We’re Glad You’re Here! 

If you’re new to the Smokin’ Ugly world, welcome! In this guide, we’ll go over the basics of building and using a Smokin’ Ugly Drum Smoker. We cover:

Why Build an Ugly Drum Smoker to Begin With?

Barrel for Smoker 101

[How to] Building Your Meat Smoker for Beginners

How to Use Your Ugly Drum Smoker 

3 Meats to Smoke for Beginners 

Smokin’ Ugly FAQs 

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The world of meat smoking is an exciting place.

Not only is it delicious, but it’s only becoming more popular and more diverse.

That should come as no surprise. What’s not to love about a meal or even a simple sandwich with a smoked meat as the star of the show? 

Just as an artist creates a masterpiece painting, meat smoking offers chefs of all skill levels a very large canvas of sorts to experiment on and create meals of legend. 

But for the beginner, taking your first steps into this sweet, smokey, and delicious world can be a bit intimidating. 

Smoking meat is an art form and it’s not one that’s quickly mastered. What’s more, as a first-timer, you probably have plenty of questions you want answered long before you feel confident enough to put meat to smoke and flame. 

Where do you start? What’s the best meat smoker for beginners, and how do you use it? What meat should be your first to smoke? What type of smoking wood should you use? Lump charcoal or briquettes? Wood chunks or pellets? How do you keep a consistent temperature in your smoker? 

The list of questions like these can continue for a while. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help! 

Your foray into meat smoking doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. And, as far as where you should start – we say you need to look no further than building your own ugly drum smoker (UDS) with Smokin’ Ugly parts. With a little dint and determination (as well as a few tools, an afternoon, and this guide), you’ll be able to step into the world of meat smoking on sure footing, knowing not only how to build an ugly drum smoker, but also how to use your new barrel smoker. 

So, let’s begin! 

There’s nothing like the wisdom of experience.
That’s why we’ve peppered in a few insights from seasoned Smokin’ Ugly users throughout this page.

 

Why Build an Ugly Drum Smoker to Begin With?

Let’s get right to it – why would you build your own ugly drum smoker? 

As opposed to going the DIY ugly drum smoker route, couldn’t you go to the store and buy a pre-built smoker?

Like most other products, absolutely – there’s no denying that.

But allow us to ask a question back: why not build your own ugly smoker?  

With a few tools and an afternoon (something you would have given up anyway as store-bought smokers almost always have “some assembly required”), you can have a smoker that’s undeniably yours. And with Smokin’ Ugly kits and accessories, you’re not starting from scratch, per se. Rather than having to find a 55-gallon drum and then source each component,

With a few tools and an afternoon (something you would have given up anyway as store-bought smokers almost always have “some assembly required”), you can have a smoker that’s undeniably yours. And with Smokin’ Ugly kits and accessories, you’re not starting from scratch, per se. Rather than having to find a 55-gallon drum and then source each component,

Remember, low-cost smokers are the same as premium-level smokers – you get what you pay for. 

Another way: A cheaper store-bought smoker is more likely to be, well, cheap – it’s not the type of meat-cooking instrument that you can count on using for the rest of your meat-smoking career. On the other hand, there’s a reason premium-grade smokers cost a small fortune – they’re made from high-quality materials and come with plenty of bells and whistles. For the beginner, dropping what seems like the equivalent of a few mortgage payments might seem like a tall order – enough so that it causes you to look elsewhere. 

As we see it, building your own UDS with Smokin’ Ugly parts is less of an investment as it is a journey into a highly personalized world of meat smoking that’s quite literally made by you. 

No one will ever be able to point to your Smokin’ Ugly outfitted drum smoker and say it’s just like theirs. The fact is, your Smokin’ Ugly outfitted drum smoker is something you built and there’s not another one like it. And if anyone asks, “What is the best smoker?” you’ll have an immediate one-word answer: 

Mine

Besides the pride of ownership, what else do you get from building your own ugly barrel smoker? A few key things: 

Customizability: To expand on what we said above, store-bought smokers come as-is. And they’re limited by the manufacturer's design and potentially require extra investment for additional accessories. In contrast, building a homemade drum smoker allows for customization to fit specific needs from the get-go. Essentially, creating a DIY barrel smoker puts you in control of the final design and functionality, ensuring you have a drum smoker that perfectly suits your requirements.

