How to Make your own Smoking Chips

How to Make your own Smoking Chips

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Do you know how to make your own smoking chips? Well, when it comes to anything in life I try to save money. I also love to do DIY projects specifically when it pertains to anything related to wood. So, when I recently saw that my local apple orchard had bins of apple wood for sale, I decided to pick up a bin of this fruit wood so that I could use it while grilling on my Weber grills and while using my new offset smoker, the Brinkmann Trailmaster Limited Edition. If you ever wondered how to make your own smoking chips, this article will give you the steps and, to be honest, it's pretty straightforward and there's no real mystery to it.

Apple wood in bins at a local orchard
Apple wood in bins at a local orchard
We live in the White Mountains area of New Hampshire and what's so great about this area is that wood is important in many different ways.

Whole logs are used for the multitude of log cabins in the area, wood is one of the primary sources of heat for homes, and there are many BBQ enthusiasts in the area who use local woods for smoking meats. The image to the left shows you one of the bins that I picked up at my local orchard.

After piling them up in back of my Honda CRV (I have pickup truck envy), I headed home to my house in the woods. When I got home I stacked the apple wood pieces next to my 4 cord wood pile in a separate area containing wood I'll only use for grilling and barbecue, and not for my fireplace. I grabbed a couple of branches that were very dry and decided to make my own smoke wood chips from this wonderful apple.

We always buy our wood chips at a local big box store but I figured for the small amount I paid for the apple wood at the orchard, I could easily make my own smoke wood chips and help others learn how to make your own smoking chips and save money at the same time! The following images show how I did it and also shows me using them in my Weber grill when I indirect grill my barbecue chicken.

How to Make your own Smoking Chips

(Click on any image for larger view)

Small dry branches are perfect for DIY smoke wood chips
Small dry branches are perfect for DIY smoke wood chips
Note the checking(cracks) in wood due to drying
Note the checking(cracks) in wood due to the dryness of the wood
Cutting with Chop Saw (opted to use a safer method with bandsaw)
Cutting with Chop Saw
(opted to use a safer method with bandsaw)
Cutting with Bandsaw (but you could easily use a handsaw)
Cutting with Bandsaw
(but you could easily use a handsaw)
My DIY Apple Wood Chips after Cutting
My DIY Apple Wood Chips after Cutting
Soaking my DIY Apple Smoke Wood Chips
Soaking my DIY Apple Smoke Wood Chips
Tossing Apple Smoke Wood Chips onto the coals with my Weber Grill Gloves
Tossing Apple Smoke Wood Chips onto the coals with my Weber Grill Gloves
Apple Smoke Wood Chips on Hot Coals
Apple Smoke Wood Chips on Hot Coals
Indirect Cooking a BBQ Chicken
Indirect Cooking a Whole Chicken

The smoke flavor that my DIY apple smoke wood chips added to our barbecue chicken was phenomenal. I hope you use this article to help you learn how to make your own smoking chips because it's fun and it saves you some money!

If you want to read about how I barbecue a whole chicken on a Weber grill check out this article. Believe me, I think my wife and I have mastered this indirect grilling technique as the chicken is the best we have tried anywhere, if we say so ourselves 🙂

If you have any questions or comments leave them below or use my Contact Me page!

21 thoughts on “How to Make your own Smoking Chips”

  1. Thanks bob, this is a genius idea! yet another reason to use a band saw, I love it! You’ve successfully given me something to do this weekend and also given me an exuse (as if I needed one) to get the smoker going.

    Reply
    • Hi Jerry,
      You can still cut the wood into chips but I would let them dry afterwards in the sun for about a month. Since they will be so small they should dry fairly quickly. Or you could let the logs dry for 3 – 6 months before cutting them up into wood chips. It’s entirely up to you. I tend to let my wood dry for about 6 months to a year before I cut them up. The apple wood that I purchased from a local farm I let dry for a year before I cut them into chips. I have so much left from my initial purchase that I have enough for many more cooks!

      Good luck Jerry and please let me know if you have any more question.

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply
    • Hi Matt,
      With a unit like an offset smoker you would use larger chunks of wood or small logs depending on the size of your firebox. In fact, the wood is what supplies not only the heat to cook the meat but also the smoke to season the meat. This article talks about making wood chips which you would use when adding some wet wood chips to your charcoal grill where charcoal is essentially the heat source. I show this if you go a little further down in the article.

      If I am misunderstanding the question please let me know.

      Thanks Matt,
      Bob

      Reply
  2. As a DIY’er I am always happy to use “waste” from one project as a component in another projects. I just did some major pruning on a Fuji Apple tree and saved the wood. Thanks for the tips! I’ve used a 12″ mitre saw to easily cut the small logs into short lengths and then split them using a hatchet & sledgehammer. Next Spring I hope to use these for smoking some meats.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I think it’s great that you have those prunings from your Fuji Apple Tree. To be honest, a couple of months ago I cut down a cherry tree that was in my yard, cut it up into smaller lengths, and will use it for smoking down the line. I’m like you. I try to reuse components from one project in another. As a result, I don’t throw a lot away so there are times I just have to do so or my shed will become overrun with excess material! Good luck with your grilling and smoking Spencer…

      Reply
  3. Hi Bob,

    I was just wondering what you would suggest for doing pimento wood chunks ? As I’m in Australia and want to do jerk chicken on my Weber, but unfortunately we’re not allowed to import pimento wood due agricultural laws over here. So I wanted to do from scratch.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Kevin.

    Reply
    • Hi Kevin,
      So I take it you do have the pimento tree on your property? I would just follow the same steps that I showed in the article. If you are just talking about making small pimento wood chips to add some smoke flavor to the jerk chicken just make them small enough so that they will dry properly. Then right before you use them just soak them in water for a few hours. Since I also use wood for smoking meats like pork shoulder, sausages, and ribs, I cut those much larger and make chunks out of them about the 6″ to 1′ long with a diameter of 3-4″. So, it all depends on your application.
      Kevin, good luck with this. What do you have for cutting tools? Even a small hand saw should work if you don’t own a bandsaw or a chop saw. If you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask.

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply
    • Hi Paul,
      You don’t have to but some feel that the bark could add a harshness to the meat at least on the small scale we are talking about here. I would say, for small smoking chips, I would remove the bark. If you are smoking with whole logs or split logs in an actual smoker, there’s no real need to remove the bark. I have never seen Aaron Franklin remove the bark from his smoking logs because the volume of bark when using a full log is so small compared to the volume of the wood. That’s my $.02.

      Best,
      Bob

      Reply

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