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21 File Cabinet Smokers-Turn An Old File Cabinet Into A Meat Smoker

Turning a file cabinet into a meat smoker is a fun project that won’t break the bank. I remember the excitement of repurposing an old metal filing cabinet into a practical smoker for our backyard. It was surprisingly easy to do and didn’t cost much at all.

Our homemade file cabinet smoker had multiple drawers, which meant we could smoke various types of meat or even vegetables at the same time. I loved the versatility it offered; we could smoke everything from ribs to fish to tofu, all in one go. Plus, it was a great way to experiment with different flavors and recipes.

One of the best parts of using a file cabinet smoker was the convenience. We could start smoking early in the morning and have a delicious meal ready by the evening. It became a weekend tradition for us, gathering friends and family for a backyard barbecue feast.

For us, as homesteaders, this DIY smoker was a game-changer. We raise our own livestock and grow our own vegetables, so having a way to preserve and enhance the flavors of our harvest was invaluable. I’ll never forget the satisfaction of serving up smoked meats and veggies that we had produced ourselves.

As winter approached, we appreciated the ability to smoke and preserve vegetables from our garden. It was a way to enjoy our summer bounty even when the cold weather set in. And knowing that our smoked goods could last for months meant we could enjoy them throughout the year.

Researching and selecting the right plans for our file cabinet smoker was an adventure in itself. We scoured through numerous free plans, looking for one that suited our needs and the materials we had on hand. It was rewarding to find the perfect design and then bring it to life with our own personal touches.

Check out my round up these free plans for 21 file cabinet smokers to discover which one is right for your homestead.

1- Temperature Controlled Meat Smoker

I remember stumbling upon a helpful YouTube video tutorial for creating a temperature-controlled meat smoker on a budget. Following along, I found it perfect for those who only need a small smoker, like for meats or making jerky. With its electric heating element at the bottom and outside-mounted thermostat and controller, it was straightforward to use.

In my experience, a two-drawer file cabinet was used for this design, but I realized a three-drawer could also work, allowing for more meats to be smoked simultaneously. The versatility of the design made it adaptable to different cabinet sizes, which was convenient.

Safety was a big concern for me, especially if using the smoker indoors. The presence of an electric heating element at the bottom eliminated worries about open flames, making it a safer option for indoor use. Plus, it meant I could enjoy smoked meats even during inclement weather.

2- Four-Drawer File Cabinet Smoker

I’ve found that building a smoker using step-by-step instructions from resources like Snapguide is incredibly straightforward and budget-friendly. Using an old metal filing cabinet as the base, drilling holes in strategic places, such as the back and bottom of each drawer, is the first step.

Once set up, placing a disposable aluminum pan filled with charcoal briquets in the bottom drawer and lighting them initiates the smoking process. From there, arranging the meat on racks in the upper drawers and closing them allows for effortless smoking and cooking. It’s a simple yet effective method for creating delicious smoked meats at home.

Four-Drawer File Cabinet Smoker
Four-Drawer File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: snapguide

3- Double-Decker File Cabinet Smoker

I’ve seen an interesting idea from Aussie BBQ where they stack two two-drawer file cabinets to create a double-decker DIY smoker. It’s a brilliant concept, allowing for the smoking of a large quantity of meat all at once. Plus, the flexibility to heat it with either charcoal or gas provides options for achieving that perfect slow and low heat for smoking meats.

What caught my attention was the utilization of the top drawer for infusing foods other than meat with a delicate smoky flavor. It opens up possibilities for smoking vegetables, fruits, and even desserts, adding an extra dimension to backyard cooking.

To enhance the aesthetic appeal of the finished smoker, I suggest painting it with heat-resistant paint. This not only adds a touch of style but also helps it blend in seamlessly with its surroundings, making it look more like a professionally made smoker rather than a DIY project.

Double-Decker File Cabinet Smoker
Double-Decker File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: aussiebbq

4- Wood File Cabinet Smoker

In my experience, this homemade file cabinet smoker is a game-changer for those of us who enjoy throwing large backyard BBQs for family and friends! With its spacious drawers, it can handle cooking and smoking large quantities of food simultaneously, making party prep a breeze. Following the step-by-step instructions in the free video by AwesomeJelly, you can easily transform an old file cabinet into a smoker that’s capable of feeding a crowd, ensuring everyone leaves your BBQs satisfied and impressed.

