Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Backyard Built-in Smoker Project July 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 5:36 pm
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First, I am neither handy nor clever.  But, I love to cook outside over open flame.

My house was built in 1954, and I acquired it in 1990.  For the entire time I’ve lived here, I’ve wanted to do something to make the built-in grill thingy on my patio actually functional.    Not because I need more outdoor grilling space, mind you, I’m well equipped with a gas grill, a Big Green Egg, and a Brinkman propane smoker.  But, its just sitting there, idle, with plants growing in it and I want it to be useful.  I had plans drawn up by an architect several years ago to transform my entire outside space into a tricked out bar, entertainment area with a huge fireplace which converted to a wood fired pizza oven.  Pipe dreams.  So, back to reality, I’m just focusing on this portion of my patio for the time being.  I want it to be a full on, wood smoker.  And I have no idea how to accomplish that.

Here it is, in its non-useful form.

Non-funtional built in grill thingy

Looking down into the non-functional outdoor grill thingy

So, if anyone has any idea how to make this thing useful as a real smoker, that would rock.  If that isn’t possible, I would like it to be at least a functional grill, if possible.


4 Responses to “Backyard Built-in Smoker Project”

  1. Marc O. Says:

    Hmm, that’s the sort of thing – were it in my yard – I’d be all over and would have solutions for.

    I suspect you could have some iron cut and welded to seal off the the front and top. The pieces you insert would have to draft enough air to keep a low fire (coals) going. But not let all the smoke escape, either.

    In any event, it would be fun to experiment with.

    Either that or knock it out and use the bricks for a walkway. 😀

    • I guess the front would have to have doors to open to put the wood in? I thought about having a domed top made, but don’t know if that would work. I think the floor needs to be raised as well. After seeing all of the really cool smokers at Magnum Custom Trailer last week (3 trips with a friend), I’m pretty set on a wood smoker. My propane smoker uses little wood chips, and I’d like to use firewood and not have to tend to it as often.

  2. Warren Says:

    I’m not an expert, but from my understanding you’ll want 2 chambers: a firebox & a smoking chamber. Unlike in a gas smoker having a wood fire underneath the food will be too hot. BTW, the interior looks like it’s lined with firebrick so I keep wanting to suspect it was some sort of kiln.

    I did a quick google and found this:

    So it looks like it wouldn’t be too difficult to convert into a wood smoker.

    A domed top should be fine physics-wise, but it looks like there should be enough clearance for laying things flat which works fine since the smoke will be moving horizontally towards the chimney. If the fluid dynamics end up being that not enough smoke is travelling under the domed top that could be remedied by raising the opening to the chimney by removing bricks at the bottom of the chimney.

    Since hot smoking is a convection process raising the floor would help in that it reduces the volume of air that needs to be heated, but I think the main benefits revolve around grease clean up.

    • Warren, thanks so much for this reply! Very useful. I think you are right about a flat top instead of a domed one. The link you sent was super helpful too. Thanks very much, I’ve got some thinking to do. I don’t know what this was built to be, but my parents live up the street in a house about the same age, and there is an identical one in their back yard, so it must have been a trend in the 50’s.

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