This last weekend, I had a little extra time on my hands - so, what was my plan? Do absolutely nothing. That was my plan. However, my conscience took over, and I realized that it was way too nice outside to just waste my day away doing nothing. I had procrastinated long enough, so I decided that since I had the house to myself until later that night when 6 or 7 friends were coming over for a grill-out, I'd surprise everyone with a brand new fire pit in the back yard. Here are the steps that I followed to create this pit:
Measure out the area for your pit.
Once I decided where I would put the pit in the back yard (minimum of 15 feet from any structures or trees), I had to measure out the area that the pit would be located. I put a stake (pitchfork) right in the middle of the spot that I wanted the center of the pit to be. I then attached an 18-inch piece of twine to it, and marked off the perfect circle for digging.
Dig out the edges of the marked hole.
I used my spade-head shovel to dig down around the entire edge, getting ready to remove the grass inside the circle.
Clear out the grass, cut through roots.
I used my border spade shovel to get under the grass, and cut through the roots that were pretty tightly packed.
Even out the dirt, rake out stones.
You'll want to get the dirt dug down at least 4 inches, and grab a stone rake to remove the stones still remaining, as they hold some moisture in them, and can pop or explode when they are heated up enough.
Grab your block material.
You can't tell from the picture, but the blocks were placed on the grass, with the inside edge of the block butted up against the dirt circle that you have dug out. This way, the fire pit still fits within the (Vestal) city ordinance of the 3' x 3' x 3' allowance, for inside diameter. I used a large level and rubber mallet to make sure that everything was even (but that's mostly because I'm an anal-retentive obsessive).
Place the remaining layers (staggered).
These blocks made it easy to line up the remaining two layers, because there is a groove in the middle of the inside edge that I lined up with when staggering the blocks. This way, they came out evenly.
OPTIONAL: I picked up couple tubes of masonry glue, and caulked in a couple of big globs between each layer, in order to help keep this construction level. Only do this is you plan to keep the fire pit there permanently, because it will not disassemble.
Place your aggregate to line the bottom.
I used my pre-existing fire pit that a previous tenant put up years ago that was falling apart (pictured). They utilized regular cinder blocks, so I used my small sledge (engineer's) hammer to break up small blocks from the cinder blocks, and used the pieces to line the bottom. This helps to keep the wood raised up slightly, but also helps with drainage when it rains, and cuts down on any potential erosion. Reminder - I chose to use these pre-existing blocks because they won't pop or explode like regular soil or river stones could.
You're all set! enjoy your new fire pit!