DIY Smoker- How To Build A Smokehouse From Pallets for Less than $100

By on January 8, 2014
DIY Smoker- How To Build A Smokehouse From Pallets for Less than $100 4.35/5 (87.04%) 54 votes

how-to-build-a-smokehouse-pallets

 

Yes, with a pile of old pallets, less than $100 and a bit of work, we built this really cool smokehouse. 3′ x 3′, it is big enough to smoke a whole animal, or at least a few big trays of meat plus some links of sausage.

I love this project – It still amazes me what you can build with repurposed wood and how great it looks. We really wanted to make a big DIY smoker, but most of the plans we looked that showed you how to build a smokehouse were too small and/or they called for using quite a bit of expensive materials. We never found plans that really met our requirements, so we ended up making our own.

Our considerations for DIY smoker plans were:

  • size - it needed to be big enough to a lot of items at once and also smoke large items
  • cost- it needed to be as inexpensive as possible while still allowing you to smoke meat well
  • skill level required – it needed to be something you could do with basic woodworking knowledge

I don’t know if you have ever smoked meat before, but it is a rewarding, yet time consuming task. Since your meat will be preserved, and therefore good for a long time, it makes the most sense to be able to smoke a lot at once. After determining how much wood we needed for a decent size smoker, we decided to go with repurposed pallets. For less than $100, we were able to put together this great smokehouse that can hold a ton of meat. Multiple racks for smoking as well as a place to hang sausages, you can even hang a whole deer in it if you like.

Here are the supplies you need to get started and the instructions and video for this cool project:

How to Build A Smokehouse:

Tools You Will Need to Build A Smokehouse:

  • reciprocal saw with bimetal blade (used to take pallets apart)
  • drill gun, preferably a cordless one
  • drill bits 1/8 bit and countersink bit
  • measuring tape
  • metal/tin snips
  • utility knife
  • Skil saw or table saw
  • Staple Gun
  • Safety Glasses
  • Work Gloves
diy-smoker

DIY smoker: Supplies and tools you will need for the project

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Deconstructed pallet pieces, cut to size, aluminum mesh screen and corrugated tin for roof. (Only use raw metal, not galvanized.)

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Pictured are the deconstructed pallet pieces, both the pallet panels (shown on left) and the 2×4 pieces of pallet, all cut using the dimensions in our cuts list.

Check out our project videos for this DIY Smokehouse:

How To Build a DIY Smoker

 

Directions and Instructions for Homemade Smokehouse:

 

Step 1 : Select Your Pallets and Deconstruct Them

There are a few challenges when you use free, repurposed materials. The wood you get is not consistent, often very dry, sometimes warped. It splits easily. It is far from perfect, but it is free. You will need 20-30 pallets for this project. We recommend you spend some time looking for ones without too many broken slats and without wood that is too visibly warped. It is fine if you do not do this or are not able to find perfect pallets (those do not exist) You wood may be a little warped, but that is fine. Your smokehouse will not be perfect, but it will smoke meat. You will want to get a few more pallets than you think you need in order to get the best materials. Pallets usually range from 42″-48″ and 3’x3′ design should allow you to build this when you use pallets in this size range. The 2x4s in most pallets are typically 4′ – 5′ long and they have cutouts for a forklift. The cutouts are fine. If you need to, you can sister two boards together, which we explain further in our DIY Smoker Video.

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Pallets come in many shapes and sizes. Each one is little bit different, and some are in better shape than others.

Where To Get Pallets? Check out our article: Where To Get Free Pallets and Reclaimed Wood

How To Know If Your Pallets Are Safe ? How To Tell If A Pallet Is Safe To Use

Deconstruct your pallets. We recommend you use a reciprocal saw with a bimetal blade that cuts through nails to do this. Trust me, this is the easiest way. View our tutorial and video on The Easy Way To Deconstruct A Pallet for step by step instructions.

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A reciprocal saw with a bimetal blade makes pallet disassembly much less work than a pry bar.

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You place the blade under each slat and cut, leaving you with the 2×4 planks that are between the slats.

 

Step 2 : Cut Clean Ends on Board and Make Cuts Below

Once you have your pallets deconstructed, you need to make your cuts. Start by making clean cuts on the ends of all your pallet boards. You should only need to remove a little bit. We chose our 3′ design to accommodate for this loss of wood from your pallets.

