Building a smokehouse: 11 Easy Steps

Categories: DIY

by Cameron Faustman

Building a smokehouse is fairly easy to do. Wood is a popular choice. Animal Science Professor Cameron Faustman at the University of Connecticut says there's no need to be an accomplished carpenter. The roof is a little cock-eyed? That's OK! You want a leaky smokehouse so it vents properly.

"The smokehouses I've built I've just basically vented the top by drilling a couple of 2-inch round holes near the top and also making it so the roof sits a fraction of an inch off the top of the walls so that the air can move on through," Faustman says.

Use untreated and unpainted wood, even on the outside of the smokehouse. The high heat might draw the chemicals into your food. Faustman says he uses tongue-and-groove untreated pine.

The downside to a wooden smokehouse is that it's flammable. So you have to be careful with your heat source and how you control that.

"You basically put it on a pad that's non-flammable," Faustman says. "So usually that's a gravel pad. In my case what I did was I built a real simple little foundation almost on some concrete piers -- I went way overboard with this. You don't need to do this, you can just put it on a gravel pad."

Install bars in the smokehouse to hang hams or turkeys. You can also lay the meat on metal racks. However, be sure to stay away from galvanized metal.

"Galvanized metal when it gets sufficiently hot will give off a toxic fume," Faustman says. "So you can use just old steel, which unfortunately will rust. You have to brush it with a wire brush, but there's no harm in that. Or, you can use stainless steel."

The heat and smoke are produced by using different types of wood chips and sawdust. Buy them rather than cutting down trees. Although it's a very tiny amount, oil from the chainsaw will leak into the wood chips and sawdust.