Take an old safety screen door and cut the screen out of the frame and make a spark cover. Make a long metal handle and mig spot it to the screen. I am not talking regular screen, but the metal kind with holes in it. When they get replaced this makes a good spark deflector.
any cinder blocks laying around can be used in a pinch
or just a nice controlled fire for relaxing
Not all bricks are the same….. Be sure that the bricks that you choose are rated to withstand high levels of heat. Many of the pre-formed cement types will crack and/crumble once you have had a few hot fires in your pit. If the first fire is hot enough you may experience the crack and crumble with this first fire. “Fire Bricks,” designed specifically to be used with fire or other high sources of heat are expensive. However, they are much safer and will last a long time if you are careful.
Have a peaceful day,
Where I live,I’m required to have a wire cover over it.
Haven’t built mine yet but if you cut 45 degree 1 in cuts making a “V” in the center of the top of every second or third block to create a air channel, would this help in the burn of the fire pit? It looks as if there are no problem’s as it is now. A little ventilation never hurt any good fire. This would keep the vent above any chance of getting stopped up, leaving it maintenance free. Just a thought. Great plan!
make ventilation holes on bottom layer. use hammer to break brick in half, place along seam of second layer to hold those bricks up. place a hole about every fourth or fifth brick.
Nice looking firepit… However, it’s kinda deep, so most of the heat will go straight up and everyone sitting around the fire pit won’t be very warm, unless you really fill it up with lots of wood. Also there are no vent holes around the bottom, that would greatly increase the performance of the pit, …Last a safety concern… cement blocks are not fire bricks, and will not hold up to the direct heat, and will crack and crumble in one season, sometimes they EXPLODE due to trapped moisture that the pressure from being heated and steam built up.
I actually have a pit like this and can tell you from first hand expeience, my pit has a steel tractor rim inside it, so the blocks are somewhat protected from direct heat, and the top ones still crumble, and pop.
What little I know about concrete blocks could easily go on the head of a needle, but if they get too hot , won’t they explode? I know I’ve heated metal on a concrete floor once (and only once) and exploded it enough to get some bad scratches, and was lucky not to have any eye damage. I think it’s also a good idea to start with a small fire if the blocks are wet. Let them dry out for a little while so any water doesn’t turn to steam and explode a cavity. Just thinking safety, we wouldn’t want a good thing like this to cause anyone any pain.
For added stability, use a stone/retaining block adhesive between the layers. It will keep animals and kids from knocking blocks off when the fire pit isn’t in use. Visit your local hardware or home improvement store for more information.
I would reccomend 3 more items on this project.
1) Add a grill for the coal support on the top of the second layer of blocks. Need a space for the ashes that will fall from the fire wood, also need open space under the fire for air draft that will keep the fire burning. On the pit wall need an opening to get air under the fire.
2) Add an other close mesh grill 0n top, for the food support, preferably install that grill in a morter mix, so it will be anchored to the blockwork.
3) Install an umbrella or a sloping tarp over the pit but at least 6ft clear of the top grill to make sure that it will not catch on fire.
The slope of the tarp should be low on the wind side so the wind will not lift your tarp off it’s supports. Also slope the tarp so the water have a chance to drain off the tarp PLUS the smoke will aklso neeed an exit side , at the high end, from under the roof.
The tarp may need 4 post and a 2×4 frame and a sheet of plywood to give the tarp it’s proper support. I would size the tarp to cover
the seating area around the pit. Ofcourse instead of tarp you can also use a couple of sheat of clear corrugated plastic to keep the place lighted by the sun.
I did try to make the project not too complicated, but a roof of some kind is required to keep the fire burning, even in the rain.
Happy camping, or bar-be-quing.
PS. to the comments I made, …..A) Need an opening in the fire box wall area to be able to put wood on the fire.
B) The top grill do not need to be solid, You can leave the middle of the pit open and use only the 2 side area that has a grill over it. Over the middle you can always hang a Couldron-pot on a chain, hung from a steel triepod. ( A triepod is 3-iron rods
with an eyelet on one end and it is on an iron ring. The chain holding the pot will hang from the iron ring of the triepod.)
Seems to me that if a ledge is built into the pit or a few extra bricks are place inside then there would be no need to cement any metal grates or covers in place. I think that it would be preferable to remove any metal components and store them inside rather than leave them outside to rust particularly if you live in places that have high humidity.
I also think, well I know, that it would be more hygienic to have a removable and replaceable cooking grate if one is so desired, rather than cementing or bolting one to the blocks and exposing it to the elements, bird poop and curious animals that will certainly be attracted to the food particles or grease from cooked meats.
It would be very nice to create benches or bring folding chairs and some snacks out to the pit and roast them on long skewers, which any do it yourselfer could fashion from some thick stiff wire. Common black wire can be seasoned (coated in oil and heated-baked in the oven) just like a cast iron pan or skillet.
Another example where some of the comments have better advice than the article. The article is more of a DIY IED.
Other than Sandor’s roof suggestion; no one mentioned draining water after a rain or dowsing your fire. If you have clay for soil, you will need a way for the water to escape.
The the writer of these plans, nice simple concept to replace the $100-$200 fire pit. To all the other additions and comments. Adding the holes and possibly the screen makes sense and should be good ideas, especially making sure you use the correct blocks.
To the other comments of turning it into a grill and adding a canopy, none are bad ideas, but when we’ve used a fire pit, and the types of fire pits this one appears to be made to replace really doesn’t need much more than the few safety and effecencies mentioned. If someone wants to build a grill replacement or something to cook on etc, I’d look at some of the plans or the DIY and HGTV sites. They have some with their own chimneys, some that have ovens attached. And many other features that take more than a couple of hours to make. But will be around for many years to come. It’s all up to what you’re looking for.
I built one very similar to this one and used leveling sand as opposed to gravel. My home is around a hundred years old and had hundreds of bricks left from when the home was built. Using those with grout made for making brick fences, mine has worked well for several years now with no crumbling or popping from moisture. As for the air/ ash gap, I found a bottom grate from a webber kettle grill and added legs to keep it 4-5 inches off the bottom so I can remove the ashes when they do build up.
Great plans that I’m going to use to improve on my pit, as well as several of everyone’s suggestions.
Yes the blocks crack a little but I made it a little more perminant by mirroring them in. 5 layers, 3 in ground and 2 above. Then I mortored river rock on the outside and on top. Cleaned it and sealed it up with diameter and clear masonry sealer. Turned out awesome!
IED? The exploding bricks theory is one of the most idiotic urban myths going… IMO. How hot do you really expect a backyard fire pit to get? If you’re trying to melt iron, then you probably shouldn’t do it in a recreational fire pit.
Your 100% correct, I hope everyone takes your advice !!
Ash build up in the bottom of pit? Simple solution, shovel.
My pit is same blocks, 4 rows high, maybe 5 ft across, no vents at bottom,
and works great! No, it has not exploded and gets wet every time it rains.