1/4" vs. 3/8" vs. 1/2" for a stick burner?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by sidpost, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    I'm looking at having a smoker built and I'm trying to decide on steel thickness for temperature stability in bad weather.  Is a 1/2" body overkill or a fuel hog?  How do 1/4" and 3/8" compare in terms of performance, fuel consumption and, temperature stability?

    For the firebox, is an insulated model better than a 1/2" firebox?


  2. smokeymagoo

    smokeymagoo Smoke Blower

    Woo 1/2 would be real real heavy. I have one made out of 1/4 and it is just right. I'm in Florida so i don't have any bad weather but i couldn't imagine needing more. Also, most 250 gallon tanks(which are real popular in the smoker world) are only 1/4 to 3/8. I have never seen one 1/2" I'm not saying they don't exist i've just never seen one. I'm actually goin to make my net one out of 3/16.

  3. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    Yes, the extra weight would add to trailering expense.  However, have you tried to smoke in a steady 40MPH wind or when it is well below freezing?  Thanksgiving and Christmas get togethers often involve a lot of snow and wind.  It would be nice to be able  to smoke for the holiday's.
  4. smokeymagoo

    smokeymagoo Smoke Blower

    Nope sorry,  I wouldn't know how to act in any of those conditions. I still think that 1/4 and 3/8 sealed properly would be just as good as heavy 1/2". Both those sizes hold heat very well.
  5. That thick of steel can work against you just as much as it would work for you.

    Try to heat up a cooker in cold weather made of 1/2 inch plate could take forever. I'd say better going with 1/4", a happy medium between both extremes. Go with a heavy insulated , oversized firebox, something you can really put the fuel to! Keep the cook chamber to a realistic size for what your needs are and then protect the smoker from the wind . Two Christmas's ago, it was in the teens with 30 mph winds, all I did was zip tie two welding curtains to block the wind and did just fine.
  6. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter


      Your experienced post really helps!
  7. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ditto on what Rib said, The only way steel that thick on the smoke chamber would work in your favor is if you were running the thing almost 24/7  where the steel would be great for thermal mass once heated, however a 1/2 firebox would be nice.
  8. Where you been Sqwib? Haven't seen any posts lately?
  9. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've been around, haven't you seen any of my threads?
  10. 05sprcrw

    05sprcrw Smoking Fanatic

    I have used my 1/4 thick tank like others have said in sub zero temps with winds blowing 20 constant and gusting to 40 makes for a cold day but the cooker held temps really well. I did just try to block as much wind as I could, after that I cooked at 250° for around 10 hours doing pulled pork.   I do wish I would have made an insulated firebox to get some more efficiency. One of these days I may still take the time to do so.
  11. daron jake

    daron jake Fire Starter

    I I think I would go 1/2 on the fire box and 1/4 on the rest. I think I would also go reverse flow, that would help stabilize the temperature in cold weather
  12. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    Thanks everyone!

    I'm pretty much settled on a 3/8ths body and insulated firebox.
  13. crazyq

    crazyq Meat Mopper

    Good choices.
  14. Jack,

    I know this is an old post but I am thinking about grabbing another grill made of 3/16th as well.  Since I live in Tulsa as well, I don't think we battle the coldness that some are referring to, but I would think the thinness of 3/16 would wear out fast.  Thoughts if you are still around? 

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