CUTS LIST

Cut these from 2x4s

(part 1) 2 top braces front and back @ 33”

(part 2) Door frame 2 pieces @ 70”

(part 3) Door frame 2 pieces @ 29”

(part 4) Wall frame front 2 pieces @ 6’

(part 5) Wall frame back 2 pieces @ 5’ 6”

(part 6) Back frame 2 pieces @ 5’4”    1×1

(part 7) Shelf supports 8 pieces @ 33”

(part 8) Shelf frames 8 pieces @ 32 ¾”

(part 9) And 8 pieces @ 30 ½ “

 

Cut these from Pallet Panels

(part 10) Left side @ 36 ¼ “

(part 11) Right side @ 34 ½ “

(part 12) Door @ 35 ¾”

(part 13) Back @ 35 ¾”

(part 14) Roof @ 38”

(part 15) Vent covers 2 pieces @ 18” to 24”

(Part 16)  Bottom front brace 1 piece @ 36”

Corrugated Metal roof 4’x3’

smokehouse-how-to

You will want to make clean cuts on the ends of your pallet boards. You should not need to cut too much off the ends.

diy-projects-pallets

When you remove the split ends of the wood, you should have a clean cut that looks like this.

 

PREDRILL AND COUNTERSINK SCREWS: 

Depending on the condition of your wood you may need to pre-drill and counter sink ALL screws to ensure the wood does not crack. We highly recommend you do this when using repurposed wood.

Step 3 : Layout and secure racks and frame for left and right sides

You will be making two sides frames here that also have cross pieces that will hold your racks. This DIY smoker utilizes  a neat design – the racks make the structure itself, and you can even easily adjust the rack heights in the design. The parts that hold the racks in place end up being the ribbing that holds the frame in place. We marked ours at 24″, 36″, 44″and 52″ so we could place bigger meats close to the fire and smaller meats further away. You can even add hooks at the top for sausage if you allow enough room to hang. The only important consideration is your firebox, which we set at 24″ NOTE: Make sure your fire box fits under the 24” bracing. Adjust your shelves as needed. These measurements are not set and can be placed at any useable height as long as you allow ample room for your firebox.

Assemble and secure:

Take one each of (part 4- Wall frame front,  6’)and (part 5 – Wall frame back , 5’ 6”) square the bottoms, and secure 4 pieces of (part 7- Shelf Support, 33″) at 24”, 36” 44” and 52” When securing parts 7 to part 5, leave a 1 ½” gap for part 6. You will repeat these same steps for the second side, leaving you with the frame for the right and left side of your smoker.

smokehouse-plans-instructions

Measure and mark part 4 and part 5 at 24″, 36″, 44″ and 52″ These measurements are adjustable if you wish your shelves to be at different heights than this.

diy-smoker-layout-diy-projects

Lay out one each of parts 4 and part 5, then mark your measurements one both at 24″, 36″, 44″ and 52″

how-to-make-smoker-smokehouse-diy-projects

You will secure your shelf supports (part 7, 4 pieces, 33″ for each side) at the four measurements you marked.

diy-smoker-instructions-for-smokehouse

You will want to square up the ends to make sure your racks and your smoker is level.

how-to-build-a-smokehouse-instructions

Your will attach four shelf supports (part 7, 33″) to each side

diy-smoker-how-to-build-a-smokehouse-diy-projects

We countersinked our screws before attaching these pieces. We highly recommend you do this so your wood will not split.

Step 4: Build frame for door

Take parts 2 and 3 (part 2 – Door frame, 2 pieces @ 70”) and (part 3 – Door frame, 2 pieces @ 29”) and screw them together to create door. We used a homemade jig so we could easily get our screws in at an angle. Use four screws on each corner.

diy-smoker-door-diy-furniture

Take two of your 70″ pieces (part 2) and two of your 29″ pieces (part 3) and screw them together to make your door.

how-to-make-a-smokehouse-diy

We used a homemade jig to get our screws in at an angle on the frame.

how-to-use-a-jig-diy-smokehouse

The jig allows us to get the screws in at an angle. Use four screws on each side.

diy-smoker-frame-pallet-smokehouse

Our finished door frame looks like this.

Step 5: Stand sides and door up, then secure

Stand the walls and door together and temporarily screw the door to the face of the walls so you can hold them together.

diy-smoker-how-to-build-a-smokehouse

Temporarily screw the door to the frame so you can hold it together.

Step 6 : Cut angle for roof

Using a piece of panel, set against the top of the left and right wall, draw a line to create the angle for the pitch of the roof, and cut off excess to create the pitch of the roof.

diy-smoker-pallet-smokehouse

Use a piece of panel to draw a line for the angle of the roof. Cut along this line on both sides, making them even.

