So imagine the scene it is March in England and you have decided to throw a BBQ with a few friends from work, it has been an unseasonably warm month so you feel pretty safe in doing this. Just in case you have some spiced apple juice ready to be seasoned with a hint of rum in case it gets nippy!
Unsurprisingly it does get nippy so at half past 9 everybody is huddled around the BBQ and you have broken out your trusty mess tins and are now heating the spiced apple juice up (it goes down a storm as well). So what do you do?
...A. Vow never to have a BBQ in the evening ever unless it is stupidly hot all day (and even then you will be cautious because this is England after all)?
...B. Come up with a crazy idea to build a table (despite having no wood working skills at all) and stick a firepit in the middle of it?
Well if you are anything like me then option B it is, and after 5 minutes in photoshop you get a solid proof of concept design (see above picture!) and start planning (we shall use planning in the loosest sense of the word)!
Step 1: A Quick Caution!
Unless you want hole in your legs, then when using an electric belt sander on a piece of wood that is securely fastened onto your workbench, ensure that you put some weight on the flimsy light weight workbench or else it will tip and slam said piece of wood into your leg. At which point you will start swearing and then get told off by your wife because your 6yr old daughter is asking what words mean!
Also a pair of cheap goggles will save your life and either a bandanna or dust mask over your mouth!
Step 2: Build Frame
After securing wood (reclaimed job lot I found on ebay, winner!) and a BBQ (again someone selling it cheap, cost me £7 instead of £30), you need to plan out your frame. Also you will notice the concretey dome in the middle, this is the first attempt at insulating the BBQ so that the heat transfer didn't burn through the bottom of the table, that black mark across the middle of the dome is all that remains of the piece of wood I sat it on whilst I did a test burn, fire cement doesn't quite have the insulating properties I was hoping for!
Regardless of burn setbacks, I carried on building knowing the solution would come to me at some point!
Thankfully I took at least one picture of how this was progressing otherwise this instructable would have been even lower on visuals, as it is I will do my best.
Step 3: Turn Frame Over and Work on Top!
Once you have the frame built then it is time to layout the top and get it ready. Turn the frame over (helps if you have a willing victim or friend to help you with this bit) it can be done with one person, but its a pain!
Stick the BBQ on its mount in the middle of the table and then lay out your planks where you want them, next stage is to screw all of the planks down and cut out the centre hole before cutting the edges level and sanding them (never put your face behind the exhaust of a belt sander, sawdust in mouth isn't a good thing! Trust me!)
Step 4: Another Cautionary Tale
Well I figured out the solution to my fire issue, sand!!
A nice dollop of sand soaked in bio-ethanol and then lit, so simple, yet so brilliant!!
I tested it, I made a little foil container, filled it with sand, soaked it, lit it and there was fire and it was good.
So good in fact that I walked from the kitchen to the bedroom (holding said fire on a cooking tray) to show my wife how clever her husband was, she was not impressed with me so I had to take it outside!!!
But it works!!!
Step 5: Decoration
Once table is built then you can get onto the decoration to make it stand out a bit.
If you are good with a pencil, awesome this bit will be easy for you. Or you could get a stencil, either buy one or print off a design you like and make one!
.....You could build a jury rig projector mount that bolts into your work bench, hooks up to your laptop and project the design onto your table corners, whilst you trace it with a pencil!!!
As for the colours, test pots are brilliant!
What I didn't notice until about a month later was that the colours I had randomly chosen and the design that I just saw and liked, were not that different from the design my mom used on her first ever set of business cards when she started out as a florist 20yrs earlier.
Step 6: Table Complete
In the end I got rid of the fire cement (made it too heavy), filled BBQ with sand added a little foil dish in the centre, filled with sand and now when I want it to burn I soak the foil dish filled with sand and then light that!
So all that's left to do is test it........
Step 7: Testing
........so lets light this baby up!!
After a couple of months in the English weather, the wood has started to warp a lot so that needs working on. However for a first project (ever) of this kind I am chuffed it came out so well.