Old 12-07-05, 03:39 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: kansas city MO
Posts: 103

Just ate some of my first batch of homemade smoked venison sausage - great. I used a borrowed electric smoker, no controls, and a lot of my time was spent opening and shutting the door to try to regulate the temperature. I'm sure I can build a bigger, better, easier to use smoker for less than this little thing cost - but why re-invent the wheel?

Has anyone here built their own smoker? What does and doesn't work? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 12-07-05, 04:44 PM
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Wasn't able to spend much time hunting this year and just made a batch of sausage with last years kill.
I've about had it though with the uneven cooking temperatures in the smoker I have now and have been planning a new one for a long time.

The problem with bought smokers is the fact that the less you pay for them, the more you have to fool around to get everything just right.
Because I'm fairly lazy and have easy access to used electrical components The smoker I am planning will almost look after itself.
I just luckily scored a used thermostat from an old boiler controller that operates from 100 degF to 250 degF!

Right now I am using a Brinkman Smok'n-Pit that I modified by using a hotplate and pan to generate the smoke and an electric element controlled by a thermostat to cook the meat.
The problem with this set-up is the fact that because the shape is tubular it is hard to make the heat even, even with baffles over the element.

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This is along the lines of what I will build:

Click image:
<img src=" ">
Image credit:

I will have a separate smoke chamber with an electric element and fan in the food compartment for even cooking.
It will be smaller than the one shown because I would rather make up smaller batches so the sausage could be eaten fresh.
Check out the site for ideas and just do a search for others that offer smokers.

One thing I would recommend you get is a book called "Great Sausage Recipes And Meat Curing" by Rytek Kutas.
There are many recipes in it but even better is a lot of discussion on sausage making theory that gives you a good understanding of the whole sausage making subject.
The site I linked to has it but you can get it at many places.
Old 12-08-05, 03:56 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: kansas city MO
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My brother-in-law has a 6'x6'x8' tin shed, with tin roof and dirt floor. He builds a smoky fire on the floor and smokes turkeys and salt cured hams w/o any problems. Some people in town (from Bosnia) have a similar size shed made out of flake board, with a separate fire box outside, which pipes the smoke into the shed - makes great stuff, but only works during winter months. Professional models have insulated walls, and thermostatically controlled heating elements, and hefty price tags.

Looking at some of the pro models, I recognize heating elements that are very similar the the oven heaters in common electric cook stoves, and smoke generators that are identical to the range top burners. I'm sure that I could take the burner and oven element, along with the control switches and thermostat, and construct a reasonably priced smoker that would work in any weather, and be fairly easy to control.

I'm thinking of an insulated plywood box, with a large cookie sheet on the floor, which would support an oven heater and a burner. The oven thermostat would be mounted about 6" up from the oven element, and all the electrical controls would be mounted outside the box. A hole about half way up would accomodate a probe thermometer, and holes at the top and bottom would regulate the smoke. A cast iron skillet with the handle removed would hold the wood chips as they smoked.

Such a contraption would be easy to construct, inexpensive, and would last until I am able to fabricate one from stainless steel. It would also demonstrate what works and what doesn't, which would let me fine tune a stainless model.
Old 12-08-05, 08:02 PM
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Yes, that's the idea.

My thoughts are that if the smoke generating chamber were insulated from the cooking chamber, and a separate thermostatically controlled heater was in the cooking compartment, temperature control would be better.
I'm already using a single burner hot plate for the smoke generation and it works fine.

Only thing to consider is that an oven element is 240 volts and might be a pain to have to find high voltage to run it.
Old 12-09-05, 11:45 AM
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The voltage diff might make it easier. Most of the recipes I've looked at so far call for 180F to 195F max. A 500 Watt , 240 volt element would only have 125 Watts at 120 volts. The question I haven't considered yet is the type of thermostat used, and whether or not a voltage difference would effect it, and if so, how.

I've made arrangements to gather up some fixin's, and as soon as the weather permits, I can begin to measure and experiment.
Old 12-09-05, 06:34 PM
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When you smoke sausage the skin should be dry before you apply the smoke because if the skin is wet it acts as a barrier to smoke penetration.
To dry the sausage you can either hang it at room temperature untill you can see that is dry.
What I like to do is use the smoker to dry the sausage by setting the cabinet temp to around 120 degF which dries it much quicker than at room temp.
I will usually smoke at around 160 degF to make sure the fat does not melt and make the skin greasy.
The reason I want the ability to achieve 225 degF is because this is the best temp to slow cook smoked brisket.
Two hours of smoke and six or more hours at 225 make for one heck of a mouth waterer.

As far as using 125 watts I'm afraid that won't be near enough.
You have to consider that even if you insulate the enclosure you will need to have an opening on the bottom and the top in order for the smoke to pass over the meat and out of the smoker.
It is important that the smoke is generated and then leaves the smoker because if it is trapped in the enclosure you will get a bitter product.
A suggestion is to look for an appliance that has a 1500 watt element you can rob.
I picked up at a yard sale a two burner 120 volt hot plate that I'm going to play with.
I may use the small burner to heat the cast iron pan to generate smoke and then connect a thermostat to the larger element for the heat.

The thermostat might be the tricky part for you.
Your best bet is to go with an oven thermostat.
The voltage will not make any difference with this type of control.
Old 12-10-05, 09:15 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: kansas city MO
Posts: 103
I was only using 500 watts as an example, to demonstrate the "I squared R" relationship. My plan is to use the baking element of an electric stove for the initial drying, but so far, I don't know what the rating is. For sure, I intend to have regulated inlets and outlets for the smoke.

My first batch came out pretty good, considering the goat rope involved in regulating the temperature. (My wife checked on it for me once, and said it didn't look like much smoke was coming out. When I went to investigate, the chips had dried out and were on fire!) I'm going to do another batch today, but this time I'll know a little more about what I'm doing.
Old 06-17-07, 07:16 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1

You may wish to try a terra cotta smoker. Build it yourself from two flower pots, a single byrner electric hotplate, a heavy aluminum or steel pie pan, and a round replacement grill grate.

The base flour pot should be 14 in to 16 in in dia at top and big enough at bottom to allow the hot plate to set on the bottom with plug out the drain hole.

The main pot should br about 16 in. high and tapered to the bottom. The second pot should be bowl shaped with a diameter ot set inverted on the first pot. Use the drain hole in the top to insert a replacement grill thermometer for Temp. monitoring.

Oh I forgot 3 bricks to set the unit on while smoking your product.

There are details and a picture of the assembly in Alton Brown's book "I'm Just Here For The Food"

I am now collecting parts to build one. In my area it is hardest to find the bowl flower pot for the cover.


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