The best tips for making a DIY fire pit are to clear the area of flammable debris, use simple measuring tools to create an outline, and lay a firm foundation. Following these guidelines, homeowners can create an inviting outdoor entertaining area that is safe and does not flood during rainy seasons. Equipment to finish this project may be purchased at local home improvement stores, and typically does not require the expertise of a professional contractor.
When preparing a site for the DIY fire pit, the selected area should be adequately cleared and set apart from flammable items. Fire pits can generate a high degree of heat and send smoke and ash up into the air. Low hanging branches, scrub undergrowth, and close bushes can easily catch fire if exposed to these elements over long periods of time. Homeowners can benefit by checking with their local governing body to discover what the local fire safety code regulations are regarding outdoor fires. Some regions may require that fire pits be located a minimum amount of distance away from any existing structures, such as houses and landscaping sheds.
The outlines of the pit can be created easily and accurately by using a garden stake, a ball of twine, and a can of spray paint which can be used upside down. The stake should be placed in the place where the center of the DIY fire pit will be located, and can be used to measure all edges of the fire pit from this location. One end of the twine, which can be measured to any length to suit the size of the circles required, is tied to the stake, and the other to the can of spray paint. The first circle marked should be that of the interior of the pit. Most pits are designed using an interior circle with a three foot (0.9 meters) diameter, though this sizing can be adjusted depending on the designer's preference. This method of measuring is often more accurate than using other tools of measurement which can product uneven circles.
A stable base should be created for the foundation of the DIY fire pit. Most fire pits are built using a raised wall at a minimum of two feet (0.6 meters) in height to contain the flames and burning embers. This wall requires a solid surface on which to sit, otherwise it will crack under stress as the ground naturally shifts beneath it. This type of construction does not require the digging of a hole or trench. The foundation for the pit can be set a half inch (1.27 centimeters) below the level of the surrounding turf, and should be completely cleared of grass and small debris.
Fast setting concrete or gravel may be used to lay the foundation for the fire pit. Fast setting concrete, which can be mixed on site and dries in a few hours, creates a relatively flat surface for the following stones. It does not, however, allow for water drainage, and can create small pools around the pit when used in regions that receive a high degree of rain fall. Crushed gravel can be used to form an equally solid footing for the wall, and allows water to drain through the stones back to the soil beneath during times of heavy rain. This material may also be placed in the center of the pit, where the fire will burn, to create a base where seasoned wood may be placed.