Blog Cabin DIYs: How to Make an Upcycled Metal Fire Pit

This upcycled fire pit is an easy build for someone with serious DIY skills

Fire features always provide a natural gathering space and focal point to an outdoor space. Whether used for cooking or heat, they are an easy exterior DIY that can extend the enjoyable season. Here in Florida, it will provide an additional place for the daily catch cookout or a soft glow on a starry winter night.

On my first trip to each year’s Blog Cabin, the gears start to turn for what existing elements can be respun and upcycled into new show projects and house decor. So this year when I saw the awesome cast iron floor grate, I knew we had to give it new life. You see, at my first Blog Cabin, Anitra and the MegaDens crew had picked up an antique one at Caravati’s but unfortunately we didn’t find a place for it in that house. (Coincidentally though, it did return this year as a surround for the dart board).

The first thing that came to mind was a grilling surface due to the cross hatched pattern. Plus both pieces could be used with the circular inner portion being removable so the fire could be tended. A fire pit grate it would be! Then we let you decide whether the fire pit would be raised or recessed. And raised won!

Since previous years of Blog Cabin had free formed, stone, and masonry fireplaces, a metal fire pit would be a welcomed change. With only two days for Yard Crashers to complete the entire lake side yard, this had to be a simple yet awesome project.

Why not then make it like a puzzle or kit that could be shipped to site? I sat down in CAD and drew out the top, bottom, and sides. Thinking of construct-ability, I then added tabs and slots to each piece. The top and bottom rings have slots and the vertical pieces have tabs. This way each piece would fit together and need minimal support during welding.

Luckily my friends at Miller Marine in Deltaville, Virginia, have a plasma table they use to build boats. This obviously makes turning a CAD concept into exact pieces quite easy. You, too, could locate a fabricator in your area, or if you have metalworking skills, you could build this with a rented plasma torch like we did for the Yard Core chandelier.

Here’s how we did it. Click on a how-to image below to click through the steps and see the photos in a larger format.

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Step 1

 Open GalleryStart with a plan: I used the existing floor grate dimensions to create the opening in the top plate and then made the total diameter right under 5′ so the 5′x10′ plate steel was used most efficiently. I also added some accent cutouts around the perimeter of the top plate for added flair. Then 3/8″ wide slots were added to correspond to the vertical firebox and edge supports.

Step 2

 Open GalleryThe plate steel is positioned onto the plasma table. Thankfully they had a rolling crane onsite at Blog Cabin 2014 to move the plate steel.

Step 3

 Open GalleryThe CAD file is then loaded into CAM software which will control the plasma cutter. The CAM software creates a tool path for each cut.

Step 4

 Open GalleryThe operator then can set travel speed and do a test run to confirm everything is in order.

Step 5

 Open GalleryOnce all the settings are tested, the cuts can begin. A plasma cutter uses an electrical arc similar to welding, however inert gas or air is blown at high speed through the arc creating plasma. Plasma cuts the steel very quickly and accurately without creating additional heat.

Step 6

 Open GalleryThe CAM software continues to control the cutting head until all the pieces are cut.

Step 7

 Open GalleryHere you can see the firebox sides and vertical edge supports. The tabs on each piece will lock into the slots on the top and bottom plates.

Step 8

 Open GalleryOnce complete, the pieces are moved to be cleaned off slag from the cut.

Step 9

 Open GalleryOn the bottom piece, a drainage hole was added to prevent the pit from holding water.

Step 10

 Open GalleryUsing a die grinder, the plates are smoothed of rough edges and slag removed.

Step 11

 Open GalleryBack at Blog Cabin, Grundy and Chris Lambton make sure the salvaged grate fits in the top plate (cut 800 miles away!) before starting to assemble the pieces.

Step 12

 Open GalleryNext loosely assemble all the plates. You can use right angled magnets to temporarily hold everything in place.

Step 13

 Open GalleryJason JacksonA stick or wire fed welder is then used to secure everything. Because of the locking tabs/slots and the thickness of the steel, the type of weld is not important. If you don’t even know where to start, hire a qualified operator to help.

Step 14

 Open GalleryWeld each joint with 2-3 1″ welds.

Step 15

 Open GalleryContinue until the entire base is complete.

Step 16

 Open GalleryThen puddle weld the ends of the tabs.

Step 17

 Open GalleryIf necessary, stand the fire pit on end to get to all the nooks and crannies.

Step 18

 Open GalleryBecause we wanted a natural patina, Chris sprayed on a solution of diluted vinegar in water.

Step 19

 Open GalleryThen the firepit was allowed to dry in the sun.

Step 20

 Open GalleryAn amazing patina is revealed.

Step 21

 Open GalleryLastly, move the firepit into place and fill the base with 4″ of sand. The outer ring holds a convenient amount of extra wood so you don’t have to go far to reignite those flames!

Materials

  • (1) sheet 3/16 plate steel
  • Welding rod or wire
  • Pump sprayer
  • Vinegar

 

Tools

  • Plasma cutter (handheld or table)
  • Welder – stick or wire
  • Wire brush
  • Welding helmet and gloves
  • Angle grinder with grinding blade
About Dylan Eastman 

8Posts

At a young age, I learned how things worked by taking them apart and (successfully) putting them back together. I've always approached life as an opportunity to learn new skills, ...

More About Dylan Eastman

6 Responses

  1. logosweld says:

    Excellent Idea.Thank you ever so for your article post. Really Cool.

  2. Vollz says:

    Any way I could get my hands on the CAD file? Or at least some rough dimensions for things like the size of the square cute out and the size of the pieces that make the box and the "box wings"?

  3. @CraftSoc says:

    Dylan! This is genius. Love your fearless creativity. I hope to meet you at BC. Carmen

  4. karen says:

    really loved this! great idea. Especially like the covered sections to store extra wood.

  5. Thanks Trish! Here's a short video of the process as well! http://instagram.com/p/sIOkcPRu75

  6. Trish says:

    LOVE this. Now, I see I can't just make it without some help. This IS an absolutely HOT item of the BC!

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