Step 7:

Screw in part 1 (part 1 – two (2) top braces for front and back @ 33”) at the top of the walls front and back.

how-to-build-a-smokehouse-diy-smoker

Attach part 1 (2 top braces for front and back, 33″) to the top of the wall, along the angle you cut in step 5.

Step 8 :

Add in part 6 (part 6- Back frame 2 pieces @ 5’4”    1×1) to the back of the frame, screw into part 5 (Wall Frame Back).

pallet-smokehouse-free-plans-directions-instructions-tutorial-steps

Place the back frame piece (part 6) next to the back of the wall frame(part 5) like this.

diy-projects-homemade-smokehouse

Secure back frame piece (part 5 ) to wall frame (part 6 )with screws.

 

Step 9 : Add paneling

Paneling. Add the back paneling first from the ground up. Repeat for the right and left sides.

Remove door from frame. Screw in hinges and re-hang the door. Leave at least a ½” gap at the base of the door.

Add paneling to door, then add paneling to roof last.

NOTE: Right side is shorter so that hinges have space to rotate. Also, Left side is longer so the door sits inside the paneling.

diy-projects-pallet-smokehouse

Starting from the ground up, add your paneling to the sides of the smoker.

diy-projects-pallet-smokehouse

Continue adding paneling until you get to the top.

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Repeat and add paneling to other side.

Step 10 : Attach wood for roof

Screw roofing materials (part 14 Roof @ 38”) onto top to make roof.

diy-smoker-how-to

Place roofing boards (part 14)  on top and secure with screws.

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Screw the roofing materials onto the roof so they look like this.

Step 11 : Finish door

Put door frame back in place. Attach hinges to one side of door frame. Add pallet panels to door. Attach handle to front of door on opposite side from hinges.

diy-smoker-instructions

Attach your door frame to the smoker and add hinges on one side.

diy-smoker-87

Starting at the bottom, attach the pallet panels to the door.

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Continue attaching the pallet panels to the door like this.

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Attach panels until you get to the top. In this photo, we have already drilled the vent holes.

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Attach your handle to the door on the side opposite from the hinges.

 

Step 12 : Construct racks

Screw rack parts together. (part 8 – Shelf frames 8 pieces @ 32 ¾”) Staple screen onto rack. Once you have two sides stapled, be sure to pull the screen tight as you staple the other two sides.

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Screw the pieces for the rack frames (part 8,) together to make your smoking racks.

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Lay a piece of screen over the rack to get the right size.

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Cut the aluminum screen to size using your metal snips.

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Staple the screen onto each rack.

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After you staple two sides, be sure to pull the screen tight like this as you staple.

 

Step 13 : Cut vent holes

Select 2 panels from the door, one at the base and one at the top. Remove the panels, screw part 15 (part 15 – Vent covers 2 pieces @ 18” to 24”) to the face and drill holes using a hole saw. Make sure to leave enough space between the holes that they will be able to be closed off. Remove screws and build a brace to hold part 15 in place.

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diy-smoker-84

 

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Step 14 : Line inside with foil

Line the interior of the smoke house with heavy duty tin foil. Make the structure as air tight as you can. Expect to use 2 to 3 rolls of foil. Use a staple gun to secure the foil to the walls.

NOTE: do not use any galvanized metal in the smoke house as it is toxic.

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Line the entire inside of the smoker with heavy duty tin foil. Secure foil with your staple gun.

how-to-build-a-smokehouse-tutorial

Insert your racks into the smoker.

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Just imagine what you can smoke in here.

 

Step 15 : Attach tin roof

Attach tin to roof and secure with screws.

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Your cut piece of tin should fit nicely on the roof. Secure it with screws.

Step 16 : Admire your finished smoker

Your DIY smoker is complete and ready to smoke meat!

how-to-build-a-smokehouse-pallet

Your DIY Smoker is complete and ready to smoke meat.

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Be sure to check out our step by step project videos:

How To Build a DIY Smoker: Part One

How To Build a DIY Smoker: Part Two

How To Build a DIY Smoker: Part Three

 Check out our pallet projects and tutorials:

How To Build A Pallet Workbench in Under 2 Hours

How To Deconstruct A Pallet



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About Stephanie

Stephanie is the executive editor of DIYready.com. She is curious, creative, and an expert mess maker who is not afraid to try anything a couple of times to get it right. Her specialties are inventing things, writing no nonsense clear instructions, artistic endeavors, paper crafts, digital media, kids crafts, creating recipes and figuring out new and better ways to do almost anything. Stephanie is a DIY guru who thinks maybe she should have been banned from DIY forums years ago, but enjoys being part information junkie, mad scientist, uncertified gourmet chef and mom of three budding DIY enthusiasts.


