Upload all your brain data on fire pits, please.
October 4, 2020 3:05 PM   Subscribe

We are early-stages building a wood-burning fire pit, the stone kind. What are your thoughts/suggestions/previous experiences with fire pits/fire pit wishlists? We're looking to innovate and...may be competing with friends.

I've watched tutorials and read everything I can find (yes, even ask.metas on fire pits). Our backyard is fairly sloped so we've already cut/dug into it and are leveling. We will be laying gravel foundations for necessary retention walls (thankfully they are looking to be short ones) and using appropriately rated fire brick where applicable. This is what I've whiteboarded so far:

1) A keyhole-shaped pit, circle (44") on one side connected to a rectangle where the coals can be pushed to for cooking on standard racks.

2) A Dakota fire hole channel with grate, directing airflow directly underneath the fire, to reduce smoke and improve ventilation (considering installing a fan at the intake side).

3) A perforated-wall circle portion, so that heat but not flames has a safe path to people's feet (holes will be some combination of small and deep, perhaps meshed).

We don't have a ton of money, we're going to try to do all this with $500 or less (or, alternately, build as far as that takes us, and then buy as we can).

Ideally, since this is kind of an earthworks sort of project, we don't want to wish we'd done something differently down the road. Please give me all your ideas, ways you were disappointed with a fire pit in the past, anecdotes, what makes fire pits magical (yes, it's the friends we made along the way, but...). The groundwork I've done so far is in the one pic linked above.
posted by Phyltre to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly that looks like a pretty solid plan. I was going to suggest you need more room on the big side for seating, but from the picture you've got that covered with taking more out of the hill..

Two thoughts: first - something I found out tonight - one of our friends keeps a cordless leaf blower out by their firepit to act as bellows. That seems like an excellent and reasonably priced idea related to your fan one - you might have a leaf blower already, or you might have a cordless tool battery set for other things and can pick up a leaf blower that works with it for around $50. You could probably build a spot for it it in it in your setup.

Second, if you think you're going to use it with fewer people than will fit all around it sometimes. I've been contemplating a heat reflector setup for mine, maybe a metal semicircle or something that I can put on top of the brick for a quarter or half of the circle for when I really want to focus the heat. I haven't done this yet but I think it could work, it might be worth experimenting with.
posted by true at 5:59 PM on October 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Have you given any thought to having a receptacle at your pit? It'll make using your rotiseree a lot easier if you don't have to stretch out an extension cord. You don't have to complete the install but I'd at least run some PVC under the patio blocks and out past the retaining walls before laying the blocks down. 3/4" PVC conduit is less than a dollar a foot.

Depending on your material (easier to do with say allen block or timbers than concrete) I'd curve the retaining wall to match your pit. The wall will be inherently stronger and you eliminate an awkward narrowing at the top of the keyhole that would be there with a flat wall.
posted by Mitheral at 5:03 PM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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