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DIY Table Top Concrete Fire Pit, Part 1

Family time is the perfect time for lighting a fire on the patio or deck and spending quality time with family and friends.  It is in these unplanned, relaxed moments when connections are strengthened and memories are quietly made.  As the night goes on you can swap your favorite stories.  I think sometimes it is in these quiet moments, the most happens. Why not make one as a special gift this holiday season?

Here is part 1 of the DIY tutorial on how to make your own Concrete Fire Pit.

This version is cast of affordable, weather-resistant concrete that creates a sleek, modern look. It’s portable but very sturdy, and uses gel fuel. This could be made in just a few hours.  I choose to keep it smaller with a large chip bowl from the dollar store, but if you wanted a larger version you can grab a plastic punch bowl from any party supply store. You need a smaller bowl to fit on the inside and rocks or some heavier object to hold it down.  I also opted to get concrete dye to make it darker.  You can keep it plain or choose from a variety of colors available at your local Lowes or Home Depot.

Working with concrete

Working with concrete isn’t difficult, but it does require some finesse. First, it’s fairly heavy and can be difficult to mix in large batches by hand. Work outside and if you are concerned about messing up what you are working on then put down a plastic sheet.  I just hosed it down when I was done.

First mix up your concrete. It’s hard to determine how much you’ll need, but it’s better to mix up more as you start than to rush to create more in the middle. I used about 2/3 of a 10 lb bag for this project, adding water a little at a time until the mix formed a thick, cookie batter-like consistency.

Once you’re concrete is mixed and colorant is added (optional), spray your molds with non-stick spray. This will help release the concrete once it’s dry. A thin, even layer over the inside of the outer mold/outside of the inner mold will do.

Then,  add the concrete mix to the outer bowl. Fill it about half full, then check the inner mold to see how high the concrete comes up to the side. It’s okay to take the inner mold in and out a few times, just make sure you don’t lose all your non-stick spray. (You can rinse it clean and reapply). A friend or extra pair of hands is helpful here but it is completely doable by yourself. Then, use some sort of weights like the rocks I used to keep it in place. If you have a few bigger ones that will fit in your inner bowl, you can use them or use a lot of little rocks.

Some things to watch out for:

  • As you place the inner mold, make sure that it’s centered so your bowl will have an even thickness all the way around
  • Keep the lips of the bowls even
  • Adjust the weights so that you have the biggest inner bowl as possible while keeping the structure thick enough to be strong. You’ll want to be sure that there’s enough space on the inside to place your gel canisters beneath the lip of the bowl.

For a super smooth finished surface, jiggle it.  Small vibrations will help bring the air bubbles to the top.  I added glass rounds to the top lip to add a little decoration to your concrete.

One it’s settled and you have added your decorations, allow the concrete to cure according to the package directions. (24-48 hours-ish)