40 Comments

  1. tony

    January 11, 2014 at 4:49 am

    What type of heat source would be safe for this wood structure and would you place it directly in side the box. As you can tell I don’t know anything about smokers but want to lurn moor. Thanks.

    • Roy

      January 13, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      You can get an electric element at Amazon made for Brinkmann smokers that should do the trick.

      • Stephanie

        January 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm

        Great suggestion! Thanks, Roy. We plan to make a video soon showing how to smoke meat in our new smoker. Anyone have any favorite smoked meat recipes or smoking tips, please share.

    • Brandon

      January 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Pipe in a small wood stove add a thermometer midd ways up. In my opinion unless smoking fish only the small electric element isn’t enough. Our you can try a old stove element.

  2. art

    January 13, 2014 at 3:27 am

    be careful selecting pellets. Be aware what was stored on them and what may have leaked on them. Be sure they are NOT contaminated by toxic chemicals or substances or flammable substances

  3. Bob

    January 14, 2014 at 1:43 am

    You can go to smokingmeatforums.com and get any and all info on preserving (curing) meat. also a bunch of ideas on how to use your smoke house.

    • Stephanie

      January 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks! That forum is has really great information. We plan to have a tutorial on meat smoking soon as well as a post on How To Determine if Your Wood Pallet Is Safe. We only used heat treated pallets (HT) for our smoker.

  4. Pingback: Free Wood Pallets and Reclaimed Materials -Where To Get Pallets and Wood - DIY Ready - DIY Ready

  5. Pingback: Free Wood Pallets and Reclaimed Materials -Where To Get Pallets and Wood - DIY Ready - DIY Ready

  6. Walter Jeffries

    January 17, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Be sure to get pallets that have not been fumigated with pesticides.

    • Stephanie

      January 17, 2014 at 3:11 am

      Definitely! Thank you for stressing the importance of that. We actually just posted an article on How To Tell If A Pallet Is Safe To Use to help people find pallets that have not been treated with chemicals.

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  8. R Noel Rodriguez

    January 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Great use of recycled materials! If you added grounding bars at each corner you would have a Faraday Cage. So, if you are not smoking meat and you need the space to protect your electronics such as a lap top computer, cell phone, chargers, etc., then you could use this structure as your electronic protector.

    • Stephanie

      January 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      That sounds really cool. We are interested in doing a DIY faraday cage soon. Anyone else who is interested, please add a comment here. This will help us know what to make next. Thanks for your feedback!

  9. Pingback: DIY smoker from pallets - Gun and Game - Gun Forum

  10. Jas

    January 19, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Given that it is almost impossible to know what insecticides and fungicides have been used on the pallets, I wouldn’t be taking the risk.

  11. Brenda& Daniel Doster

    January 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    hey for a heating opt. could you use the clay pot heater merged or would that create to much heat?

  12. Waurine parker

    January 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I would like information on new prjects

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  14. Nick

    January 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    This is an awesome idea! But can you please tell us what you guys are using for a heat source? Aka firebox?

  15. Keith

    January 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Careful of the type of pallet used.

    Chemical fumigation The wood must be fumigated with methyl bromide. Pallets treated via this method bear the initials MB near the IPPC logo. From 19 March 2010 the use of Methyl Bromide as an acceptable treatment according to ISPM15 [14] has now been banned within all EU member states.

    Treated wood pallets must be stamped on two opposite sides indicating either HT for heat treated or MB for methyl bromide treatment.

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  20. Peter Gurba

    February 1, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    refrigerator is much batter and air tight

  21. Jack Shannon Sr.

    February 14, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Great article thanks.. It might cost extra, but could you use foil lined wall board?

    Jack

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  26. dave

    May 16, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    This looks good, except for the use of aluminum to put the meats on, I’ve heard too much about aluminum oxides being related to health problems. How about using some old oven racks?

    • Stephanie

      May 19, 2014 at 8:05 am

      Good tip. The aluminum should be fine, but the oven racks would work well. Thanks.

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  28. Florentina

    June 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions
    on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for
    a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

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  31. steve

    October 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Very good info as a first time visitor I will certainly be returning

  32. Brian

    November 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    I was wondering what kind of heat source for this… And how to keep the flames low enough that it wont start the whole thing on fire… If there is a site of what I need, please let me know… Thanks so much!!!!

  33. Thomas

    November 11, 2014 at 12:32 am

    The question I have is can you use something more permanent than the aluminum foil?

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