Wood File Cabinet Smoker
Wood File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: awesomejelly

5- Facebook File Cabinet Smoker

Watching this captivating and informative video on Facebook brought back memories of my own experiences with building homemade file cabinet smokers. The fact that it has garnered well over 3 million views speaks volumes about its effectiveness and popularity. It’s fascinating to see how the builder transforms a simple file cabinet into an efficient smoker, and it’s a testament to their skills and ingenuity. I highly recommend checking out this video to gather valuable tips and tricks from a DIY pro, and perhaps even consider documenting your own smoker-building journey with a Facebook video for others to learn from and enjoy.

file cabinet smoker
file cabinet smoker, Image via: firstwefeast

6- Little File Cabinet Smoker

I found this one to be an ideal companion to the family grill. This meat smoker by instructables is perfect for smoking enough meat to feed the family and a friend or two while using the BBQ grill or stove top for vegetable side dishes. Easy to build with these detailed instructions and the small size makes it easy to use in small backyard spaces and for storing when not in use.

Little File Cabinet Smoker
Little File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: instructables

7- Filing Cabinet BBQ

Recycling a four-drawer metal filing cabinet into both a cold smoker and a hot BBQ cooker was a project that resonated with my own DIY spirit. It’s a fantastic way to combine two cooking methods in one, ensuring flavorful results for both meat and vegetables. I’ve found that the deep smoky flavor imparted by this homemade BBQ idea elevates the taste of the food to a whole new level.

In my experience, building the fire in the bottom drawer and arranging the meat and vegetables in the upper drawers allows for efficient and convenient cooking. With minimal effort, you can prepare an entire meal with rich, smoky undertones using this filing cabinet BBQ setup showcased on YouTube.

The closed drawers effectively trap heat and smoke, ensuring that the flavors penetrate deeply into the food, rather than merely coating the exterior. For those interested in trying this project themselves, the detailed building plans provided in the YouTube video offer a valuable resource for recycling an old four-drawer filing cabinet into an affordable and effective home BBQ solution.

8- Side Rack File Cabinet Smoker

In my own experience, I’ve discovered that a recycled file cabinet smoker, like the one showcased by Therecykler, doesn’t have to be basic. Adding side shelves and hooks can greatly enhance the functionality of the smoker, making the entire smoking process more convenient for the chef. What’s more, incorporating these features doesn’t necessarily increase the cost of the DIY project; with a bit of creativity, you can repurpose items like discarded shopping carts and metal store shelves to fulfill these needs, just as the DIY smoker builder did.

One of the advantages of embarking on a DIY build is the freedom to customize the smoker according to your specific requirements. Consider adding features like wheels to make the smoker easily portable, facilitating both cooking and storage. Additionally, exploring other DIY outdoor cooking options, such as DIY pizza ovens, can complement your smoking setup and expand your culinary repertoire.

Side Rack File Cabinet Smoker
Side Rack File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: therecykler

9- Old Grey File Cabinet Smoker

An old grey metal filing cabinet by dailymail is functional for paper storage, but it’s the most boring pieces of furniture in the home or office. But all that changes with a simple DIY transformation. An old grey filing cabinet can be turned into the most useful and amazing pieces of hardware in your backyard when you follow these step by step instructions.

Turn that old grey filing cabinet into a BBQ smoker and paint it any color you want (use heat-resistant paint). Boring furniture never looked, or smelled, so good before. Your friends will be asking for your BBQ recipe and to build them a file cabinet smoker

Old Grey File Cabinet Smoker
Old Grey File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: dailymail

10- Filing Cabinet Smoker

These free plans offer a great opportunity to repurpose an old metal filing cabinet into a functional homemade smoker, much like the one depicted. In my experience, older metal filing cabinets, constructed with thicker steel, are particularly well-suited for this purpose, as the thickness of the steel contributes to better heat retention and durability over time.

When selecting the cabinet size, consider your smoking needs and preferences. For smaller gatherings or cookouts, a compact three-drawer filing cabinet may suffice. However, if you intend to smoke meat in larger quantities for long-term storage, opting for a larger six-drawer metal cabinet would be more suitable. Ultimately, the size of the cabinet should align with your smoking goals and the amount of meat you plan to smoke at a given time.

Filing Cabinet Smoker
Filing Cabinet Smoker, Image via: instructables

11- Meat Smoker By Mecosmoker

This four-drawer filing cabinet I am showing you makes an ideal meat smoker by mecosmoker especially when you have a lot of fresh meat that needs to be preserved.

