Fires have kept us warm and lit our parties for families and friends for years of entertaining. By adding a firepit, the once dark or boring backyard can easily become a place to flock with food and drink. True, making your own firepit isnít the easiest thing to take on, but with $500, two days of working time combined with sweat, you could have a great space in the backyard over the weekend.
Tools for Success
- blocks cast from concrete
- drainage gravel
- hand tamper (optional)
- measuring tape
- rubber mallet
- caulking gun
- masonry adhesive
- iron campfire ring
- brick hammer
- 4-foot level
- 2-foot level
- work clothes: gloves, safety glasses, closed-toed shoes/boots
First thingís first, you must check with your local codes with regards to open flames. There are often different laws in different cities, so make sure itís okay that you even build one. Also, make sure the pit is going to be located far from overhanging trees, other flammable structures, and, of course, your house.
Next, go to any home center and purchase blocks that are cast from concrete to look like real stone. They are the most ideal. Once you have chosen which pieces you want, dry-lay a ring of the blocks around where you want the fire pit positioned. This gives you a blueprint to know where you will be building. To mark the pit so you know where to dig.
Use a spade and mark a circle about an inch outside the perimeter of the ring. It may be best to take a photograph of how the pit looks before you take the blocks and put them aside. Next, dig a straight-sided trench that is a total of 12-inches deep and only as wide as one of your cement blocks. To check the trench is the right size, put the blocks back within the circle. If itís not wide enough, dig more where you need to and remove the blocks once you have finished. Then, dig out the center of the trench you created by 6 inches.
Now you have the base for the firepit, and itís time to fill in the trench with six inches of 3/4-inch drainage gravel. You may use a hand tamper to compact the gravel or simply press with your gloves hands. Add as much gravel as needed to keep the trench level and even, because the next step is lay and level the first row of blocks.
Here are simple steps to complete the next stage:
- Place the first block in the ring, and use a 2-foot level to check the level from side to side as well as front to back.
- Use a rubber mallet on any part of a block too high. Where itís too low, shim that side slightly with a handful of the patio base.
- Once the block is perfectly balanced, move on.
- Put down the next block, pushing the sides tightly together while lining up the front and back edges.
- Do this over and over again, checking occasionally with a 4-foot level across the entire ring, until finished.
Next, using the caulking gun and the masonry adhesive, zigzag the glue across the two adjacent blocks. After that is done, lay a block on top of the pieces making sure the center of the seam between the two is covered. Do this until the next level is finished.
With only a few steps left, itís time to fill the pit. Fill the pit with six inches of gravel to help support the first two levels you have already created and then move on to the third and fourth levels.
Put an iron campfire ring into the circle, make sure itís even and fill in any space that is between the ring and the block wall all the way to the top.
Finally, itís time to cap the blocks. With whichever pieces you chose to use as the top of the pit walls, whether natural stone or otherwise, lay them over the top level. If you use blocks, glue the pieces to the wall. If you use natural stone, then you will need to combine dry mortar with bonding additive to make a peanut-buttery consistency.
Capstone blocks will use the same technique as the levels. For the natural stone here are the final instructions:
- Get the wall wet with some bonding agent
- Place a large amount of mortar on two blocks
- With the point of the trowel, make a groove across the mortar
- Take the capstone a lay it on top, push it down, tap it with the rubber mallet to make sure itís set and level
- Do this until the wall is finished
After you have finished, wait at least two days before lighting a fire.
And that is it. You have labored for two days and have a beautiful, natural place to sit and relax. Hopefully you didnít lose any fingers and instead added a great new addition to your home. Enjoy.
Miscelleana Rhinehart has been writing for years with some of her clients offering Queens used cars at multiple financing levels and others offering production services commercially.
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