Wood And Steel Smoking Cabinet - 2CoolFishing
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:55 PM   #1
Wado
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Wood And Steel Smoking Cabinet

It seems like this is the place to put a DIY smoker build so here we go. I finally got the equipment to grind and stuff sausage but was lacking a way to smoke it. I tried it on my pipe pit but it I guess it was getting a lot of smoke flavors and just wasn't what I was looking for. I think my pit needed a good cleaning but that's another subject. I was gearing up to make another batch of 60/40 pork and beef when I spotted a smoker in one of my friends shop, a Masterbuilt propane he got with gift cards from Academy. I asked him if he ever smoked sausage with it and he said heck yeah. I told him about my efforts and said I guess I need to get a smoker. The next day he pulled up in my drive with it sitting in his truck so I got to test it out for myself. They do the job that's a fact and will hold all I want to mess with and I think the one I used is the largest they make. The only thing is they get hot, real hot and fast. I messed with it by cutting it on and off and almost got a two hour smoke before I hit 160 degrees on a couple of test links. I loaded the rest the next day and smoked with native oak and it turned out good, a little over done but I never lost any fat and I went straight to an ice water bath to cool it down before vacuum bagging it. I have to give credit to EJ over in Seadrift for helping me with getting into this. He talked me through his method and made some suggestions that sure helped. I sure like the Dobesh spice he recommended, my concoction needs
some work. Back to the cabinet. I made the box 45" tall, 22" deep, 35" wide inside. The outside is 48x24x40. I put an inside frame that creates a 1 5/8 air space between the outer wood and the steel skin on the inside. The bottom is 3/16 plate and the rest is 16 gauge. I screwed the panels to the frame with wood screws and plan on sealing the joints with a food safe 600 degree silicone. I put a 3/4 frame on the backs of the doors and will skin them as well with 16 ga. The doors and back of the cabinet have a 3/4" air space between them and the plate. I might have been able to just go to smoking but I wanted the exposed wood covered. I have seen plain old pine plywood smokers that work but it's a done deal now. I got my burner from Tejas Smokers and the regulator and hose. I think it's a 40,000 BTU burner and the Masterbuilt was a 45,000. I did get a needle valve so I can turn it way down and this so far was the most costly item besides the steel. I haven't seen the bill for that yet. I bought one sheet of 3/4 birch for the box and had some 1x4's for the face frame and other framing plus hinges and screws. I hope I finish around $300.00. I just took the rest of my measurements to my welding shop to cut the panels and pipes for the burner housing and chimney but that place was crawling with people so it might be a while before I get my stuff. I need to dust off my plasma cutter anyway to finish this thing.
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Old 05-22-2017, 04:08 PM   #2
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Looking good! Cant wait to see the finished product. I'm thinking of building one myself. My sausage turned out really good but my smoke was not as even. l smoked the links using a vertical smoker we use for BBQ. I agree, there is a certain flavor the wood boxes give have that's hard to duplicate. Hope to get me one started in a couple of months. How many would you estimate this size will hold?
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Old 05-22-2017, 07:15 PM   #3
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I do sausage in small batches so I'm not too worried about big quantities. It will probably hold fifty pounds or more depending on lengths of the sausage. The guy that loaned me his said he smoked on racks instead of hanging and put fifty pounds in his but he flipped them and rotated the bottom ones to the top while he was smoking them. That tin can smoker of his got hot down lower and closer to the sides. I had some that were 175 degrees when I used it and luckily none squirted grease out. I have a couple of digital thermometers I am going to mount in different places to see where the heat goes. I looked at a draft inducer that I might use in the stack to pull the heat if it needs it, might work just fine the way it is. The ag teacher here built a five by five that is all wood and they use the heck out of it. Looks just like a mini smoke house all cedar. Said he put a couple grand in it with the racks and hardware. That sounded like an awful lot for a small smoker. I hope the doors seal without adding gaskets, if they do I will have to set the hinges on spacers. For all I know this thing might warp all to heck. More info later. Went to the welding shop but my man was snowed under today, maybe I will get back on it tomorrow.
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Old 05-23-2017, 10:22 AM   #4
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Thanks for the information. 50 pounds is as much as I do.
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Old 05-30-2017, 04:44 AM   #5
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for many years, we used an old deer blind and a pot of mesquite coals...
it's late, a long day... more later...
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Old 05-30-2017, 11:14 AM   #6
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Fine'

I'm just about through with it. I need to build some racks and weld the rest of the hangers in for the sausage rods and maybe a paint job on the outside. We moved our wood burning stove out of the shop Saturday and this one will hook up to the chimney with a little work. I actually checked out a deer blind looking setup a couple of months ago but went this route. When I was a kid one of my friends dad had a smoker made out of a big metal box he got from the telephone company where he worked. If a person had time to wander around scrap yards I bet you could find a good one. His had double doors similar to what I did, must have been a switch box of some kind. I plan on sealing the joints where the metal panels meet with a food grade high temperature silicone. I left some gaps for expansion and hope I can open the doors when this thing heats up. I bought a tube of Permatex Ultra Black and was going to use it but decided I better call their Tec line first. Their red high heat at one point in time was certified food safe but the guy I talked to at Permatex said they only make Automotive sealants and had to pay for that certification so they no longer deem them as food contact safe. I couldn't get him to say otherwise so I am using it outside the case. I don't think there is a huge risk using automotive silicone because it only gives off formaldehyde and other nasty gasses when it is decomposing rapidly like when it is being burnt. If this thing is blazing I'm in worse trouble than some gasses getting on my sausage. Time for a fire extinguisher. I built a box around the bottom of the burner for wind if I use it outside. Everything unbolts or unscrews if I have to change something, knock on wood I hope I don't.
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:30 PM   #7
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Dang Wado, you got way too much time on your hands. And you have a plasma cutter. Dang nice looking smoker. Good job.
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Old 06-10-2017, 10:45 AM   #8
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Daddyeaux

