Got an unplugged retreat? A backyard smokehouse is a great option for prepping the day’s catch, as well as meat and game. You can also make your own sausage and jerky.

Got an unplugged retreat? A backyard smokehouse is a great option for prepping the day’s catch, as well as meat and game. You can also make your own sausage and jerky.

While ready-made smoker units are widely available, Doug Bridges designed and built the wood cabinet-style smoker pictured here.

If you’re a DIY guy or gal you can find schematics on the Internet and build your own, too. Here are a few tips if you’re in the create-a-smoker mood.

Tongue-and groove pine is a good, economical choice for sides and door. (Never use pressure-treated wood, as heat will cause toxic preservatives to leach into the food.)

Use expanded steel for shelves and sheet steel for the roof.

For a smoker to work properly, air must enter from the bottom and exit at the top. So leave a slight gap when attaching the roof; placing the unit on a small base of stones should create enough space for air to draft in.

On this smoker, an external wood-fired oven generates smoke, which is piped into the base.

Doug also loves to grill on his new Arteflame, a present from his wife, Becky. The wood-fired grill is 40 inches in diameter and resembles a Japanese hibachi. The fire is built in the center of the grill, causing the carbon steel cooktop to heat from the center out. Every year, Doug hosts a weekend sausage fest at the cabin for his buddies. “I cooked every meal for three days on it, and had 20 people there,” he says. “We play cornhole, cook food, smoke cigars, and have a fun three days.”