Introduction: Sheet Metal Fireplace

Picture of Sheet Metal Fireplace

This outdoor fireplace is the perfect companion for your patio when there's a chill in the air. It's made of sheet metal and pop rivets, giving it a sleek aesthetic, light weight, and portability. The shape of the chimney also keeps the smoke out of your face!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

At Pier 9, we've got all the awesome tools. I made this project using our CNC water jet and our industrial sheet metal break. But don't worry, you don't need those fancy tools to make this project.

Sheet Metal Brake

Here's a great instructable detailing how you can make your own sheet metal brake with a steel angle, some door hinges, and a piece of lumber:

Digital Fabrication by Hand

If you don't have a water jet (come on, get with the program), all you need is a hand drill, a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade, a large format print from a print shop, and some patience. Here's a link to my Digital Fabrication by Hand instructable, showing you how to be your own CNC machine:

Rivets + Gun

I used this Tekton rivet gun which is $10 on Amazon. I used 1/8" rivets which are plenty strong for this application:

Sheet Metal

I used 16 gauge stainless steel for the enclosure, and 8 gauge stainless steel for the platform and feet. Stainless steel is really hard to brake, so I added perforations to make it easier.

I would recommend using light gauge mild steel (16 gauge or less) for the whole project if you don't have access to a manufactured sheet metal brake.


Fusion 360 is free and it's awesome. I use it for everything I design and fabricate.

Student / Educator License (renew free every 3 years)

Hobbyist / Startup (renew free yearly)

Step 2: Design, Model, Layout

The video above details the process of designing the fireplace in Fusion 360. The sheet metal tools are really easy to use, and the automatic unfolding feature made it super easy to make my part layouts.

The .f3d file is the fusion 360 archive- you can upload it to one of your Fusion 360 projects and play around with it as you like. You know what might be cool? Adding some cutout patterns or hole patterns to see the fire through.

The .dxf files are the individual layout parts that you can use if you have some kind of CNC to to the work for you.

The .pdf file is a 48" X 48" sized layout with all the parts on it to scale. To print this out and use it as a template, bring it to a print shop that does large format printing and tell them to print it at full scale / 100% / original size / no scaling on a 48" wide (or larger) roll.

Step 3: Break

Picture of Break

With the parts water jet and de-burred, I moved on to the sheet metal brake. The folds all have specific angles they need to be, but since our brake doesn't have an angle gauge, I just eyeballed it. I figured that since the sides were going to be riveted together, I could just use vice grips to take the stress off the rivets and bend them into place by hand.

Step 4: Rivet

Picture of Rivet

To do the riveting, I used vice grips to line up the connected parts. I've never made anything with sheet metal before or used a rivet gun, but I was surprised at how easy it is. You basically just put the rivet in the gun, stick the end of it into the holes to be joined, then squeeze the handles until you hear a pop.

I lined up the holes using 1/8" bolts, then clamped the pieces together with vice grips.

I left one side of the enclosure open, then riveted the platform to the two sides before attaching the front panel. It took a little bending by hand with vice grips holding the parts together. The last thing I added were the feet using the same method with vice grips.

In less than an hour the whole thing was done.

Step 5: Great Success!

Picture of Great Success!

This project went really well, all things considered. The holes lined up perfectly, the perforations worked great for making the bending easier, and the metal didn't warp at all when I got the fire going. Since it's stainless steel it'll oxidize a little on the surface (especially the hot spots), but I bet it'll last long enough to be worth the effort.

Comments are welcome, and let me know if you need any advice on the Sheet Metal Workspace in Fusion 360.


CarlosH148 (author)2017-12-28

Hello, it looks very good, I suggest adding some kind of slits in the vertical surfaces, like the ventilation in the front of the doors of the lockers this to alleviate the stress of the material and at the same time propitiate the circulation of hot air to the outside besides to give another image. Tanks

JON-A-TRON (author)CarlosH1482017-12-28

That's a good idea, I wish I'd thought of it sooner. You could cut U-shapes and bend them out to get the same effect.

bjm1950 (author)2017-12-26

Looks great mate!
For those of us who only have a drill, small angle grinder and pop riveter, I think the answer is to join the individual plates with 25 X 25 X 3mm angle iron. Instead of using pop rivets, I would use some self tapping screws at about 50 mm centres.

