Full Chisel Blog

January 15, 2011

Bee Smoker Bellows

I may have posted this picture earlier when I made the wooden parts for this bee smoker.  Made of pine, hand planed, one small hole for the air to exit and one large hole for the air to enter.  The remaining parts will be made by Shay Lelegren at Hot Dip Tin.  It took me a while to find the proper thin oak tanned leather for the bellows.


I made a full size paper pattern approximating how wide I have seen other bee smoker bellows open.  It was a guess, and it turned out fine,  4 1/2″ at the widest, tapering down to the thickness of the two pine boards.  I then transferred the pattern to the leather cut it out and used fish glue to glue the leather to the wood as I tacked it onto the boards with traditional carpet tacks.  I did one segment at a time to keep everything straight.  I used a leather welt like the original.  The front narrow edge has the leather doubled up to act as a hinge.  There is a leather flap that acts as a one way valve only allowing air to enter the bellows chamber.  When it is squeezed the air blows out a small hole on the opposite side.  This will go into a tin container that is holding the smoldering material making the smoke.  This forces the smoke out the tin funnel shape focusing it onto the bees to sedate them.



  1. Your attention to the details, even with something as utilitarian as this, always amazes me. I do have to ask, though. Why did you place the large in-port in the wider section and the small out-port in the narrow?

    I also have to ask about your fork for coping. It appears to be L-shaped, but I can’t figure out why. Have you written about this appliance before? I did a search, but as I am not sure of its proper name, I might have missed it.


    Comment by Mitchell — January 16, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  2. Mitchell,

    I copied the original and that is where the holes are located. This is an early smoker, most have square bellows.

    The L-shaped fork is a sawing fork mounted upside down for this cut. It can also be held upright at the bench to raise the height. I posted something about it the first year of my blog.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 19, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  3. I really like the looks of this but can you please post what the flap looks like before you put the two half’s together? Also how does it come back open? Do you have a spring on the inside and if so can you show it and how it is attached also? I want to try to make me one similar to yours but I am new at this. I am a beekeeper but my craftsman ship with wood is no where as good as you. Thanks for sharing. You could e mail me the pics if you do not mind. Randy

    Comment by Randy — September 16, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  4. Hi,
    This is wonderful! I am trying to replace a bellows on an antique smoker, and this is a good start. However, I do not really understand when you say the leather is “doubled up” at the narrow end, and I do not see where the one-way valve is. Would you offer any more details on how this is made? Thanks!

    Comment by Sue — January 1, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  5. Sue,
    the leather that forms the sides continues around the ‘hinge’ end of the bellows, the leather has enough spring to force it back open when squeezed. The tinsmith put the one way valve in the air goes into the tin part.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 1, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

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