Oak Barrel Smoker Build

oak barrel smoker for smoking bacong
It all starts with a sketch. I keep an A3 drawing pad in the shed which holds many a wild and whacky idea.

As you can see, this design is relatively straight forward using the already fabricated form of an oak barrel as the smoking chamber which then only requires the addition of a venturi cold smoke generator in order to get smoking. You can check out the venturi smoke generator we built at home by clicking here.

We decided an oak barrel would be perfect size for our requirements, estimating we would be able to comfortably fit around 20kg at a time inside. It also helped that Paul was able to pick one up for free from his mate at Leewin Estate in Margaret River! A standard barrel is the right height to be able to hang most cuts without being concerned they’ll touch the bottom. Additionally, we plan to install a number of smoking trays above one another, to a maximum of three, as an alternative so we can smoke other foods that aren’t hung.

Besides the fact it looks great and is ready to go, the advantage of using an oak barrel is that you can be sure the timber hasn’t been treated with harmful chemicals that could affect either the flavour or edibility of your meat. In this case, the fact the timber has been soaked in wine is a massive plus!

There is a lot of information about smoking setups online so rather than going¬† into too much detail here with the step by step guide (I’ll save that for the book!) I’ll post some images of the various steps we took in building ours to give you the idea.

Generally, the process we followed was:

  1. Fasten the steel hoops to the timber slats with self tapping tek-screws. Once the oak dries out it will pull away from the hoops and we will be cutting the upper section off so best to secure the hoops first.
  2. Using a jigsaw, cut through under the second hoop to create the removable lid.
  3. Drill holes to support the steel rods that will be used for hanging meat hooks or supporting the grill trays. Best to make these a 3-5mm larger than the rods. Our rods are the individual rack components from an IKEA kitchen shelf. Shhh don’t tell the missus! The Weber kettle replacement grills fit perfectly.
  4. Drill a hole as required at the base of the barrel to fit your venturi smoker.
  5. Finally, cut an 80-100mm diameter hole in the top of the lid to allow the smoke to escape slowly. The positioning is not essential as the lid can be rotated throughout each session to redistribute the airflow.

build your own oak barrel smoker

You’ll find details of our first smoke under Recipes.

As always, if you should have any specific questions, by all means post a comment below or send an email to oink@theporkenthusiast.com.au and I’ll do my best to help.



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