If you ever wanted a fire pit without spending $80+ dollars, this if for you. The total cost of this project was under $15.00. Depending on materials on hand, you should be able to put one of these together for about the same amount of money.
You start with a search for a suitable shopping cart which has to be one with a chrome finish. I found mine close to the loading dock area of a local grocery store and there it was next to a trash compactor. I went in the store and asked the manager if I could purchase it and was told I could have it for free. The generosity stemmed from the fact that current shopping carts have a powder coat finish so the old style chrome carts are no longer used. I would suggest staying away from the powder coat carts as the heat generated by burning wood in the basket will destroy the finish. The chrome finish will continue to look good after several burns.
Chrome shopping Cart
27" x 8' steel lath
galvanized steel drip edge flashing
galvanized steel corner bead
3 cookie sheets
1 pr galvanized steel hurricane ties
nuts and bolts
Step 1: remove plastic and rubber
The first step after obtaining your cart is to remove all things rubber and plastic. There is no reason to leave those attached to the cart and the heat will make quite a mess of them. I left the handle in place and after a few test burns found that the heat from the fire did not affect the handle in any way.
Step 2: bottom frame
With the rubber and plastic parts removed, you are ready to start your project.
Build a frame that will fit snugly in the bottom of the basket. For this I used a section of galvanized steel drip edge flashing which I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore location. A plug for ReStore… a great source of materials donated by contractors, big business and individuals. Use caution when cutting and bending the flashing as, I can tell you from personal experience, the edges are sharp. The purpose of the frame is to keep any embers from rolling out of the basket.
Step 3: bottom pan
When your wife is not looking, grab her cookie sheets and cut the sides off with a jig saw. Measure and cut so they fit inside the frame.
On this step you can substitute with materials on hand e.g. a piece of sheetmetal, car hood.
Step 4: line the sides of the cart
The gap between the bars on the shopping cart are probably not close enough for keeping embers from flying
out so, to play it safe, I lined all four sides with steel lath which I found at the local builders supply store for under $9.00. The sheets are 27” x 8’ which is enough for all 4 sides and a piece left over that you can use for a spark screen cover. Steel lath is miserable stuff to work with so keep bandages on hand.
With large washers you can bolt the four sides of lath to the shopping cart.
Step 5: spark screen cover
Cut the remaining piece of steel lath to the same dimensions as the opening of the basket and then frame the lath with the galvanized corner bead. Use nuts and bolts on all four sides to keep everything in place.
Step 6: finishing touches
I used two of the sides that were cut off the cookie sheet and bolted them to the bottom pan. This will create a small gap between the burning wood and the pan to give you a better burn.
The hurricane ties are bolted to the shopping cart and will support the hinges that connect the spark screen to the shopping cart.