Intro: How to Build Your Own Fire Pit
There are few things as relaxing as a warm fire on a cool evening. A fantastic "do it yourself" project, the folks at The Progressive Farmer magazine show you how to build a fire pit in just one day. Clear step-by-step instructions and material lists help make this project both fun and easy.
Step 1: Preparation
STONES. We built this fire pit from landscaping blocks. You can use field stone or other materials too. Do not use stones that have been submerged in water; they can explode with the heat of the fire. Concrete blocks may deteriorate from the heat, but they are cheap to replace. DRAINAGE. In the bottom center of the pit, we dug a fencepost-sized hole 2 feet deep and filled it with gravel. The hole works like a sump, helping to drain rainwater. ADHESIVES. We dry-stacked the stone. It's a quicker way to build the fire pit. If you have to replace cracked or broken stones, dry-stacking makes that job easier as well. If you want to cement the courses, lay cement down only on the outside half of the stones to protect the cement from the heat. Adhesives may melt and give off fumes; we advise against using them. SAFETY. This fire pit is built in a wooded area. Before we started the fire, we soaked the area around the pit with water. We also had 5-gallon buckets of water and a shovel handy to put out any stray fires. What You'll Need 98 retaining wall blocks steel pit ring with tabs metal grate sand gravel We bought the ring and grate as specialty items from a garden store. We can't find a place to order these pieces from the Internet, so we'd suggest welding your own or having one produced at a welding shop. The retaining wall blocks used in this project were 12 inches wide, 4 inches high and 8 inches deep. We purchased about one-half ton each of sand and gravel. Total Cost: about $500
Step 2: Dig a Hole
We dug a hole 2 feet wider than the fire pit--about 7 feet across. Make the hole round by hammering a stake into the center of your fire pit area. Loop a 3 1/2-inch length of string over the stake and mark the circle. Dig out 12 inches of soil. Shovel in 4 inches of gravel and 4 inches of sand. Tamp that layer flat. Onto that base lay down the base course of blocks. Make sure this course is level in all directions. Fill the space outside the blocks with gravel. This nearly buries the first course, making the stone base strong.
Step 3: Lay the Courses of Stone
Lay additional courses of stone. We used the steel ring that will hold the grill in place to ensure each course is round and of the correct diameter. We purchased the ring from a garden supply store. To keep the courses perpendicular to each other and to the ground, hang a piece of string over the edge of the top-most course. When each course touches this string--and the string is touching the base course--all the courses are roughly perpendicular. The middle of our pit was 32 inches in diameter.
Step 4: Stack Additional Layers
Use a brush to clean debris from the surface of the previous layer. Overlap the layers of stone, leaving three or four random gaps between stones in every course. The gaps allow the fire to draw air into itself. We dry-stacked the stone. They may get out of alignment, but realignment is easy. We learned something the hard way: Put gravel into the center of the fire pit after you've stacked a couple of courses. Then spread it evenly when you're finished. We shoveled the gravel into the pit after it was completed and found lifting the gravel that high was unnecessary work.
Step 5: Steel Ring
Before you lay the final course of stone, set the steel ring in place. Then add the final layer of stone onto the lip of the ring. As originally built, the fire pit was seven layers tall--each layer took 14 stones--and about 25 inches tall. But we have found that the fires burn even better once we removed one layer of stone.
Step 6: Video
Our detailed video demonstrates the making of this easy "DIY" project from start to finish.
How spend your time Outdoors without feel cold (Photos) by paliquidat
Build Your Own Backyard Fire Pit by Thisoldhouse.com
50 comments Add Comment view all 59 comments
interior design nyc
Mar 7, 2011. 2:01 PM REPLY
WHERE can I find a steel ring and grate similar to this one? I can't seem to find it anywhere online.
Oct 25, 2010. 9:02 AM REPLY
A 3 1/2-inch length of string? Shouldn't that be 3 1/2 _feet?_
Jul 29, 2009. 12:45 AM REPLY
Spinal Tap anyone?
Sep 9, 2010. 9:40 AM REPLY
Sep 11, 2010. 5:28 AM REPLY Does it go to 11? Why? Well 11 is 1 more than 10 isn't it. Seriously it's a nice project and I'm planning on building one when I move which isn't too far away. Can you use charcoal instead of wood? That way it would make an awesome charcoal grill and if I could find a cover, a smoker as well
"We had a stonehenge monument on stage that was in danger of being trampled by a dwarf!".
Sep 30, 2010. 11:15 AM REPLY
Yes its feet - honest mistake.
Um I meant with cement or heat proof concrete..
Sep 15, 2010. 8:15 PM REPLY
Sep 9, 2010. 9:38 AM REPLY If you're making them be careful they don't explode. Test them in a safe environment (where they can explode safely) up to operating temp. Porous rocks and home made clay bricks are potentially dangerous. Don't use porous rock and learn how to fire clay bricks safely.
The Man From Nantucket says:
Perhaps, but he does give me a great idea on how to reuse metal drums.
Jul 28, 2009. 5:59 AM REPLY
Sep 11, 2010. 5:31 AM REPLY This is a good idea, but as I've never re purposed a steel drum do they come with a removable steel lid? How do you clean them out?
Jun 16, 2010. 8:45 AM REPLY
Sep 9, 2010. 9:35 AM REPLY Leaving gaps in the bricks allows radiant heat to escape sideways. When you're sitting around a fire with a wall like this the heat goes straight up. Nice when you want the ambiance of a fire without excess heat but not as comfortable on chilly nights.
