"Building" is perhaps misleading. The challenge of creating a homemade smoker isn't a matter of construction, but rather of materials. The idea for the project came from Alton Brown and the execution was helped by several different blogs and websites. Essentially the challenge is to come up with some combination of parts that is both cheap and effective. It took me about a month but I managed to meet both requirements. Right now my smoker is manually controlled, and the list reflects those parts, but I'm playing with the idea of adding a PID and making the temperature auto-controlled.
Finally, a very helpful Home Depot associate found one last concrete paver they had in stock that was 20" square. It had a chip on it so he sold it to me for 50 cents: perfect! I drilled a hole through it so I could put a thermometer in that I could read. I got a charcoal grate (cheaper than an official one) some u-bolts to pick up the grate with, a hot plate I could take apart and a pan to put the wood on. I had a thermometer to use already so I didn't price that, but here's my list (hyperlinks when possible):
|Masonry Paver||1||$ 0.50|
|Ext Cord||15 ft||$ 2.69|
|Terra Cotta Pot||20 in||$ 10.03|
|Pot Feet||3||$ 2.79|
|Charcoal Grate||1||$ 10.99|
|Hot Plate||750W||$ 12.16|
Under $50! I used the bricks and pot feet to elevate the pot above the ground which both leaves room for the hot plate (which I disassembled so I could put the heating element inside the pot but leave the plastic controls down on the bottom) and so that you can get air-flow through the drain hole at the bottom.