Master Forge Charcoal Vertical Smoker

Master Forge Smoker

Master Forge Charcoal Vertical SmokerI got the Master Forge Vertical Smoker from Lowes for about $60.00. The Master Forge Smoker is a good charcoal smoker for beginners. Not too expensive and does an ok job. Below you will find my instructions on how to use the Master Forge Smoker.

Drink a beer for each step of this setup process. Rinse and repeat.

Acquire Supplies

These items are not required, but they are highly recommended. Your life will be much easier if you have these on hand before getting your smoker fired up.


I prefer Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal over Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes because it is 100% natural hardwood, lights quickly, burns long, burns hot and also provides authentic smoky flavor.

The Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a must have. I have no problem getting my charcoal lit and burning hot. Even in high wind, it isn’t a problem. I’ll never light charcoal again without this thing.

I personally like large wood chunks like the Weber Hickory Wood Chunks. I do not use a box to put wood chips in. I like large wood chunks so that I don’t have continuously add woods chips. However, both will work. If you have access to a store like Gander Mountain, I’d recommending getting a large bag of wood chunks.

I do not use this, but I can see the benefit. I may try this in the near future especially since it is hard to get apple wood chunks where I live. So, I’ll probably get one of these and put apple wood chips in it. Give it a try, let me know what you think.

Master Forge Smoker Assembly

Obviously you have to assemble your smoker. Depending on your skill level, this can take some time. For me, it took about 30 minutes. If you need instructions to assemble the smoker please see – Master Forge Vertical Smoker Assembly Instructions.

Lighting the Charcoal

Don’t cook anything until you get a Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. When cooking on the Master Forge Smoker, it is essential to have hot burning charcoal. It is damn near impossible to get the charcoal burning in your smoker’s firebox without the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. Do yourself a favor and get the damn thing. It is only $15.00.

Once you have your charcoal burning hot, fill your firebox with lit charcoals, I use Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes or Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Let your smoker burn (not cooking food) for at least 2 hours with the lid closed. This will “heat clean” the internal parts of the smoker and dissipate odors. Do not open the lid during this process. After 2 hours, apply a light coat of vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray to all interior surfaces of the smoker.

Once you have done this, you should be ready to start smoking.

Some things that you should consider when cooking with the Master Forge Smoker

Selecting the Wood

Buy wood chunks, not wood chips. If you are smoking for over 4 hours and you are using wood chips, you’ll be adding chips to your smoker all damn day. I prefer wood chunks. This way, I don’t need to continuously add wood to my smoker. I tend to use hickory and oak wood chunks when smoking pork butts. I recommend Weber Hickory Wood Chunks.

Master Forge Smoker Temperature

The Master Forge Vertical Smoker is designed to hold an internal temperature of around 250 degrees. You will notice that there are no vents to open and close for airflow like on some other smokers. This becomes a problem after several hours of smoking, because the charcoal ashes fall to the bottom of the firebox, clogging the vents, preventing airflow. There are some modifications that you can make to your smoker to prevent this from happening. I haven’t made any of these modifications yet, I’ll save that for a rainy day. When/if I decide to do that, I will provide the instructions here.

Master Forge Smoker Water Pan

Many people have the misconception that the water pan in your smoker makes the meat moist. This is a myth. The water pan is not used to moisten the meat. The purpose of the water pan is to help maintain normal smoking temperatures in the smoking chamber. Water boils at 212 degrees. The 200+ degree steam fills the chamber and helps regulate the heat.

Price breakdown of this project

Master Forge Vertical Smoker – $60.00
Kingsford Original Charcoal – $10.00
Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter– $15.00
Weber Hickory Wood Chunks – $13.00
Beer – $10.00
Miscellaneous – $10.00
Your Time – FREE

TOTAL: $118.00

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Master Forge Smoker turn into a regular barbeque grill?

The Master Forge Smoker can turn into a grill for cooking over direct heat, it is pretty easy to setup. Just remove the main body of the smoker all together. Start the charcoal in the base pan like usual, but instead of replacing the smoker body, just place one of the cooking grates directly on the top of the charcoal pan.

Do the wood chips go in the water pan in a Master Forge Smoker?

No, the wood chips do not go in the water in the master for smoker. For details about the Master Forge Smoker water pan, see section above about the water pan. The woods chips go in the firebox directly on top of the charcaol, or you can put the wood chips in a metal smoker box and set it on top of the charcoals in the firebox.

