Declare Your Independence with this DIY Mini Smoker

Recently, RSM David Reber took on a very cool project: converting a stock pot and a Weber Smokey Joe grill into a mini-Weber Smokey Mountain smoker. David is quick to point out that this is not his original idea, but we think you’ll find the execution is worth sharing. If you work quickly enough, maybe you can smoke up some ribs just in time for fireworks!

Parts Needed:

1-Weber Smokey Joe Gold – I like this model because of the side vents that give me better temperature control vs the Smokey Joe Silver.
1-Imusa 32-quart steamer pot – It is key that this thing fit perfectly. I understand this brand may also be available at Target or Walmarts.
1-12” Terra Cotta planter saucer – Wrapped in aluminum foil this make a great diverter.
1-Weber 14” cooking grate – The SMG has one but you will need another for a second cooking surface – more meat.
1-Tel-Tru thermometer with 2.5” stem – this is optional but if you are going to use one, spend some money on it and get a good one.
3-¼-20 x ¾” stainless bolts with lock washers and nuts.
3-¼-20 x 3” stainless bolts with lock washers, nuts and lock nuts – yes, 2 nuts to each bolt.
1-Roll of masking tape.
-Paint color(s) of choice – I recommend High Temp Engine paint.

Tools Needed:
-Power drill with ¼” to ¾” step bit
-For your logo design: X-acto or other fine sharp bladed knife

Drill all holes and install all bolts prior to painting.

The Process:

1. Smoke holes.

Using the rack that came with the steam pot as a template, I marked the bottom of the pot for where to drill holes. The smoke will come through these holes into the smoke chamber.

Mark holes to drill using the steamer tray as a template.

Be sure to have an assistant for this job.

2. Drill the holes.

I used a 1/4″ to 3/4″ step bit to drill the holes. This is a very thin aluminum and too much pressure and heat could warp the bottom of the pot. The step bit helped.

3. Add rack support bolts.

I used 3-inch bolts evenly spaced at the bottom and then 1-inch bolts 3 inches from the top.

4. Grates and diverter.

A 12″ terra-cotta plant saucer rests on the 3″ bolts and acts as a heat shield/diverter and also holds heat to help regulate temperature. Before a smoke I will wrap this in aluminum foil for easy cleaning. Atop the plate, place a grate and then another grate at the top, giving two levels for cooking on. I used the one grate that came with my SJG and purchased an additional one for the second level here.

5. Paint prep, stage 1.

I chose to paint my Mini WSM three colors: Black, red, and unfinished aluminum. This square will be painted red.

Add paper to protect the rest of the pot from paint.

6. Paint, stage 1.
After drying and removing mask here is what we have:
7. Stenciling.

Next I added masking tape to prepare for the stenciling.

I printed off my logo and placed it over the masking with clear packing tape, making sure the grill would be over the red square.
Editor’s note: Those whose surname does not lend itself to a play on the Weber logo should add an additional step – applying to your local probate court for a name change.

I then began cutting out the stencil with a razor-sharp X-acto knife.


Here is the completed stencil:

8. Paint prep, stage 2.
Mask off the handles and rim and it’s ready for paint.
9. Paint, stage 2.
I used high gloss high temp engine enamel to match the shiny black porcelain finish of the Weber Smokey Joe Gold. I sprayed several coats until the can was empty.
10. Temperature gauge.
I installed a temperature gauge at the lower grate level on the back side of the smoker. I use a ReadyCheck temperature probe for the upper grate. This was a cheap gauge I got from Home Depot that I will be replacing with a more accurate gauge in the future.
11. Fire it up!
In the bottom of the Smokey Joe I add unlit charcoal (lump and briquettes) and hickory wood. Then add ten smoldering coals from my chimney. The SJ Gold base the side vents gives me two controls, as opposed to the Silver which has only one vent at the bottom and tends to get clogged during a long smoke.

Place the steamer pot back on the Smokey Joe and now the smoke runs through.

12. Smoke away.

To break in this Mini WSM I chose to run a Bacon Explosion. What is a Bacon Explosion? Well, that’s a post for another day…

Additional links for reference:


  1. DIY BBQ Tips for More Independence | Real Southern Men - July 4, 2012

    […] has always been a hallmark of the Real Southern Man. Earlier today, we brought you RSM David Reber’s how-to for making your own mini smoker. Now we’re going to bring you something to […]

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