The trouble is I can never collect for all the stuff I do for myself, pretty much non profit. I've been eyeballing all the neat leather goods you have been turning out lately. We just got back from Pearsall and it's pretty dry in our area but the doves were all around the tanks and mucho sunflowers everywhere. I saw Steve at the gate to the camp but blew past him going to town Wednesday. Too hot right now to make sausage but I have some pork that has to go so we will have to work fast and in the a/c so it doesn't get too hot. I hope to get a couple of racks built this week and light this thing off and smoke it up before I put meat in it.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:18 AM   #9
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I know what you mean about the a/c. Post up some pics of finished product when you do get it going.
Glad to hear there are plenty of doves around. I will have a much better hunt this coming season now that I am back on two good legs. Guess I need to check in with Steve.
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Old 06-25-2017, 01:04 PM   #10
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All Fired Up

I did some trial runs just to season the cabinet and learned a lot about draft and how to correct problems. First, the enclosure I built around the burner had to go. It cut the air flow off or distorted it and no matter what I did the propane flame would extinguish itself even with the exhaust fan running on the stack. It would do it piped up to the chimney or free standing outside in open space. Glad I bolted it on. As long as the cabinet is outside the shop on a short stack it will draft naturally with the propane burner lit, it just has to be watched in case of a wind gust that could blow it out if set too low. The trouble running the propane burner for the primary heat source in this scenario is overheating the cabinet for sausage smoking which is my primary use for this thing. To make the chip pan get hot enough to smolder wood chips you have to run in the 250 degree range and sausage will cook fast in that range. I tried chunks of wood and couldn't even make smoke. I used disposable pie plates and they would burn out in a few minutes and then set the chips ablaze. I finally found an old thin steel frying pan that would do chips and could run about 225 degrees but that's still a bit hot. I did run it about three hours at this temperature and could get about thirty minutes of smoke per pan and maybe with forty pounds of sausage hanging you could get a decent smoke and not overcook. You would have to be careful though. From what I see most hot smokes are around an hour anyway. Someone may have a different opinion on this and I will be glad to hear from them.
Being the hard head I am I want to make this thing work in the shop so I hooked it back up and lit it off with the air mover installed and the burner enclosure removed. I do have a speed control on the fan so I can slow it down and believe me this is a must. I can play with it and change the temperature just like trimming the flame. Once I was satisfied the draft was working I tried a couple of links of sausage I made and got them smoked in about and hour and fifteen minutes using the pan and chips. That was the end of sausage I made so I bought some fresh sausage at the local store and some country style ribs and tried another smoke using a cast iron pot with a half a chimney of lump charcoal with oak wood chunks for smoke. I couldn't get much heat with just the fire pot so I lit the burner and kept messing with the fan and the valve until I held 225 degrees. The sausage hit 160 in a little over an hour and the ribs took three hours to get done. The ribs were ok, just not smoky and almost tasted baked. The sausage was horrible, went straight to the trash can. I don't know what the heck that stuff was supposed to be. It was labeled garlic and is fresh, uncooked. I won't try this again because it didn't list sodium nitrite as one of the ingredients and should have only been flash cooked at high temperature, wish I had payed more attention when I did it. I have seen this brand labeled Wedding Ring Sausage also. It was nasty.
Fast forward to yesterday. I had a pork loin, pork but and a big brisket I bought on sale months ago so I got the grinder out and made twenty pounds of 60/40 pork beef sausage. First avoid loins for sausage, the texture is weird and has a different taste too but for a buck a pound it will work. Makes dang good breakfast sausage just add some fat if you can get it. I had $2.97 a pound in this stuff plus ten bucks or so for spices and casings. I used Bobresh and Zach's hot seasoning and both a good, better than I can concoct. This is all domestic so wild would be basically free. Now back to the smoker. I made a big fire using B&B oak lump charcoal in the chimney and dumped it in my cast iron dutch oven I used in the trials with split oak pieces pre soaked in water for smoke. I needed a little bit more coals and ideally if you could burn some logs and make coals this would be the best way to make heat, no propane only to finish if you need it. I loaded the sausage on poles and set the pot in and covered it with a lid I made that has a space to let it breathe. This is going to get wordy if I describe what happens next but after removing the lid and playing with the fan speed and adding a few more chips I hit my temperature I wanted and good smoke, no propane either. I got it to run 160 degrees in the box and after an hour and a half the sausage hit 120 internal. My box temperature started down and even with the fan low as I dare go it kept falling so I lit the burner and brought it up to over 200 to finish the sausage at 160. Total time less than two hours for twenty pounds. Next time I will have coals ready and save the propane for a rainy day. Dang phone sideways
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