This video tutorial will show you how to build a smoker that will handle a large quantity of fresh meat at the same time. A great DIY project for living a sustainable life and hunt and fish for their meat.

Meat Smoker
Meat Smoker, Image via: mecosmoker

12- $20 File Cabinet Smoker

As someone who loves hosting gatherings, I’ve learned that nothing satisfies a hungry crowd quite like BBQ meat fresh from a smoker. My own experience has shown me that while large commercial smokers can be pricey, there’s a budget-friendly alternative: building a homemade smoker, such as the one showcased by Patriotcaller, which can be made for just $20. Following the step-by-step instructions in the instructional video not only allows you to save money but also enables you to impress your friends by serving up mouthwatering BBQ dishes that rival those from expensive commercial smokers.

DIY file cabinet smoker
DIY file cabinet smoker, Image via: patriotcaller

13- Three-Drawer File Cabinet Smoker With PID

This three-drawer smoker holds wood chips in the bottom drawer and sends a steady supply of smoke up to the two top drawers, thanks to the PID. The proportional-integral-derivative controller is an intelligent temperature controller that enables you to smoke the meat to your exact specifications.

This file cabinet smoker by smokingmeatforums is a smart design with intelligent features typically found in an expensive store-bought smoker. A homemade smoker doesn’t have to be a bare-bones model, it can have all the bells and whistles you want since you are the one building it.

Three-Drawer Smoker With PID
Three-Drawer Smoker With PID, Image via: smokingmeatforums

14- File Cabinet Smoker For Under $100

Store-bought smokers can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars but building a smoker can cost you less than $100 with these plans.

One hundred dollars may seem a little expensive to some do-it-yourselfers but most of that money is spent on heat-resistant paint. If you already have a four-drawer file cabinet and don’t want to paint it, this DIY smoker by dglobe can be made for almost nothing.

Recycle old grill grates for the bottoms of the top two drawers of the smoker will save money, plus a kitchen raid can probably garner you a couple of old aluminum pans to hold the charcoal, water and wood chips too.

An Iowa teenager successfully built this file cabinet smoker and won the state championship at the county fair with her DIY design, and now she will show you how to build a smoker just like her award-winning one.

File Cabinet Smoker For Under $100
File Cabinet Smoker For Under $100, Image via: dglobe

15- DIY Smoker

This detailed video will show you how to turn a file cabinet into a functional smoker by nothinglikebbq, plus provide you with a delicious recipe to get you started. It’s a fun and easy build that will enable you to build a DIY smoker and have guests over for a backyard BBQ on the same day. Your guests may want you to build them a DIY smoker and get you started in a side-hustle business venture that will bring in extra income.

DIY Smoker
DIY Smoker, Image via: nothinglikebbq

16- Beginner Smoker Build

For beginners in the DIY world, this file cabinet smoker featured on YouTube is an excellent starting point, as I’ve found from my own experience. Requiring minimal skills, tools, and investment, it’s a project that anyone can tackle with ease. If you already have a filing cabinet lying around, the cost of building this smoker will be next to nothing, making it an incredibly budget-friendly option.

The detailed instructions provided in the YouTube video make building this filing cabinet smoker a straightforward task that can be completed in just a few hours, as I’ve observed. Despite its simplicity, the smoker is durable and built to last for years, ensuring that your investment of time and effort pays off in the long run. Whether you opt for a two, three, or four-drawer filing cabinet, these free plans make it easy for even beginners to transform an old filing cabinet into a functional and long-lasting DIY smoker that adds value to your outdoor cooking experience.

17- Redneck File Cabinet Smoker

When something is referred to as ‘redneck’ it just means it’s a DIY item that costs very little to create. Rednecks are folks that know how to build things and save money, like this efficient file cabinet smoker.

Watch this YouTube video for complete instructions on how to build a smoker from a four drawer metal filing cabinet. The large size of this filing cabinet on youtube will allow you to smoke a lot of food at once making it ideal for a farmer or hunter that has a lot of fresh vegetables or harvested meat to preserve.

Make one of these redneck file cabinet smokers for your off grid homestead so you can preserve fresh food without electricity. The cold smoke will dehydrate the food so it keeps without refrigeration. The smoke will penetrate through the food and adds flavor that will be a welcomed addition to any meal.

18- Meat Smoker

If you love to eat jerky but hate to pay the high price for it at the store, start making your own jerky. This DIY file cabinet smoker is one of my most favorite smokers. This meat smoker is the ideal way to make your own jerky for minimal expense.

