View Full Version : Double Walled BBQ Smoker

05-03-2009, 07:34 AM
I use my HH210 to build double walled and insulated cabinet smokers. They
are made from 10 gauge CR steel and heavy as heck. They are super
efficient and I can smoke in the coldest of weather without any problems.
Last winter I smoked ribs and pulled pork in -2° weather with a stiff breeze,
and they were perfect!
The first one worked so well, I made a second and gave it to my brother.
I just bought an Airforce 625 Plasma cutter and my next project will be a double
walled and insulated horizontal offset smoker that is trailer mounted.

Here are some pics of my smokers:

The smoking chamber is separated from the firebox by a water pan.
This provides a moist environment for the smoking, and acts as a heat
sink to keep the temps stable.

Prototype on the left, and #2 on the right. The first one worked so well, I
only made a couple of minor changes for #2.

The gate valves are the air intake for the firebox. With insulated smokers,
you really control the rate of burn to control the temperature. If you
open the door to let heat out, you just let more oxygen in to make it burn hotter.
The gate valves offer a very fine adjustment.

Hope you enjoyed a look at my smoker.

silver hair dee
05-03-2009, 08:42 AM
thats pretty , very well thought out , i can almost smell it from here , man I'm getting hungry .


05-03-2009, 10:30 AM
Nice Arctikdog,,,,

I would definately like to have one of those,,,, did u work from plans,,
or is it all in your head????

pass the pulled-pork please,,, mmmmmmm


" Bending keeps one flexible "

old blue
05-03-2009, 10:58 AM
I like it. All the way around.. the running gear, the nice over-center latches, the nice paint job.

What are you using for insulation?

05-03-2009, 11:25 AM
I like it. All the way around.. the running gear, the nice over-center latches, the nice paint job.

What are you using for insulation?

The insulation is ceramic wool that is used in Kilns and ovens. It is rated at 2300° or something that is completely ridiculous overkill, but it is easy to work with, and does a very fine job of keeping the heat where it needs to be. In fact, you can set a beer can coozie on top of my smoker with no problem, because at 250 degrees internal, the exterior is just warm to the touch. I have seen people touch other people's smokers, and walk away with a scorched hand. If you set a beer on top of their smoker, it would melt the coozie, leaving the beer subject to getting warm before being consumed!:eek:

The running gear was necessary because the thing is REALLY HEAVY! I have trailer jacks on one end, so I can level it and the water pan inside. That way water doesn't pour out one corner.

Fabpeddler, I generated the idea in my head, and worked toward the final design that I had envisioned. I made a few tweaks along the way, but worked through problems as I went.


Bob Warner
05-03-2009, 11:27 AM
Great looking smoker.

I would appreciate more (many more) photos.

I also would be interested in what insulation and door seal material was used.

Great job,


05-03-2009, 11:41 AM
Great looking smoker.

I would appreciate more (many more) photos.

I also would be interested in what insulation and door seal material was used.

Great job,



I will put together some more photos, some technical info on the construction and materials used, and add to this post.


Bob Warner
05-03-2009, 04:18 PM
Guess who just happens to have a bunch of kaowool stored in the attic of his shop? I probably have enough to do a project like that. I use it to build forges for knife making.

I appreciate you sharing, you did a great job on that thing.

I already created a "SWIPE FILE" to save pictures in as I do with all really cool things I see on the web.


05-03-2009, 04:56 PM
It wouldn't do to make it lighter, but I have thought of doing a double walled smoker using a refractory mix as insulation. I know that the couple of times I've fired up my furnace for melting aluminum, the outside of it never even got warm.

I too would like some pics of the internal construction of your very cool smokers. Those look nicer than any commercial version I've seen so far.


05-03-2009, 09:55 PM
I agree Very Very nice rigs. If you dont mind my asking, where and how much did you pay for the insulation. Just a ball park price. I am wanting to insulate my rig for less problems in the winter. Here is a pic of the smoker before I mounted it, even mounted I think I can leave space for the insulation and re-skin it without to much troubles.


