Looking for a new metal fabrication project? If you’ve been meaning to outfit that patio with a brand-new fire pit we’ve got some considerations for you. Building a metal fire pit can be challenging, but if you have the right equipment and do your homework, it can be an extremely rewarding way to use your metal fabrication skills and bring friends and family together over campfire stories and s’mores. In this article, we lay out several considerations for building a metal fire pit.
What Equipment Do You Need to Build a Fire Pit?
Equipment needs will vary depending on what style of fire pit you are going to build, but in general you will need:
- A cutting device. This could be a band saw or a plasma cutter, but it is not limited to just these devices. Plasma cutters are especially useful because you can cut your own designs into your fire pit ring.
- A welder to join the different metal components together (e.g., the legs and bottom, bottom and ring, etc.).
- An angle grinder or bench grinder outfitted with a wire brush will likely be needed to clean the metal up before welding. A ceramic grinding disc may also be needed to remove dross and burrs.
- Some way to bend metal to form the ring. This could be a brake press or other more creative solutions done with a homemade jig.
- Clamps or magnets to hold the different components together during assembly.
What Type of Metal Should You Use to Build a Fire Pit?
For most pits, hot rolled steel is sufficient. You will need steel sheet for the ring, most likely around 1/8” thick, but preferences will vary in terms of thickness. Also, make sure the sheet length is long enough to form the diameter size you require for your pit and that the width of the steel sheet is large enough to be the height that you would want. Somewhere around 18-36” is a good starting point for width, but this is a personal preference depending on the size of the fire you intend on having in your metal fire pit.
You will also need to use metal sheet to create the bottom of the fire pit if you are not putting it directly on the dirt. Instead of buying sheet for the ring or fire pit bottom, you can also buy expanded metal, but be mindful that this will create an increase in airflow and a potential fire hazard, which is another consideration discussed later.
In addition to the steel sheet for the ring, you will also need steel tubing for the legs if you desire to elevate the fire pit off the ground. While not necessary, it can protect whatever is underneath your fire pit from damage and from getting dirty. This is especially useful if the fire pit is going onto your patio. Even with legs, it is advisable to have a slab of stone that your fire pit will be put on top of because the legs can get quite hot because of the thermal transferability of steel. The stone slab will provide the heat resistance necessary to prevent damage the areas surrounding your metal fire pit.
How Much Airflow Should a Fire Pit Have?
The more holes or patterns you have in your fire pit ring, the more airflow will be allowed to entire your metal fire pit. This is something to consider as you think about how you want to build it. Increasing the airflow will give your fire more oxygen, allowing it to burn faster and hotter. This can be advantageous if that is what you prefer, however, if you want your fire to burn slower then aim for a lower amount of air flow. As previously mentioned, expanded metal can be used as fire pit ring material, and this typically provides the greatest amount of airflow for a metal fire pit, although large patterns cut into the ring can yield a similar result.
Another way to maximize airflow is to put expanded metal or perforated sheet on the bottom of the firepit where the logs will go. Your fire will burn very nicely, but it is critical that you place a metal basket directly underneath the fire pit and atop the stone slab to prevent hot coals from falling through the metal bottom and potentially starting an unwanted fire outside of the fire pit.
While this is not an exhaustive step-by-step way to build a fire pit. It is a great way to think about what you will need and what you will need to do to get started. Once you have weighed these considerations, it is time to begin thinking about a design and the steps necessary to make your metal fire pit dream a reality. Good luck!
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