A Freaky Firepit





Introduction: A Freaky Firepit

About: I am a Marine Engineer in the RNZN (39 years done in various navies) and am looking forward to retirement!!! so I can do more messing about with tools

After building a chill out seating area I thought it might be nice to have a firepit there too, now there are plenty of firepit designs out there so I am shamelessly going to use some of those ideas.

(Heres a link to the seats)


However I am going to have mine LPG powered.....

Soooooooooooooo, the first thing I need are some materials.

The main things will be a burner, a control valve, a bottle connector and regulator, and a BBQ bowl with lid (a webber BBQ or similar)

Step 1: I Bought an Old BBQ

I got this on TradeMe for the princely sum of $2 (that's NZ$ so about 80 pence or $1.40 US)

I had to partially dismantle it to get it in the car,(at 5:30 am at the side of the road - apologies to anyone I disturbed)

The main cabinet was fairly rusty, but I won't be using that, what I wanted was the regulator, burner and connection hose and gas valve.

Step 2: So Fully Dismantled It

The first picture are the bits that I think I am going to need

The second picture is all the other useful stuff, which may come in handy, if not, then in the skip it will go

Took about 30 minutes to get to this point, surprisingly most of the screws undid fairly easily.

So I have a burner with its gas valve and a bottle connector and regulator.

I also need a second Kettle type BBQ (a Webber or similar) so back to TradeMe

The spares include wheels (always useful) 4 flat burners and their controls (which I may use to make a forge at some point), nuts, bolts, screws and gas connections

Step 3: The Kettle BBQ

Got this again off TradeMe for $5, took the legs off and ready go!

Step 4: Drilled Hole for the Burner and Installed Burner

So drilled an access hole for the burner pipe (later realised I had made a right cluster**** of that but hey!)

Married up the burner to it.

Step 5: Preparing the Burner

Now when I dismantled the original BBQ, I know I kept the gas valve-------- but could I find it in my disaster of a garage, fortunately I had the 4 other main burners but they would need a bit of adaptation.

Odds are I will find the bit I want once I am finished

So I bought 2m of 1/2 inch copper and drilled a hole to attach the burner.

I also blanked off the open end (initially with a bolt, but later I filled with 2 part epoxy plastic steel as it seemed a better fix)

Step 6: Attach Copper to BBQ

Had to bend the copper to fit (came in a roll) so not the neatest job as didn't have a pipe bender

Made up a couple of brackets to attach the pipe to the curve of the kettle BBQ from stuff I had around, (they are the staples from door bolt hasp and staple sets!)

Step 7: Fit Burner

I screwed the BBQ burner inside the bowl and aligned the supply pipe with the supply valve, the supply valve is a loose fit inside the supply pipe as it has to pull in air as the gas passes to make a combustible mix, (using a venturi effect) -----this caused me some "issues" later!!!!!!!!

The supply valve will be ON permanently as it will be difficult to access once the brickwork is in place, gas flow will be regulated on the cylinder valve.

Step 8: Connect to Gas Supply

I led the copper pipe through a shallow trench to connect to the regulating valve and gas cylinder that are located under the bench.

Bench build here


Before back filling the trench I wrapped the pipe in plastic ( I used old animal feed bags) to give it some protection, however before burying it, it was time for a test run.

Step 9: TEST RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No pics here but imagine the worst of a Michael Bay movie!

I opened the valve and lit the burner

Initially (for the first couple of seconds) all appeared well, however some of the gas appeared to have gone underneath the BBQ and there were flames coming up around the outside.In fact there were flames everywhere, TBH it was pretty cool but I don't think 'er indoors would be too happy!

It was however a relatively easy fix.

Step 10: Seal Around the Burner

So I cut this adapter plate (from a petfood tin lid) and screwed it into position to make a more snug fit around the supply pipe, I then completely sealed it using a bit of 2 part epoxy "plastic steel", to stop the flame "wicking" through

I also filled all the voids underneath with sand so there was no place for gas to gather.

I then refitted the burner and went fot trial run 2! (Actually it was about test run 5 before I got everything sussed -- bit slow on the uptake!!)

Step 11: YAYYYYYYYY Man Make Fire ! Fire Good!!

Well that works! I'm not dead, and the house hasn't burnt down

Win Win as far as I am concerned!