This is the way it is mounted now.


I got to say it again man, your smokers look very professional and well thought out. I wish I could go a bit smaller on mine but there is to many times that I cook a fair amount.

One last question. Do you cook for pleasure only or do you enter into any contest.

05-03-2009, 10:21 PM
I agree Very Very nice rigs. If you dont mind my asking, where and how much did you pay for the insulation. Just a ball park price......

......One last question. Do you cook for pleasure only or do you enter into any contest.

I will get some information together on my build and post...Wife had me doing honey doo's today (but I did manage to smoke a chuck roast - Yum). In the mean time, here is the place that I got my insulation.


I used a 1" thick "Safe" blanket, and I think I paid (ball park) of $80-85 for it. It was enough for both of the smokers that I have built so far.

Bob, the Kao-wool you have is just the ticket...it will work perfectly. I don't know about you, but I eat BBQ year round, and this has made it so I can easily cook without the weather being an issue.

Each year we have a massive blowout whole neighborhood celebration for the 4th of July, and I get to smoke the 'Que. Last year I did ~200 lbs of pulled pork, brisket, sausage, ribs, and chicken. It was amazing. I did enter a BBQ contest last year. It was a KCBS sponsored event and my first time out, I got 4th in brisket out of 49 teams. This is part of the reason that I am going to put together a double walled and insulated trailer mounted horizontal. I want to compete in more contests, and need additional room. The two I have are perfect for me at home, but I want a bigger rig as well. My next one I am planning to be a reverse flow design, and also have a side rib rack. I will post photos of that build as well, it should start in the next week or so.


05-03-2009, 11:02 PM
Thank You very much.

I look forward to watching the progress of the new rig. There is nothing wrong with 4th place. As long as you go there and have fun, thats all that counts. My trailer stays at home for now, but this Fri am we are taking my buddies big trailer to a contest in Lawrence. Maybe we'll run into each other someday and have a beer or two.

After thinking about what you said about having plenty of room at home and also thinking about the last batch that I cooked. I am wondering if a person would be better off at a contest with 2 slightly smaller cookers. I cooked 75 lbs pre cooked pulled pork and 75 lbs brisket, I had to do it two different weekends since I wanted different temps and I only have the one cooker. This holds true at contest as well since you are working with 4 or 5 different meats most of the time.

Now this is where I get myself in trouble. I see something new and cool and start thinking. The next step is where I start spending money! And then I am in trouble.

05-04-2009, 09:34 PM
Hi Everyone,

I wanted to post some more info on my smoker, but I will tell you that I
am a little nervous about letting you guys get up close and personal with
some of my welds...I am not nearly accomplished as some of you. I just
recently got a new welder (HH 210...it is awesome!) and I will tell you
that this instantly made me better. Here are some additional details,
however. If I leave anything important out, please let me know, and I
will try to answer your questions.

I used 10 gauge CR steel (.134" Thick), and have welded using FCAW
since I weld right outside my shop door. I built a smoker inside a
smoker. I started with the inside shell (This was with my old POS foreign
welder, so don’t look to close at the welds).

I added the back (this is actually sitting on it’s top). The holes in the
back are for the chimney, and it exits at the bottom of the smoking
chamber, so the whole thing is always full of smoke. This design is
referred to as a reverse flow. I added angle all the way around and it
was already pretty solid.

After I got the inside shell complete, I used a 1" piece of channel to
separate the inside shell from the outside shell. This was perfect for the
insulation to fit into. The front piece of channel I have the channel face
the door, as this will accept a piece of gasket material later on to seal
the door when closed.


I welded some 1" hardened steel concrete nails on the inside shell and
then just punched the insulation down on them. The insulation wasn't
going anywhere, but I just did this because I am an over builder!

Next I tacked the exterior shell on the smoker. All of the seams are
welded shut, and the insulation is completely encapsulated.

