No DIY junkie will back down from this DIY smoker project–a smokehouse build from pallets you can be proud of!
RELATED: Where to Get Free Pallets for Reclaimed Wood Projects
In this article:
- What You Need to Know Before Building a DIY Smokehouse
- Materials You Need for a Smokehouse Build from Pallets
- Tools You Will Need for a Smokehouse Build from Pallets
- How to Build a Smokehouse
- Admire Your Finished Smokehouse!
DIY Smokehouse Build From Pallets and on a Budget!
What You Need to Know Before Building a DIY Smokehouse:
First, some tips for building a smokehouse made from pallets. It's a bit of a challenge, but with a minimum budget and a chance to work on some pallets, this project is definitely worth it.
Follow the step-by-step tutorial and detailed instructions to DIY a smokehouse build from pallets!
Yes, with a pile of old pallets, less than $100 and a bit of work, we built this really cool smokehouse. At 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 DIY smokehouse plans we checked showing 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
Here are the supplies you need to get started and the instructions and video for this cool smokehouse project:
Materials You Need for a Smokehouse Build from Pallets:
- 20-30 pallets, deconstructed
- 2 1/2 inch screws *you should choose a good outdoor screw, we used plastic coated decking screws
- 1 1/4 inch screws
- Aluminum flashing
- Corrugated tin roof (4'x3′) *this must be raw metal, not galvanized
- Heavy duty tin foil
- Roll of aluminum screen
- Handle (for the door)
- Hinges (3)
Tools You Will Need for a Smokehouse Build from Pallets:
- reciprocal saw with a 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
Check out our project videos for this DIY Smokehouse:
How to Build a Smokehouse
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 smokehouse, we decided to go with repurposed pallets. For less than $100, we were able to put together this great smokehouse to 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.
Step 1. Select Your Pallets
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). Your wood may be a little warped, but that is fine.
Your smokehouse will not be perfect too, 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 smokehouse Video.
Step 2. Deconstruct the Pallets
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.
Step 3. 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.
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’
Know your pallets and cuts with this article: Pallet 101: Types, Standard Pallet Size And More
PREDRILL AND COUNTERSINK SCREWS:
Depending on the condition of your wood you may need to pre-drill and countersink ALL screws to ensure the wood does not crack. We highly recommend you do this when using repurposed wood.
RELATED: How To Know If A Pallet Is Safe To Use
Step 4. Layout 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 smokehouse build from pallets 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 firebox 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.
Step 5. Assemble and Secure the Smokehouse Racks
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 smokehouse.
Step 6. Build a Frame for the 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 the door.
We used a homemade jig so we could easily get our screws in at an angle. Use four screws on each corner.
Step 7. Stand Sides and the 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.
Step 8. Cut Angle for Roof
Using a piece of the panel, set against the top of the left and right wall, then draw a line to create the angle for the pitch of the roof, and cut off excess to create the pitch of the roof.
Step 9. Brace the Top
Screw in part 1 (part 1 – two (2) top braces for front and back @ 33”) at the top of the walls front and back.
Step 10. Brace the Sides
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).
Step 11. Add Paneling
Paneling. Add the back paneling first from the ground up. Repeat for the right and left sides.
Remove the door from the frame. Screw in hinges and re-hang the door. Leave at least a ½” gap at the base of the door.
Add paneling to the 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.
Step 12. Attach Wood to the Roof
Screw roofing materials (part 14 Roof @ 38”) onto the top to make the roof.
Step 13. Finish the Door
Put door frame back in place and attach hinges to one side of the door frame. Next, add pallet panels to the door, then attach a handle to the front of the door on the opposite side from hinges.
Step 14. Construct Racks
Screw rack parts together (part 8 – Shelf frames 8 pieces @ 32 ¾”), then staple screen onto the rack. Once you have two sides stapled, be sure to pull the screen tight as you staple the other two sides.
Step 15. 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.
Step 16. Line Inside with Foil
Line the interior of the smokehouse with heavy duty tin foil. Make the structure as airtight 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 smokehouse as it is toxic.
What Is a Galvanized Metal? These are metals like iron or steel which underwent a process of galvanization where a protective zinc coating is applied to prevent corrosion or rusting.
Step 17. Attach Tin Roof to Smokehouse
Attach tin to roof and secure with screws.
Admire Your Finished Smokehouse!
A DIY smokehouse build from pallets is now complete and ready to smoke meat!
Be sure to check out our step-by-step project videos starting on How To Build a DIY Smokehouse Part One:
How To Build a DIY Smokehouse: Part Two
How To Build a DIY Smokehouse: Part Three
There you have it, DIY enthusiasts! A homemade smokehouse, build from pallets. With an inexpensive yet functional smokehouse out of pallets, you can have homemade smoked goodies, too!
Will you try to make a DIY smokehouse build from pallets yourself? You can share your experience with us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 28, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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.
You can get an electric element at Amazon made for Brinkmann smokers that should do the trick.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Walter Jeffries says
Be sure to get pallets that have not been fumigated with pesticides.
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.
R Noel Rodriguez says
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.
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!
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.
Brenda& Daniel Doster says
hey for a heating opt. could you use the clay pot heater merged or would that create to much heat?
Waurine parker says
I would like information on new prjects
This is an awesome idea! But can you please tell us what you guys are using for a heat source? Aka firebox?
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  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.
Peter Gurba says
refrigerator is much batter and air tight
Jack Shannon Sr. says
Great article thanks.. It might cost extra, but could you use foil lined wall board?
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?
Good tip. The aluminum should be fine, but the oven racks would work well. Thanks.
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
Very good info as a first time visitor I will certainly be returning
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!!!!
The question I have is can you use something more permanent than the aluminum foil?
You can use aluminum flashing.
Could I use a gas burner as a heat source?
What do you do for the fire box?
Zach steele says
I used a small weber grill ( tailgate style) my wife picked up at garage sale for $2. Nice air and smoke control, and extra layer of safety.
Also thinking about an electric hot plate from resale shop (goodwill) for longer smoking with less maintenance necessary.
One other thing, a solid shelf to block off smaller sections of smoke house to retain heat was suggested to me.
Dave Mc says
For the heat source, dig a hole for the firepit about three feet away. Dig a channel for the chimney over to the smokehouse. Cover it with flat rocks. Between the amount of wood on the fire and the vents you should be able to control the temps very well.
Or use a propane camping stove with a frying pan on it to put wood chips on 🙂
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