How to Make a Scrap-Metal Smoker

Build a great (and cheap) smoker for summer cookouts with basic tools and a little hardware.

Every game cook needs a smoker. Trouble is, they’re expensive. You can build an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) in a few hours for $150. Here’s how.

What You'll Need

-55-gallon steel drum (not an oil drum) with tight-fitting lid
-211⁄2" grill grate
-18" charcoal grate
-9" x 48" piece of expanded metal
-3 stainless-steel (SS) U‑bolts
-3 each 1" SS bolts with nuts and washers
-3 each 2" SS bolts with nuts and washers
-3 each 3" SS bolts with nuts and washers
-1 each 3⁄4" x 2" threaded nipple
-1 each 3⁄4" conduit nut
-1 each 3⁄4" brass ball valve
-2 magnets large enough to cover 1" holes

How To Do It

A | Drill three 1-inch holes 2 inches from the bottom of the drum. They should be evenly spaced around the outside.

B | To create the rack for the grill grate, drill three 3⁄4-inch holes 7 inches from the top of the drum. Insert a 2-inch bolt into each hole and secure with a washer and a nut.

C | Drill eight 1⁄2-inch holes in the lid to vent the smoker, and attach a handle. Fill the drum with hardwood and burn it. After it cools, scrub the drum thoroughly inside and out with a wire brush, and then paint it with a high-temperature paint.

D | Roll the expanded metal into a ring and secure it with 1-inch bolts, washers, and nuts.

E | Secure the ring to the small grate with U-bolts to make the charcoal basket. Extend three 3-inch bolts through the grate and secure them with washers and nuts.

F | Insert the threaded nipple into a 1-inch hole at the bottom of the drum and lock it into place with a conduit nut on the inside. Screw the ball valve onto the nipple.

G | Cover the remaining 1-inch holes with magnets for adjusting airflow.
H | Drill a hole 2 inches below the top grate and insert a thermometer.

*Fill the basket two-thirds full with charcoal and wood chunks, and light it. Adjust the vents to reach a stable 250 degrees and bring on the deer shoulder.