JON-A-TRON (author)bjm19502017-12-27

I see where you'd going with this. I think you'd still need some kind of a break though, unless you with with only right-angles.

Owl Trained ED Doc (author)2017-12-21

beautiful design, any idea of the stability in the wind? I would like to see it scaled up, maybe 8' tall, 24" wide firebox.

That would be a sight!

My guess is that you'd have to have a very high wind load to knock it over. If you keep the proportions the same, I'd imagine the weight of it would keep it steady. Closed polygons like this are incredibly stable as long as they're bottom-heavy. If you were worried about it, you could always pour some concrete ballast into the legs.

GillesL19 (author)JON-A-TRON2017-12-24

Maybe you should add a pipe on top of it to act as a chimney, and a flame and sparks protection cap (grid) on top of this chimney.

Being at it, maybe add a flame and sparks protection griid over the front aperture.

i think a door might be good too so sparks don't come out the front

Definitely. I've cut down all my firewood so it's too small to tumble out, but that's extra work that could be avoided with a screen.

JON-A-TRON (author)GillesL192017-12-27

Those are both really good ideas. I's also like to make a set of tools (shovel, poker, broom) that hang off the side or off of a stand.

JON-A-TRON (author)GillesL192017-12-24

That's definitely a smart idea. If we were in an area that was prone to fires, I would most certainly make a chimney with a screen to catch embers.

AngelaL70 (author)2017-12-25

This is pretty cool. In the 1970's, my father designed and built a fireplace from sheet metal that was really efficient and awesome! We lived in NM and that fireplace was our only source of heat. He even had a pipe that went through the garage wall to the clothes dryer. I'm gonna have to see if he would be willing to make another one for this website. It really was something!

JON-A-TRON (author)AngelaL702017-12-27

Post some drawings / pictures! That sounds like an awesome project.

TC UmitS (author)2017-12-25

Really really cool.... My neighbors did a really different fireplace with a washing machine's inox tumble which he bought from a local junk yard at almost a few bucks. Works fine. Will add a pic when I shoot one...

JON-A-TRON (author)TC UmitS2017-12-27

Washing machine drums make great fire pits- the holes make for a really cool pixilated effect, and they last a long time outdoors.

jspence1 (author)2017-12-24

I remember the 'good ol days' of the Instructables when you didn't need a water jet, sheet metal break or special software to do a project. Sigh.

Maxxron (author)jspence12017-12-25

I am already thinking about redoing the design using cement blocks since I don't have access to either a waterjet or a sheet metal brake.

JON-A-TRON (author)Maxxron2017-12-27

There's no shortage of Instructables projects you can do with $20 and some cheap tools. I've made lots of projects that fit that description. I've also made a comprehensive guide to making complex projects like this with some cheap hand tools and a large format print from Kinko's, which I've linked to in this instructable. Don't think i'm unaware of how incredibly fortunate I am to have access to a shop like this. At the same time, don't think I never had to struggle and bang out ramshackle projects with no money and no shop at my disposal.

ArchaeoG (author)2017-12-25

How did you get around the toxic noxious zinc fumes that stainless gives off when heated like in a fireplace?

davidj31 (author)ArchaeoG2017-12-25

why would fumes be a problem? if you inhale chimney smoke, you have bigger problems. just pick up your chair and move away from it.

askjerry (author)davidj312017-12-27

@davidj31 - Zinc can have bad side effects...

steel is made with a higher carbon content and also contains
chromium... therefore is more stable than regular mild steel. It is less
likely to rust and remains shiny... therefore the nickname of
"stainless" steel.

Kinnishian (author)ArchaeoG2017-12-26

You are thinking of galvanized steel I think. In any case, when working with zinc-fuming steels you can usually light a fire once outside (as probably all of these fires would be) and burn off the majority of the zinc in a controlled fashion before inviting any guests over. That said, galvanized steel will rust sooner outside, and I think stainless will perform better outdoors (not fully confident as I don't know the effects of heat on the s.s protection)

AndrewA167 (author)ArchaeoG2017-12-25

Stainless steel does not contain zinc. Galvanized steel -does- have a zinc coating. They are two different kinds of material.

