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How to make a compact fire pit from a single steel sheet

Author: NJR Steel
Article Views:10115
Categories: Construction, DIY

Cut, bend and weld a small fire pit from a single sheet of steel, and enjoy the luxury of your robust and stylish creation for years to come.

This stunning little fire pit was designed by Australian steel expert Cameron Bell to cater to those who love the cosiness and practicality of an outdoor fireplace, but don’t have a big garden or patio to accommodate a larger commercial product.

When tackling this wonderful project, please keep safety measures in mind, and talk to our experts for guidance along the way. Enjoy!

You will need

  • 1200 mm x 1200 mm 2.1 mm thick chequer plate (or any steel plate of that approximate thickness)
  • Tape measure
  • Boilermakers’ chalk and a straight-edge
  • A welding machine
  • An angle grinder with cutting discs, a flap disc, a grinding disc, and a wire brush
  • A hammer
  • A drill
  • Hi-Heat paint, or no paint at all for a rustic look
  • Gloves, ear muffs, eye protection. Speak to our consultants for a comprehensive list of safety gear.

Note: The overall dimensions of the sheet you need for this design are 1200 mm x 1200 mm. You can, of course, adjust the design to suit the materials you have. There is no need for a separate stand for this fire pit; it is self-supporting.

Step 1: Cutting the steel

First, you need to draw the markings along which to cut the steel. Use your boilermakers’ chalk and straight-edge to copy the design as shown below.

Draw this design on your steel sheet.
Draw this design on your steel sheet.

Then, using a cutting disc on your angle grinder, cut the four “V"s out of the corners. Warning: this will be very noise, so ear muffs will be required.

Cut the sheet to resemble the given design.
Cut the sheet to resemble the given design.

Where the fold marks are, use your cutting disc to score the steel to assist with the folding process in the next step. You can use a bit of railway rail as a fence for this (as pictured), but freehand would be fine. Make these score marks quite deep (perhaps to about half the thickness of the metal), especially if you don’t have an assistant to help with bending. It will make the folds look much neater and it will be much easier.

With your flap disc or grinding disc, prepare the edges of the “V"s at the corners for welding. It’ll be much easier to do now than it will be after bending.

Step 2: Bending (part 1)

Bending is often the trickiest part, but this need not be the case. As long as you have made the score marks deep, the bending will be neat and easy. Don’t worry about weakening the finished product; it will still be structurally sound providing you don’t cut all the way through. First; with the smooth side up, bend the outer most pieces up. Don’t try to get them to their final position just yet. Then bend the inner folds the other way. Try to get the seams to meet at the folded corner.

Bend along the scored lines.
Bend along the scored lines.

 Try to get the seams to meet at the folded corner.
Try to get the seams to meet at the folded corner.

You may want to put the steel sheet on the ground as this point, and use your weight to hold it all down while bending the steel. If you have trouble at this point, get out the grinder and make the score marks deeper.

Step 3: Welding (part 1)

First, position the folded corners so they line up nicely and then tack each one. You may need to use some ropes if you don’t have an assistant to hold the steel down.

Tack the seams together.
Tack the corners together.

When all four corners are tacked, get out your hammer, turn the steel over and hammer it until all the seams meet nicely. This is another noisy job, so remember those ear muffs. Now that the seams meet, flip steel over again and weld the seams.

Weld the seams.
Weld the seams.

Step 4: Bending (part 2)

Bend the outer parts so they join at the corners. You will need an assistant (or a cant hook, as pictured, of similarly effective implement) to help with the bending. Try to get the corners to meet approximately perfectly.

Bend the outer folds together.
Bend the outer folds together.

Step 5: Welding (part 2)

When the corners are meeting, tack each one. Again, get out your hammer and pound those seams until they meet. When the seams look good, weld them on the inside.

Flip it over at this point and run a small bead of weld along the outside of the seam as well to make it look neater.

Weld the outer folds together at the seams.
Weld the outer folds together at the seams.

Step 6: Finishing

Now your fire pit is effectively complete, but a few more tweaks will make it look even more stylish and professional.

Grind your welds until they look smooth and professional. Unfinished welding tends to look a bit sloppy, so this may take a while. Smooth the entire surface by going over it with a wire brush disc on the angle grinder. Try to knock off any rust or mill scale.

Drill some holes to let water drain if it’s left in the rain. Put one in each corner and one in the centre. Lastly, give it a coat of Hi-Heat paint.

You now have a fire pit that you can be proud of. Fill it up with wood, light your fire, and enjoy!

Source: Instructables

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