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Barbecue Smoker: Low Cost

The blue Oil drums can easily be converted into smokers for your barbecue party. Here is a step by step instructions of how to do it.

Remember this design is meant for low-temperature slow cooking with smoke. If you are looking for a simpler faster solution then you can use a single drum with fire below and food trays above (like a grill)

Low Cost Barbecue Smoker

How to convert a drum/barrel into a barbeque smoker in easy steps.
This design is based on fire wood and can be
Prep Time2 hrs
Active Time2 hrs
Total Time4 hrs
Keyword: barbecue, meats, smoker


  • 1 Hacksaw Ideal for cutting metal sheets
  • 1 grinding stone Ideal to smoothen sharp edges


  • 2 pieces Oil Drum
  • 10 nut bolts Its easier to bolt things and assemble then weld
  • 100 ml Food grade paint (epoxy) Also used in oven inner lining.


  • The smoker consists of two barrels. One for the food and the second for the fire. In the food barrel: Make three cut outs
    First, one is for the chimney (left circular cut out)
    Second, one is for the lid for the food/meat
    Third, one (right) is for the heat/smoke to come in.
    From the utensil store, get some steel grills that can be bolted inside the drum to create trays for the multiple-layer smoker.
  • The biggest difference between the grill and smoker is that in the grill fire is lit below so that the food is cooked in the heat. In the smoker, we want to dehydrate the meat in smoky low-temperature air rather than cooking it in high heat. Hence the fire drum is separate.
    Remember it is the hottest part. So design it such that it is easy for:
    1. removing the ashes
    2. add more firewood
    3. adjust the size of air-vent (open to increase the burning intensity, closed to increase the smoky notes)
    4. (most important) a rectangular cut-out that matches the smoke vent in the food barrel.
  • Once you have cut out the barrel then make a stand so that you can put the two drums together. Any local steel fabricator can weld together angle steel (90 degree bent channel (as shown in the picture). The best height is one where the food tray is at your navel level. This way you can tend the meat with ease.
  • Put some gasoline or spirit and burn the drums thoroughly. Especially the food bin.
    It helps remove any chemical/paint residue, odors and off-flavors.
  • Thoroughly wash and scrub the drums and attach the chimney
  • Now paint the drum with heat-resistant food-grade paint (the same ones used in ovens). and invite your friends over for the party.


You can also make a grill instead of smoker if you use only one drum.
Do remember to take adequate precautions when handling fire.
Make sure that the stand is bolted firmly. You don’t want the hot barrel to roll off during your party.


55 Gallon Drum Smoker Build Project
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