Homemade Smoker

I built a homemade smoker a few weeks ago. Smoking fish is a good way to enjoy it, especially bigger fish, and the idea was to use an oil drum. I had a brief look on the net for some DIY smoker projects and found lots of ideas and inspiration. Look at this extremely nice setup, the smoker I’m going to build next. But for now, a simple, usable smoker, built without much planning, effort or skill should do just fine. Keep it simple, save time and go fishing. As it turns out, my smoker won’t win any design awards but I’m eating smoked fish today and it’s pretty good. 

200 l oil drum, the top cut off.

I cut the top off and welded four rods to the bottom, which aren’t necessary, you can rest the smoker on some rocks. I cut out about 90% of the bottom lid and you can either hang the fish with hooks to the top lid or put the fish onto the wire mesh.

The smoker in action with lid on and the fish placed onto the mesh.

I dug a little hole and burned a kanuka-manuka mix, put it out and allowed to smoke, checking every now and then, making sure that the wood wasn’t burning. Ideally, you don’t want any heat in there, just the smoke, I smoked the fish for 3 hours and left it in the smoker outside over night.


A nice snapper covered with brown sugar. Salt would have been good, but I didn’t have any.


Smoker in action.


8 thoughts on “Homemade Smoker”

  1. Nice build! The double barrel smoker hooked me on to the whole BBQ thing years ago. I found the plans on the net and searched for ages for the parts. The barrels were hard to find over here and the Vogelzang door kit is not available at all. Luckily I stumbled upon my New Braunfels Smoker on ebay while searching for the parts 😉

    1. Cheers Lars, there are some really nice homemade smoker setups out there. Some so nice, you wouldn’t want any smoke in them… I would have thought you could get those barrels through gas stations or mechanic workshops. Have you ‘heard’ of those solar-grills? http://inhabitat.com/wilson-solar-grill-stores-the-suns-energy-for-nighttime-fuel-free-grilling/ I’d be quite keen to have a go and build one of those. There’s heaps of PR for them, not sure there is a commercialized product though. The principle is, however, not too complicated and I could use it for various purposes.

  2. Love the smoker, love the site! Stumbled over this as googled fishing spots on the Barrier and have loved following your fishing adventures, living the dream, living in paradise, gardening, fishing and making smokers. Also, cool photos! Keep it coming!

    1. Cheers Steve, glad you like it, hope more people stumble over my little blog. Interestingly, people on and off the island often state that I, or other locals on
      GBI, ‘live the dream’. I’m roughing it out mate, trying to pay off my mortgage, living in a tiny, 40 year old run down A-Frame, hoping to one day building
      my own house and always wondering how to improve my income, and as you may imagine, there are more difficulties for other locals who also came here to live the simple life and who often don’t have much financial stability. But I agree this can be paradise and when I wake up in the mornings, to the song of birds, overlooking Tryphena harbor and the hills in which I live, when I take my dog for a walk on my rugged and beautiful property,
      I certainly am very content and all difficulties seem far away. But as long as my living conditions are as primitive as they are, my career options and financial future as limited as they appear over here, I, too, can only dream of ‘living in paradise’. But then again, perhaps that is why we call it ‘living the dream’, instead of ‘living the life’. The former is merely a dream…

  3. I hear ya. Relative isn’t it, I envy my single mate living up north who seems to spend all his time fishing yet he envies my family responsibilities. I crave a simplier life that doesn’t involve 50 hours each week with my fat arse on an office chair yet who am I to complain when there are people living in poverty in our own country?
    Bringing up young kids I can’t believe how materialistic society has become, its all about getting something and then something else. That kind of happiness is always going to be out of reach or only able to be partly fulfilled. Got to enjoy what you are doing right now and who you are doing it with, end of story, later can wait.
    I think what you are doing is great but I understand the need for financial stability and wish you luck. Meanwhile I will remain envious of your exploits.

    1. Great comment Steve. Indeed, it is all about the kids and ultimately about the parents who need to educate them well. Kids will always get their main education from home, not from school or a university. These institutions have nowadays such gross conflicts of interest that kids are at the end of the day only taught
      lessons that take an hour or two, but no bigger picture. Well, the teachers often don’t know it themselves.
      People are proud of their iphones and ipads, but also proud to say that they don’t know any math.
      At least we are very lucky in New Zealand, the population density is small and our access to nature so great. Here, we can still take the kids on a camping vacation, independent of our income, kids can enjoy the beaches, the flora and fauna, fishing, hunting. The simple and essential things for us, which are
      very affordable in NZ. I often think that it is kids like the ones here on GBI, that should be the managers and politicians. Kids that have seen what hard physical labor is, what sacrifice or living off the land is. A young girl or boy who takes Daddy’s dinghey out for a fish, will learn a lot about decision making and preparation. However, teaching institutions must realize that it is not enough to take the kids out counting penguins and building sailing boats, or on the other side, that it is enough to teach them algebra and grammar. It is a combination of these things that will make the kids excel in the future. Over here, I’ve got a feeling that I will continue reading about the great things the kids achieve here, painting, designing, singing, constructing and so on, but I doubt I’ll ever read that a kid has excelled in mathematics…

      I, too, had an office job with decent pay, but hoped that I can make my way on my own terms and in something that has more meaning to me. Still hopeful, so far, so good, although I can tell you on those days when I worked here as a tyre-fitter, changing truck tyres manually all day, doing a physical and dangerous job for the first time in my life, I looked back at my office, with my beer fridge and whiskey bar, the cookie breaks, the bbqs, the seminars and on all the time when I got paid for doing nothing. So yeah, as you say it’s all relative and ideally, throughout our lives, we take chances to try out different things, different types of life. This is the first time in my life that I can associate with the financially poor and with the fact that some things are just not always available.

      Cheers, Ben

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