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Build your own fire pit

One of the trends featuring in gardens lately has been the fire pit. The fire pit has become a versatile feature of many backyards and a great tool for social gatherings and potjies. You can cook in the fire pit and then use it for light and warmth once the sun sets.

This method for building your own brick fire pit is relatively inexpensive and most of the tools and materials can be found at your local hardware store. It makes for an easy weekend project and will be the talking point of many braais and social gatherings to come.

Materials and tools needed to build the fire pit

  • Steel, bowl-shaped fire pit (prevents heat damage to non-fire bricks) with a steel stand
  • Bricks
  • Gravel
  • Ready-mix concrete powder
  • Two tubes fire sealant adhesive
  • Circular cardboard cutout of steel fire pit (for measurement)
  • Trowel
  • Rubber mallet
  • Spirit level
  • Spade

How to make a brick and steel fire pit at home

Building your foundation:

  1. Choose a patch of ground where you want to construct the fire pit.
  2. Lay the cardboard cutout of your steel pit on the ground and mark the soil with a trowel (or spray paint) to leave a circle where the fire pit will be made.
  3. Using the spade, dig out the circle to a depth of 15 centimetres. Pat the hole down to keep the base firm.
  4. Add 5cm of gravel to the base of the hole and pat it down firmly.
  5. Make your concrete using the bag of ready-mix and some soil and water. The consistency should resemble a soft mud ball.
  6. Using the trowel, put a ring of concrete on the gravel around the edge of the hole (leave the inner part of the hole with exposed gravel).
  7. Place two bricks in the centre of the hole and lay the cardboard cutout on top. This will show you where you need to start laying bricks on top of the concrete.
  8. Start laying your first layer of bricks on the concrete ring, leaving a small gap between the cardboard cutout. If you have a few gaps between bricks, it’s not an issue.
  9. Gently tap each brick with a rubber mallet and use the spirit level to ensure that they are perfectly horizontal.
  10. Leave the first layer of bricks to set in the concrete foundation for 24 hours.

Building the brick structure:

  1. Once the base layer of bricks has set into the concrete, start laying the second layer – remember to offset the second layer from the first for strength.
  2. Keep the cardboard template on the bricks in the centre to maintain the right diameter of the fire pit.
  3. Using the fire sealant adhesive, glue the second layer of bricks to the first. Apply the adhesive in thin diagonal lines across the bottom surface of the brick and place it down. The adhesive needs air to cure so use it quite sparingly.
  4. Take care to clean excess dust off the surface of the bricks to ensure a strong adhesive bond.
  5. Repeat the adhesive steps for each new layer of bricks, until you reach the desired height of your fire pit. As you create a new layer, raise the cardboard template with another brick so that all layers are the right diameter.

Now you’re ready to insert your steel fire pit. If you have a stand with three legs, place three bricks at the bottom of the brick structure (on the exposed gravel) for each leg to stand on. Then, place the steel bowl of the fire pit onto the stand. Your fire pit is now ready – enjoy having your friends around for a potjie and a few beers.

For an alternative to bricks, here’s how to build a concrete fire pit using cement and plastic bowls.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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