How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit

Design a metal fire pit to transform your back patio.


Sondra Gerber says when she isn't pumping iron she's welding it. She works at a gym to stay in shape of course, but also to support her passion for metal art. She went to school for fashion design, and ended up designing and making bridal gowns for years. Eventually she got burned out and began looking for other artistic outlets — leading her to take a welding class. She says metal work is a lot like fashion design, in that you take a flat material and fabricate it into something three-dimensional.

Materials and Tools:

55 gallon barrel
steel sheet metal
1/4" round steel rod
1" pipe
plasma cutter
MIG welder
compass attachment for plasma cutter
white chalk pencil
air grinder with cutting wheel
high temperature black spray paint
welding gloves, helmet and mask


1. Cut the 55-gallon barrel to the bottom third with a plasma cutter. Cut a 1-inch pipe into three 4-inch pieces and weld them to the bottom of the barrel for legs. Cut a circle, for the lid, out of the steel sheet metal with a compass hooked up to the plasma cutter.



2. Tack weld the 1/4-inch rod to the side of the metal circle and bend the rod around to follow the circle tack again and continue all the way around to create a rim, cut off excess rod before making the final tack to complete the circle, using a cutting wheel on an air-driven grinder.



3. Draw a chosen design on the sides and top of the barrel with a chalk pencil.



4. Cut out the negative spaces of the design with the plasma cutter.

5. Drill weep (drain) holes into the bottom of the fire pit.

6. Spray paint the backyard fire pit with high-temp black paint. Burn logs inside the backyard fire pit.


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