Tabletop Fire Pit





Introduction: Tabletop Fire Pit

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I like to make things and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am a Community Manager for Instructables.

There is nothing better after a long day of sledding than returning home to a nice warm fire. As a college student 125 miles from home, that's not the easiest or most feasible option.

About a month ago JON-A-TRON posted an amazing Fireplace Coffee Table that so many people (including myself) fell in love with. However, not having the space or money for such an amazing build, I had to find a different solution to my fireless winter blues.

Turning to the internet for ideas with an idea of what I looking for, I stumbled upon this home improvement site with some great ideas on how to proceed with resolving the fireless situation that I was in.

***Because you are creating an indoor fire pit, there is a potential fire hazard. Remember to never leave your fire unattended. Always burn your fire in a safe location***

***And as one commenter mentioned, it's probably not the safest to eat food roasted directly over this Real Flame brand flame. In fact, Real Flame says not to do it on their FAQ's page found here***

***If you would like to roast marshmallows over it, Sterno makes a fuel that is safe to cook over. You do loose the look of the yellow flame with Sterno but it is food safe***

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this Instructable, you're going to need a few things.

  • Cement (25 lbs made just under 2 fire pits)
  • Water
  • Disposable Cup (to scoop cement)
  • 5 Gallon Bucket (to mix cement)
  • Scrap Stirring Stick
  • Cooking Spray (as mold release)
  • Large Kitchen Bowls (Any set of large "nesting" bowls. I used the largest and 2nd smallest bowls.My biggest bowl was 13 inches in diameter.)
  • Brush or Grout Sponge
  • Real Flame Junior Gel Fireplace Fuel (This fuel is safe to use indoors. The regular size cans are too tall for this pit)
  • Lava Rock (I specifically chose this one from others because in the reviews people complained that the rock was smaller than it should be. Perfect for this application!)
  • Respirator
  • Gloves

Step 2: Smooth the Bottom of the Bowl

One problem with the bowls that I chose was that there was a ridge along the bottom. This needs to be removed in order to achieve a smooth cast. I used a block plane and sand paper to remove mine.

Step 3: Mix Cement

Mix the cement. Follow the directions on the cement itself. You are looking for a milkshake like consistency.

***Remember to mix your cement safely. Use a respirator and gloves***

Somehow I feel that forming cement inside your lungs would be a very bad thing.

Step 4: Cooking Spray

Cooking Spray was the cheap mold release that I already had on hand. Coat the outside and inside mold. Use more than you think you should.

Step 5: Pour

Pour. Simple as that.

Step 6: Set the Mold

Set the mold by placing the smaller bowl inside the cement. I drew a line to make sure that the casting was perfect.

The smaller bowl will not want to stay put at the beginning. Check your cement every 5 minutes till the correct positioning is ultimately achieved. Line up the level of the cement to the line drawn on the inside of the bowl.

Step 7: Shape

Around the hour mark, depending on the temperature and humidity of the surroundings, remove the smaller inside bowl.

First,use a small scrap piece of wood to "scrape" the top edge of the fire pit to make it level.

Second, shape and texture the fire pit using your brush or sponge.

Step 8: Remove From Mold

Wait another half hour or so before removing the fire pit for final drying.

Step 9: Sort Lava Rock

While waiting for the fire pit to dry, time to sort and clean your lava rock.

Sort out the smaller pieces to set inside the pit. I decided to clean my lava rock because I will be gifting two of these for Christmas and no one wants to receive dirty rocks for the holidays.

Step 10: Add Lava Rock and Enjoy

When all is done, place the fuel in the middle and surround it with the small pieces of lava rock and you are ready for your very own indoor fire.

If the plain cement look isn't quite what you are looking for, go ahead and stain it your favorite hue.

One thought that I haven't gotten around to playing with, is embedding objects into your pit. If anyone comes up with anything, make sure you post pictures in the comments!



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    31 Discussions

    Simple and elegant. Nice work. Leaves lots of options for folks to customize this basic design.

    1 reply

    I agree! It's easy to find some inexpensive bowls, or build your cast.

    Nicely done- I love the simple and elegant found object casting solution. Thanks for the shoutout!

    1 reply

    Thanks! Sometimes the simplest things turn out the best.

    Have you roasted any marshmallows yet? It's my thought that sterno would leave a nasty taste. Or at least cooking a 'mallow over it might not be in good health?

    1 reply

    5 months ago

    Somewhere, I have an old mortar made of lava. Couldn't I put in white beach sand and set a Sterno can into that?

    Would be cool to cover the top part of the cement in broken mirror pieces to reflect the light.


    2 years ago

    I really like the idea. Can be used as a small braai (BBQ) outside using the lava rock as a hot rock bed.

    winter is coming soon. im gonna need this ☺

    Great Job ! Just a thought you could use a hot glue gun to put line patterns on the inside of the bowl, Let it dry then add the cement . Then you could paint the line patterns.

    1 reply

    Interesting idea! If you ever do it make sure to post it in the comments!

    I love it! The super simpler idea created something that has very nice design lines, is aesthetically pleasing & serves a useful function! Trifecta!!

    1 reply

    Thanks! It was my first time working with cement but it was well worth it!