Some notes from the WLUG meeting on Debian and packaging:
apt-get install dpkg-dev, file, gcc, g++, libc6-dev, make, patch, perl, dh-make, debhelper, fakeroot, gnupg, lintian.
Investigate package with dpkg --info file, dpkg --contents file and lintian file
make sure makefile has a proper install target, syntax of install program install -d $(BIN) $(ICONS) $(DESTDIR)/etc install -m644 file $(BIN) etc
Editing debian files.
Control file - add dependencies etc. copyright file changelog file rules file - makefile.
You may want to also specify -uc and -us to dpkg-buildpackage to prevent it from attempting to sign the package.