Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


How to Build a Smokehouse

How to Build a Smokehouse

In October 2014 we showed you a home-built wooden smokehouse. (Here’s a photo of me next to mine.) To make an even more permanent structure—and commitment to the art of smoking—cinder blocks are the way to go. The very affordable Build a Smokehouse book offers the most complete instructions I know for building a cinderblock smokehouse. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.

–Steven

Permanent smokehouses can be made of stone, logs, concrete, or wooden framing members, and should be large enough to meet the needs of an average family (usually a 6 x 8 x 8-inch structure). For these buildings, a concrete floor is necessary to protect the house from rodents, with concrete footings set below the frost line to insure a sturdy, durable structure. The fire pit, located outside the building, is vented through the floor into the smokehouse.

The site for a smokehouse should be at least 50 inches away from other buildings as a fire hazard precaution, especially if you will be building a frame structure. The firebox should be located at least 4 inches (preferably more) from the smokehouse. The drawings here are for only 4 inches of tile for the smoke channel; buy additional tile if your firebox is farther away. The firebox smoke hole should be lower than the smokehouse floor smoke hole to facilitate upward smoke movement; the optimum pitch is 30 degrees. Placing the smokehouse on a knoll is also helpful.

The foundation of both the smokehouse and the firebox should extend below the frost line for your area. (This may mean relocating your smokehouse if your soil is full of boulders.) In cold regions with a deep frost line, you will need more sand, gravel, and cement.

Concrete block smokehouse

Concrete block smokehouse

Concrete block smokehouse floor plan

Floor plan

Fire pit

The fire pit

Door framing

Door framing

For the full instructions and list of materials needed, get the booklet, Build a Smokehouse.

Build a Smokehouse

Excerpt and illustrations from the Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin, Build a Smokehouse (Storey Publishing, 1981).

Join the Discussion

  • Fred Rickson

    Not the best idea. For a smokehouse, especially a cold smokehouse, you need to control the smoke/smokehouse temperature. A fixed smoke run doesn’t do this. A best idea is a non-fixed run from the fire to the smokehouse. An outside temp of 32 degrees needs a very different cooling run than an outside temperature of 80 degrees. Think about it a bit.