There are a number of DIY smoker methods, ranging all sizes and prices. If you only need to smoke small items or one medium item at a time, like a Christmas turkey, all you need is a large terracotta pot or unused metal trash can.
But, if you need a good-sized smokehouse to help you prepare for winter on a homestead or other rural area, this design based on pallet wood should provide what you need without breaking the bank. Its also designed so that you only need the most basic of woodworking skills to complete it.
An important note about using pallets, most are treated with industrial chemicals. You’ll need to make sure that any pallets you use for this project are food grade wood.
If you can get your hands on enough leftover wood from friends or other projects you’ve done, you can still use this plan; you’ll just need to adjust a little when the word “pallet” is mentioned.
- 20-30 Deconstructed Food Grade Pallets or other Food Grade Wood
- 4’ x 3’ Raw Corrugated Tin (this metal must be raw, do not use galvanized)
- 3 Hinges
- Aluminum Flashing
- Aluminum Screening
- Handle (for the door)
- Heavy Duty Tin Foil
- Screws – 2 1/2 inch stainless steel or other weather resistant screws
- Screws 1 1/4 inch stainless steel or other weather resistant screws
Select Your Materials
Whether you are using actual pallets or sourcing your wood another way, there can be some challenges if you are working with low-cost or free materials.
The wood you get will probably have some issues such as warping and splitting. But, if its free (especially if its free) it can be worth the hunting and sorting to keep expenses down. Just consider that time spent as sweat equity. If you are using pallets, you will need at least 20-30 for this plan.
If you are using pallets, you’ll want to get your length from the middle of the panels, so the ends are trimmed off. Doing this will help avoid splitting and remove most of the nail pieces you’ve just cut through. If you are using other wood sources, use the wood cut list below to create your pieces.
Wood Cut List
Make the following Cuts from 2x4s unless otherwise noted.
- 2 each 33”
- 2 each 70”
- 2 each 29”
- 2 each 6’ (Front End of Side Wall)
- 2 each 5’ 6” (Back End of Side Wall)
- 8 each 33” 2 x 2 (Used 2x2s or cut 2x4s in half lengthwise
- 8 each 32 ¾”
- 8 each 30 ½“
Cut this from a 1×1 sized piece
- 2 each 5’4” (part 6)
Cut these from Pallet Panels:
- 36 ¼“ pieces, enough to cover the left and right sides (part 10 and 11)
- 35 ¾” pieces, enough to cover the front and back (part 12 and 13)
- 38” pieces for the roof (part 14)
- 2 each 18” to 24” vent (part 15)
- 1 each 36” (Part 16)
As a precaution against your wood splitting as you work, it’s a good idea to pre-drill and countersink each screw.
Smoking your food is a great way to preserve your meat. Check out this other method that will allow your food to last for up to 2 years. Learn More Here>>>
Begin by putting together the 2 sides wall frames of the house that include the rack supports.
Take one piece from the cut pieces listed above for the first side unless otherwise noted:
#4 – 6’ Wall frame front
#5 – 5’6” Wall back
#6 – 4 pieces of 33”
Make sure the bottom of your #4 and #5 pieces are squared at the bottom then attach the 33” pieces across at 24” from the bottom, 36” from the bottom, 44” from the bottom, and 52” from the bottom.
NOTE: Secure the cross pieces to the 6’ upright flush to the end, BUT secure the cross pieces on the 5’6” upright 1.5” in from the end. This is to leave room for the #9 pieces later.
Create the first side with the 6’ (front) board on the right and the 5’6” (back) board on the left.
Create the other side with the 6’ (front) board on the left and the 5’6” (back) board on the right.
When you’ve completed the 2 sides, you’ll have mirror image sections that resemble ladders with one side higher than the other. The Difference in heights from front to back provides support for a slatted roof.
The cross pieces become the rack (shelf) supports on the inside of the smokehouse.
Making the Door Frame
Next, you’ll need the two pieces each from #2 – 70” and #3 – 29”. Simply connect them to make a 37” x 70” rectangle.
Attach the 3 Sides Together
To make the next steps easier, screw the door frame to the face of the walls for better stability. There will be a 2-inch difference at the top between the highest point of the side walls and the top of the door frame
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Cut the Roof Angle
Using a spare panel or another straight edge, draw a line from the back of the side panel to the front to create the slat line for the roof and cut off the excess. Do this on both sides.
Use the pieces from #1 to (33”) to span the width of the smokehouse at the front and back ends of each wall.
Add the Rear Support Frames
Attached both #9 pieces 5’4” to the backs of the side walls, under the roof supports.
Adding the Paneling
Starting with the Back, fill in your walls with paneling from the ground up, then move on to the left and right sides.
Finishing the Door
- Unscrew the door from the smokehouse after the side and back paneling is in place.
- Add the hinges to one side
- Install the door frame to the house.
- Add paneling to the door in such a way that the door has clearance to swing open.
- Add the handle to the side opposite the hinges.
Put on the Roof
Attach paneling from the front to the back of the house, across the pieces that span the width.
Screw on the corrugated tin.
Building Your Smoke Rack Shelves
Create wooden frames that fit inside your smokehouse and can slide on and off the supports constructed on the interior.
Stretch your metal screening across and around the wooden frame to complete your “shelf.”
With the most basic woodworking skills, scrap pallets and some determination, you could have your own smokehouse build by none other than yourself.