How to Build a Fire Pit

The last few parties I’ve attended boasted a fire pit in the host’s yard. This caused a horrible case of fire pit envy. Motivated by romantic thoughts of my friends gathered around the fire, drinking a cold beer, roasting marshmallows and burning sensitive documents I decided to build one. If you would like to have a cool home-made fire pit just follow these simple instructions. Note: this process can be skipped and replaced with: Go to Big Lots and buy a fire pit.

Step 1: Get your handy friend drunk. This is really the most important step. We all have that friend who is pretty good with his hands. He owns tools that you wouldn’t know how to turn on or which end to use. He can fix cars. He’s a perfectionist. He inherently knows how to perform tasks that others have to go to trade school to learn. To protect the identity of my friend who fits this bill we’ll just call him Danny (…that’s pretty generic…yeah…Danny Smith) or The Lebanese Lover. (No, chucklehead…he’s not my lover…he’s Lebanese and does pretty well with the ladies…am not sure if those two facts have anything to do with each other.) Danny may very well be the guy that stars in Hank Jr’s song. If you do not have such a friend, you will need to add Step 1a. Get a handy friend. If perchance, you are your own handy friend, then why the heck are you reading this. You should already contain the programming necessary to build a fire pit.

Step 2: Mention to your handy, now intoxicated, friend that you are going to build a fire pit. But, tell him you have a plan. You’re going to dig a hole and surround it with rocks or Styrofoam or something. If your friend is anything like mine, he will envision this:

  Or this:  

…and it will drive him completely batcrap crazy. He will then take over the project…all you will have to do is serve as manpower and financier.

Step 3: Convince Capt Kirk to land a cloaked Klingon Battle Cruiser in your backyard: This is one of the more complicated steps. I did it by convincing Kirk and Spock that they needed to come back in time to retrieve two humpback whales. This was not as difficult as convincing them that the most convenient parking to Sea World for a Battle Cruiser was in Greensboro. I may be leaving out a few pieces of this plan. If you have trouble refer to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. When Kirk and crew leave you will be left with a perfectly square hole. (I know you’re thinking “wouldn’t it be easier to just dig a hole?” You would think. But, it is nearly impossible to dig a perfectly square hole.)

Step 4: Build Forms for Quikrete: At this point the project should just about be running itself. When your handy friend starts talking about building the forms say things like, “will we need to buy a left handed malometer?” or “Dad never let me use power tools after the incident. Would you rather have the nickname ‘Lefty’ or ‘Stumpy’? What kind of health insurance do you have? ” Your friend will not let you within a football field’s length of his pristine workshop.

Play your cards right and the forms will show up looking like this:

Step 5: Mix and pour Quikrete: You know the old brainteaser, which weighs more 80 lbs of concrete or 80 lbs of feathers? It’s 80 lbs of concrete. And mixing it is unfun. I recommend using the Jedi Mindtrick on your handy friend. I went with, “Dude, when was the last time you were in the gym for some other reason than talking to hot chicks? Do you want to take a turn with the hoe so that you’ll benefit from the exercise?” I had him at “take a turn with the hoe.”

Step 6: Tolerate your friends when they come over to give advice. Much like we all have handy friends, we also have those friends who used to be handy. Now they just come over to drink your beer and leer at your girlfriend. You keep them around mainly because it’s no fun to play Golden Tee by yourself, they have pick ’em up trucks, boats, can lift heavy objects, make great shrimp bread, or D) all of the above.

Step 8: Break down the forms: Step 7 you can probably guess…if not, just do what feels right. Then you will have walls.

Step 9: Pour some more Quikrete for the base. You would think that at some point that you would get stronger from carrying bags of powdered concrete. I didn’t. I did get pretty good at balancing 80 lbs on one shoulder. It’s a little awkward. Also, this ingredient comes in paper containers. 80 lb awkward paper sacks. Who thought this was a good idea?

Step 10: Lay brick. Really pretty self-explanatory. Mortar, bricks, trowels…you’ve probably seen it done on TV. For an extra degree of difficulty we decided to lay the brick on a 35 degree day and had to race an incoming storm. Again, hopefully, you are seeing the need for having a handy friend. I don’t know how you’ve made it this long without one. I guess, worse case, you could pay professionals for jobs like this. Danny was in possession of 100 year old West By God Virginia brick. It worked well…I recommend using free brick if possible.

Last Step: Invite 60 of your closest friends over and build a fire. I put down pine-straw because for some reason my friends hate to see my carpet clean. If one of them says something like, “hey, that looks like the cap of my granddad’s septic tank” or “is that plumb? it doesn’t look plumb to me? are you sure it’s plumb?” feel free to bust them in the nose. If your handy friend is around, he will probably take care of this for you, too. Note: Plumb is a term your handy friend will use a lot during this project. I think that it means “not crooked.”

I have made FIRE!!!!!

When you’re finished, let your project manager come up with a name. Danny decided that this is The Incinerator. I like it.

Hope this helps. This pic was taken at the end of the night…will have a roaring fire pic in the near future. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

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