This was originally posted on May 21, 2014. It has been reposted due to a catastrophic back up failure by my web host.
I am an old guy who likes to cook. I am not a metal worker and I am not handy. However, my Bradley Smoker has one weakness. It doesn’t get to a very high temperature and some dishes smoke better at high heat, like chicken. So, I was inspired by Smoking Meat Forums and built a WSM Mini. It is a small charcoal smoker built from a tamale pot and a Weber Smoky Joe charcoal barbecue. Neither are particularly expensive.
Here’s my experience.
The hard part was getting the tamale pot here in the Canadian Mountains. I finally got an IMUSA 32 quart pot on Ebay. Don’t get me started on buying from the states from here in Canada on Ebay. I would rather go on a date with a grizzly. Eventually it came. I had purchased a Smoky Joe Gold at the local Home Hardware store. A word here. you will note that I had to modify the pot. Apparently, if you can get a 32 quart Vasconia Tamale pot, the lid fits perfectly
and you don’t have to make these adjustments.
When I put the lid of the Smoky Joe on the pot, the pot had about a 1/8 inch too large a diameter. The lip of the pot had a folded over lip so I got my rubber mallet out and pounded the fold over flat. The lid now fit perfectly.
When I set the pot in the bottom of the Smoky Joe it fit quite well but didn’t feel that stable to me. I noted the lid fit perfectly on the bottom.
So, I decided to attach the lid to the bottom of the pot to get a nice stable fit. First, I had to cut the handle off the lid with my jigsaw so it would fit against the bottom (I started by drilling 4 holes to accommodate the jigsaw blade). Then, I drilled four holes an inch from the edge of the pot and lid and riveted the lid to the bottom of the pot.
Then I drilled a hole in the middle of the bottom of the pot. Using a nail, a string and a marker, I drew a circle on the lid and used my jigsaw to cut through the lid and bottom of the pot at the same time. It fit the bottom of the Smoky Joe perfectly.
I drilled three 1/4 inch holes around the pot, 4 inches down from the lip. I put three 1/4 inch bolts with a lock washer on each side through the holes and the grill fit perfectly resting on them.
I drilled a 1/4 inch hole about 1 inch above the grill. I cut a piece of brass threaded lamp pipe to about 3/8 inch length and put it through the hole and secured it with brass lamp nuts. This is where my probe wires will go.
I had purchased what was advertised to be an accurate grill thermometer. I drilled a hole about 1 inch below the grill and inserted the thermometer there.
I made a cylinder of hardware cloth and lashed that to the rack for the coals to make a basket so I could stack coals in the bottom of the mini without them resting on the Smoky Joe. I also made a handle for the basket.
I put the pot on the bottom, the steamer rack in the pot, the grill on the nuts and the lid on the pot.
The Mini is done!
The Verdict: The mini wasn’t hard to make if you take it one step at a time and it is a good little smoker for a couple or small family. Give it a try!
The Old Fat Guy