Longevity: Made with thick gauge steel, ugly drum smokers are durable and can last for decades with regular maintenance, cleaning, and protection from the elements. In contrast, store-bought smokers (especially the cheaper options) may have less durability. They often include fragile electrical components like heating elements and thermometers that need eventual replacement. Moreover, repairing or replacing parts on store-bought smokers can be challenging, as some manufacturers don't provide replacement parts or repair services, and self-repair may be difficult due to the smoker's construction.

Familiarity: As the person who built your UDS, you have a level of familiarity with the meat cooking apparatus that no one else has . While this lends itself to the pride of ownership we mentioned, practically speaking it helps when it comes to adding to the smoker or replacing a component – you're the #1 person best suited for the job. The same goes for if you’re going to move it or need to take it apart, there’s little question about how to put it back together. You don’t need an electrical or engineering degree

Barrel for Smoker 101

Before we get into the “how-to’s” of building your own UDS smoker, let’s take a quick detour to one of the most important decisions you’ll make: selecting the right barrel for your smoker

What gives your ugly drum smoker both its form and function, the barrel is the foundation of one of the best meat smokers for beginners.

The easiest, worry-free route – purchasing a Smokin’ Ugly drum smoker kit that comes complete with a barrel. Made in America from 18 gauge carbon steel and pre-drilled, these drums are designed for a long, happy useful life of helping you smoke meat.  

 However, for those independently sourcing their drum, barrel selection isn’t as simple as going down to your local hardware store and buying the first metal drum you see. In fact, without some research – or at least asking the right questions – that can be your biggest mistake in realizing a DIY drum smoker. The last thing you’ll want is to spend the time and effort into building your own drum smoker with a barrel that has no business being used in the first place. 

The most important rule of thumb for getting a barrel is to remember: Not all barrels are created equal, and not all barrels are made to be smokers.

Some barrels you’ll find on the market have a history – in that they were used for storing things like chemicals or (crude) oil and were given a quick once-over cleaning before being put up for sale. Others are designed to serve a different purpose  (like what we mentioned above) and have liners or a painted interior. Some aren’t made with the right type of metal that can stand up to the rigors of meat smoking.  

So how do you choose a barrel that will get the job done? 

Evaluate these considerations: 

Size

Drum barrels come in various sizes, ranging from 55 to 110 gallons. For the ideal fit with our UDS smoker kits & accessories, it's recommended to choose a 55-gallon drum. This option allows you to smoke different meats and prepare various dishes, including Thanksgiving turkey and holiday ham.

While it may seem like bigger is better, larger barrels have drawbacks. They take longer to heat up and require more fuel and effort to maintain a consistent temperature. 

Lid Situation

Trapping both heat and smoke is a fundamental function for a smoker of any sort. 

While it's not impossible to find lids for barrels that come without, it's always best to go with a barrel that comes complete with its own covering and doesn't need any modifications. It makes it light years easier to install a smoker hinge kit on and use later on.

Metal Type

Your UDS smoker should be made from one material – steel.

While this does eliminate barrels made from other metals from contention, you are still left with a choice – a barrel made from cold-rolled carbon steel or stainless steel.    

Cold-Rolled Carbon Steel

Pros

Cons

Affordability
Cold-rolled carbon steel drums are often more affordable than their counterparts like stainless steel.
Lining
Many cold-rolled carbon steel drums come with a lining, which can be a job to remove.
Durability
Constructed from a single sheet of metal rolled into a cylinder shape, enabling them to withstand high heat conditions and extreme temperatures​.
Corrosion Resistance
Unlike stainless steel, cold-rolled carbon steel does not have a high corrosion resistance. That means it can rust easier without normal maintenance.
Thermal Conductivity
Cold-rolled carbon has excellent thermal conductivity, which helps it maintain a more constant cooking temperature.
Surface Roughness
Cold-rolled steel has a smoother surface, but it's still be rougher than stainless steel which affect cleaning.

