The video, pictures, parts list, and CADD drawings for building your own UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker). After reading about UDS smokers on just about every BBQ forum there is, I decided to build one myself and see just what the fuss was all about.
Now you have to understand that I have a ton of BBQ equipment, and I've never thought about building my own smoker. I cook on an Old Hickory CTO, Backwoods Whole Hog Clone, and a Backwoods Party. These cookers are all top notch and turn out some mighty fine Q, but I wanted something that I could leave out on my patio and play with during down time.
After researching all types of UDS builds, I used Paul's from “The Big Pig” ww.BBQbug.com (Pickled Pig forum). I simplifed his process a little and even got Waylon to create CADD drawings and plans with our new design. But I gotta thank Paul for giving me someplace to start.
I started out searching for a used drum at an affordable price. I checked most of the usual places like craigs list, ebay, etc... After no luck I came across a place in Memphis called Drumco (of all things), and I hit the jackpot. This company specializes in everything Drums. I called the office and found out that they had just what I was looking for. An unlined, reconditioned, food grade drum w/ head for only $23.
I headed right down to the warehouse and had my drum purchased, loaded, and was back at the house in less than 30 minutes.
2. Find A Welder
The next objective was to figure out what to do about the fire basket. I have no welding experience so saving a few bucks here wasn't possible. I considered piecing together some expanded metal with wire clamps and a 18” weber replacement fire grate, but I really liked the design that Paul used. I knew that I needed someone who could fabricate the fire basket, so I drew up the details on Cadd and searched for local welders.
After talking with several different guys, I followed a friends recommendation I finally found a guy that could make exactly what I wanted. He quoted me $100, so I told him to get it done. After 2 days, I got the phone call that it was ready.
Now that I had the two critical pieces (Drum & Fire Basket), I was ready to purchase the hardware necessary to put the thing together. These parts were really easy to find and came from my local Home Depot or Tractor Supply.
Once I had everything purchased, it was time to assemble the UDS. I had my brother Waylon help me with this part.
We measured and marked the drum first, and then it was time to drill the wholes.
Now that all of the holes were drilled it was time to install the hardware.
4. Season Your UDS Drum Smoker
To season the UDS, I rubbed the inside down with vegetable oil, placed 12lbs of charcoal briquettes in the fire basket, and several chunks of hickory on top the coals.
I used a Propane Weed Burner to light the basket in 4 different places and opened the intakes 100% . The lid was off for the first couple of hours. I wanted to make sure that everything heated up and burnt-off anything on the inside.
I let the smoker roll for about 5 hours but I couldn't resist the urge to cook something on it. I prepped some chicken thighs and did a test run.
I was surprised at how well the UDS held temperature. It truly is amazing. I had it rocking at 275 and it never thought about checking up. Once you close off two of the intakes and adjust the ball valve, you can get the thing just about anywhere you want.
I can't wait to try a brisket on it, and I may even find a spot on the BBQ rig for my new UDS. I'm sold!