The place where I live has an old shed that once had been used as a smokehouse. The chimney is still there, but a bare interior, so I'm not sure how they fired it for use. There's enough room to hang several hams, hundreds of feet of sausage, and still hold half a cow too. That's far more space than I want to heat for a smoker, although back in the days of farmsteads it probably was perfect for smoking enough meat for the winter for a large family.
So, I recently found some information on making an inexpensive backyard smoker out of a new terra-cotta flower pot. It is supposedly fashioned after an Alton Brown idea, and actually it's pretty simple. I plan to make one and will post photos, but in the meantime, here's the general idea:
You need a large terra-cotta flower pot (maybe 16"-18"), and a terra-cotta saucer to act as a lid. For a heat source, the heating element out of a hot plate works well. You can run the electric power for the hot plate out of the drain hole in the bottom of the pot, and you should have some spacers/feet to hold the coil itself above the bottom of the pot. (You could use smashed soda cans.)
Then you need a container to hold the charcoal, maybe an old metal pot or bowl... and a grille to hold the jerky, bacon, steak or whatever you are smoking above the heat source. Drill a couple of holes in the saucer to hold a handle or knob, and invert it for the lid. Presto! Inexpensive smoker!
I'm thinking that when I make mine, I'll look for a better temperature controller than what comes on most hotplates, or maybe change it out later, assuming of course that I really like smoking stuff.