how to build an offset smoker

Last Updated on: 20th April 2023, 08:46 pm

Building your own offset smoker can be satisfactory and inexpensive at the same time . But you may get overwhelmed while building your offset smoker for the first time.

In this article we will explain how you can build your offset smoker without any technical expertise. Let’s get started

how to build an offset smoker

Building your offset smoker is not that complex if you follow some guidelines and make sure you don’t go off the track. Here is the step by step guide to build your offset smoker at home.

Gather all the components

To start the process of building your offset smoker, first you should make sure that you have gathered all the supplies needed during the process.

The basic build of an offset smoker consists of a smoking chamber, firebox and a frame.

The smoking chamber is used to cook food while the firebox is used for burning fire. The firebox and smoking chamber are connected with each other carefully.

They are connected in such a way that the food does not come in direct contact with heat and is smoked indirectly. The frame is used to support the main device.

The first thing you should make sure to have is the barrels or a sheet of steel. These are used to make the firebox and smoking chamber of a smoker.

if you are planning to use any used barrel then make sure they are not used for storing chemicals because it can be hazardous while smoking your food.

If you are planning to use a steel sheet then make sure it’s of good quality and not damage which can lead to heat loss. The. Sheet should be large enough to make a 50-60 inch cylinder from it.

You can build smaller smoker but having a 50 inch smoker makes sure you can easily place a wood log for generating smoke.

Beside having your components for making the smoke chamber and firebox , you also need a welder to attach the chambers together.

There are several welders available commercially but you have to make sure to choose one that doesn’t damage the build of your smoker.

You will also have to place an angle grinder in your supplies. It is not used much in the building process but it is required to trim and mold the corners of the frame to make sure they fit the smoker.

You can also do it with any kind of saw or Sabre but the risk of damaging the build and yourself is higher.

Build a frame

To start the process, we will first go with the simple and easy steps so that you get involved in the process.

First of all we are going to build a frame for your offset smoker that will be used to support your offset smoker and help us elevate it from ground.

The height of the frame depends on your personal choice. You can select any height depending on what you intend for .

Most of the pit masters prefer it to be large enough to elevate your smoker high enough so that you don’t have to bend to check the temperature or place food.

The material used in making the frame can also differ depending on your choice. Some people use wood due to their amazing design while others prefer steel due to durability.

We personally recommend using steel because wood can get damaged easily and can catch fire.

The thickness of frame build depends on the weight of your smoker. It should be strong enough so that it can withstand the weight of your offset smoker.

Normally 1 inch thickness is good enough to support your smoker. 

After that you should use an angle grinder to trim the frame according to the specifications of your smoker. You don’t have to use any fastener or glues to attach it as long as it fits the smoker.

But you can weld it with the smoker if it’s built up of steel.

Make the sections

After you have finished making your frame, it’s time to make the main body of the smoker. You can use a steel sheet or two barrels to make both sections of offset smoker.

If you are using barrels then make sure they are cleaned and not used for storing chemicals.

The size of the firebox should be smaller than that of a smoking chamber to make sure the smoker heats up quickly.

If you have taken the barrels of same size then you should consider cutting one barrel from the center and removing a small section to reduce its height.

After that you have to cut doors in the smoking chamber and firebox. The door in the smoking chamber is used to place food into the smoker.

While the door in the firebox is used to add fuel into the firebox. The door of the smoking chamber should be larger than that of the firebox.

The doors should have round corners so that you should not injure yourself while adding or removing the food or fuel from the smoker.

While cutting the doors or molding them to round shape, you should make sure to avoid damaging the build to avoid heat loss.

Attach the sections

After  you are done with the cutting of the smoker chambers, it’s time to attach them . If you have removed a section from the firebox barrel , then weld them together to make a single barrel again.

Make sure to not leave any gaps to avoid heat loss.

After that line up your barrels in an offset smoker design, in a way that the top of the firebox barrel is connected to the side of the bottom of the smoking chamber barrel.

Mark those  points where the firebox barrel touched the smoking chamber barrel and then cut that portion out .

After that attach the barrels again and weld them. This connection is made to make sure the food is not directly exposed to the heat and is cooked indirectly.

The smoke passes from the firebox into the cooking chamber and then exits the smoker through exhaust.

Making of air vents

Air vents play an important role in temperature management and ventilation of smokers. Generally you should make two holes in your barrels to work as air vents.

