How to build your own stone BBQ pit

Written by dan gaz
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How to build your own stone BBQ pit
Get the meat ready for your BBQ pit. (bbq image by DerSchmock from Fotolia.com)

If you have a lot of friends and a spacious yard and you like to entertain, you might consider building a backyard barbecue pit to enhance both your yard and your social life. The hardest decision you'll have to make is what kind of stone to use. You'll soon be on your way to becoming a backyard gourmet with your own barbecue grill.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Spool of twine
  • Spray paint (white or yellow to mark on grass)
  • Shovel (spade and flat)
  • Trowel
  • Mixing hoe
  • Iron rake
  • 2 levels (small and large)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • New England field stone/brick
  • Gravel concrete mix
  • 1/4-inch rebar (2-foot pieces)
  • Pre-mixed mortar mix
  • Fire bricks
  • Black stove paint (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Find an appropriate location for your barbecue pit in your backyard. Avoid any overhanging trees, branches or power lines, making sure to keep it at least 20 feet from any other major structure. Make sure the ground is level, preferably grass, dirt or gravel.

  2. 2

    Determine the size of your barbecue pit, keeping in mind that people will be sitting around the pit in either chairs or on the lawn.

  3. 3

    Measure out both the interior and exterior fire pit and the fire pit wall. The wall itself should be nearly a foot thick, so be sure you have enough room.

  4. 4

    According to "The Firepit and Grilling Guru" website, you should plan for a pit that is 12 to 18 inches high, with a 12-inch-thick wall. If it's too high, you won't be able to see your fire or feel the heat.

  1. 1

    Hammer one of your pieces of rebar into the centre of your eventual fire pit.

  2. 2

    Tie a piece of twine to the bottom of your centred rebar and measure out half of the desired diameter of your fire pit. Cut the string roughly 3 to 4 inches longer and tie the end around the centre of your can of spray paint.

  3. 3

    Walk around your rebar with the string taut, spraying your paint on the ground. This will trace the outline of your fire pit and allow you to build around the desired circumference.

  4. 4

    Dig out a 4- to 6-inch trench along the newly painted circle using both your shovels and the large level to make sure the ground is even. Check periodically that the ground is level, using any excess dirt to level it off when necessary.

  5. 5

    Repeat the spray paint and string step, this time making the string shorter by 24 inches. You're making the inner wall diameter, hence the shortening of the string by nearly 2 feet. Spray in a circle as you did before, with the string as taut as possible.

  6. 6

    Repeat Step 4 for the inner wall circle.

  7. 7

    Mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow with water until the consistency is soft and spreadable, but not runny.

  8. 8

    Pour the mixture in the two trenches you've dug, using the iron rake to spread and push the concrete until it's 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. Smooth down the concrete with your trowel.

  9. 9

    Lay your rebar into the concrete, so that each end touches the front and back of the trench. Space them out evenly throughout both trenches and tap them down so they're covered in concrete.

  10. 10

    Allow the concrete to set fully to ensure proper drying.

  1. 1

    Mix the premix mortar in your wheelbarrow, one bag at a time. This will prevent the mix from drying out as you use it.

  2. 2

    Spread the mortar on the outer portion of the concrete base you just laid and begin setting your face stones along the outer row.

  3. 3

    Place additional mortar on the inner portion of the concrete base and set the first row of fire bricks. Make certain that, after each brick is placed, there is a neat mound of mortar between bricks to guarantee adherence to each brick in succession.

  4. 4

    Tap each of your bricks with the handle of a trowel to ensure that they're secure in the mortar. Use your small level to make sure they're even, tapping them gently with the trowel handle if they're not level.

  5. 5

    Chisel any additional bricks that might need to fit in the small space when your circle is near completion. Normally, you'd use a brick grinder, but a hammer, chisel and safety glasses will do. Chip away until the brick fits in any open spaces on the inner wall.

  6. 6

    Add another layer of face stones, filling in the gaps with mortar in between. Lay a row of fire brick, as well, to keep up with the height of the face stones at the same time.

  7. 7

    Fill in the area between the back of your face stones and the inner layer of fire bricks with mortar and smaller pieces of stone that don't work for the outer wall or which you have chipped off the larger pieces. This filling supports and solidifies your entire structure.

  1. 1

    Add your capstones, without mortar, when the wall has reached the desired height. You'll have two rows of capstones: One will cover the face stones, and the other will cover the fire brick.

  2. 2

    Fill any remaining gaps between capstones with loose rock or mortar, using your large level as a gauge of evenness.

  3. 3

    Set the capstones with mortar and smooth out the excess mortar with a jointer and paintbrush for a finished look.

  1. 1

    Spray the fire brick with black stove paint if you'd rather not have it be red. When spray painting, cover your capstones with cardboard or masking tape to keep them paint-free.

  2. 2

    Place river rock or any other large stones within the base of the fire pit to help with drainage and raise the height of your fire.

  3. 3

    Rinse and wash the brick and stone structure when all the mortar and cement has dried.

Tips and warnings

  • The size and set-up of your barbecue pit is completely customisable and can vary based on your yard or intentions. Use the "things you'll need" list as a guideline, since the amount or the number of items or objects will vary from project to project.
  • Check your zoning areas and restrictions, with regards to building a structure in your backyard that will be on fire. Some areas will allow it, while others might need you to modify the construction to cover permits or laws.

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