The Smokehouse – Part 2 – Firebox and base

The next phase of the smokehouse construction starts here and it is building the fire box and base for the smokehouse.

While I was gathering supplies I got permission on a new farm for goose hunting and I see an old barrel stove just rusting away. I asked if he was saving the stove and he said its junk, take what you want. So I took the door off to use for my fire box. This poor Mennonite has his work cut out for him, they bought this farm and it is absolutely trashed.

Below is how it looked laying on the field.

Door 1 (Medium)

Then I started working on the door.

Door 2 (Medium)

Here is what I looked like with new bolts and two coats of high temperature paint.

Door 3 (Medium)

Now back to the building of the firebox. The fire brick was first laid down with two side by side and five deep. The last fire brick at the bottom at the opening was removed later on as it go in the way of the door.

Fire 2 (Medium)

Next is a picture from the side with what I got done on the first day. My back couldn’t handle any more. Getting closer to 50 and leaning over 3 times for each brick strained my back muscles.

Fire 1 (Medium)

Here is a picture of the stove pipe set in the brick.

Fire 3 (Medium)

Fire brick was mortared in two rows high. All mortar to this point is S type mortar as it handles heat better than N type and doesn’t rape my wallet like the fire motor would have. One layer could have been enough as I can’t see the fire ever being big enough to cover the bottom or I might risk burning down the smokehouse that is made from wood.

Fire 5 (Medium)

Here I added some S Mortar to fill the gaps the door would make at the bottom and replace the firebrick. It also transitions from the door air vent to the firebrick floor.

Fire 6 (Medium)

Here is a picture of the fire brick around the stove pipe vent to the smoke house.

Fire 8 (Medium)

This part I spent a lot of time on for figuring out the roof. I figured on covering the entire inside with fire brick even on the top. I asked a few masons and they told me I was over thinking it. The S mortar and concrete is fine for the top as they don’t touch coals and you can’t have too big of a fire or the smoke house will get too hot. So I decided to pour a concrete roof. Below is the frame for the mold with a 2″ over hang to keep some of the rain off the door.

Fire Roof 1 (Medium)

A top view of the form and plywood support floor. As an afterthought I should have made this two pieces to come out easier. I have to sawzall this out now. The board was oiled with some oil cooking oil prior to pouring, but before I could mix the concrete I found Kako, my Labrador, leaning over the fire box licking the board, like Nom, nom, this board smells and tastes good. 🙂

Fire Roof 2 (Medium)

Notice above the top right and bottom right bricks are cut. The bottom left us just one of those cut slivers inserted. If you try this learn how to score and break brick. Its not real hard as I can do it and I haven’t learn clean masonry joints yet.

Here is the re-bar to support the roof from cracking. I tied the re-bar at ever other crossing and used some concrete waste chunks to raise it up while pouring. This is just 3/8″ re-bar and I wanted it fairly stiff in the roof and extended it to strengthen the overhang, even though that probably would not be a problem.

Fire Roof 4 (Medium)

Here is inside the fire box and some 2×4’s to act as jacks that I could knock out later. I drove the nails in to it so I had some kind of handle to pull the board down and lose after the concrete was set.

Fire Roof 3 (Medium)

Then it was time to pour the concrete. Now The roof just needed to setup.

Fire Roof 5 (Medium) Fire Roof 6 (Medium)

I mortared the cinder blocks in place and set the bolts to bolt down the smokehouse to the base. I filled in all the holes to make cleaning grease up easier. Make sure the bolts are closer than 3″ to the sides and about 6″ or more from the ends. With 3 1/2″ front wall and 1 1/2″ side wall 2×4 you have 5″ of wood from the end and then need room to get the washer on. I messed up one of them and had it at 5 1/2″  from the end and not 6 and it was hard to deal with. I had to grind some of the washer off to get it on.

Smoke 1 (Medium) Smoke 2 (Medium)

Here is the finished pic before I poured the firebox roof. The pipe goes down a bit as I couldn’t break block as I could bricks. They just shattered under my chisel. The smoke still rolls through fine as the air intake is a lot lower. This is the only thing I would change is making the fire box much lower than the smokehouse base than I did.

Fire 7 (Medium)


[EDIT] When installing the fire box door, you need to make sure you use lead anchors. I did not have any and used plastic anchors, which was a huge mistake. On my first long, all day, fire the brick got so got the plastic melted and the door fell off. You can read about it here, half way down the page near the thermometer picture. That is an experience of mine, you might like not to repeat. 🙂

I did a long search on the internet and the lead anchors are very expensive. Lowes and Home Depot do not carry them and I finally found some at a local hardware store for 19 cents each.

I am also going to have to add a Tee and dampers right outside the firebox on the picture above to be able to vent extra heat to make cold smoking work better. My temperatures are too high for cold smoking and I have a buddy already wanting to get me to help making bacon from pork bellies.


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