Built without mortar, this raised fire pit is a modern example of the age-old skill of dry-stone walling. The method uses gravity and friction to hold the structure together and up, which, when well built, can last for centuries. Free- standing dry-stone walls consist of two walls that lean towards each other. The central cavity is filled with carefully placed, tightly packed small stones and, here and there, the builder will incorporate a long, through stone. These run across both walls, from 1 side to the other, and help strengthen the structure by tying it together.
Gather your supplies:
• Length of metal rod
• Stone splitting tools including hammers, bolster and plugs
• Sawn sandstone capping, cut to circumference of fire pit (order custom-made from a stone supplier)
• Metal fire dish
You’ll also need:
String; set-out paint; sharp spade; power drill; sturdy wheelbarrow; small and large spirit levels
The centre point is important. Simply hammer rod into soil where you wish centre of fire pit to be. To create circle for fire pit base, attach string to rod and mark circle with set-out paint.
Note: Centre guide shown is the craftsman’s own. It’s suitable for building a fire pit on a hard surface.
A fire pit can’t be built on grass – it needs a firm, level base. Dig to depth of 1 course of stone within marked out circle. Excavate, then restore rod to position and make plumb.
To split large stones into smaller, evenly thick slabs, draw a line down stone where you want to split, then drill a series of holes along line.
Hammer plugs (known as ‘steel splinters’) into holes to fracture rock cleanly along line.
Guided by circle, lay outer and inner courses. Measure often to ensure outer edges of stones are equidistant from rod. Check each stone is level.
Chock gaps with biggest of small stones that fit.
Measure distance from rod to outer edge as each course is laid. Make each higher course slightly closer to centre to create inward slope.
Lay sandstone capping on top.
Remove rod. Put fire dish over hole. This fire dish was custom-made by Anavale in Bargo, NSW, but you can buy a ready-made dish from Bunnings.