The Filing Cabinet Smoker: The Build – Part 1

 So I have owned this filing cabinet for some time.  I have always had the idea that it would someday be turned into a barbecue smoker.  Time, money and the fact I have no idea what I am doing have all been factors preventing me from going forward with it.

February is the month I am finally going to get it done.  Most of you might just say “why don’t you just buy one?”.  I have considered doing just that but the main reason I haven’t is the cost.  If I am going to buy something like that I would want a good one and the good ones are certainly not cheap.  Secondly… Where is the fun in that?! I’m more interested in finding out whether or not this will actually work.  Ill keep a track of how much this costs too and see how it compares.  So far…. it has cost me £22.47 for the thermometer.  Think of this as an experiment or research.  Making slight improvements each month, maybe it will someday be a really great smoker (although I doubt it).  I know that it is unlikely to be the best smoker in the world but I am hoping that with a little help here and there from those who know what they are talking about, I might be able to cook a half decent brisket.  THAT… is the dream.

I am certain that many of you reading this will have fantasied about the possibility of smoking your own meat.  Many of you already have.  Whether it be a pork shoulder for pulled pork that melts in your mouth, barbecued ribs where the meat falls off the bone or juicy and tender brisket… everybody loves this stuff.  Maybe… If it isn’t a total disaster – I might just inspire you to build your own.

This is part 1.  I am going to treat this as a series – posting weekly updates and if you want to keep up to date… follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter.

So here it is.  This is the filing cabinet soon to be transformed into a smoker.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  Excuse the clutter in the background too.



It has four drawers.  All of which need new handles as the old plastic ones wont do.  The top two or three will be used for smoking the meat and the bottom drawer is where the fire will be.  In order for the smoke to do its magic it must be able to make its way up through the cabinet and out.  I plan to first cut out the bottoms of each drawer and replace with something similar to oven shelves.  The bottom is sealed unlike some filing cabinets so I plan to create some room for air to get in whilst ensuring that it is controllable.  I will also install a flue/vent to the top of the cabinet to control how much heat/smoke is allowed out.


In order to help me control the temperature I have already purchased a barbecue thermometer.  In the future I plan to install a couple of these so I can better monitor the temperature throughout the cabinet.

I believe the most difficult part of this build is going to be the section just above the fire drawer controlling/directing the heat.  In order to hot smoke the meat and not cook it too quickly, I understand indirect heat is required.  The best (easiest and cheapest) idea I have at the moment is to simply sacrifice the third drawer down and make some slight adjustments to ensure heat does get through.  If this does not work then I may remove the drawer, install some sort of metal sheet to direct the heat and put the front of the drawer back on just to seal it.  If you have any ideas that might help…  please let me know.

Eventually, I want to strip the paint off of the cabinet and respray with high temperature paint to make it look a little more attractive but also ensure that it lasts a little longer.

By next week I hope to have fixed new handles, installed the thermometer and removed the bottoms of each drawer ready to install the cooking shelves.

The people who do know what they are doing will no doubt tell me I am doing it all wrong or that I’m crazy for doing this in the first place but I am going to give it a go anyway!  Wish me luck and if you have any tips… I’m more than happy to hear them.

Please follow the blogs Twitter feed @MunchandTattle

Written by Tomos Newland-Jones @MrNewland66

2 thoughts on “The Filing Cabinet Smoker: The Build – Part 1”

    1. I am not certain that the blog you have linked necessarily works within the context of your blog post. But if you would like to link to my blog about building a filing cabinet smoker I am happy for you to do so 🙂 Guess its a great use for one if your trying to go paperless and have one lying around.


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