Introduction: Ultimate Outdoor Log Cabin Fire

Campfires are often a low-cost staple in summer night activities, but there is usually little thought put into actually starting the fire or which campfire structure is the most ideal for the planned activities. This instructable will walk you through the steps needed to build a log cabin fire. Log cabin fire structures are ideal for cooking as they burn for long periods of time and are less likely to collapse when compared to the traditional tipi structure. They are also very adaptable and can be made as big (or as small) as desired.

Materials needed:

  • Tinder (paper, dryer lint, etc.)
  • Kindling (small twigs)
  • Sticks ( ~ 1-2 inch in diameter)
  • Matches or lighter
  • Wood logs (large logs to be burned after the initial fire start-up)
  • Fire Extinguishing Method

Step 1: Gather Timber

This step can be as easy as simply walking around your yard or a nearby park and collecting sticks that you come across. You will want to have a mix of small twigs (used on the inside of the structure with the kindling) and thicker sticks, about an inch or so in diameter. The number of sticks needed will depend on the size of the structure you intend to build.

Step 2: Choose a Location

An ideal fire location is an area of bare ground or a fire pit where there is little to no chance of the fire escaping. For convenience reasons, we used a circle fire pit for our demonstration.

Step 3: Pick Starting Material

For our fire we decided to simply use paper. However, you have several options for your starting material (tinder). By definition, tinder is simply a material that lights easily and is used to ignite a lasting fire. This could be anything from paper to pinecones, so you can just use what you have on hand.

Step 4: Choose an Extinguisher

Be sure to choose an extinguishing method to ensure safety and quick extinguishing of the fire in case it gets out of hand. Some popular extinguishing methods are by water bucket, garden hose, or fire extinguisher.

Step 5: Building the Base

Once all materials have been gathered, you can start making the structure of the fire. First to recap on materials, you need:

  1. Tinder (Starting material)
  2. Timber (everything from match thick twigs to logs as big as you want your fire)
  3. Starter (Matches, lighter, or other creative way to start the fire such as flint and steel)
  4. Fire Pit (Make sure that your fire pit area meets the regulations for fires in your area. If unsure, call the fire department and ask, warning: do not call 911 for this part!)
  5. Emergency extinguishing equipment (whether it be a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher, make sure you can put out your fire quickly if it gets out of hand)

To build the base, lay two of the biggest sticks parallel, at a distance between 1-2 feet apart in your fire pit. Then lay two more of the biggest sticks on top and perpendicular to the previous pieces. Shown above. Build the base up 3-4 layers of the large logs.

Step 6: The Inner Tipi

Once the base has been laid, start building the inner tipi. To do this first place the tender inside the middle of the base. If paper is used for the tender crumple it up to add height to it. This will help with lighting it.

Next start with the match thick kindling and place by leaning onto the tinder. Lay it all the way around the tender in a tipi like fashion. Keep increasing in size of stick until all of the kindling and most of the medium sized timber is used. Shown above.

TIP: Leave a small opening in the side of the tipi to easy insert the starter to light the tender.

Step 7: Finish the Log Cabin

Once the inner tipi is finished, finish building up the log cabin around the tipi in a criss-cross manner as shown above. At this point all of the wood should have been used.

Step 8: Let It Burn!

Once you have finished intricately building your log cabin structure, it's time to let it burn! Choose your starting method and light the tinder on fire.

TIP: Gently blow on the flame toward the middle of the tipi to help the fire spread faster and evenly burn all of the kindling.

Step 9: FIRE!

Congratulations, you have successfully lit your log cabin fire! Time to relax and use your low maintenance fire as gathering point for your closest friends and family. Once again make sure your fire extinguishing method is close by so that in case of emergency the fire can be put out quickly. Enjoy!