Weekend Project; Backyard Fire pit

One of our favourite evening pastimes in the summertime, is to head out to our back yard, light up a fire in our fire pit, have a few Swallies (If you don’t know what a Swallie is, refer to Newfoundland-isms blog post ) and strum the night away on our guitars.

Last summer was just so busy that we didn’t get out in our backyard at all and our old purchased fire holder felt the brunt of our absence; Rust set in and what was once old faithful, was now a safety hazard. That’s never a good thing.

Old faithful became old rust bucket

Squig and Chiq, waiting for our backyard fire to start

Scrolling through FB, I came across a post for making a homemade fire pit. It looked simple enough, even though the one I saw had very low sides…and being a mom to three (the twin kitties like it best inside) fur babies who like to accompany us outside, the low sides looked like an accident waiting to happen. I forwarded the FB post on to Hubby Geoff and BOOM, we were in business. It was decided we would take our weekend and build ourselves a fire pit.

Dainty and perfect doesn’t do well in my life; I grew up rough and tumble with two older brothers as siblings, so I’m more of a rustic gal. So we decided to go with a man-made 12×8 tumbled stone block. We also decided on going with a welded steel liner. Stories of chunks of super heated rock and concrete flying off fire pits without a liner made it an easy decision. Last purchase was gravel. We bought 3/4 inch rough gravel to fill in and 1/4 pea gravel to finish the project.

Load 'er up!

Hubby is getting his exercise this weekend

Chiqqi inspected the work space

We measured out a 48×48 inch area. Our stones would take up 44 inches square and we wanted a bit of a gravel edge on the outside. In our case, because we were placing our fire pit on an area with 24×24 patio blocks, we just removed four centre blocks and dug there.

We dug down about six to eight inches and then filled our hole almost to the top with the 3/4 gravel. The gravel acts as a great drainage tool; Nothing puts a damper on a great evening with a fire, other than a fire pit full of rain water. The pea gravel was then used as a top layer (about an inch and a half) which would act as the pretty finish, but would also be easier to level the space in preparation for the stones.

3/4 inch gravel almost to the top

Four supervisors..not regular visors, SUPER ones 🙂

We used a combination of a level (atop)and a piece of 1×3 lumber to level the area. The two pieces joined together were floated across the surface of the space, similar to the way cement is floated for finishing (see video).

Once the area was level, we had to compact the area, we built a hand held tamper to do this job It worked perfect.

One last check for level and it was time to start building the sides up. We used three and a half stones to a side, with the last stone turned to end the first row and also begin the next row. Install the stones so they are flush with no gaps between them.

starting the first layer

Once the first row is finished (with 12 stones total), it’s time to check for level again. Most of what we read in preparation told us to use a wooden mallet to get this job done, but we used a small sledge , a small strip of 1/2×1 and a level. (see video)
It took a few adjustments on each side, but after lots of little taps and lots of patience, the first row was even and ready to be the foundation of the rest of the stone.

Second row with stones staggered

The second row of blocks should be staggered vertically from the first row to increase the stability of the project. Since the first row is level, the second row should be as well, but you can check for level just to be sure. The third and fourth layer are staggered with the row below.

Second row with staggered block

The insert is the next step. To save on squished fingers, we used our 1×3 board, placed next to the edge of one of the sides. We dropped the liner into place, where it rested on top of the board at an angle. This allowed us to get our fingers out of the way, before we wiggled the board out and let the liner sink into its final resting place.

Simple trick can save your fingers

Liner is open on the bottom to allow for drainage

The bottom of the liner is open to help with drainage, and we filled the inside up about two inches with 3/4 inch gravel and then finished the inside with a layer of pea gravel again. We used our own judgement on this height of gravel, to be a good level to contain the fire and any popping embers.

The only thing left to do was tidy up around the outside base of the fire pit and then go grab the kindling and wood! The project didn’t take us too long and at the end of the day, we were delighted with the look and functionality of the finished product.

Happy and toasty warm artist!!

The men folk are pleased with their accomplishment.

That’s it for this time, if you have any questions, or comments, I’d love to hear them. If you’re really enjoying the BPA blogging adventures and don’t want to miss out, click ‘follow me’ and your name/email will be added to our growing list of blog subscribers. We’ll email you when a new blog post happens, then you can read them all at your own leisure…..and remember, I’m no expert, I’m just a painter gal with some thoughts to share..

The artist with her feet up, puppy in lap and drink in hand. All is good.

What backyard/home projects do you have planned for this year?

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