Homemade Vertical Smoker Plans

Vertical smokers are a great way to get the best of both worlds: great flavor and a low price. So how do you go about building one yourself? It is easy if you have the right tools. There are many vertical smoker plans available in the market, but in this post, I will share my method to build a DIY vertical smoker from scratch.

What Is A Vertical Smoker?

A vertical smoker is a cooking appliance that sits on a countertop and has a heating element that heats the food inside. The food is usually placed on a cooking grate, which rests on the heating element. It allows you to cook multiple dishes simultaneously, but it also means you have to monitor the temperature of your food as it cooks.

Vertical smokers come in different sizes and styles, but they all work similarly. They are designed to sit on a countertop and produce smoke from burning wood chips or chunks of meat. The smoke rises through the meat, cooking it slowly and imparting unique flavors.


Vertical smokers can be used for many foods, from steak to salmon to ribs. But they are most commonly associated with smoking meat like beef brisket or pork ribs. You can also use them for smoking vegetables and fruit, like applewood-smoked green beans or honey-glazed carrots.

Types Of A Vertical Smoker

Following are the types of vertical smokers you can get from the market:

Standard Vertical Smoker


The most common type of vertical smoker is a stand-alone smoker or a “stander.” It has a stand that helps to support the cooking chamber. Stands help in keeping the food warm and also prevent it from getting burnt by direct contact with firewood. This smoker is ideal for smoking meat, fish, and vegetables.

Offset Vertical Smoker

An offset vertical smoker consists of an offset smoke chamber that can cook food at different levels. They are pretty similar to standees, but they have an offset design which makes them easy to adjust when needed. These smokers are ideal for cooking meat, fish, and vegetables due to their large capacity while maintaining uniform temperatures throughout their cooking process.

Reverse Flow Vertical Smoker

Reverse-flow vertical smokers are also known as indirect grills. They work by circulating heat around an inner core of charcoal instead of direct flame, as other grills do. It allows you to control how much heat gets into each area without closely monitoring things.


Why Should You Use A Vertical Smoker?

Vertical smokers are a great way to get your food smoked the way you like it. 

Here is why you should get one:

Easy To Use

Vertical smokers are made to be easy to use, so all you have to do is plug it in and go. You don’t need any specialized expertise or abilities to smoke food. All you need is some patience and a solid recipe.


You can use vertical smokers for many foods, including beef ribs and salmon, pork loin, and chicken breasts. To try something new, you must look up the recipes online and follow them.

Smokey Flavor

The smokey flavor that vertical smokers produce enhances the flavor of your food without adding extra calories or carbs. The smoke will even improve the taste of vegetables. Such as broccoli if they are being cooked at the same time as other meats or fish on your plate (which makes it even more fun).

How To Use A Vertical Smoker?

The below-given steps will make the use of a vertical smoke easy for you:

Setup Your Smoker

The first thing that you need is to set up your smoker. You can use wood chips or pellets to fill the smoking chamber. The best thing is that you can also use a mixture of both. Additionally, keep in mind that using too much wood increases your risk of a fire. So, add only half of the required wood and wait until it smokes.

Fire Up The Smoker By Adding Wood Chips

Once the smoking chamber has been filled with fuel, open the lid and light up the fire underneath it. You can add more wood chips or pellets to feed the fire for at least 30 minutes before closing it again so that no ashes fall into your food. Before adding pellets to the smoker, ensure they have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes if you plan to use pellets. This will help in keeping them from catching fire quickly when burned.

Fill The Water Pan

Fill the water pan so the food on the grill will not be scorched. This step is crucial because if it isn’t filled, the food won’t smoke properly. It ensures that the meat you smoke is juicy and soft without burning.

Place The Grill Followed By the Food

After filling the water pan, set up your grill, followed by food. Make sure that all parts of the meat are in contact with smoke when you place them on top of the grill. You can use any wood as long as it has been appropriately dried beforehand to prevent burning down and causing fire hazards inside your house.

Monitor & Control The Temperature

You will need to keep an eye on your smoker’s temperature. Using a probe thermometer, you can perform this. It will help you know when to add more fuel or wood to the smoker and when to take out the cooked food and leave it in the smoker overnight.

Take Out The Cooked Food & Leave The Smoker

Once you have cooked your food with your vertical smoker, take it out after an hour or two and let it cool down for about 30 minutes. Then refrigerate it for about 8 hours or overnight. It will allow it to cool down and also ensure that there are no bacteria left on your meat.

How To Season A Vertical Smoker?

Many people will tell you that seasoning your vertical smoker is unnecessary. But if you want to get the most out of your smoker when it comes time to smoke meat or fish, some things need to be done immediately. For example, please do not put any food directly into your smoker until after it has been appropriately seasoned because doing so could ruin it completely.

The first thing you should do when seasoning your vertical smoker is to apply a coating of high-heat cooking oil on the inner side of the smoker. You can use soft tissue and a clean cloth to do that. After that, turn on the heat and let it go at a high temperature (275°F) for 2 hours, and you are all done.

