September Project: How to Build a Stone Fire Pit

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, September is a good month to put in a fire pit.  With a fire pit, you and your family can enjoy sitting around the fire as if you were camping but within the comfort of your own home!

Step 1: Purchase the Stone
Determine the size, shape and location of the fire pit and take the measurements to a stone yard to select the material.  Palletized stone is more expensive but will save you time because the stones are a more uniform size, shape and quality.

Step 2: Prepare the Base
Hammer a piece of rebar directly into the center of the fire pit location.  Cut a piece of string to half the length of the fire pit’s diameter and tie one end to the rebar.  Tie the other end of the string to a can of landscape spray paint and mark the circumference of the circle.  Excavate the area inside the paint to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 3: Mark for Footing
Cut a second piece of string the length of the first piece minus the thickness of the fire pit wall and attach it to the rebar; mark a second circle inside the first.

Step 4: Pour Footing
Prepare premixed cement according to manufacturer’s directions and pour in the area between the inside and outside circles, leaving the center free of cement to allow for drainage.  Add cement and level until it reaches 1-1/2 inches below grade.  Submerge 2-foot pieces of rebar into the wet cement at various points around the footer and allow to dry.

Step 5: Lay the First Course of Fire Brick
Apply mortar and lay a ring of face stones along the outer edge of the cement footing.  Trowel a layer of mortar along the inside edge of the face stones and press the first fire brick into place.  Apply mortar to one end of the next brick before butting it against the first and pressing it into the mortar.  Continue until the first ring of fire brick has been laid.  Lay another ring of fire brick inside the first one for a thicker, stronger wall.

Step 6: Complete the Fire Pit Wall
Continue building up the wall by alternating layers of face stone and fire brick atop a bed of mortar until the desired height is reached.  Fill gaps between fire brick and face stone with mortar and stone scraps.

Step 7: Lap Capstones
Apply a thick layer of mortar on top of the fire brick and face stone and begin setting capstones into the mortar.  Select flat stones and fit them neatly together.  Work your way around the top of the wall, filling joints with mortar and smoothing with a jointer when done.  Once the mortar is almost cured, use a stiff brush to scrape off any remaining bits of mortar.

Step 8: Complete the Project
Spray down the fire pit with water to remove any dirt or dust that may have collected on the stone.  Once dry, spray the interior of the fire brick with black stove paint.

*Once you know these basics of how you can build a fire pit, feel free to try different materials, different designs, include a seating area or whatever you wish.  Involve the whole family in designing the pit and make its construction a fun family activity!

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