Stainless Steel

Pros

Cons

Durability & Strength
Stainless steel is known for its durability and strength, making it an ideal material for drum smokers to withstand the rigors of meat smoking.
Cost
Stainless steel drums are generally the most expensive option – sometimes running around $1,000.
Heat Resistance
Stainless steel can easily withstand the high temperatures of barbecuing and smoking without degrading or losing shape.
Thermal Conductivity
Stainless steel does a better job reflecting heat than retaining it. That means it takes longer to heat your smoker.
Longevity
A well-maintained stainless steel drum smoker is likely to last a long time, possibly a lifetime, which can offset the initial investment over time.
Weight
The walls of stainless steel smokers are generally thicker than cold-rolled carbon steel, making your smoker a heavier lift.

Past Use

Yes, it’s 100% possible to make a used barrel the primary component of your ugly drum smoker. Some of the best ugly drum smokers we’ve seen have had a previous vocation in their lives. 

However, the preowned route must be trodden with caution. It’s hard to know a drum’s full history, maybe it was used for storing oil or hazardous waste. During a smoke session, it’s all but guaranteed the barrel may release toxins or other contaminants as it’s exposed to heat. 

To ensure safety, we recommend buying a barrel that is certified as “food-grade.”

Condition 

This one is for those giving a used barrel a new purpose.

Like any item that’s already seen some action, it’s always a good idea to give your barrel a solid once-over. Be on the lookout for things such as: 

  • Dents
  • Rust spots 
  • Discolorations
  • Corrosion

It's no different than buying a used car. A vehicle that's rusted out, damaged, and struggles to start probably won't go the distance you're expecting it to.

 How Much Does an Ugly Drum Smoker Barrel Cost & Where Do I Get One?

To the first question – it’s hard to nail down a price. Some Smokin’ Ugly users have sourced used barrels for as low as $30. Others, particularly those who go with the premium option (stainless steel) have paid around $1,000 for their drum. 

To the second question – There are plenty of places to get a drum if you're not using one of our complete kits. Whether it’s new or used, just be sure it's food-safe. Some Smokin’ Ugly users have turned to:

Amazon (FYI – from what we've seen, this is usually the most expensive option)

Local hardware stores

[How to] Building Your Meat Smoker for Beginners  

Think of the last gourmet meal you prepared for a few guests. 

Chances are there was very little about the meal that came already prepared or pre-cooked. More likely, you spent a decent chunk of time making it practically from scratch, sourcing the best ingredients, and following the recipe your way. 

How proud were you to see empty plates at the end of the meal?

In a certain respect, the same applies to a Smokin’ Ugly outfitted drum smoker that you’ve made. You’ve gone to the trouble to find the best barrel and invest in Smokin’ Ugly drum smoker parts, kits, and accessories. There’s nothing like stepping back and watching the ugly drum smoker you built do its thing. 

So, how do we get to that point? With a barrel and the appropriate Smokin’ Ugly kits, you’re halfway there, so to speak. 

Let’s dig into the how-to’s of building your ugly drum smoker

How to Build Your Own Smoker: What You’ll Need

Beyond an afternoon (and a 55-gallon barrel if you’re sourcing your own drum), you’ll need: 

Tools

  • Pencil or marker
  • Step drill bit
  • Adjustable wrench or 7/16” wrench
  • A cutting tool, be it a jigsaw, oscillating multi-purpose tool, or tin snips 

Accessories
(click on each ugly drum smoker kit to download instructions) 

Shop Smokin Ugly

How to Build Your Own Smoker: Making Your Ugly Drum Smoker

Installing Smokin’ Ugly kits to your drum is a fairly straightforward process – simply follow the directions for each kit and you shouldn’t have any problems. This is especially true when using a drum that comes with our kits – did we mention they’re pre-drilled? 

