Building My Firepit

While my son was growing up, I was very involved in his Boy Scout troop, serving as one of his assistant scoutmasters for four years then as his scoutmaster for three more. We lived in an apartment at the time and kept all our camping gear in the “spare bedroom.” Not optimum, but it worked. How I enjoyed the campouts, cooking out in the open air, and telling stories around the campfire! I constantly told my son that one day, when I finally owned a house, I was going to have my own firepit in the backyard. And not one of those small metal things you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot, but an honest-to-goodness firepit to have real campfires in. Well, last fall, I made good on my promise.

I am blessed to have a man that is very handy with a toolbox and a shovel. When I told him my idea for an octagonal firepit in the backyard, he quickly said, “Draw me a picture, and I’ll make it for you.” Out came the graph paper, a ruler, and a pencil. After several versions, I had what I thought was a good plan that was geometrically true to shape. He looked at it, made a few adjustments (basically making it wider to allow for more sitting room around the pit itself), and started calculating how to create it. That included making a real-life rough draft.

Firepit real-life rough draft (with my "Garden Wilson")

Firepit real-life rough draft (with my “Garden Wilson”)

I had already called the utility companies to have my yard marked, so I knew where it was safe to dig a firepit. That done, I inventoried supplies I had on hand (left behind by the former owners of the house) – cement edging stones, pavers, and sand. All I needed was some landscape fabric and marble gravel. (I also got some mulch to put around my raised beds.)

Firepit & Gardening supplies

Firepit & Gardening supplies

The first step was to measure, and remove the grass, for the center of the firepit (where the fire would go). The octagon center is 5 feet across.

Firepit center measured and dug up

Firepit center measured and dug up

After digging the center out to make a gradual downward slope, he had to measure the outside of the firepit and make sure the center was truly in the center. He used sticks and line for this.

Dug out firepit center with measuring lines

Dug out firepit center with measuring lines

Next, he put down landscaping fabric and four 16-inch pavers in the center as a platform for the fire or coals for cooking. He then edged it with cement edging stones placed upside down.

Firepit center almost complete

Firepit center almost complete

Finally, we dumped several bags of sand into the pit.

Firepit center complete

Firepit center complete

After the center was complete, he set cement edging stones around the outer perimeter, based on his measuring lines, for a total diameter of 15 feet. Then he dug up the grass. That took him a while! The easy part was laying the landscaping fabric and dumping the bags of marble gravel.

What a pretty site the finished product was! My very own firepit – to cook over an open fire (no grill for me) or just to sit around a real campfire. He did a perfect job!

My firepit

My firepit

Since completion, we have had friends and family over for cookouts and campfires on several occasions.

My firepit ready for friends

My firepit ready for friends

I’m so looking forward to cooler weather arriving this year so I can have my campfires again. Being that I live in the South, it’s going to be a month or two more before that happens. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to enjoy this fire from last year.

Do you have a firepit on your homestead?

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