Sunday, March 22, 2009

My $7 outdoor fireplace

I've wanted an outdoor fireplace since I bought my house. I have a gas fireplace in the house, but burning gas inside is not the same as burning stuff (wood, charcoal, etc.) outside. I like terra cotta chimeneas, but I couldn't stomach paying over $50 for one. So I decided to make myself an outdoor fireplace.

I wanted something simple and small. I wanted to be able to move my fireplace around without trouble, and I wanted to be able to put it away when I didn't want to use it. That precluded building a permanent fire pit in the yard. (But I know how to build one out of brick now.)

I happened to see a cactus planter at Home Depot, and it struck me as the perfect fireplace. It was a shallow terra cotta dish 15" in diameter, and about 5" deep. The only downside was the presence of a drainage hole in the middle of the dish. Well, I could fix that. I bought the planter for $7, and built a nice fireplace with materials I had around my garage.

I built a stand for the pot using 2x4's. The ceramic of the pot should insulate the wood of the stand from charing or burning. I kept the stand simple; I built a 1 foot cube out of eight 10.5" lengths of 2x4 using drywall screws. I painted the stand black with a can of spray paint I had leftover from another project. To seal the hole in the bottom of the planter, I used mortar to affix a broken piece of tile over the hole. We have used the fireplace twice this weekend, roasting marshmallows both times. I hope the family enjoys it as much as I do. (Although Liz does dislike the fact that our clothes smell like smoke when we're done. C'est la vie.)

Spending only $7 on the whole project is a source of frugal pride for me. But I still would like a chimenea. Maybe I could build one...

Here's the stand I built before painting.

I put a piece of cardboard under the hole in the bottom of the pot, put a layer of mortar down, and pressed the tile into the mortar. I also had a "test fire" in the pot before doing this.

Liz and Virginia enjoyed the fire. I think the black stand looks pretty good.

John was happier running, but he did roast a few marshmallows first.

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