If there’s one piece of advice we’d pass along for a successful build, it’s: Be patient and methodical. While we understand wanting to get smoking as soon as possible, rushing the process or not paying attention to detail are a recipe for costly errors. 

A few other pieces of advice we’d like to impart as you work through the “how to make a smoker out of a 55-gallon drum”:  

  1. The most basic but overlooked tip is to follow the instructions for putting together and installing each Smokin' Ugly component. As with any other "some assembly required"  thing, it's best not to put your engineering acumen to the test.
  2. A step drill bit makes a big difference in saving you time. Because our drum smoker accessories require various hole sizes, a step drill allows you to bore holes of varying diameters without having to change bits.
  3. Test fit everything before affixing it to the drum. There's nothing more frustrating than doing the work to ready your drum for a piece only to find it doesn't fit. Adjustments are easier to make when you know what you're working with. 
  4. Make cuts and drill holes before painting the drum with high heat-resistant paint. This is more for aesthetics than anything, but you can't damage a paint job if a fresh coat wasn't put on in the first place.
  5. Speaking of painting – only paint the outside of your smoker. The last thing you want is to smoke a cut of meat or dish with toxic burnt paint fumes.
  6. Build on a steady location. This is no different than any other small assembly project. Working on a wobbly surface/unsteady location only increases margins for error and frustration.
  7. Find the optimal spot. Your Smokin’ Ugly deserves a place of honor – one that's functional and safe. When selecting your DIY meat smoker's home, make sure it's a level spot that's far enough away from buildings and won't be a hazard to passersby.
  8. Get an extra set of hands. As the adage goes, "Many hands make for light work." This also applies to building your own drum smoker. Having a helper makes for a faster, more efficient build, and may reduce accidents and mistakes.

How to Build Your Own Smoker: The Last Step

When your new ugly drum smoker is built, it’s 100% tempting to fire it up and start smoking your first meat. 

But hold on, there’s one last step: Firing it up and not smoking a meat on it. Your first time getting a bed of hot charcoals going in it is about two things: 

  1. Burning off any impurities from inside the drum
  2. Seasoning the barrel (similar to seasoning a cast iron pan)

Seasoning your drum smoker is simple, yet time-consuming.

To prepare your smoker for future use, you’ll want to get it as hot as possible: 

  • Load up the charcoal basket with wood or charcoal
  • Open all the air vents to their maximum setting
  • Ignite the fuel source
  • Let it burn for several hours, adding new fuel as need be. 

After the burn is complete and it’s had time to cool down, inspect the barrel and meat smoking accessories, making sure everything – from the hinge to the vents – is in working order.

Pro Tip: You may need to re-season your drum smoker periodically throughout its lifetime. This helps ensure that it remains in good condition and continues producing delicious smoky flavors with every use.


How to Use Your UDS Smoker 

Ready to take your Smokin’ Ugly DIY meat smoker on its maiden voyage

Aye, aye!

But in seriousness, we’re excited for you. Let’s get into how to use your drum smoker. 
 

Tools of the Trade

Even using a standard grill to cook something as basic as say, burgers, requires a few cooking implements – the trinity of a spatula, BBQ fork, and tongs. 

Being that smoking meat is – dare we say – a bigger deal, your cooking toolkit will require more. At a minimum, you’ll need: 

  • Charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal
  • Wood chips/chunks
  • Grilling utensils – tongs, fork, knife
  • Temperature gauge
  • Heat-resistant gloves
  • A fire starter
  • Seasonings
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • A table & cutting board

Bringing the Heat: Getting Your Charcoal Going

Now that you're fully prepped and ready to start smoking, it's time to take on starting the first fire in your smoker to get the charcoal going.

A quick YouTube search will turn up plenty of tutorials showing the various ways you can start a fire in your drum smoker barrel. In our experience, the best way to get your charcoal burning is using a chimney charcoal starter.

