A fire management basket is an accessory for offset smokers that creates a better bed of glowing embers which makes it easier to maintain your fire and therefore temperature. This is how I built mine.
When building a fire in an offset smoker it helps if you can make the bed of glowing embers thicker. If you build your fire directly on the flat bottom or on top of sturdy grill grates it’s hard to get that thickness as the ash spreads out in all directions. One of several benefits with a thicker coal bed is that it easier absorbs new splits or logs, as there’s more BTUs. This reduces the potential temperature dip. And by having a thicker coal bed you can usually maintain temps for longer. Normally I add a split or two every 10 minutes, but with this fire management basket I can reduce that to every 20 minutes.
There are many different ways of constructing a fire management basket. I took spare material I had lying around, of thicker dimension. The sheet metal I used is 5 mm thick. The “grates” on the side and in the bottom is regular expanded metal that can easily be replaced. The two “feet” I welded to the bottom is 20 x 20 mm solid square bar. This is a bit overkill, but again, I had it lying around. Feel free to construct more lightweight feet for your basket. The good thing though is that it comes off the ground almost an inch, meaning there’s fresh air supply from underneath.
Measure everything both once and twice. Can you fit the finished basket through the firebox door? Is it long enough to hold the logs that you are using?
Here are the dimensions for the various parts of the basket:
- Sides: 30 cm wide, 25 cm tall, 5 mm sheet metal
- Back piece: 12 cm wide at the bottom, 30 cm wide at the top, 5 mm sheet metal
- Feet: 30 cm long, 20×20 mm square steel bar
- Bottom grate: 28 cm long, 11 cm wide, expanded metal