Barbecue tools

Ugly Drum Smoker

Controlling your Smoker’s Temperature

Great BBQ is dependent on number of different things ranging from the amount of smoke to your entire cooking process. None of this is possible, however, without being able to control the temperature of your smoker!

Temperature Control Simplified

I don’t dare pretend to be a scientific experiment on smoking, but let me try and break down temperature control for you as simply as I can!

It all basically comes down to your air intake and exhaust; on smokers these are called dampers. The intake damper will be at the bottom of your smoker, the exhaust damper towards the top or chimney. Proper temperature control in your smoker will depend on your ability to let air flow through these dampers.

Like any fire, the more oxygen it gets to feed it the hotter it will get. The same with the smoker, when you open the intake and exhaust dampers wide open it allows more oxygen into the smoker and therefore makes the fire hotter. Closing them more lessens how much oxygen the fire is getting and therefore maintains or lower temperatures in your fire.

This will take a little time to master with your smoker. Every smoker is different and it takes practice to learn how wide to open the dampers to maintain certain temperatures in our smoker. Helpful tip: when you’re starting your smoker, open the dampers all the way and let the smoker rise in temperature. When it gets to your desire temperature close the dampers a little bit to lessen the oxygen flow and maintain the desired temperature.

For more in depth information check out Amazing Rib’s info on Temperature control.

Temperature Control Even More Simplified

Controlling your intake and exhaust dampers seems pretty simple in theory, and it can be when you get to know your smoker, but there is even a more simplified way to control your temperature! The answer: Temperature Controllers.

A temperature controller, simply explained, is a thermometer/controller that has a probe to measure your smoker’s air temperature and fan that is aimed at your fire/ charcoal. When the probe is reading temperatures lower than what you set it for, it will communicate with the fan to blow air into your fire. This will provide more oxygen to your fire, hence raising the temperature. When the air probe reads that the temperature is back within the desired setting the fan will stop blowing.

Temperature controllers are great because you can leave your smoker and not have to worry about what’s going on. These controllers will keep your smoker going for hours without you having to worry about it.

The Temperature Controller I Chose

When I built my smoker I already had in mind that I would get a temperature controller. I went with the BBQ GURU DIGIQ DX2 temperature controller. BBQ Guru makes some pretty decent build and simple temperature controllers. Like I said these are great for making sure your smoker doesn’t go out of the desired temperature. They are a little pricey, but if the peace-of-mind of knowing your smoker is within your set temperature, than the price is worth it! Check out my BBQ GURU DIGIQ DX2 Review video to see my extended thoughts on it!


Three go-to barbecue knives

The Three Barbecue Knives

Any great barbecuer has their absolute favorite go-to knives. ¬†Having the right barbecue knife enables you to make large cuts around and through bones, accurately trim fat, and slice your finished product without ruining your hard-earned bark. My go-to barbecue knives come down to three knives: A classic chef’s knife, slicing knife, and a boning knife.

The Classic: Chef’s knife

When it comes to a chef’s knife for barbecue I don’t have a real preference. I don’t rely on it for most of the work and as long as it’s sharp it seems to work fine. I mostly use my chef’s knife for making large cuts though the meat. It’s my go-to knife for separating rib tips from the St. Louis cut pork ribs. My Chef’s knife came from the knife set that my wife and I received as a gift. However, if you’re looking to buy a great chef’s knife America’s Test Kitchen¬†recommends the 8″ Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife.

The Work Horse: Boning Knife

When it comes to finding a quality barbecue boning knife, take the time and find one that is high quality and that you like! This will become your work horse, as you will use it to most of the trimming of any of your cuts. It’s thin and is just slightly flexible so that you can trim thin layers of silver skin or fat without butchering the meat.

For my boning knife I took the advice from America’s Test Kitchen and went with the 6″ Fibrox Pro Boning Knife with flexible Blade. I ordered mine from Amazon and have loved it since! The handle is a little bit thicker, but the material of the plastic is a huge plus! Last thing you want is a knife to slip out of your hand. Like I said, this knife is my work horse and I’d use it everyday if I had a piece of meat to cut!

The Favorite: The Slicing Knife

The slicing knife is probably my favorite barbecue knives. These things are thin and sharp. Mine will slice through rib meat like it’s butter. Not only is this great for preserving the hard-earned bark you’ve been spending hours on, it also makes for a great show for your guests. Nothing says pro like pulling out a 12 inch knife and slicing through a piece of meat like it’s butter. The show will leave your guests wowed and your slices of meat flawless.

Mine is yet a again another America’s Test Kitchen recommendation, the 12 inch Victorinox Fibrox Pro Slicing knife. I paid $54.99 for mine, however, I just looked on Amazon and it’s $63.48. I’ll tell you what though, I think it’s well worth the price you pay. Not only is it a quality knife, it helps you produce a quality product. Another great feature is the Granton blade. These are little divots on the edge of the blade, these divots help prevent the meat from sticking to your blade so that when you slice a piece of meat, slice falls off to the side.

My Parting Thought on Barbecue Knives

As you start your hopefully prosperous journey with barbecuing, you’ll notice that you will want to start to get the best gear. My advice, let it happen! Obviously don’t go blowing you’re whole pay check on barbecue knives and other barbecue tools, but I would say buy quality. You get what you pay for. If you buy one of these barbecue knives and you take care of it, it will last you years!