The Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend I looked out the kitchen window to see Mike scraping out a big circle in the yard with a shovel. Curious, I went out and inquired as to what he was doing. “Building a fire pit”, he offered.

We ALWAYS have way too much stuff laying around, mostly leftovers from fireplace jobs, and of course if it’s his stuff then it’s mostly piles of fantasy projects. For example, these cinder blocks may have been sitting by the barn for 5 years, 8 years, I don’t even know how long. They were stacked up behind that pile of of firewood behind his left shoulder. Firewood so old and rotten that I’ve been burning it in the yard. As a matter of fact, I’ve been burning it right where he decided to build his fire pit.

After he got a pretty nice circle dug out, he tamped down the dirt and put in a layer of gravel. There are spaces between the cinder blocks where he will lay down copper tubing to let rain run out. Otherwise it would turn into a cinder block pond, he explained.

Next he filled the holes in the cinder blocks with broken cinder blocks and other rubble. He laid firebick on the “floor” and is sweeping sand in between the bricks. Over the next few weekends he laid more cinderblocks to raise the height, and lined the inside of the walls with firebrick.

Originally he was going to face the outer wall with some cultured stone that was left over from a job he did, let’s say, 12 to 14 years ago. He tried a few, realized it wouldn’t be what he wanted, and took them off.

I suggested a nice brick face wall with a brick seat at the top. He didn’t have enough bricks to do that, and his aim was to buy as little as possible for this project. He decided to stucco the outside, making his own dye to color it red.  He also decided he’d build forms to make these tops to create a seat. Each form is lined with sand so they come out easily. He laid the forms on a crinkled plastic tarp to give them some character. He also mixed in some gray dye to provide a more aged look.

Once they set up for 24 hours, he removed them from the molds and brushed off the sand.

Here’s the interior of the fire pit, lined with firebrick. The seat tops have been laid, but not yet mortared in place.

6 weekends later, here’s the finished fire pit. The cardboard was there so he didn’t damage the “lawn”,  I mean, get his shoes all muddy while mixing mortar and such. All the mortar has to cure for 30 days, so it’s not time to have a fire for a while.

Update, November: Here’s a fire burning the carcasses of the dead tomato vines and other garden material that wasn’t suitable for composting, along with some old tax records.

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