How to Make a Jerky Smoker


A jerky smoker is any container that allows you to make a slow smoky fire in a pit with a chimney. Inside, you can smoke strips of meat for several hours until they are dried. This variation of a smoker requires some welding knowledge.

Step 1

Dig a hole 2 feet deep by 3 feet long by 2 feet wide. Pour a 4-inch layer of sand in the bottom and tamp it down. Use a level to make sure the bottom is even.

Step 2

Line the bottom of the hole with bricks and fill the cracks in with mortar. Build the sides, brick by brick. Fill each level with mortar until you have reached the top. Dry for at least a day.

Step 3

Make the frame of the smoker by placing four metal posts on the metal sheet. Measure and mark where each leg of the frame will be, leaving a 12-inch gap at the bottom where the legs will sit inside the fire box. Drill holes through the posts at the top, middle and bottom. Make corresponding holes in the sheeting. Attach the sheet to the legs by wrapping it around and securing it with nuts and bolts. Weld the seam shut to prevent smoke from escaping. Be sure that the feet fit snugly inside the brick firebox.

Step 4

Bolt metal handles to each side of the smoker. This will allow you to move it safely and easily.

Step 5

Mark both sides of the frame where the racks will sit -- 4 inches from the top and 6 inches below that. Screw and bolt through these holes, leaving the ends of the screws exposed. The two removable meat-drying racks will balance securely on them.

Step 6

Make the lid of the jerky smoker by forming a lid from the metal sheeting. It will be the size of the top opening with a 3-inch overlap on all sides. Use the metal cutter to open the overlap edges. Fold the sheeting into lid shape and weld the side overlaps shut.

Step 7

Cut a hole in the center of the smoker lid with metal cutters. The hole should be 1 inch smaller in diameter than the size of your chimney flue. Use the metal cutters to make 1-inch cuts evenly around the perimeter of the hole. Bend these sections up and weld them to your chimney pipe. This will make an effective seal for the jerky smoker and will allow the smoke to swirl out as the fire continues to burn.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't set the smoker near any combustibles or vegetation that might catch fire. Use fire mitts and tongs when rearranging drying meat. Never allow children near this or any other source of open fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Welder
  • Sand
  • Level
  • Sheet metal
  • 4 metal posts (2 inches by 4 inches by 5 feet)
  • Drill
  • Heavy-gauge screws
  • Nuts
  • Bolts
  • 2 racks for drying
  • Metal chimney flue
  • 2 metal handles
  • Measuring tape
  • Bricks
  • Mortar
  • Metal cutter

Who Can Help

  • Make a smoker out of a garbage can.
  • Make a smoker out of a cardboard box.
Keywords: make, jerky, smoker, metal, handles

About this Author

Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.

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