Jul 12, 2010. 11:01 AM REPLY That's a nice fire pit, but $500 is pretty steep! The local hardware store sells a kit (minus gravel) to build something very similar for under $300.
Where can I find the steel ring and the cooking grate?? Thanks
Mar 8, 2010. 5:50 PM REPLY
May 30, 2009. 1:06 PM REPLY Looks nice...but dont use it very often!!!! I made a pit like this and the landscaping bricks deteriorate over a few weeks from the heat. I ended up taking the mess to the dump. Waste of bricks.
Mar 2, 2010. 6:36 AM REPLY You could prevent this heat deterioration by buying Firebrick. Its is made especially for fireplaces and works great. Then you could put whatever stone on the outside as decoration. Just be sure to leave about 3 half inch gaps near the bottom row for airflow. There is also an adhesive for the decorative stone that comes in a caulking tube so mortar does not have to be used.
Jan 23, 2009. 12:34 PM REPLY I used an old piece of large metal pipe, an old big-rig rim, and a random steel screen made from 1/4" bars woven together...oh, and a metal hub cap to stop the coals from falling through the hub hole in the middle of the rim.
Mar 1, 2010. 10:11 AM REPLY I've also seen many fire pits made with the drum from an old washing machine too. The drum in a dryer is not as easily removed as it is from a washer.
1 Ton! That's A Lot!
Jan 16, 2010. 5:24 PM REPLY
I was wondering about how to remove the ash too
Aug 16, 2009. 1:28 PM REPLY
Found the rings at http://www.markstaar.com/category/38.html from 26"-56" diameter and 7",9", or 11" high.
Jul 30, 2009. 3:22 PM REPLY I worked my way through college working for this fine firm. If you've camped in even one public park, odds are very good that you've used their products. Fire Rings: http://www.pilotrock.com/campfire_rings/index.htm I used to (and need to again) give these to newlyweds. They all still have them. http://www.pilotrock.com/park_street_benches/cardinal.htm I think y'all can figure this one out. http://www.pilotrock.com/place_order.htm Cheers, Fin
If you added firebrick to the inside, would it last longer?
Jul 29, 2009. 4:23 PM REPLY
Jul 29, 2009. 1:28 PM REPLY Looks good! Here's a tip though. In the future, I would plan for spaces between every other block on the second from the bottom layer. That way you allow air into the pit and the fire can breathe better. Without these vents the flames will consume most of the oxygen in the pit and it essentially chokes itself out. (That's why there are always vents on or near the bottom of grills.) Having the vents on the second layer will mean they'll still allow air through after your ashes start piling up on the bottom. Jul 28, 2009. 7:04 PM REPLY
Fire! But now I have to ask, just how do you clean the ash out of it? This is how I roll.
Where can I find those bricks? My local Lowes & Home Depot don't have them. They don't have the "weathered" ones.
Jul 22, 2009. 4:46 AM REPLY
Never mind. Lowes did have them.
Jul 24, 2009. 4:19 AM REPLY
great video, thanks. going to tackle this project loved it. wish me luck..
Jul 19, 2009. 8:18 PM REPLY
this would also work nicely as a faux well in the front yard
Oct 19, 2008. 8:31 AM REPLY
Sep 27, 2008. 4:34 AM REPLY looks nice youve done a good job im building a pond with bricks like that lucklly my cousion just moved in to a new house and thers loads of them in his garden Jun 18, 2008. 11:07 PM REPLY Stay away from using Genesis stoneworks... they said they could build a firepit for me... and i ended up having to pay system pavers to put it right... Genesis, what a JOKE!
May 28, 2008. 11:23 AM REPLY Ill be attempting this one next weekend - wish me luck. I think I'm going to make it a little nice by adding some flagstone on the top for a nice looking rim and leaving out the grill part
my family made this last summer-ours was a little smaller but we used an old wheel well for our ring-worked great
Apr 12, 2008. 5:28 PM REPLY
Jan 7, 2008. 5:24 PM REPLY needs some holes at the bottom for air. cool, but not worth $500, it can be done for much less you could make it with recycled bricks, and an old BBQ rack for free
Very true, and it ends up looking really good!
Mar 22, 2008. 8:43 PM REPLY
Jan 8, 2008. 9:13 AM REPLY Looks great. I wouldn't mind spending that money for something that looks great and adds value to a home. Nothing lowers your property value more than a pile of garbage bricks and an old BBQ grill
it's only "a pile of garbage bricks" if you don't know what you're doing
Mar 1, 2010. 3:44 PM REPLY
Ditto on RIAA's comment/s. Still, cool Instructable.
Jan 8, 2008. 8:12 AM REPLY
niccccccccceeeeeeee.... really when I make one of this I will post a pic.
Jan 19, 2008. 2:05 PM REPLY
add a high power metal fan to the side and you have an incinerator
Jan 12, 2008. 11:21 PM REPLY
Jan 12, 2008. 10:57 PM REPLY you could also use 1/2 of a 55 gallon. barrel instead of the fire ring. that way if you cut square out of the bottom and leave a couple of loose stones on the bottom, you can rake the ashes out to the side.
Jan 7, 2008. 12:15 PM REPLY Why the ring? Is it just so you can cook on it, or is there some other purpose I missed? Thanks for the nice instructible either way.
to hold the grate in
Jan 11, 2008. 2:15 PM REPLY
make sure you ring is circular or something