The rear of the unit houses the chimney and is 2" deep to accomodate
this one. I used double insulation on the back.
The pipe is a pass through for thermometer cables or whatever.

Welded the doors together using the same 1" separation and same
insulating technique. I added a fitting to accept the thermo, and
also the gate valves that I will use as the air intake.

Made a fire pan and a tool to lift it when it is hot

For my brother's cart, I also added a basket that I welded together
out of Rebar to keep with the industrial theme.

I think I have hit the limit on pics. I will try to continue below.


05-05-2009, 06:01 PM
I find it easier to upload the pics to Photobucket (or other photo hosting site) and then either link to them, or include the linked photo in the post. YMMV.


Bob Warner
05-05-2009, 06:51 PM
I will host the photos if you want. This way they will not go away like the photobucket ones do.

05-06-2009, 06:39 PM
Continued from above........

I bought a new welder after I my foreign welder actually
blew up. My new welder is a HH 210, and it instantly
made me a better welder. Here is my new machine, and I
have since added a Airforce 625 plasma cutter on the
bottom shelf.

I added the doors and they are also 1 inch thick and filled
with insulation. I have a fitting for a thermometer, and
the firebox doors have two gate valves that are the air

I cleaned it up and put on some paint.

I hope you enjoyed my double walled and insulated cabinet smoker.


Bob Warner
05-06-2009, 08:56 PM
Great review.

I do have a couple of questions.

The chimney is a 2X4 piece of tube? Is that correct? No top just open?

How large are the gate valves, they look like 2.5" or 3" and around here probably cost more than the rest of the smoker.

Also is the chimney on the outside of the unit? It looks like it is in the build but not in the final photos, just a bit confusing to me.

The water pan is how deep?

I think I have everything to completely understand how you built it.

Now, how the heck do you use it?
You fill the pan with water, fill the burner basket with wood and light with a torch or something and close the doors? Adjust the valves to get the incoming air correct (I have no idea how to tell what is correct) and let it go for six hours?

Thanks for the walk through on the build.

Bob Warner
05-06-2009, 11:12 PM
Never mind on the chimney question, I figured it out, the back is 2" thick, can't believe I missed that.

Where did you get the rope to seal the doors? What is it called? I assume it is just right to fit in 1" channel? Did you glue it in with high temp caulk or something?

05-07-2009, 12:34 AM
...the gate valves, they look like 2.5" or 3"

If I use the tires for reference, I'd say the valves were more like 3/4".


05-07-2009, 06:21 PM
Here are some additional details.......

1. The chimney was a piece of rectangular tube that I had laying around. It measures 1 ½ inches by 3 1/2 inches. There is no top on it, and it is completely welded to the interior shell at the chimney intake, so there is no way for smoke, humidity, water, grease, or anything else to get between the two shells and damage the insulation. The chimney is encapsulated between the interior and exterior shell for a nice clean appearance on the back, and the separation between the shells on the back side is 2”. Originally I thought that if the wind was really whipping, I would just put the back facing the wind as it had more insulation, but as it turns out, that isn’t even necessary. The reason the top does not have a damper is this…for smoked meats, you should control the smoker at the air intake and leave the chimney open. If you cap the chimney, the smoke will stay in the smoker to long, and can lead to the production of creosote that is black, nasty, and will make your tongue numb. It would be a flat shame to do that to a rack of ribs!

2. The valves are 1 ¼ inch gate valves that I got at a bargain depot and they cost me 6 or 7 bucks (cheap anyway, and then blowout priced at 25% off!). My rationale for using the gate valves was simply one of convenience. I had a welder, and could weld a black pipe nipple through the firebox door. The gate valves were adjustable and would work well for me. You could easily use a butterfly setup, or even a slider type of setup, but I couldn’t accomplish that easily at the time. Since I now have a new plasma cutter, I think I will do a slider on the trailer mounted rig that is currently bouncing around in my head.