Using a Chimney Charcoal Starter

To get your smoker's fuel going using a chimney charcoal starter:

  • Load your drum smoker's charcoal basket almost to capacity.
  • Put the chimney starter on the ground and add a few pieces of paper underneath it.
  • Fill the charcoal chimney about halfway with charcoal.
  • From beneath, light the paper and allow the fire to burn for about 5 minutes. By then, your charcoal should be glowing hot.
  • Carefully release the hot charcoal into your drum smoker to start the rest of your heat source.


Pro Tip:
While there are many ways to start your charcoal (lighting paper with a match or using an electric heat gun) there is one way you never should: with lighter fluid. A chemical, lighter fluid can impart an off-taste to your meat. It's also dangerous, as the fumes from the fluid can be toxic.

Which Type of Charcoal Should You Use?

A great question.

You have two options: lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes. The latter is probably what you’re most familiar with.

Though briquettes burn hotter and longer, we recommend going with lump charcoal.

Why?

A few reasons:

  1. Briquettes are manufactured and often impart chemical-like off-flavors to meat. 
  2. Burning hot and fast isn’t what meat smoking is about. Smoking a meat is meant to be a labor of love, one that’s a slower process at a lower temperature. Or, as we’ve heard it said, “low and slow, steady as she goes.”
  3. Made from natural woods – many of which are used as smoker chips – lump charcoal can impart flavor enhancements to your meat. 

It usually takes a bit for your drum smoker to get up to temperature. The key – don't rush things. While there is an element of charcoal management you'll need to do, overwhelming the burn is the fastest way to inadvertently dampen the fire or increase its intensity. Remember: it's easier to go up in temperature than to go down.

Steadily burning charcoal is only half the equation for getting your drum smoker to temperature.

The other component? Air.

Nothing impacts a burn more than air, and smoking meats requires having a dialed-in airflow.

To achieve the right flow of air in your drum smoker, it’s important to keep the vents clear of ash and debris. You may also need to periodically adjust the vents – or even open the charcoal chute – to ensure that the smoker is burning evenly. To an extent, it takes some fine-tuning to get the right amount of airflow.

Bringing the Smoke

Once your temperature is where you need it, it's time to start literally smoking. You'll now add smoker pellets, wood chips, or chunks to the burn.

Hickory, mesquite, and applewood are among the most popular types of hardwood smoker pellets. For the beginner, these pellet varieties are a great place to start – they pair well with most meats. However, each type of wood pellet is unique and imparts a different flavor profile to meat.

In addition to creating smoke, adding pellets to a meat smoker when cooking helps maintain temperature – something can't be smoking if it's not burning. You should add pellets at the beginning of the cooking process and then add more as needed throughout. As a general rule, you will need to add about one cup of pellets for every 50 pounds of meat in your smoker. Make sure to add pellets slowly so they do not clump together.

Hickory

The classic hardwood for smoking, hickory boasts a strong, bold flavor that works well with beef and red meats. This strong smoke works especially well when paired with beef or red meats, as it enhances their natural flavors.

Mesquite

Mesquite has a more intense flavor. It works especially well with meats that are low in fat, such as fish and poultry, as it brings out the natural flavors in these foods without overwhelming them.

Applewood

Applewood is mellower in flavor, so it works well with pork and milder meats like chicken or turkey. The sweet, fruity flavor of this wood gives these foods a subtle smokey note without overpowering them.

Feeling a bit adventurous? Check out our smoking wood comparison in which we look at a dozen options.

Recipes: 3 Meats to Smoke for Beginners

It’s probably the biggest question you’ll face when using your new Smokin’ Ugly outfitted drum smoker for the first time: What will my first smoked meat be?

Indeed, a major question that deserves ample consideration. Your first smoked meat will be the one you remember the most.

If there’s a #1 piece of advice we can offer on your first smoke selection, it’s this: Don’t jump in over your head.

Even if you’ve used other types of smokers, this is your first time with your new Smokin’ Ugly. Take things slowly; just like your first car, it’s going to take some time to learn the nuances of your ugly drum smoker.

To that end, consider these recipes below for a first-timer. Not only are they easy, but the end product is sure to please.

Click the cookbook for more Smokin' Ugly recipes!

