How to Build a UDS Smoker


Coming Soon! I have completed the How to Build a UDS Smoker DVD series. It is a 1 hour long step by step in depth Video tutorial on how to build your own UDS Smoker for smoking your own meat!

There are 2 DVD’s in this series. DVD 1 is a “No Welding Required” tutorial and DVD 2 is for welding your UDS Smoker together. Only $16.99 Each!

You can Pre-Order by clicking this link!

December 28, 2010

How to Build a UDS Smoker Part-1

One of the easiest Smokers to build is called a UDS Smoker.  UDS stands for Ugly Drum Smoker.  These smokers are great for “set it and forget it” smoking.  When smoking meat with other kinds of smokers, the person smoking the meat usually has to make continual adjustments to the smoker by adding fuel, adjusting the air inlets, and adjusting dampers and such. With a UDS style smoker the user needs only to adjust the air intakes and typically that only happens one or two times during the smoke. This make smoking meat a little less trying.

This is a UDS Smoker

A UDS Smoker is built using a 55 gallon drum. The best drum to use is a clean steel drum. Some have used food safe or food grade drums, but beware- these drums are lined with an epoxy kind of an “invincible” liner that is very difficult to remove! Some have had success in removing this liner but it is a worthy foe. I have battled with this liner a couple times. I have tried to burn it out, wire wheel it out, and even tried to grind it out to no avail. I can usually get a good part of this liner removed, but there is always those 1 or 2 spots that don’t come off. Removing a Food Grade Liner from a drum is a very challenging and time consuming task which some tend to avoid. I do not recommend using a chemical paint remover or epoxy remover to remove this liner. The chemicals are simply not worth the risk of making someone sick from eating the food from one of these drums.

For more UDS Smoker Builds Click here!

Some have argued “well, if you cant burn it off with direct fire, what could it hurt?” I can see how one could think that. Fire and heat affect different chemicals and can cause reactions and other chemicals can break down and become airborne. I suppose this could be talked about all day, so I always choose the safest bet and go with one without a liner. One downside to going with a drum that has a liner is the time and energy it takes to remove it. This is reason alone in my book to avoid these types of drums.

Over time I have found different sources to purchase new and reconditioned drums without liners such as Volunteer Drum of Knoxville, TN (follow the link, don’t forget to tell Tony who sent you ;) ).  Another great source is online local classifieds. I have even been given new drums from people I found on line! Some other places to find good used drums are fuel distributors. Fuel Drums have been commonly used to build smokers out of for years with no problems. The fuel DOES burn out completely and can be washed out afterwards with Dawn dish washing soap, which will breakdown and remove the oily films left behind. If your still not convinced you could wash the drum out with more Dawn and a pressure washer.

I will continue Part-2 with drilling the first hole! Thanks for reading!!!

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January 28, 2011

How To Build a UDS Smoker Part-2

Welcome to part 2 of how to build a UDS Smoker. Before we begin I would like to Invite you to be a part of our community. Our community is full of expert advise on building and using smokers. you can check out smoker builds that other people have done and get ideas from them to use on your own smoker. In the Food section you can post pictures and recipes of your smokes and check out other peoples smokes to get your own ideas.

Today we begin with drilling the first hole. Well actually 4 holes. The way we control the temperature of a Drum Smoker is by opening and closing the air intakes thus limiting the amount of combustion air to the coals keeping the fire only hot enough to make our smoker 225 degrees F. With a UDS or Ugly Drum Smoker, we use 4 holes in and around the bottom of the 55 gallon Drum that we install 3/4 inch pipe nipples on. On these pipe nipples 3 of them have a pipe cap on them and 1 of them has a full port ball valve. The Ball valve is used to fine tune the amount of air entering the Drum while we remove and reinstall the caps one at a time to allow more or less combustion air in. The holes the pipe nipples are attached to are 90 degrees apart from each other. I use a step drill to drill these holes. The holes should be just large enough to thread the pipe nipple into them. Then they are welded in or fastened with lock rings. Make sure and use pipe thread sealant to ensure no air leaks through the fittings when they are closed off. Air control is the most important thing about these smokers. They will have uncontrollable flare ups if not tightly sealed.

Pipe Nipple welded on for combustion air inlet.

The next hole to be drilled is the thermometer hole. I like to drill this one about 1 inch above the grate location. This will give me the most accurate indication of the temperature of the cooking grate. I like to recommend the weekend warrior thermometer for this purpose. There are other fancy thermometers available, even a glow in the dark one. Some people like to put 2 or 3 thermometers around the grate.

In our next post we will talk about building the charcoal basket. Thanks for reading!!!

Check out our amazon store. you can find all the parts needed to build your own UDS!