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New cooker build-Backwoods style? (long)

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Posted by ZZ on October 31, 2013 at 18:21:02:

I started to build a new smoker out of another food heat/proof cabinet and I need some advice on the fire box. I think from what I've seen in pictures, it will be similar to a Backwoods. The bottom of this smoker will have a fire box made of 1/8" steel recessed below the floor 9" with a 3 1/4" lip all the way around the top edge to make it a "drop in" box. The opening in the floor is 18" x 26". I plan to weld a charcoal box out of angle iron and expanded metal grating that will sit in an ash pan down in that recessed bottom like in an Ugly Drum Smoker. The ash pan and charcoal grate will lift out. Since I can't (or don't want to) have to remove the coal and ash pans while cooking, how large of a charcoal box should I make and how long of a burn should I expect? The box is 1" square aluminum tube with stainless on the outside, aluminum on the inside and 1" of mineral wool insulation in the walls and 3" in the top. I also plan to put a deflector plate above the fire box to spread the heat evenly. Another question is, how do you load and light your fire? Do I use the Minnion method by putting lit coals on top of the charcoal or just start one end and how much lit/unlit?
Sorry so long but I want to figure out all the variables before I make an irreversible decision.

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