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How to Make a Homemade Fish Smoker

Make a Homemade Fish Smoker
Dominic Morel

Commercial fish smokers can be expensive and difficult to use, but you can make a homemade fish smoker using a metal trash can and various other metal parts. The homemade fish smoker can be made quickly and inexpensively, and used immediately. It can be easily transported and used anywhere, including locales with no electricity, making it perfect for camping.

Make a Homemade Fish Smoker
Dominic Morel

Things You'll Need:

  • Chisel
  • Metal Grate
  • Scrap Metal
  • Liquid Nails
  • Tape Measure
  • Metal Trash Can
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal Pipe

Remove any rust and debris from the inside of the metal trash can, and clean it thoroughly using hot, soapy water. Allow the trash can to dry completely.

Measure the diameter of the trash can at 6 inches from the bottom and 6 inches from the top. Cut two separate pieces of metal grate with a hacksaw to fit into each of these places. The measuring and cutting must be very precise, as the metal grates must fit snugly against the sides of the trash can to stay in place.

Place both metal grates into the trash can, each in its respective place. Make a hole in the lid of the trash can using the chisel. The hole should be 1 inch in diameter and slightly off center.

Place a 1-foot-long metal pipe, with a 1-inch diameter, into the hole in the lid. Use Liquid Nails to seal and secure the pipe to the lid. The bottom of the pipe should be 2 inches into the trash can.

Place a piece of scrap metal over the end of the pipe to prevent smoke from escaping during cooking.

To use the smoker, build a fire on the bottom metal grate. Ensure that the flames are at least 2 inches under the top grate. Place the fish on the top metal grate and close the lid. The metal scrap on the end of the pipe can be used to regulate the amount of smoke and flavor of the fish.


Try using different varieties of wood to make the fire. Pine, mesquite, applewood, hickory and maple can all be used to change the flavor of the fish. Metal grates are typically made of aluminum or steel. Aluminum is easier to cut and use, so is recommended for this application. However, any metal grate will work.


  • While in use, the smoker will become very hot. Never touch the smoker with bare hands until several hours after the fire has been extinguished. Avoid getting any hazardous plant material such as poison ivy in the fire. This can cause serious health issues. Only identified wood should be placed in the smoker.
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