Building a Fire Pit

An Outdoor Fire Pit is a Great Backyard Accessory for Enjoying the Evening with Friends

By Mark J. Donovan

For many years I have enjoyed my backyard fire pit. It’s a place where my family and friends often share stories and laughs over a roaring fire and a bowl of chili. I built my fire pit on the shores of a large lake making it a perfect location for viewing evening boat traffic and gazing at the stars.

Building a fire pit can vary in complexity, however they all have one basic purpose, keeping a fire contained to a defined area. Fire pit building can vary in complexity from simply a dugout hole in the ground, to elaborate masonry or stone fire pits.

My outdoor fire pit is meant for burning wood logs, but gas fire pits are also quite common. A gas fire pit is ideal for regions where wood is a rarity or where there is a lack of interest in gathering and chopping wood. For me, half the experience of an outdoor fire pit is splitting the logs and maintaining the fire.

To build a fire pit out of stone cobblestones first clear an area of brush or leaves where you plan to construct the fire pit. Then use a shovel and dig a hole about 12-16 inches deep and about 3 to 4 feet in diameter. Make sure to taper the edges of the hole so that the granite cobblestones will fan out from the center of the fire pit. Note, you will need around 15 to 20 elongated granite cobblestones that have a width of approximately 8 inches, to build a fire pit that is 3 to 4 feet in diameter. The elongated granite cobblestones that I used for building my fire pit were around 18 inches in length.

For the next step in building a fire pit, fill the base of the hole with about 3 to 4 inches of small sized crushed stone. The crushed stone will provide good drainage for the fire pit and act as a support base for the granite cobblestones.

Mix up a bag of Portland cement with the necessary amount of water to create a stiff mortar mixture.

Next, place the granite cobblestones along the tapered edge of the dugout fire pit. As you place each cobblestone into the fire pit, apply about a ½ inch thick layer of mortar to one side of the cobblestone, on its lower half edge.

As you work your way around the fire pit installing the granite cobblestones, each one should be pressed firmly up against the mortar layer of the adjacent cobblestone. When the installation of the granite cobblestones is completed all of the cobblestones should all be mortared together.

How to build a fire pit.

Do not apply mortar to the base of the outdoor fire pit as you want the fire pit to have good drainage. Instead, place another 2 to 3 inches of crushed stone in the base of the fire pit.

Allow the mortar to set up for a couple of days and your outdoor fire pit is ready for use.

Yes, fire pit building can be much more elaborate, however the type of fire pit construction I just described is easy and inexpensive to do, it functions well and looks great.

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