How To Build A Vertical Smoker?

Follow these steps to build a DIY vertical smoker in no time:

Equipment Needed To Make A Vertical Smoker

Typical smokers and grills use 20 or 22-gauge sheet metal or thinner (at least the cheap ones), which corrodes and makes them lose heat. In this build, the cooker’s walls are made of 14 and 16-gauge sheet metal. 

Since the inside walls will be subject to the most heat, they are made of 14 gauge, while the exterior walls are made of 16 gauge to reduce weight. The sheet metal was welded to the 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8-inch square tubing that makes up the frame. The cooking surfaces are made of 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8-inch steel mesh and 3/4-inch steel expanded metal.

Steel-expanded metal is also used to make the fire basket.

Overall Summary:

Walls: 14 & 16-gauge sheet metal.

  • Frame: 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8-inch square tubing and 1-inch and 3/4-inch angle steel
  • Cooking Surfaces and Fire Basket: 3/4-inch #9 steel expanded metal and 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8-inch steel mesh
Extra Materials:
  • Welding Chipping Ham1mer
  • BBQ Thermometer
  • BBQ Paint
  • Misc bolts and nuts
  • Various hardware hinges
  • Kitty Litter
  • Heavy duty casters
  • Felt gasket material for BBQs (I got mine from Amazon)

Required Tools

Due to the usage of a welder, this is a more complex build. However, anyone can learn how to weld, and anyone up for a challenge will love working on this project. Even though I’m not a terrific welder, I was able to construct this.

If you want to learn how to weld, I suggest getting a flux core wire feed welder because it is easier and can weld thin metals. I’m using a sticker welder primarily because it’s all I have.

Additionally, if you don’t want to weld, you can adjust the design, or you can use a tap to tap the bolt threads in the frame. You’ll require, but are not limited to:

  • Safety equipment (cotton long-sleeve clothing, footwear, gloves, and glasses)
  • Welding Rods
  • Basic hand tools
  • Welding magnets
  • Chipping Hammer
  • Grinding and Cutting Discs
  • Mini Grinder
  • Welder

A word of caution regarding cutting discs: resist the urge to purchase inexpensive ones. They are not durable and will break down after a few uses. To save money, buy high-quality bulk ones. They are much safer and will pay you in the long run.

Creating The Frame

The frame is constructed of 1-inch square tubing, 1-inch x 1/8-inch. It comes in a box that is 20 inches x 19-inch x 38-inch. It was necessary to weld magnets to maintain the entire box square. Additionally, a template was created from wood so that two sides could be constructed before being joined together by welding. 

Before welding anything, I took care to measure corner to corner and make any necessary adjustments to keep everything square. A three-position clamp would be ideal. However, they are relatively expensive.

After that, heavy-duty casters were welded in, and some angle steel was used to support the bottom. A few openings were cut out of the top of the frame so that clay or cat litter could be added after construction.

Add The Inside Walls & Top

Sheet metal 14 gauge is used to construct the inside walls. The back was welded into place after the right and left sides were welded into position. To reduce warping, I welded in small chunks while going to various locations on the frame. To prevent warping, it would have been ideal to include two more 1-inch x 1-inch tubes staggered vertically.

16 gauge sheet metal is used to construct the exterior walls. It was cut with a hole so that the rotisserie tube could be welded in between the walls. After that, the walls were fully welded. This step is optional and only required because I’ll be stuffing the walls with clay or cat litter. Some angle steel was welded for the ceiling so that the sheet metal had a

Doors & Air Intake

The cooker has two doors, one on top to access the food and the other on the bottom to check the fire. The bottom door will also need an air intake that can be blocked to manage the fire, and they are likewise filled with cat litter. Similar to the frame, they are constructed from 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8-inch square tubing and then clad in sheet steel. 

The doors’ latching mechanism consists of a tube that has been welded into place, followed by a bolt, a latch made of steel, and a heat-resistant handle made from a chipping hammer. The bottom door’s square hole was cut out to create the air intake, and the intake’s sides were constructed out of angle steel.


A 4-inch metal dryer vent serves as the chimney. On the top of the smoker, I made a hole smaller than the chimney. The flange was created by welding a metal strip to the top of the cooker, bending it, and then welding each bend in place to create a lovely circle. In order to aid the curvature, I also pre-bent the metal strip. Before the vent would fit, I had to bend the top of the flange slightly.

Outer Walls

The exterior walls were welded into place and are constructed from 16 gauge sheet metal. A tube that serves as a rotisserie opening was also welded into position close to the center of the sheet metal for the interior wall.

In retrospect, the second piece of square tubing would have strengthened the wall by running down its middle. I welded a piece of angle steel across the exterior wall because I didn’t do that to strengthen the walls. I’ll eventually use it to hang fire tongs and pokers from it.

