How to Build Your Own Fire Pit




There are few things as relaxing as a warm fire on a cool evening. An outdoor fire pit makes any patio or backyard into a great gathering place where friends and family can eat, talk, or just rest by the fire.

While you can build a fire pit from rock or have one poured, this fantastic do-it-yourself version from the folks at Progressive Farmer magazine uses bricks or cinder blocks and offers clear step-by-step instructions and a materials list to help make your project both fun and easy.

The installation is pretty quick — you can build a fire pit in just one day — and doesn’t cost a whole lot, especially if you look for a sale on bricks at the end of the season at Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can even occasionally find bricks for free when someone tears down a structure or replaces their driveway.

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Step 1: Preparation

STONES We built this fire pit from landscaping blocks. You can use field stone or other materials too. Do not use stones that have been submerged in water; they can explode with the heat of the fire. Concrete blocks may deteriorate from the heat, but they are cheap to replace.

DRAINAGE In the bottom center of the pit, we dug a fencepost-sized hole 2 feet deep and filled it with gravel. The hole works like a sump, helping to drain rainwater.

ADHESIVES We dry-stacked the stone. It's a quicker way to build the fire pit. If you have to replace cracked or broken stones, dry-stacking makes that job easier as well. If you want to cement the courses, lay cement down only on the outside half of the stones to protect the cement from the heat. Adhesives may melt and give off fumes; we advise against using them.

SAFETY This fire pit is built in a wooded area. Before we started the fire, we soaked the area around the pit with water. We also had 5-gallon buckets of water and a shovel handy to put out any stray fires.

What You'll Need

98 retaining wall blocks

steel pit ring with tabs

metal grate



We bought the ring and grate as specialty items from a garden store. We couldn't find a place to order these pieces from on the Internet, so we'd suggest welding your own or having them produced at a welding shop.

The retaining wall blocks used in this project were 12 inches wide, 4 inches high and 8 inches deep.

We purchased about one-half ton each of sand and gravel.

Total Cost: about $500

Step 2: Dig a Hole

We dug a hole 2 feet wider than the fire pit--about 7 feet across. Make the hole round by hammering a stake into the center of your fire pit area. Loop a 3 1/2-inch length of string over the stake and mark the circle. Dig out 12 inches of soil. Shovel in 4 inches of gravel and 4 inches of sand. Tamp that layer flat. Onto that base, lay down the base course of blocks. Make sure this course is level in all directions. Fill the space outside of the blocks with gravel. This nearly buries the first course, making the stone base strong.

Step 3: Lay the Courses of Stone

Lay additional courses of stone. We used the steel ring that will hold the grill in place to ensure each course is round and of the correct diameter. We purchased the ring from a garden supply store. To keep the courses perpendicular to each other and level to the ground, hang a piece of string over the edge of the top-most course. When each course touches this string--and the string is touching the base course--all the courses are roughly perpendicular. The middle of our pit was 32 inches in diameter.

Step 4: Stack Additional Layers

Use a brush to clean debris from the surface of the previous layer. Overlap the layers of stone, leaving three or four random gaps between stones in every course. The gaps allow the fire to draw air into itself. We dry-stacked the stone. They may get out of alignment, but realignment is easy. We learned something the hard way: put gravel into the center of the fire pit after you've stacked a couple of courses. Then spread it evenly when you're finished. We shoveled the gravel into the pit after it was completed and found lifting the gravel that high was unnecessary work.

Step 5: Steel Ring

Before you lay the final course of stone, set the steel ring in place. Then add the final layer of stone onto the lip of the ring. As originally built, the fire pit was seven layers tall--each layer took 14 stones--and about 25 inches tall. But we have found that the fires burn even better once we removed one layer of stone.

Step 6: Video

Our detailed video demonstrates the making of this easy DIY project from start to finish.

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    86 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Smoke nuisance. People have fire pits so they can stare into the flames when they are drunk.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Exactly. That's why our family has one!

    John D Costa

    3 years ago

    Nice blog for how to build an outdoor fire pit. I'm searching google for some amazing review of outdoor fire pit. Suddenly I find this and hope it will also help you to know details about an outdoor fire pit.


    3 years ago

    I truly love this! Thanks for sharing these simple steps


    4 years ago on Introduction

    In my experience, it’s very important to include ventilation
    holes when constructing a <a href="">paving
    brick fire pit</a>. Otherwise, it can be a challenge providing sufficient
    oxygen to the flame, which makes it hard to get a fire started.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi there,

    This is a pretty good design and build. I am pleased to see the drainage included, as many people tend to skip this stage. However, I prefer to have a 6" deep layer of gravel over the whole area of the bottom of the fire pit. 1. Its easier than digging a two foot deep hole. 2. It works perfectly for drainage, as it is a large surface area. 3. It forms an ideal base on which to set your fire.

    For those people who have commented that they could not find a fire pit liner online, you could visit

    As an alternative you can also use the same fire pit liner to make an in-ground fire pit. You can find instructions for how to do it at




    5 years ago on Introduction

    We used a washing machine bowl and attached it to an old mowed frame so we could move it around,also put in storage when not needed.

    My brother and I built one based on this design in a couple hours after a $200 trip to Lowe's. The hardest part was digging the hole. I didn't build it as high or line it with any sort of ring. We did gap the bottom two courses of bricks and snug the top course to allow for air flow (put one less brick in the top course). This created an awkward spot or two where the courses almost lined up, but no show stoppers. The bottom is lined with a few inches of sand, no gravel, and the bricks are simply stacked with no mortar or glue. In place for a month and getting heavy use (2 or 3 times a week); working great. The pic was taken a couple days after the build using the RetroCamera app (hence the odd look).

    2 replies

    Hi, just wondering if you had any issues with cracking/exploding bricks? I have built one similar and haven't lined (didn't realise I needed to) and now I'm a bit anxious about lighting it up!

    After a couple years of use, some of the bricks are starting to crack. I'll have to replace a few come spring. No explosive cracking, the cracks just seem to show up.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I used an old piece of large metal pipe, an old big-rig rim, and a random steel screen made from 1/4" bars woven together...oh, and a metal hub cap to stop the coals from falling through the hub hole in the middle of the rim.

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I've also seen many fire pits made with the drum from an old washing machine too. The drum in a dryer is not as easily removed as it is from a washer. 


    Problem is, the washer tub doesn't have holes in it, for the air to flow through to heat up the fire. The dryer tub is better.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I based my fire pit on this, kind of. i had the drum from an old washing machine just lying around, and a little camping barbeque busy dying. They just happened to fit together perfectly, and looks rather nice. I'll post a pic if anyone wants to see it.

    Fire is fun :D

    6 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I use these tubs to filter the smaller stuff out of my compost pile, because of the holes around the side. Just up-end it, like it is in a dryer, and put a wheel-barrel under it to catch the "filtered" compost. Mine is up on a frame and still attached to the motor etc. of course.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! This looks incredible! I never would have imagined the tub of a washing machine being so aesthetically appealing. Thanks for sharing.