3. My shelves were designed to slide out to a point, like the shelves in your oven. If you have a 10 lb. Pork butt on the shelf, you don’t want the thing to slide out and then hit the ground, so I put some stops on my shelves. If I want to get the shelf out, I lift the back and it comes out, but if I slide it forward, the shelf engages the angle iron track and at the front it hits a stop to prevent it from coming all the way out.

4. The gasket for the doors is one thing that I changed from my proto type to the second build. The initial build had a flat sealing surface on the smoker body (the channel turned away from the door so the flat back side was facing the door). Then I used a flat fiberglass gasket and attached it to the door where it would contact the smoker body. As the door closed, the fiberglass tape is what contacted the flat sealing surface of the smoker box. The trouble with this was that it had to perfectly match any curvature that the door had, and I spent a lot of time massaging the edge of the smoker body with a hand grinder to make it seal perfectly. For the second build I wanted to change this so it wasn’t so time consuming. I turned the channel around for build number two, and used a ¾ inch fiberglass rope that was cemented into the channel. This way, the gasket was on the smoker box side and not on the door. It was more protected this way, as it sat in a channel and it also protruded enough to seal the door properly no matter if there was any deviation from flat on the door. This design was also way more robust. The gasket material I used was a graphite impregnated fiberglass that is used on wood stoves as a seal, and my particular gasket was manufactured by Rutland ( http://www.rutland.com/category.php?category_id=8 ). I went the fiberglass gasket route, as the materials were more commonly available. I did, however, look for a high temp tadpole gasket that would work, but I simply couldn’t find something where I could order a couple of pieces for a reasonable price. The fiberglass gasket material can come prepackaged with a high temp cement that will adhere it, or you can buy both separately. I have had some trouble with the cement if it is old and has sat around for a while in my shop, so be sure and get fresh stuff to work with. My local Westlake Ace Hardware does carry the cement, so I always go and buy fresh stuff. This combination works really well to keep the smoker air tight. In fact, at the end of a smoking session, if I shut the gate valves and cap the chimney, the fire goes out due to lack of oxygen, and I can use the leftover charcoal to start the next fire.

5. The door closure system that I used was a pull down clamp. This gives me a positive closure on the door, and also allows adjustment if your gasket ever gets compressed over time (I have never had to adjust). They were easy to position and weld for me, and I didn’t have to “invent” something. I got them from J. W. Winco, and they have a large selection of goodies to choose from. http://www.jwwinco.com/products/section15/index.html I believe I ordered PN 431 or a subset of that.

6. The water pan I initially started with was a stainless steel food service pan that is used on steam tables at buffets (also known as a chaffing dish pan). I got it from Central restaurant supply here: 2/3 size steam table pan http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Steam-Table-Pan--22-Gauge-Stainless-SteelTwo-Third-Size-612-Qt-c90p14887.html The problem with this was that I had to clean it up to reuse it…So I built an insert to hold a disposable aluminum pan that I get at Costco or Sams. That way after I am done with it, I just chuck it in the trash, and don’t have to scrub on the thing to get going again. If you go this route make sure that the bottom of the aluminum pan touches the bottom of your insert, otherwise the temps will be to high. Remember the water pan acts as a heat sink, and you need the contact to make sure that the temps are steady and stable. Also, there needs to be space at the sides of your water pan setup that allows some heat and all the smoke to enter into the top chamber. Size your water pan to the size of the smoker that you build, because they come in all sizes ( http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Steamtable-Pans-c90.html ). Here is a graphic depiction of my smoker.

I did not weld a third wall inside for a separate channel or raceway for smoke (as depicted in the green of the graphic), but this is certainly an option. That way all of the heat and smoke will travel up to the top before entering the smoking chamber and then “reverse flow” across the meat to exit at the bottom of the smoking chamber. In my smoker, I have an area on the side of the water pan that is not sealed and provides heat and smoke the entrance to the smoking chamber. I figured it is going to rise immediately to the top and drive circulation back down to the smoke stack exit which is placed at the bottom of the smoking chamber (in black for my graphic) effectively providing me the same operation.