One whole is made at the top of the smoking chamber to remove the smoke while the other in the firebox for intake of air .

Cooking Grates

After you have designed the main body of the offset smoker, you should now consider adding cooking grates to suspend meat while cooking.

You should use cast iron grates that are durable and can retain heat. These are easily available commercially.

The grilling grates should be enough large to fit the size of smoker. You also need hangers to weld hold the grates in the smoking chamber while making sure they are Removable.

You can also weld some vertical hooks in the barrel to smoke meat vertically.

Some mods

Now that your smoker is completed , you can add some mods to make sure it works effectively. The first thing you should add is a pipe at the exhaust damper to make sure the smoke is removed properly from the smoker.

On the intake vent in the firebox you should use a damper to control the airflow.

In addition to the modifications at the dampers, you should also attach some handles to make sure you can move it easily around the backyard.

Moreover it will reduce the risk of touching the hot steel during the process.

Lastly you should consider seasoning your smoker before first use to enhance the the flavor of food .

Benefits of building your own smoker

Building your own offset smoker does not only come with low cost but it also has different properties that a commercially available inexpensive offset can’t provide. Some of them are discussed below.


If you an inexpensive smoker commercially then it will come with smaller capacity to compensate its price. Smoking is a time taking process and you can’t afford to cook your food in batches.

By having a large capacity you can smoke enough food to serve guest until the next batch gets ready .

Building your offset smoker at home can help to tackle this problem. You have all the control over how much capacity you need in your offset smoker.

You can select your capacity and build your smoker accordingly. But keep in mind that having a large capacity will require more time to heat up the smoker.


Portability is a major factor in determining the effectiveness of a smoker. It can be helpful when you want to enjoy outdoor smoking at the peak of a hill or at the shore of a river.

You don’t only need portability for outdoor smoking, rather this also helps while moving your offset smoker around the backyard.

Most of the inexpensive smokers are not portable and fixed at a place. Even if they are able to move around the backyard, their wheels or frame is not durable and is damaged easily.

By building your own offset smoker you can design it for outdoor smoking.


Insulation is a major factor that determines the quality of an offset smoker. Insulation is not only required in cold weather but it can also be helpful in other unexpected weather conditions like wind.

Cheaper smokers are built up of flimsy material and their price is compensated by using low quality material .

By building your own DIY offset smoker you can spend a few bucks on your insulation so that it can withstand the weather conditions.

The insulation of an offset smoker is not costly but can be a huge relief while smoking.

Build quality

Cheaper smokers are built up of low quality material to minimize the setup cost due to which they are not durable.

If your smoker is not durable then it will start malfunctioning after sometime and will eventually end up in garbage.

By building your own offset smoker you can choose any build material of choice while keeping in mind your budget and quality of material.

By making sure your smoker is built up of better quality you can both make it durable and reduce heat loss at the same time.


  • It is extremely important you should not use any barrel that has been used for storing chemicals in the past. if you can’t find the clean barrel then buy a new one.
  • It is important to add handles to reduce the risk of accidents. The build of the smoker can get hot during the process so handles can be a huge relief.
  • Trim and mold any corner or edge of the smoker having sharp steel. These can lead to injury during the smoking process.
  • While choosing the capacity, you should keep in mind that larger the capacity , the longer it will take the smoker to heat up. So you should consider selecting enough capacity to support your need while being easy to heat up at the same time.
  • Last but not least, you should double check if there are any gaps in the smoker build and make sure to seal them to avoid heat loss . You can weld those points or add heat resistant silicone seal to avoid the heat loss.

how much does it cost to build an offset smoker

The cost of building your own offset depends on yourself. The normal cost for building a smoker can range from 250$-600$ .

But it can vary depending on what type of material you want to use in your smoker. The quality always comes at a cost but a quality smoker lasts longer than cheaper smokers.

how long do offset smokers last

A good quality offset can last for 4-20 years depending on the build quality of the smoker. If you are using a durable smoker then it can last lifelong if handled carefully.

Even if your smoker has good build quality,it can get damaged if not protected from bad weather conditions


Building an offset smoker is not that difficult but you have to be careful about different components to decrease risk.

Barrels used for chemical storage are dangerous for smoking meat because they can add toxins in food. You should keep in mind portability and airflow while building your smoker. If you enjoyed this article ,then don’t forget read our article on How to season offset smoker

Jakob miller