How to Build a Smoker From a Whiskey Barrel

You don’t need a steel drum or a welding kit. Just a whiskey or wine barrel, a few fire rocks, and two hours.

 1. Buy a whiskey or wine barrel from a local distillery, vineyard, or on eBay. (Standard 53-gallon barrels cost $200 to $300.)

2. Before cutting off the lid, drill self-tapping screws through the metal bands to fasten them to the staves. This will prevent having loose, shifting staves once you cut them off from the rest of the barrel. If your staves are wider than a couple inches, use two screws per stave for increased stability.

 3. Cut the lid off the top of the barrel with a jigsaw at least 5 or 6 inches below the first band.

4. To create air intakes, drill three ¾-inch holes between the second and third rings from the bottom. Screw ¾-inch NPT nipple fittings into the holes, leaving some of the threads sticking out of the barrel so that you can add NPT end caps.

5. Drill a small hole for your temperature gauge in the lid. Make sure it’s a snug fit.

6. Fasten a handle—any generic handle will do—to the top of the lid. Drill three holes in the lid, just big enough to fit three more ¾-inch nipples. You’ll add or remove their end caps to adjust the temperature during smoking.

7. Line the bottom of the barrel with fire bricks to contain heat. Without blocking any of the air intakes, stand bricks every 4 to 6 inches around the inside of the barrel. This frame will support the bottom grate and serve as a cradle for your water pan.

8. Add the bottom grate. You’ll place charcoal on top of the bottom grate, then wrap smoking chips for flavor in aluminum foil and place them directly on the charcoal.

9. Screw four 90-degree brackets along the inside top edge of the barrel. Place a grate on those brackets. This is where your meat will go.

10. Start with something easy, like pork butt (Get Recipe Here)

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