Beef Brisket

beef brisketOne of the keystones of BBQ, the beef brisket is in many ways made for smoking. It’s also one of the best meats to smoke for beginners. 

Coming from the lower chest of a cow, this cut of meat is characterized -- in part -- by its toughness from connective tissue. The smoking process, however, tenderizes the meat and brings out its amazing flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1  brisket (about 6 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

The Night Before:
  • In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. Apply the mixture all over the brisket and refrigerate.
  • Of note, you can apply the mixture to the cut as far as 24 hours or as close as 2 hours to your smoke. We've found applying it the night before gives your meat enough time to get to know its covering.

The Day Of:

  • Preheat your smoker to 275℉
  • Place brisket on the smoker and cook for 6 to 8 hours, adding smoker chips or chunks as necessary (we recommend hickory)
  • Once the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 200℉, it's ready to be removed
  • Allow the cut to rest for at least 1 hour before slicing

Pro tip: While it's tempting to want to look at your brisket (or any meat) as it cooks, only do this rarely. Whenever you open the lid to your smoker, heat escapes and your meat loses the benefit of smoke at a consistent temperature.

Pork Shoulder

pork shoulderThe foundation of many a good sandwich or piled high open plate, the pork shoulder boasts a bold, yet sweet flavor.

Like the beef brisket, a pork shoulder is one of the easiest meats to smoke for beginners. During its long smoke sessions, the shoulder becomes tender and its flavor profile pops. Unlike its contemporary, the pork butt, a pork shoulder is less fatty and has less marbling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork shoulder (6-8 lbs)
  • Approximately 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

The Night Before:

  • Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels and coat it in a thin layer of mustard (To those who have a distaste for mustard -- don't worry, the mustard flavor goes away during the smoke.)
  • Combine brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to create a rub.
  • Apply your rub all over the shoulder and refrigerate. Note: “Rub” is a misnomer - you’re not giving the meat a massage. Rather, coat the cut and pat it gently to ensure a thorough and even application.

The Day Of:

  • Preheat your smoker to 225℉.
  • Smoke the pork shoulder for 6-8 hours, adding smoking chips or chunks as necessary (we recommend a combination of hickory and apple wood).
  • Remove the shoulder from the smoker (it should be at 200℉ internal) and let rest for 1 hour before carving, pulling, or shredding.

Whole Chicken

whole chicken

The humble chicken the standard to what many other types of meat are compared to and a mainstay of smoking.

Similar to barbecuing, it's hard to go wrong with a smoked whole chicken. Put simply, it’s a good meat to smoke for beginners. With a faster smoke time than other meats and versatile, a whole chicken appeals to the masses and has a great presentation. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole chicken

The Night Before:

  • Rinse the chicken inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black paper, cumin, chili powder, and salt to create a rub.
  • Apply rub to the outside of the bird in an even coating. At most, pat the rub onto the chicken (don't actually rub it in). Any leftover rub can be sprinkled inside the cavity of the chicken.

The Day Of:

  • Preheat your smoker to 225℉
  • Place the chicken in the smoker and smoke for about 3 hours, adding smoking chips or chunks as necessary (we recommend a combination of apple or cherry wood) or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165℉
  • Remove the chicken from the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving

Meat Smoker for Beginners: Smokin’ Ugly FAQs

We’ve rounded up a selection of the top questions we get from Smokin’ Ugly product users.

Barrel FAQS

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.

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


Building Your Smokin’ Ugly

What Tool Should I Use for Cutting the Barrel?

We recommend this order:

Metal blade

  1. Jigsaw
  2. Oscillating multi-purpose tool
  3. 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?

Yes!


Grate FAQs

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.


Hinge FAQs

Will the Hinge and Latch Work on Any Barrel Smoker?

It will work on most barrel smokers.

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.


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.

Do the Smokin' Ugly Accessories Have a Warranty?

Yes, a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

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 Smokin' Ugly Accessories?

It varies by accessory.

Can Smokin’ Ugly Components be Used on Another Smoker?

Absolutely!

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

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

Not Seeing Your Question?

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