Monday, January 31, 2011

Fire Pit Project

I spotted a professionally made fire pit while wandering around Fredericksburg, Texas.  It looked like a great addition to our patio and a fun welding project for me.  Below is a picture of the final product, complete with a swing away grill and foot-rest/guard.  The only thing left to do is to get it to the patio... need a couple of friends to help carry it!  I had a great time creating it.  It pushed my beginner level welding skills and forced me to learn some new tricks.




To start with I had to find the rounded tube piece that makes up the body of the fire pit.  Typically, a  "tank head" is used.  A tank head is the end of a compressed gas or liquid tank.  They can be purchased new, but have more character and cost less if recycled from a scrap yard. Here's the tank head I salvaged locally.  Note the jagged edge on the rim and small pipe sticking out of the bottom.  These had to be corrected/removed.


The first step was to clean up the rim of the tank head.  It had been rough cut with an oxyacetylene torch to get it down to a size that could be handled as it was removed from it's prior home.  Whoever did it was not concerned with the final product.  After some careful measurements and drawing out a guide line I trimmed down the rim with my Hobart plasma cutter.  I'm still amazed at how well plasma cutters work.  The cut was amazingly clean and fast.


 
Next step required a couple minutes with an angle grinder.  The plasma cutter did such a neat job that very little grinding was needed.



Next up were the legs.  I decided to keep it simple and follow the "3 points make a plane theory".  The pit was going to have three legs making it more forgiving on the measurement and fabrication side of things.  The plan was to have the three legs attach towards the bottom edge of the tank head and come down at an angle. Each leg would have a quarter inch thick plate steel "pad" to keep it from sinking into the ground or damaging a patio's surface.  Click the picture above to watch a video of me cutting the 1 1/2" 14 gauge steel tubing to make the legs.  Oh, and yes this is my custom built chop saw and cutting grate table. You can see more by visiting my previous post.


Here I am rounding the edges of the pads with the Hobart plasma cutter.  Click the picture to watch the video.



I followed the measure twice, cut once rule and still goofed it up.  The legs should be further under the tank head.  Had to go back to the saw and try it again.  Luckily I didn't have to fabricate new legs.  Note the rounded pads on the tips of the legs.


After re-cutting the top of the legs they fit into their intended spots.  This picture was taken after the legs were carefully positioned and tack welded in place.   I surprised myself in that there was less than a quarter inch variance on any two measurements taken from edge of the rim to the ground (Beginners Luck!).



Now for the swing away grill.  I wanted the edge of the grill to closely follow the curve of the pit.  Having never bent this type of material I wasn't quite sure how to proceed.  I ended up bending the band around the pit and clamping it as I went.  A quick cut with a cutoff wheel on the grinder and I had a complete loop.  One tack weld and the clamps could be removed.


I finished up the weld that held the two ends of the band together and added a half inch rod across the middle making sure that one end of the rod rested on the joint.


Using a large nut and bolt as a pivot point I was able to create the swing away feature.  With the nut welded to the pit and the bolt welded to the loop you can remove the grill or adjust the height by spinning it around.

 
Another first for me was bending the 5/8" rod to make the foot rest/guard.   Most of the recommendations I found online involved equipment that I didn't have access to.  I settled on doing it the old fashioned way.  I took a 10' section of rod and laid it across the mouth of a piece of channel steel (see above).  By striking the rod between the edges of the channel with a hammer and slowly moving the rod I was able to slowly bend it into a circle.  It was a challenge to make sure it was only bending in one direction.


This picture shows the rod after I cut it to the proper length, worked it into a circle and clamped the ends together.  A quick tack weld and I was able to take it to the welding table for further adjustments.  One hour and one sore back and I had a nearly perfect circle.


Using short pieces of the same rod I attached the foot-rest/guard to the pit.  This picture shows three attachment points.  The final version had a total of six.


Another view showing the swing away grill screwed on. 


Last thing to fabricate was the grill to fit inside the band.  I laid the band on top a piece of expanded metal, traced the outline and cut it out with the plasma cutter.  I left it a fraction of an inch wider than needed so I would have room for error and ensure a tight fit.  There were several places that I had to use the grinder to get it to fit.  I used my stick welder and a 7014 rod to tack the grill in place.


I used an twisted knot wire brush on an angle grinder to remove the rust, paint and welding crud off the pit.  A light sanding and cleanup and the pit was ready for paint.  I used Rustoleum's flat black, high heat spray paint. It took three cans to apply two coats.


Here's the finished product waiting to be taken to the patio.  I kind-of forgot about the weight.  It's easy to slide across the concrete floor in the garage, but not so easy to get across gravel paths. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and had a great time building it.

24 comments:

  1. I do not think the result will be that good. Nice work JIM...

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  2. This is an awesome post and I look forward to making my own fire pit, but I do have a question about welding. I have picked up on some orbital welding for my car passion and I am need of a good tungsten sharpener. I have looked around and the best place I have found is this website. Are there any stores or websites you would recommend?

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  3. What gauge flat bar did you use to make the round swing away? Very nice job by the way.

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  4. great job, last I make placemat for trash at my school.

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  5. Very well done!!
    This Fire Pit is very well crafted!

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  6. I think you've way passed beginner level welding skills with this project.
    Looks fantastic well done.

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  7. Looks fantastic! It actually looks a lot like much of the professional quality welding in Manitoba. If you ever need a new career, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest welding.

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  10. I got confused when you put the Bolt on did you weld it on the barrel?

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  11. How much would something like this go for if you were to sell it?

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  14. When you see the materials you used, you'd never expect the end result to look as good as it does... Great work!

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  15. Great job. This is so cool. Thank you for sharing these details.

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  16. Great videos really helpful and educative, thanks for sharing!

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  17. The only thing left to do is to get it to the patio... need a couple of friends to help carry it! I had a great time creating it. Welding Training Institute

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  20. Great job! What a beautiful grill!

    - Peter

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