Step 12: Tidying Everything Up

A quick couple of courses of bricks and the jobs a Good 'Un

Just need to finish the area (some quartz chip and bricks) and ready for beer and burnt stuff

Will find some nice decorative coals to go on the top from a fireplace shop and we are sorted

Time taken --- well I started at 9am and finished at 4pm but I stopped for lunch -so about 6.5 hours

Injuries ---- none (for once)

Total cost ------ about $50 NZ -- However I had the bricks, cement etc from earlier projects, so if you had to buy it all in it would probably be nearer $100

Hope you like

Step 13: And Finished

So a bit of concreting down the brick borders, plus I set in these neat little stepping stones as footrests for the seating that I found on TradeMe for $12 each.

Spread a bit of quartz chip around the firepit and plants and red chip around the path and planted with all the "reduced to clear" plants I found at Mitre10, ($35 in all), it is all weedmatted underneath to keep it all neat and tidy.

I also weeded the whole area to make it ready for a southern hemisphere xmas!

All told the entire project (seats, fire pit, planting etc) came in at about $1300 (factoring costs for bricks etc which I already had)

Time taken 3 non consecutive weekends (1 for digging, 1 to build the seats, 1 to build the firepit and plant/landscape)

Ready to enjoy it now

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    46 Discussions

    Great idea to use an old gas barbeque! I wanted to build a small gas fire in the back garden several years ago but gave it up because the 'ring' and other gas parts were so expensive. Sheesh - thanks for turning on the light :-)

    This is sooooo cool. Wish I could have one like that

    1 reply

    Easy enough to make -- so why don't you! ;-)

    buck2217, this is a nice fire pit and seating area. I like that you reused old BBQ pieces as well. Does the soil around the pit peculate well so it does not flood after a good rain? Most pits are above ground to prevent flooding. Reading the email traffic and having a gas fire place myself I would suggest black pipe or flexible gas furnace pipe from the pit to the tank, buried at least below frost level, what ever that may be in your area, also grounding the pipe. Your landscaping looks very well and the seating looks comfortable. Good luck in the contest.

    2 replies

    Thanks, the soil drains well and what is frost?!!! We live in sub tropical NZ ;-)

    the copper is well buried and wrapped in plastic, so should be fine (still if not it would be relatively easy to retro fit black pipe, pipe is also grounded

    Thanks for the update, keep enjoying the tropics. Most of my military career was in Central/South America, Hawaii, Guam, Palau, and Pacific. Every once in a while you get a cold breeze. It snowed in Baghdad, Iraq for an hour when I was there. Take care and keep building.

    yeah thats the way!!!!!!! good old nz ingenuity!!! ( im from NZ too)......nice project. i LOVE it!!!

    3 replies

    Thanks --though technically I'm a pom --I've been here 8 years -can I be an honorary kiwi with the No8 wire fix ups!

    im gonna vote for you because your a NZer, you have a cool instructable and because your cool!

    Three excellent reasons! Thank you very much.


    2 years ago

    We travelled around that area and spent a night somewhere around there as I recall. Some campground where they had goats staked out keeping the grass cut. Loved it!!
    I would love to live in the Northlands or in Tauranga although Auckland is very nice. However I prefer not to live in a bit city if possible...
    Love your instructable and how the finished area looks.


    2 years ago

    You lucky dog you!! Eight years in paradise!! I'm looking at the pics of the soil and trying to figure your approximate area.....having spent a month on the North Island....we would kill to live there!

    Great (and very funny) instructable! Love it!!

    1 reply

    I'm about an hour north of Auckland on the Kaipara Harbour (South head)

    As a plumber who works daily with running gas lines i gotta say copper should absolutely never be used for gas, your pipes will corrode and eventually leak especially because theyre underground. Awesome instructable though, i suggest buying polypipe in place of the copper you used.

    4 replies

    Thanks for the heads up. I was a bit surprised to see copper being used.

    Nice the less great Instructables

    OK thanks I'll look at that, but my dad was a gas fitter for 50 ood years and used copper, and I have not heard about corrosion issues with it before

    A long time ago copper was used for gas but thats not the case anymore. Just like galvanized pipe isnt used for water lines anymore copper is no longer used for gas. =)

    Copper is essentially immune to corrosion. If copper corrodes underground, it must be abnormally acidic soil.