7. In terms of smoking, I start a charcoal chimney of charcoal, and dump it in the center of my fire pan and then add unlit around the lit. For the purposes of smoking, important thing to remember is that charcoal is for heat, and wood chunks are for flavor. I use chunks about the size of my fist and add to the firebox to “flavor” the ‘Que (I prefer apple, cherry and pecan, but if the tree produces something you can eat, you can safely smoke with it, however, the results on taste can be very different for different woods). You want to keep the temp under control in the range of 225°-250°. You don’t need a lot of smoke, and one of the biggest mistakes it to over smoke the food. Keep the output thin and blue, and you are on your way to some excellent eats. Here are some links to some really good resources on getting up and running for different cuts.

Weber cooking topics - http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cook.html

Rib Selection - http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/ribselect.html

Rib Prep - http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/loinbackribprep.html

Brisket - http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/brisketselect.html

Pork Butt - http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/porkbuttselect.html

Amazing ribs website - http://www.amazingribs.com

8. Here are some links to some commercial manufacturers of other insulated smokers....they are pretty darned proud of them as you can imagine.





05-07-2009, 06:25 PM
I posted more details, but once again it was sent to moderators for approval...this time without photos???

It should be posted within a few days, or I can cut / paste from word this time.


Bob Warner
05-07-2009, 06:41 PM
I have never had a post go to moderators. I wonder why yours is. Kind frustrating. There must be a work in there that they want to check on or something before allowing it to post.


05-07-2009, 08:19 PM
I have never had a post go to moderators. I wonder why yours is. Kind frustrating. There must be a work in there that they want to check on or something before allowing it to post.



My guess is that I included links to many places to show the items I used in the construction, and also had a lot of words in it to describe why I constructed it the way I did...I probably had to many characters or something. It was definitely "G" rated and family friendly, so that can't be it. I was probably just to long winded! :p

05-08-2009, 03:52 PM
The post that went to the moderators for review showed up above.

Let me know if you have any questions.


05-08-2009, 04:15 PM
Arkticdog- Nice job. Those are a couple of first class looking smokers. I have no real need for an insulated smoker, other than the fact that it is just plain cool. (no pun intended) but you have inspired me to put one of these on my list of projects. Lord only knows when I get to it, but it is there.

Anyway, great job on the smokers and the writeup. Thanks for taking the time to put it all up.

Bob Warner
05-08-2009, 08:12 PM
GREAT writeup.

You should contact the moderators and find out why they are going to them. Could just be a setting they can change.

Your description is great. I REALLY appreciate you sharing, this will be the first thing I build after my welding trailer (That I don't get paid for).

I will probably change the base a bit and add a work table that can be folded out of the way, but otherwise leave it as is.

05-09-2009, 03:13 AM
GREAT writeup.

You should contact the moderators and find out why they are going to them. Could just be a setting they can change...

While it seems like that would be a good idea, I think that Hotfoot's issues and the response (and final lack of) says that it would be a waste of time. Then again, I've been wrong before. I do wish they'd stop that though.


05-10-2009, 10:37 PM
Thanks for the update Arctikdog. The pics are great and the description is even better. I cooked a contest this weekend and spent most of the free time looking at all the different smokers. I saw several different set-ups that could work very well with the smokers you have built. I would offer my 2 cents in the area of, in my eyes a roof built on your trailer is a must. We watched almost a dozen ez-up tents turn in to a pile of trash as a windstorm blew thru about 2 in the morning. If you dont mind my asking, about how long of a burn do you get off of one load of charcoal and wood chunks? My goal with my next smoker is to be able to get it set up and have it run for at least 4 hours. Several years ago I was able to stay up and babysit the cooker all night and it wasnt a big deal, but the older I get the less I like staying up all night. And I dont want to use pellets or propane.

I believe that you said you welded full welds on the outside skin. Did this cause warping or shrinking? I ask because the outer skin looks great.

Thanks for all the input.