Installing Doors

Simple square hinges from a hardware shop serve as the hinges. They were welded and sized appropriately. To install the doors, I temporarily taped the felt gasket to create the necessary gap. A chipping hammer bolted through the door and joined to a piece of bar stock serves as the latching mechanism.

Cooking Grates and Fire Basket

The cooking grates are made from 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8 wire mesh with some 1-inch x 1-inch x 1/8-inch bar stock welded around the outside for support. The fire basket is made from 3/4-inch flattened expanded steel sheets and wired together. Some angle steel was placed on the bottom of the smoker, so air could flow under the fire, and the ash had a place to collect.

Cooking Grate Supports

The cooking grates are supported by 3/4-inch x 1/8-inch angle steel rails. So that there would be options for where to place the cooking grates, I built a few at various heights.

Removable Top & Filling The Walls

It is possible to remove the clay from the cooker without cutting off the top if there is a need to do so. To allow bolts to be used to keep the top down, certain holes were tapped. Clay kitty litter was poured into the walls to serve as insulation and thermal mass.

Side Table

Handmade from finger-jointed pine and stained and varnished, this folding side table is perfect for any space. To fold the cooker, pieces of square tubing were welded and holes drilled so that the round stock would rotate and fold. A few utility hinges were used. 

To fold the round stock, it was bent into a “U” shape. For the round stock to wedge into and hold up the side table, a “french cleat” was constructed. I am very impressed with the strength and efficiency of this mechanism.

Grinding & Painting

Grinding wheels were used to smooth out the edges, followed by flap discs and a bright scotch pad to polish the whole cooker. On top of the BBQ paint, high heat was applied. I applied the stick to the Nomex felt gasket. There is a thermometer mounted on the door. 

As the temperature fluctuates in different parts of the cooker, you should install a few so that they are at different heights. To remove welding residue and traces from the metal, the cooker was wholly washed down with soap and steel wool.

Finished Cooker

The cooker is complete. When I did some grilling, it worked perfectly, holding the temperature without any issues. As soon as I brought it up to a searing temperature, it stayed there. With the air intake, you can control the amount of airflow. Even with the doors open to check on the meat, the cooker quickly returned to temperature after opening to serve as a smoker.

What Is The Difference Between Vertical Smoker And Cabinet Smoker?

Cabinet smokers are different from vertical smokers in a few ways.

  • First, they do not typically have a heating element on both ends as vertical smokers do. Instead, they have one at the top and another at the bottom, but they are not nearly as wide as vertical smokers.
  • Second, cabinet smokers do not use wood chips or pellets as fuel. Instead, they use chunks of hardwood which means that there is not as much smoke coming out as with vertical smoking (although there is still plenty).
  • Third, cabinet smokers require more space than verticals because each piece must be separated from the others by walls. So, air circulation can take place freely throughout the smoker.

What Is The Difference Between Vertical Smoker And Horizontal Smoker?

Vertical smokers are more common than horizontal models. They have a heating element that runs across the bottom of the smoker. It can be either a disposable element or an electric element that is placed in the smoker. Vertical smokers are the most popular type of smokers, and they come in many different sizes and shapes.

Horizontal smokers, on the other hand, are one of the most affordable types today. These models usually have a single rack with multiple openings for food to be placed on it. The racks will hold up to five pounds of food at any time, allowing you to smoke multiple items without having to switch out racks or add more fuel each time you cook something new.

The horizontal smoker has several advantages over its vertical counterpart, including:

  • Less space required for storage – Since there is no firebox needed for these models, there is less space required for storage compared to vertical models
  • Easier maintenance – Because all parts of this type of smoker come off quickly (which includes the lid), cleaning this type of smoker is much easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Vertical smokers are the ultimate in smoking convenience. However, are they any good? The short answer is: yes. Vertical smokers are very simple to use and do not require much maintenance, making them perfect for beginners who want to try smoking without spending much money.

Wood chips should be placed in the smoker according to their size so that the heat completely consumes them. An excellent place to put wood chips in a vertical smoker is at the bottom of the unit. It allows easy lighting access and lets you monitor how much wood you have consumed during your cooking session.

Suppose you want to keep your wood chips from burning too fast or burning out entirely before they finish smoking. Then place them on the top shelf of your smoker, where there is less heat coming from below and more heat coming from above. It will allow for slower and smokier results than if you had placed all your wood right at the bottom of your smoker.

You can use a water pan in a vertical smoker to help keep the meat moist and prevent it from drying. A water pan is not required, but it can add convenience to your smoker and make cleanup easier. The key to using a water pan is to ensure that it has enough room in it to accommodate all the food you want to cook at once. If there is not enough room, your meat will dry out faster than if there is enough room.

Final Words

If you want to conserve space, a vertical smoker is a fantastic choice. You can build one using these plans and techniques. Many steps are involved in this DIY project, but it is easy if you follow the details correctly. Although I have already constructed my vertical smoker, I also think that giving is caring.

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