The wide range of modern electric, gas, wood and charcoal smokers for sale promise to improve the process of smoking meat for barbecues. Brands like Bar-B-Chef, Big Drum Smoker, Bradley, Pitts & Spitts, Super Cajun, The Good One have all garnered rave reviews. A traditional alternative is the brick barbecue smoker, and you can customize it yourself.
A brick barbecue smoker should sit on a solid pavement and have vents or a chimney. Its main parts are a fire pit and a smoking chamber. If you plan to build your own, the fire pit should be slightly smaller than the grill above it. A heat resistant sheet metal base in the pit will prevent damage to the floor surface.
Your heat source (wood, charcoal, a propane burner, or an electric hot plate or coil) goes to the fire pit, where the oxygen-deprived combustion creates smoke, not fire. The smoke will rise and form a cloud for the slow-cooked meat on the grill, then be vented outside immediately. Hardwoods like oak, mesquite, walnut, and woods from fruit trees like apple or plum are good for barbecues.
Outside the edges of the grill, start the brick wall that will enclose the smoking chamber. Lay dry bricks for a makeshift kitchen, or over a bed of mortar for a more permanent brick barbecue smoker. Mix cement, soft construction sand and plasticizer to make mortar. Make sure the bricks are level and plumb after each layer.