Portable Fire Pit With Built in Log Storage Rack.




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

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

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.

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest

    67 Discussions


    8 months ago on Step 6

    Please be careful. Some of the "chrome" finishes on shopping carts have cadmium in the plating. This and zinc produce toxic fumes. Also, the zinc on the galvanized steel will release fumes. Fire it initially very hot, keeping everyone away until the cadmium and zinc burns off. Do not use to cook food until it is thoroughly "seasoned" (metal blackened from repeated heatings). The same cautions apply to the use of old refrigerator shelves.


    1 year ago on Step 3

    LOL "When your husband is not looking, grab the hood off his truck and cut it to fit the bottom of the shopping cart..."


    6 years ago on Step 2

    I'm pretty sure Galvanized metals give off toxic gasses when burned... Very dangerous! I'd reccomend you replace that asap

    2 replies
    Mugsy KnucklesTyler0100010

    Reply 2 years ago

    This is why I never light my new firepit in the house the first couple of times.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Actually... http://www.texasbbqforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=5990 Once you've burned off the zinc galvanizing you're good to go! One good hot burn should do it.


    3 years ago

    I saw this on urbangardensweb.com. It mentioned you (peinkc) so I looked it up. Great idea for the those of us who live in the country and desire to make use of other materials to make stuff. How cool that would be to show off in our yard! Thanks!

    Street-Wise Irish

    3 years ago

    Honestly I never thought to use a shopping cart for a fire pit. I tip my hat off to you sir

    Wow this looks really easy with all the detailed instructions with supporting photos. However, I doubt it will actually be that simple to get an almost perfect fire pit like yours. I personally would require some help from friends or family and I bet they would definitely be more than willing to lend a helping hand as long as at the end of the day they get some warm melted marshmallows.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Many of the homeless here in Downtown L.A. will use the shopping carts not only as a fire pit but also to cook their meals on top of them. I always found their ingenuity to survive amazing, and one can learn so much from their survival skills. Excellent Instructable, thank you.


    5 years ago

    Usually you can ask a store manager for a broken cart. Offer them some money if needed, but most of the time, they'll give it to you for $10 to absolutely free.


    6 years ago on Step 6

    wow awesome project wanna make one myself: but possibly make it into a barbecue/smoker/kebab grill by cutting out one of the middle sections of uprights and grinding smooth with an angle grinder then it has an extra+useful purpose (little spelling mistake in title of slide :fishing-finishing...spellcheck strikes again!)

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe using one of those "baby" shopping carts would get the heat close enough to the top cover to cook?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing... 33+ thousand views and you were the first to catch the fishing touches.
    I have been doing searches of second hand shops looking for a rotisserie motor that I can adapt to this thing.


    6 years ago

    Didn't mean anything by it. Only picturing a long night of burning. But the idea? Really good and so is your finished product.


    6 years ago

    Nice but that whole cart will become red hot. Lol easier to get people to not touch the flames then it will be to keep them from touching the cart.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Step 6

    Nice. If you're worried about toxic fumes just do a first über burn to get the crap off it. Should be ok after.