There is a subtle joy in feeling the warmth of a bonfire while you rest in a comfortable lawn-chair sipping a single-malt. Some of us have experienced it while camping outdoors and there is the desire to re-live that experience again and again. Human beings have always had a fascination for fire, it is evident in the use of candles even when there is artificial light around.
If you own a backyard, you can easily build your own fire pit and enjoy the cold evenings reclining next to its warmth. This article is DIY instruction based and deals with how to build a rock fire pit in your backyard. The instructions remain the same to build a brick fire pit also, just that you will be using bricks instead of concrete.
What are ingredients required to build a rock fire pit?
- Cast Concrete blocks (molded to look like stone)
- Masonry adhesive
- 3/4 inch gravel (enough to fill a small trench)
- Mortar and adhesive mix
The concrete blocks can be obtained from any home improvement store. The edges of the concrete blocks should be uneven to give it a natural stone look. Take care to buy blocks with angled side edges or else it is difficult to lay it out in a circular fashion. You would also be in need of some tools to make your work easier. A basic set of tools are
- Stone hammer and chisel
- Rubber mallet and 2-foot level
You can also buy a campfire metal ring to line the inner side of the concrete. This way you will protect the concrete from getting over-heated, they will last longer and be less prone to crumbling.
Steps to build a rock fire pit
Follow these simple steps to build an outdoor fire pit of your own.
1. Choose the location
Make sure the spot you choose to build the landscape fire pit is isolated from the rest of your garden. There should be no low hanging braches or dry plants in the vicinity. Make sure there is enough space around the fire pit for people to sit and converse.
2. Make the circle
We will be building a circular fire pit so the first thing to do would be to mark the boundary. You can come up with your own technique to do this, but the simplest way would be to use a stake with a string tied to it, the length of the string is equivalent to radius of the circle you want for the fire pit. A 22 inch radius should be more than sufficent in most cases.
Tie a metal rim or pencil on the other side of the string and draw a circle on the soil.
Note that outdoor fire pit designs need not always be circular, the shape can be a square, rectagle or even a triangle.
3. Dig up a pit and trench
You will need a pit to lay out the gravel and the first course of concrete ring. Here’s what you do.
- Dig a circular pit (using the marked circle as reference) up to 6 inches deep. Use a shovel for this purpose.
- Dig a 6 inch deep trench around the border of the pit using a trovel or hand spade. The thickness of the trench should match the size of the concrete blocks.
- Lay out a layer of gravel at inside the trench and level it up as shown in the image.
- Now place the first ring of concrete blocks on top of the gravel. The first ring is of most importance as it sets the level for the rest of the construction. Make sure the blocks are completely on level with each other, you can use a 2-foot level for this purpose. A rubber mallet should be used with care to level the blocks.
- Use a chisel and stone hammer if you need to cut any block to fit them into a gap
When you have done this, it finishes the most important and the toughest part of building a fire pit. This is how you make an inground fire pit. From here on it’s a breeze.
4. Stack up the layers
On top of the first ring of concrete blocks, start another layer. Follow these steps.
- Apply masonry adhesive on top of the first layer of concrete blocks and lay the second layer of blocks. Stagger the edges, the edge of a block at the bottom should not meet the edge of a block on top. Look at the article image to get a clearer idea.
- Tap the blocks on a level using the rubber mallet
- Once the second layer is securely in place, stack the third layer on top of it.
Before you go on to the fourth layer, you will need to do something else.
5. Fill in the gravel
Add a 2 inch layer of gravel inside the pit and level it up using the shovel or a leveling tool like a tamper. This layer of gravel will help in drainage and will also make cleaning up a lot easier.
6. Finishing touches
Just add the fourth and fifth layer of concrete block rings and you are done with the basic structure of the fire pit. You can place a metal campfire bowl into the pit to add a layer of heat protection. Do this when you are at the fifth layer and stack up another layer of blocks on top of it.
On the top layer you will need to arrange some polished flat stones to give it a sleek top. You can cut up the flat stone so that it can be easily arranged in a circular structure. You will need to use mortar and mix to keep the stones in place. You can skip this step if you are not too keen on the aesthetics.
So there you have it, a backyard fire pit ready to burn. An in ground fire pit is just a variation of the usual open campfire, but its safer and more prudent for home users. You can also check out a few videos on how to build a rock fire pit on youtube. All of these instructions for building a fire pit holds true for any other material like bricks, boulder stones or some other type of rock, that you might be using.
Note: If you are going to use any other material for the fire pit, make sure it’s fire-proof. Check up with the local fire department on the use of open fires at your home, so to be sure that it’s legal around your area.