For related information about using your Master Forge Smoker, please see, How to Smoke Pork Shoulder and Basic Brine Recipe.

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11 thoughts on “Master Forge Smoker

  1. Hi there! Stumbled across your blog about your smoker. I have a (perhaps stupid) question. Do I need a separate smoker box for my wood chunks if I have the smoker? Is the smoker box only for smoking on a BBQ? I, like you was considering the Weber Smokey Mt., but it’s a lot of money to invest in something I’ve never done before.

    1. No, you do not have to use a separate smoker box. With the Master Forge smoker, you can lay your wood chunks or chips directly on top of your charcoal. The wood will smoke when laying on top of the charcoal, rise up past the water pan, and into the cooking chamber. I prefer using wood chunks as opposed to wood chips, wood chips burn quickly. If you are smoking for long periods of time, chunks are better to use. If you decide to use wood chips, you can put the chips in a metal smoker box like the Outset QS77 Stainless Steel Wood Chip Smoker Box or in a tin pan and lay it on top of the charcoal. This will prevent the charcoal from catching the wood chips on fire. Fire creates soot which give your meat a bitter taste.

      The Master Forge Smoker doesn’t have to just smoke BBQ. You can remove the top and the middle section and use it like a regular charcoal grill. Definitely get acquainted smoking on the Master Forge Smoker before purchasing something like the Webber Smokey Mountain Cooker. That’s a big investment for something that you may or may not do often.

    1. I have had some trouble keeping my smoker at a consistent temperature when smoking for long periods of time. So . . . I usually add more charcoal every 3-4 hours. It can vary though, depending on the temperature outside, amount of meat smoking, etc. The type of meat you are smoking can also be a factor. A large pork butt can take a lot more smoke than say chicken or ribs. You don’t want chicken or ribs that are too smokey.

  2. Jayden, need a little help. First smoker. Easy assembly. Burning off from assembly I found the temps steadily reading 300. Problem is most smoking would be 225 range. Reviews vary as to accuracy of thermometer. Do you recommend using another one to check it? I could also start it with less hot charcoal? And I know having food in there will lower the heat. Just not sure what to do next before starting other than build the charcoal grate up out of the pan. Thanks for any advice you may offer!

    1. Burning from assembly will always burn hotter than when you are smoking. There are many contributing factors. Meat inside of the smoker obviously lowers the temperature, the outside temperature, the temperature of the meat, etc. However, in my experience, the water pan is the single biggest contributing factor to lowering the smoker temperature. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So . . . the more water you have in the pan, the more heat is required to boil the water, keeping the temperature down. The less water that is in the pan, the less heat is required to boil the water, yielding a higher temperature.

      I would recommend monitoring the temperature in the same way that you are, except with a full water pan and with meat in the smoker if possible. If you don’t want to experiment with a piece of meat, you could monitor the temperature with a full water pan. I would expect to see the temperature drop down to around 200 – 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

      Using less charcoal will obviously lower the temperature, however, I don’t recommend doing this. If you are smoking larger cuts of meat like 10 pound pork butts, this will take many many hours. You will spend a lot of time adding charcoal.

      1. thanks for your prompt reply. I will purchase an additional thermometer to check the supplied, domed gauge as many of the reviews I have read mention discrepancies as much as 50-75 degrees. My point of using less charcoal was not clear. I followed the instructions and used half a Weber chimney to start. I should have phrased my ? as whether I should start with a less than half-full chimney to start my minion method. In the end I can say that my fire lasted about 4 hours, plenty for chicken and ribs, so I am anxious to compare temps with the supplied thermometer and then go for the meat! The water in the full water pan lasted just as touted at 2 hours. Quite excited to get the first smoke on! Thanks again! Seems like a great product.

    1. Andy, sorry for the delayed response. I personally have not made any Master Forge Smoker modifications. When I do, I’ll be sure to post them on this site. In the meantime, if you search on youtube.com for, master forge smoker modifications, you will see many different approaches to adding dampers to the Master Forge Smoker.

  3. Very good info that gave me the pease of mind to leave the temperature to the manufacturer. One note of caution to those of us using remote thermometers. Run the probe wire from somewhere other than the top lid. That seems to allow enough draft to cause run away temps.

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