55-gallon drum smoker, part deux

I’ve had some questions about the details of the smoker, so here I’m posting the CAD model and bill of materials as a reference. NOTE: the CAD model is incomplete… I modeled the major structure (barrels and doors) and then ended up building off the cuff as the smoker took shape. Things like the grates, drip tray, feet, hinge and latch locations, etc. were not modeled but just figured out as I went along. If anyone has questions about the details let me know and I can elaborate.

CAD files:

And here’s an unmodified 55 gallon drum model (minus some of the details, like lid and caps, etc.) in case you want to create your own design:

Here’s the bill of materials:

part source
55 gallon barrels local junk yard
16 ga. sheet metal pieces welding class supply room
1/2″ square steel bar (for fire grate) welding class supply room
expanded steel sheet (for charcoal basket) welding class supply room
1/4″ x 8′ long round rods, 304 stainless (for cooking grates) onlinemetals.com



18 ga. 304 stainless steel sheet, item #8983K38 (for dampers) McMaster-Carr 




maple dowel rod, item # 97015K82 (for handles) McMaster-Carr 



304 SS hinges, item # 1549A57 McMaster-Carr 



304 SS draw latches, item # 1889A37 McMaster-Carr 



quart of Rustoleum High Heat paint Lowe’s
3″ BBQ/smoker thermometer amazon.com
various screws, nuts, etc.

11 Responses to “55-gallon drum smoker, part deux”

  1. Joe writes:

    I have a grilling blog site, and have been searching for a cool smoker design. I’m going to make this one, I love it. We will be sure to link with you and let you know how it goes.

    Is there anything you would do differently, or any additional advice?

  2. joel writes:

    Hey Joe, thanks! My brother-in-law has not had a chance to use this design yet, so I don’t have any feedback on how well it works.

    As far as the construction, I would definitely try a different method of removing the paint from the barrels… fire would probably be the easiest way, or you could take them to someone with a big sandblasting booth.

    Also, applying the heat-resistant paint would have been smoother and faster with a spray gun, but I don’t have a spray booth (yet) and it was too cold to spray outside. I liked the semi-gloss of the brush-on stuff (vs. the flat finish from the aerosol can) but I would prefer to spray it on.

    I’ve heard some feedback about 55-gallon drums being too thin to last long exposed to high heat, so I might add a steel plate to the bottom of the lower drum where the hot coals will end up.

    Good luck, keep me posted!

  3. Sean writes:

    I have been trying like mad to get somekind of software that will open the stp and igs files that you have posted, however i still am looking. Any suggestions?
    Sweet smoker by the way.

  4. Chris writes:

    Hey Joel
    I have built the same smoker and was looking at so many variations and build techniques before I went ahead with the process. I kinda took my own route…a little freestyle more than anything and I tackled it with a stick welder as well ( that was trial and error for sure)Also I’m not sure what’s available in your area’s builders but Craigslist is where I got all my supplies for the build..total cost $0 (well besides the filler rod)

    As for the stripping I found I was able to strip a whole barrel in less than an hour with a butane torch and a whire wheel on a grinder. It ate right through the paint no Prob’s. And as for the bottom being so thin, I lined mine with fire bricks. you could probably get away with those fire rocks(look like briquetes)or even lava stones to keep the heat directly off the bottom.

    At any rate I am happy with the process I went with mine and for some usage results…priceless. It is a flawless design that has produced some of my best batches of smoked goodness to date.

    Only thing I need to work on is getting mine to look as “professional Quality” as yours does.

  5. joel writes:

    Hey Chris that’s awesome! Way to go with the freebie stuff. And I agree, I think heat (and wire-wheeling) is the key to stripping paint from barrels. Good call on the fire bricks.

    Most of all I’m so glad it works!!!

    Please, post some pictures!

  6. Don writes:

    G’day Joel – great idea, i’m keen on emulating your work but don’t have Siemens NX… you don’t happen to have a set of PDF patterns for the cuts you made? Life size would be super-sweet.

  7. joel writes:

    Thanks Don! You can print this image at the proper scale (the scale at the bottom left is cm, but you may need to scale it to match your barrel), or go to http://www.harderwoods.com/pipetemplate.php and enter in the dimensions. Good luck, and post some pics when you’re done!

  8. jason writes:

    hey nice job! do you have the print out for letter size paper ?

  9. Dermot writes:

    How can I get the design.
    I do not have CAD.

  10. Frank writes:

    Hi My name is Frank and saw your 55 gal smoker (T shape) and and looks great. I want to make one but need the temp let. dont have a cad program, any way I can get a copy from you.
    Thank you in advance

  11. joel writes:

    Hey Frank- The image I posted here can be scaled up and printed full size and used as a template. You just need to figure out the circumference of your barrel, then scale the image up until the width equals your circumference. Don’t worry too much about getting the cut perfect… you’re going to be doing some grinding anyway!

    Good luck!