Ugly Drum Smoker

A DIY project which would interest a lot of barbecue enthusiasts is making an Ugly Drum Smoker. The price involved in making this project is not a lot as compared to the price of the smokers available in the market. When making an ugly drum smoker, usually a 55-gallon drum is used as the smoker. The best part about having an ugly drum smoker is that it can be used to smoke large quantity of meat at a given point of time – 2 to 3 briskets or even four pork shoulders. This smoker can be used for 10-20 hours while maintaining a low and steady temperature.


To start off, you will require a food grade drum. Instead of using any drum, it is better to buy a new drum which was not used to store any toxic material. The interior and exterior of the drum should be burned at high temperature to remove any trace of paint and any other liner which might be used in the drum. A propane torch can also be used to remove rust inhibitors which is used as a liner inside the drum. Once this is done, the outside of the drum can be painted with a high-heat tolerant paint. The drum and its lid will then have to be drilled with holes, which will be used to connect the bolts, air control vents and other plumbing fittings.

Usually the Ugly Drum Smoker is built to stand vertically, however, it can be built to be placed horizontally as well. The holes which will be used to fix the ball valves and pipe nipples, will be at the bottom on the vertically held drum. The exhaust holes should be drilled on the lid of the drum. Fix the handle and ensure adequate space is left from fitting the smoker thermometer.

A charcoal basket goes at the bottom of the drum. To make this basket, expanded steel can be used to make a circle along with bolts, washers and nuts. This basket is placed on a charcoal grate, so that it is at a height of 12 inches from the bottom. A stand made from the same expanded steel can be used to place the food to be smoked. Once all the fittings have been done, the next step is to season the smoker.

Seasoning should be done by filling the charcoal basket to 90% of capacity. You can check the temperature achieved by the smoker and adjust it by opening or closing some of the air intake holes. This drum smoker can achieve temperature of 250°F when the charcoal is properly burning.

The best part of this is that you have created it yourself and you can set the temperature required and enjoy a slow and steady smoking process. You can spruce up the smoker by painting it with your favorite colors. The ugly drum smoker can be made in as little as $250. A lot of videos showing how to build the smoker are available on the internet.

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