The Programming Butler

hacking life with a servants heart

The Smoker - Back Story and First Day

I've been planning on building a 55 gallon smoker for almost a year and a half now, but the time and resources just haven't been there. Today marked the first day of real progress!

It all started when this blog post appeared a year and a half ago. I saw it and I immediately fell in love. I’d only been smoking for a few months at that point, with a $35 Brinkman, but I’d already developed a passion for good BBQ.

In the spring of 2010 I jumped on Craigslist and found a couple of barrels only 2 miles from my house, and immediately bought them. But then, as often happens to me, I set the dream of building it aside because of fear of starting and my many excuses like lack of tools, lack of time, etc.

But the dream persisted, and when I found out my parents would be returning from Argentina for a few months this summer I decided to enlist my dad’s help and get this thing rockin!

A week ago we set today as the day to begin, which left me just a few days to prepare. Preparation meant getting a jigsaw, a welder, and this curve pattern printed to scale. I decided the building would need to be broken into phases, for financial and time reasons, so this first day I limited to just needing the jigsaw and curve pattern.

Buying a jigsaw, easy. Printing a 70" curve, not as easy :/

The story of acquiring the curve requires some back story. Again, I’ve been planning on building this thing for a over a year, so I actually started searching out a plotter to print it a year ago. At the time I worked at SabreTech and we had quite a few industrial clients with printers, but I never managed to find the right place to get it done.

One day seven or eight months ago while visiting my college friend Bob at his workplace Daavlin (also one of our best clients) I noticed they had a plotter. Bob proceeded to explain that they’d just acquired it, but hadn’t figured out way to hook it up yet (older interface that none of their computers had). I offered to help (I think) in exchange for printing the curve, but he said he’d get it running and told me he’d print the curve anyways.

Fast forward to yesterday morning (seven+ months later). I left for work thinking that I’d need to find a way to print that curve. I got halfway to work and realized I’d forgotten my lunch, so I turned around and went back home. As I pulled in the driveway I noticed a package on the front step. I grabbed it, ran inside, cut open the package, and low and behold there was my curve printed to scale! Somehow Bob managed to time printing and sending it to me so perfectly that it arrived the day I was going to print it myself. Awesome.

So today I went and grabbed a jigsaw, some blades for cutting metal, and dad and I got to work this evening. We focused just on the cutting phase, and knocked it out in short order! Here are some pics for your enjoyment :) Sorry, forgot to wear a shirt in a few :/

posted May 12, 2011 by Hoyt