I have been wanting to build a smoker or BBQ for quite a long time but they seemed expensive. Bricks are permanent and I rent so that isn't gonna work well. I don't have a welder so making a 55 gallon barrel BBQ is kinda difficult and cutting one in half can be quite a chore. Not to mention getting the straight line.
Then I discovered the UDS. A 55 gallon drum that retains its shape and sits on its butt. No cutting! I searched the web for instructions and found The Q Joint and it includes pictures, instructions and a parts list. Pretty cheap to get going over all.
You don't have to go all out and you can buy cheap if you need to and improve later. You don't even have to paint it! But I strongly encourage you to burn out your barrel with high heat. The exterior paint will burn off and it will stink. The interior seal should burn off as well. Some guys go so far as to sand the interior down to bare metal. We'll see where I end up. I burned it pretty good and I dread having to stick my body inside that drum and sanding.
I got this drum for $15!
Picked up some materials from Lowes and my buddy and I started drilling and attaching parts
The red inside the barrel is the food safe coating and it has to be burned out
My Buddy Steve is a bit of a perfectionist Machinist and that's a good thing. I left for the weekend and came home to the barrel being painted and ready for assembly.
The biggest issue seems to be the fire basket. We tried a cable handle but that just let the basket fall upside down. So Steve went to town and build handles and a lift stick. Freaken sweet set up! We'll add a pan on the bottom of the legs to catch ash so we can avoid tipping the drum upside down to empty too often.
All said, we spent approximately $125 and that includes paint, barrel and bits and pieces. The build took about a week off and could be done in just a weekend if you don't spend too much time on the fine details. But details make it look damn good without looking like you spend a grand. It also helps to have a metal guy doing most of the work. without Steve this build wouldn't look quite so nice.
Also check out The BBQ Bug
There are hundreds of pages out there with info and pics. Read a few and make your own!