Build Your Own BBQ: The Steel Ugly Drum Smoker Experiment

I’ve received a lot of emails with “Build Your Own BBQ“, “Build a Smoker Grill“, or “Build a Steel Drum BBQ Smoker” in the title.  Previous responses I’ve given have referenced the Big Baby Smoker, which I still consider an amazing example of DIY BBQ Smoker ingenuity.

However, there is another DIY Smoker out there, the “Ugly Drum Smoker” (UDS) that is not only a little bit easier to construct, but is in use worldwide by BBQ Smoker enthusiasts  – some of whom are winning cook off contests with them!

Build an Ugly Drum Smoker

The Ugly Drum BBQ Smoker is probably the most basic, yet efficient steel 55 Gallon Steel Drum smoker out there.   Actually, Jim over at the Backyard Barbecuer has modified this idea down to a 15 gallon drum version that’s pretty darned nifty!  Give him a buzz and I’m sure he’d be willing to share his ideas with you!

Ugly Drum Smoker Plans - Build an Ugly Drum Smoker

A very detailed set of Ugly Drum Smoker Plans, complete with step-by-step drawings, photos, and videos is NOW available!   

Food Grade Steel Drums can be found at plenty of places.  Special thanks to Paul’s Containers for mentioning this post!


Mini UDS - 15 Gallon - Jim at Backyard Barbecuer

It’s been recreated by hundreds of backyard barbecue enthusiasts around the world, and has even been used to create award winning ‘cue at regional BBQ cook-off competitions!  (I think even Darth Vader uses a 55 gallon drum smoker version!)

The UDS works differently from pipe-style smokers, because the heat and smoke source isn’t beside, but rather directly under the meat you’re smoking.

Some folks use water pans and diffusers to reduce the amount of direct heat that reaches the meat, but normally – the heat is managed by covering air intake holes.  This is the preferred temperature control method, because it allows drippings from the meat you’re smoking to fall onto the coals and wood chips – adding to the smoke flavor.

One of the best things the UDS has going over side fed smokers is that you can load it with charcoal and wood chips, and then “set it and forget it” – allowing it to burn at a flat temperature for as many as 12 hours.

Though the UDS smoker’s thin sides keep it from retaining heat like offset smokers, it does offer a huge advantage in it’s price – which can be as little as $60 for the resourceful DIY individual.

Big Baby Double Barrel Smoker – A DIY BBQ Dream

For the money, it’s tough find a double barrel smoker plan set better than the one contained within the pages of Vince Staten and Greg Johnson’s book – Real Barbecue. Build this one and you’re sure to be the king of your neighborhood’s backyard BBQ events for years to come.

Build a Big Baby Smoker Instead!

There are a ton of resources out there on building your own BBQ smoker, especially the Ugly Drum Smoker.  Of course, one of the more traditional DIY BBQ Smoker set ups folks tend to try to build is the double barrel Big Baby smoker.  This book provides some basic information on how to get started building this bad boy.  Interested in building your own BBQ Smoker?  Then you should give this a look see.

Of course, if you’re of the mind that all of this DIY BBQ Smoker stuff is too much for your hectic schedule, I’d recommend looking into of the many electric BBQ smokers on the market.  They’re efficient and remarkably easy to use and maintain!

Want news about other items purchased by member of the BBQ Smoker Site community? Be sure to check out our Popular Barbecue  Books, Videos, and Accessories page.

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Comments on Build Your Own BBQ: The Steel Ugly Drum Smoker Experiment

Bromography @ 1:25 am #

My uncle improvised one of these. It did not look pretty, by the food was delicious.

joe @ 2:18 pm #

get me on ur list
get those
let’s get goin’
thnx joe

Bob G. @ 11:22 pm #

how can i ge plans for the great looking smoker?