DIY Smoker: FAQs About the Smokin’ Ugly

DIY Smoker: FAQs About the Smokin’ Ugly

There’s something about preparing a meal on a DIY smoker.

With the right recipe and that special thing that only you bring to the table, any meats or meal prepared on your BBQ smoker is truly yours. There’s nothing artificial or disingenuous about it.

The Smokin’ Ugly – a DIY smoker we make the parts and accessories for – is made by you to take your BBQ game to the next level.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice taking their first steps into the wonderful – and delicious – world of drum-smoked meats and pit barrel cooking, you’ll likely have a few questions. No worries! We love contributing to a long and succulent BBQ success story.

We’ve rounded up the top frequently asked questions (and their answers) about this DIY smoker.


The Top Smokin’ Ugly FAQs

Since releasing the Smokin’ Ugly line of accessories, we’ve fielded plenty of questions pitched by BBQ enthusiasts of all skill levels. What’s more, the questions we’ve received run the full gamut – from those pertaining to meat-smoking accessories to smoker grill design ideas and anything in between.

Click any of the links below to be taken to the corresponding section!

  1. Barrel FAQs
  2. Building your Smokin’ Ugly
  3. Grate questions
  4. Accessories & more
  5. Hinge inquiries


Barrel FAQS

Should I Start With a Commercial Barrel Smoker and Upgrade it or Start from Scratch With a Standard Barrel?

That’s completely up to you! Either option works just fine.

What Type of Barrel Should I Use?

This answer is extremely important: Use a barrel meant for food products (food grade) and doesn’t have a plastic lining.

Is There a Type of Barrel I Shouldn’t Use?

Yes (another important answer): Do not use barrels previously used for chemicals or lubricants.

Where Can I Get a Barrel?

You can find barrels at Runnings, McMaster Carr, U-line, E-bay, etc. Just remember, whichever barrel you choose should be food grade.

How Much Does a Barrel Cost?

That’s a tough one to answer. Generally speaking, we’ve seen barrels go for as high as $300. We’ve also seen repurposed barrels sold by a distributor go for around $30.

You can also try your luck on social media marketplaces or local resale websites (such as Craigslist) – if you’re lucky, you might find one for free or close to free.

How Do I Prep a Barrel for Smoking?

Build a fire in the barrel to burn off the existing paint. Next, clean the barrel. Then paint the exterior and lid with high-temperature paint.

How Do I Season a Barrel for Smoking?

Build a fire (charcoal or wood) in the barrel and let the smoke season the inside of the barrel for at least a few hours.

Should I Paint the Barrel Before Installing its Parts?

No. Drill all your holes, make all your cuts, test fit all your parts, and paint the barrel last.

What Type of Paint Should I Use for My Barrel?

Use a high-temperature paint, such as Rust-Oleum Specialty High Heat.

Can My Barrel Sit Directly on the Ground or Should it be Raised?

It can sit directly on the ground. However, you will likely want to raise it if you have it on a deck or other heat-sensitive surface.

Should I Use a Water Pan in My Barrel Smoker?

It really depends on what you are cooking. It works as a heat deflector and helps keep certain cuts of meat more moist.

Building Your Smokin’ Ugly

What Tools are Necessary to Build my Smokin’ Ugly?

To build your 55-gallon drum smoker, you’ll need a:

  • Pencil or marker
  • Hand drill
  • Adjustable wrench 5/16” drill bit
  • 7/16” wrench


What Tool Should I Use for Cutting the Barrel?

We recommend this order:

  1. Metal blade
  2. Jigsaw
  3. Oscillating multi-purpose tool
  4. Tin snips


Should I Drill a Pilot Hole Before Using my Step Bit?

It can only help!

How do I Keep the Step Drill Bit From Sliding Sideways When I Start a Hole?

You can use a center punch and drill a pilot hole if needed.

How Precise do my Cuts Need to be?

The more precise the cuts, the better. However, your cuts don’t need to be extremely precise (±1/32”) for the drum smoker to work.

What are the Minimum Items I Need to Make a Barrel Smoker?

In addition to a 55-gallon drum smoker, you’ll need a lid and a grill grate. However, your BBQ smoker will work far better with adjustable vents and a charcoal basket.

Can One Person Install Everything?


Grate Questions

What Material is the Grate Made of?

304 stainless steel.

What is the Capacity of the Grate? Dimensions?

The grill grate is 21.75 inches in diameter and has ~343 sq. in for cooking.

How Should I Clean the Food Grate?

Prior to the first use, clean the grate with a mild soap and water solution. After use, clean it just like you would any other grill grate (brush, scraper, soap and water, etc).

Can More Than One Grate be Installed in a Barrell? If so, What do I Need?

Yes! And you’ll need an extra grill grate kit.

Accessories & More

How Long Does it Take to Install Smokin' Ugly Accessories?

That all depends on you, your skill level, the tools you have, and the number of accessories being installed. On average, it takes about 4 hours to install all the accessories.

How do the Flat Accessories Bend Around the Barrel?

Simple – they bend as you tighten down the fasteners.

How Loose Should the Lid Latch and Catch be?

It’s all based on personal preference. The lid should be free enough that you don’t have to fight with it, but tight enough to create a seal when latched down.

Do the Smokin' Ugly Accessories Have a Warranty?

Yes, a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Do the Smokin' Ugly Accessories Have Support?

Yes – you’ll talk to the Weber Knapp Sales and Engineering Team!

Where are the Smokin' Ugly Accessories Made?

Proudly in the United States!

Are the Smokin’ Ugly Accessories Corrosion-Resistant?

Most of the accessories (especially the ones exposed to the elements) are.

What Gauge Steel is Used for the Smokin’ Ugly Accessories?

It varies by accessory.

Can I Buy Smokin’ Ugly Accessories in a Store Near Me?

Not yet.

Can Smokin’ Ugly Components be Used on Another Smoker?


How Should I Position the Air Inlet and Exhaust Vent for Best Airflow?

The air inlet should be at the bottom of the drum and the exhaust vent should be in the lid.

What if I Want to Hang a Rack of Ribs?

We currently do not offer anything to assist with this. However, you are only limited by your own ingenuity.

Do You Offer a Thermometer With Your Kits?

No, we do not. Any replacement grill thermometer should work. Most of our users repurposed thermometers from old grills. Reuse is kind of a theme with barrel smokers

Hinge Inquiries

Will the Hinge and Latch Work on Any Barrel Smoker?

It will work on most barrel smokers.

Does the Pizza Oven Require the Smokin’ Ugly Hinge?

Yes, it does.

Can I Use the Hinge Without the Latch?

Yes, you can.

How Should I Decide Between the Single Spring and Double Spring Hinge?

By weight – the heavier the lid, the more work the hinge has to do. With heavy lids, such as those with chimneys or the pizza oven, you’ll need the double spring hinge.

Does the Barrel Lid Open to Different Heights or Do I Have to Open it All the Way?

It can open to various angles when using the Smokin’ Ugly hinge.

Smokin’ Ugly: A DIY Smoker for Everyone

No matter your skill level, the Smokin’ Ugly is meant for everyone to learn on, experiment with, and enjoy the world of barrel smoking and grilling.

Ready to Start Shopping?

Visit our online store today!

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