When heated, galvanized steel can give off fumes from the zinc (in the form of zinc oxide). However, for that to happen, the zinc needs to be near its boiling point, which is 1663° F.

A regular wood fire will not get this hot. It might get hot enough to cause the coating to delaminate from the steel (and then for the steel to rust), but it won't vaporize the coating.

Welding, on the other hand, is a different thing: When welding, the temperature of the steel can and will get way hotter than 1663° F, because welding involved the melting and fusing of the steel, which occurs at around 2500° F - much higher than that of zinc.

Which is why when welding galvanized steel, you need to do it outdoors or in a well ventilated area, and avoid the resulting fumes.

If you are still concerned about fumes, and don't want to use stainless steel, then avoid using cheaper galvanized sheet steel, and just use ordinary sheet steel instead. Prior to assembly, give all parts a coating with high-temperature paint (barbeque paint or engine paint, or other similar high-temp paints are best); leave parts directly exposed to flame unpainted, and don't expose the metal to excess moisture.

ArchaeoG (author)AndrewA1672017-12-25

Ah brain fart got em mixed up

Sdd3 (author)2017-12-24

Have you ever tried to make a heater like yours out of an old discarded propane tank?

JON-A-TRON (author)Sdd32017-12-24

I haven't, but I've seen some awesome projects on Instructables using old propane tanks. There are also some really cool fire pits that use dryer drums.

j0lee (author)2017-12-24

how did you perforate the steel?

JON-A-TRON (author)j0lee2017-12-24

I did all the cutting on a CNC water jet. I know that's basically cheating considering almost no one has access to a machine like that, but if you're working with 16 ga. mild steel with a DIY sheet metal brake, there's no need to perforate anything.

VitaliN (author)2017-12-24

There is no hobbyist license anymore for fusion 360 :(

VitaliN (author)VitaliN2017-12-24

Oops, excuse me, I found a link. It is hard to find

JON-A-TRON (author)VitaliN2017-12-24

I know, it's not totally obvious when you download the software. Please give us a break for trying to get as many paid subscriptions as we can. It's definitely free, you just have to choose a startup / hobbyist / educational license when the 30 day counter runs out. You can renew a startup / hobbyist license for free yearly, and you can renew a student license for free every three years.

zimitt (author)2017-12-24

Wow! I love love this design.

I'm curious, how well this burned, without draft. You could try a raised, perforated grate insert, under the fire. Maybe expanded mesh, (this might plug up fairly fast though). The best would be holes in the floor, which would mean, an ash tray, either suspended under the perforated floor, or on the ground, which is not so pretty. You could make a little 3 sided stool that mimics the shape, with an ash tray on top. The whole f/p could just be set over the stool. Just be careful no to block the draft.

Then again, it may have burned beautifully, in which case, forget everything but the love.

JON-A-TRON (author)zimitt2017-12-24

Good comments! You read my mind. I spent a good bit of time designing a mesh / grate /interlocking vertical planes solution for the embers. If you're interested I could post the files for a few versions. At the end of the day, I decided to just let the chips fall where they may. The fireplace is enclosed, and there's nowhere for the embers to go. There's a hole in the middle of the platform for water t drain out, but aside form that it's up to me to scoop out the ashes when the pile up.

Extremetasks (author)2017-12-24

Your link to the fusion 360 software is not "FREE"!.....

JON-A-TRON (author)Extremetasks2017-12-24

It's definitely free, you just have to choose a startup / hobbyist / educational license when the 30 day counter runs out. You can renew a startup / hobbyist license for free yearly, and you can renew a student license for free every three years.

graywoulf (author)2017-12-23

That is really a great idea! I wish I had the shop tools needed to make one.

SeanT46 (author)graywoulf2017-12-24

You can cut the steel with tin snips, and bend it by squeezing it between two pieces of angle iron.

JON-A-TRON (author)graywoulf2017-12-23

Yeah, I'm really lucky to have access to a shop like this.

CraftAndu (author)2017-12-22


JON-A-TRON (author)CraftAndu2017-12-22

Thanks man!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). My background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media ... More »
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