looks pretty easy.

Get the plans.

…also check out other BBQ smokers here

13 Comments

  1. tazz
    September 3, 2006

    That is a great looking grill and I am probably going to build one this fall,but I have a suggestion that might improve your design a little bit.I think that if you were to incorperate some type of water tray in the cooking chamber,you would be abel to keep your beef and ribs along with poultry more moist.
    Also I wanted to ask about how you cleaned up the ashes and the meat drippings,and if you had a grate under your coals in the fire box? I like the use of fire bricks in the fire box.I have never seen that done in a cooker.I am from South Carolina and we cook a lot of pig down here and this design looks like it will be a real winner,Thanks,TAZZ

    Reply
  2. CeCe
    June 12, 2007

    My husband has one of these smokers and it is on its last bbq, do you know how I can purchase one of these? I would like to give it for Father’s Day.

    Thanks,
    CeCe

    Reply
    • Troy
      November 10, 2011

      I build these kind oi f grills n many more. Let me know if you need one built.

      Reply
  3. octaco
    March 11, 2009

    It doesn’t look too hard to make. The trick is what to make the barrels out of. Barrels to tar your roof, the 30 gallon size would do.

    Reply
  4. Drooper
    December 11, 2009

    Hello, great smoker! I have a couple of questions for you.Why use the two flues from the bottom barrel? Could you just use the regular double barrel set up with the flues on opposite ends of the barrels and get better heat and smoke transfer? My friend and I really want to build one of these!

    Reply
  5. Michael
    January 14, 2010

    I built one of these a decade ago and loved it. Made great food!! Unfortunatley it died an ignoble death. Just today I brought home 2 new barrels to create the next generation. I use two 55 gal drums. Suggestions for cleaning: You’ll want them to be paint free on the outside. This avoids introducing chemical toxins to your food. It also allows you to recover them with high temp grill paint. Last time I cleaned the barrels with a 4.5” angle grinder and a wire brush. You could also use a wire brush on an electric drill. This time I sand blasted them. Done in 15 minutes! If you don’t have a sand blaster check in an industrial area close to you. A lot of businesses have items clean via sand- or bead blasting.

    You will also want them clean on the inside. Last time (the barrels had contained bulk glue) I took the lids off, turned them upright, and burned them out. CAUTION: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BURNING –don’t BBQ yourself!! This time I paid more attention to the barrels I was buying. The one blasted and brought home today contained dehydrated dairy products. Much easier to clean and no toxin dangers.

    In answer to the question above about why there are two pipes, I used the two with dampers in them to control how hot I allowed the upper barrel to get. Mine had a thermometer in each side of the upper barrel. When I put the meat on one side only, I was able to control the amount of heat/smoke that went to it.
    I recommend installing bricks or a grid in the bottom of the fire barrel. Makes for a better fire and for less rust in the bottom of the barrel.

    I also recommend installing a second fire door on the back side of the fire barrel. The cross draft will allow your fire to get going quicker, and makes for easier cleaning (you don’t have to reach all the way in from one side to the other to get the ash out). If you make the back door one that slides up and down it will allow you to control airflow to vary the temps.

    Hope that helps someone. Nothing like doing it once to think of ways to improve it. Oh, and by all means put a rack on the front. You’ll love it. Happy smoking!

    If you’ve never tasted it, try mulberry wood.

    Reply
  6. willie
    March 4, 2010

    it looks like everyone is putting the exhaust stacks ABOVE the food grate and the plans show installing it under the grate????which is better??? does it matter?? thank you for your time

    Reply
    • Raul Vallejo
      June 21, 2011

      It is best to place the exhaust stacks BELOW the food racks. It makes a big difference. When heat and smoke build within the pit, the smoke creates a stacking effect. Thus the smoke and heat will be more evenly delivered to the meat before billowing out the stacks. I learned this from an old Fire Fighter Captain, who was a old welder too. He works a part time job as a Welder and made many pits. With his experience and having watched him cook for the Firehouse, I believe he has the right idea.

      Reply
  7. chris
    May 18, 2010

    I believe the reason the exhaust should be under the food grate is because heat rises, so the smoke would have to go to the top of the barrel and then fall to exit the exhaust. this would give a better result.

    Reply
    • KENNY J
      May 16, 2011

      You need to get your smoke flow out as easy as you can. If it is allowed to linger, you will start to build up creosote which really affects the taste of the meat.

      Reply
  8. Henry
    May 24, 2010

    I have just acquired a couple of barrels in very good condition and ordered the double barrel kit from Northline Express. Will post notes on progress and pit-falls in the next two weeks. Using plans from the following:
    http://www.thesmokering.com/pits/metalpit/bigbaby/default.jsp

    Reply
  9. Just a BBQ guy
    September 24, 2010

    couple of things. Do put plate steel or fire brick in the bottom of the fire barrel. It will help maintain temp and save the barel from rust out.
    – clean the ashes out after every fire. Wet ash makes lye which is corrosive.
    – For BBQ, the exit vent should be slightly above the meat to allow the smoke to escape. Having smoke attach to meat is like rubbing your meat with an ashtray.
    – I would *think* that a single flue in the center would be better as there is less to construct and maintain. But perhaps making it larger would be good in that case. A square flue might also be easier to make a flap/valve for (?). Mainly I say this because the fire barrel is likely to deteriorate much faster than the “food barrel”. One flue makes it easier to replace the bottom barrel.
    -Lastly, it seems that a half-barrel firebox would be more replaceable. Also, a 55 gallon burn barrel seems to be overkill, IMHO. You could cut one, mount on a single center flue, and save the other half for a replacement burn box in about 3-4 yrs.

    Reply
  10. Terri
    October 12, 2010

    I have an old cast iron wood stove that I’m thinking of using as the firebox & I’m thinking maybe adding a metal can of some sort on top, with maybe a hinged door opening. I wonder if something like that would work.

    Reply

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