Learn how to make a smoker in this YouTube video that will quickly smoke and dehydrate your favorite meat and turn it into tasty jerky.

Jerky is not the only thing that you can make with this DIY file cabinet smoker, you can also smoke meat and vegetables for preservation. The electric heating unit in the bottom of the cabinet allows you to control the temperature so your smoked food will turn out perfect every time.

Even though this DIY smoker on youtube is electric it will not cost much to operate. The low heat keeps the electrical usage and cost way down. You can recycle an old filing cabinet and heating unit from a stove for this DIY project. This will keep the building cost low and keep usable items out of the landfill. The controlled temperature gives you perfect results every time you smoke food.

19- Cheap Filing Cabinet Smoker

If you are tired of spending money on the smokers sold at retail stores, consider building a cheap file cabinet smoker that does that same job.

Learn how to build a DIY smoker in this YouTube video for less than $35. It won’t be any harder to build one than it is to put a store bought one together. The DIY smoker will last just as long and probably smoke meat better than a store bought one.

Growing food, raising meat animals, and harvesting game animals is a way of life on a homestead and you need a way to preserve the food that is safe and sustainable. Dehydrate the food so it can be preserved without electricity so you will never have to worry about a power outage and losing all the food in your freezer. Dehydrated food does not require refrigeration or freezing to remain safe for eating.

This file cabinet smoker can also be used to prepare meals for the family to enjoy at the end of a long workday. It will make a perfect addition to any homestead, plus it is cheap to build.


20- Four-Tier File Cabinet Smoker

As someone who loves to host backyard gatherings, I’ve discovered that this ingenious project has the potential to transform ordinary BBQs into unforgettable culinary events, drawing from my own experiences. Repurposing an old four-drawer filing cabinet into a highly efficient DIY smoker requires just a bit of creativity and effort.

The instructional video by Delish simplifies the process of creating and using this smoker, as I’ve learned firsthand. By following the steps outlined in the video, such as placing charcoal in an aluminum pan in the bottom drawer and meat in the top two drawers, you can achieve mouthwatering results like melt-in-your-mouth ribs that will impress your neighbors and guests alike. Additionally, the minimal construction requirements and the durability of the heavy-duty steel cabinet ensure that this homemade smoker will withstand years of use, making it a worthwhile investment for your outdoor cooking adventures.

Four-Tier File Cabinet Smoker
Four-Tier File Cabinet Smoker, Image via: delish

21- File Cabinet BBQ Smoker

In my last smoker plan, you can Re-purpose a five-drawer file cabinet into a functional BBQ smoker like in this YouTube video.

Learn how to make the file cabinet airtight so all of the smokey flavors are directed into the meat in the file cabinet smoker. This educational video will also show you how to repose damper grates from an old BBQ grill for use on the new file cabinet smoker so the internal heat and smoke can easily be controlled. Learn how to re-purpose other items you may have on hand to create this file cabinet BBQ smoker by watching this YouTube video.


So these are different types of  file cabinet smoker I have shared with you, you can recycle them to smoke your favorite meat. Smoking can make your food rich in flavour and also by cold smoking you can store your harvest meat to be used over the time. You can choose any of these filing cabinet smokers to enjoy the flavor of smoked meat.


Michigan State University Extention, by Christine Venema, pub: December 19, 2016, “Smoking as a food cooking method”, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/smoking_as_a_food_cooking_method

Reaearch Gate, pub: January 2004, author: Julie A. ALBRECHT Ph.D, “NF04-605 Smoking Meat and Poultry”, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267721939_NF04-605_Smoking_Meat_and_Poultry

ACS Publications, Publication Date:August 7, 2020, “Effects of Smoking Temperature, Smoking Time, and Type of Wood Sawdust on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Accumulation Levels in Directly Smoked Pork Sausages”, https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.0c04116

Science Direct: pub: 2016, “Safety by Control of Water Activity: Drying, Smoking, and Salt or Sugar Addition”, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/smoked-meat

About Farhan Ahsan

My name is Farhan Ahsan,I am web enthusiast, writer and blogger. I always strive to be passionate about my work. I started my work at the beginning of 2007 by engaging myself with detail reading and exchanging information with others. Since then things and times have changed, but one thing remains the same and that is my passion for helping and educating people, building a successful blog and delivering quality content to the readers. I always love to write about gardening, sustainable life, off grid living and homestead farming.

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