Picture being gathered around a glowing fire, out in the open, sharing tales and good cheer with your friends and family. Doesn’t that evoke priceless memories of those magical campfires we loved as children? Relive them at home anytime, by building a fire pit in your garden, complete with two stylish conversation benches.
WHAT YOU NEED:
750 common bricks
16 x 40 kg bags stone
23 x 40 kg bags building sand
7 x 40 kg bags plaster sand
14 x 40kg bags river sand
10 x 50 kg bags cement
Extra sand to fill bench cavity (garden
sand is fine)
20 m landscape fabric
5 L concrete stain
5 L a.b.e. Brixeal
4 short pegs
1 x 250 mm peg
5 m builders’ line
22 mm steel pipe
3 x concrete railway sleepers
Brick-laying trowel, plastering trowel, wooden float, corner tool, rubber mallet, 4 lb hammer, 5 m tape measure, spirit level and a sponge.
1 Select a site that is approximately 5 m in diameter, and clear it. Then find the centre, knock in a peg, tie builder’s line to it, and scribe a circle with a radius
of 1450 mm. Let out the line and scribe a second circle with a radius of 2300 mm. These concentric lines will give you an indication of where you can choose to site your two benches that will face the fire pit, between the inner and outer lines.
2 See the diagram, which shows how you should now mark out the precise places for the benches, using builders’ line and pegs. We recommend you site them opposite each other, to create a more cozy space around the fire pit.
3 Dig out foundations between the lines marking the benches, to a depth of 100 mm. Take 1 part cement, 3 parts stoneand 2 parts river sand, and combine them and slowly add water, until the concrete mixture attains the consistency of thick yoghurt. Pour it into the foundations and ensure it is level. Let it cure for 24 hours.
4 Make a mortar mix, by combining 1 part cement and 6 parts building sand. Slowly add water until the mixture attains the consistency of thick yoghurt. Then, following the outlines of your two foundation slabs, lay bricks to form a double-course wall at the back of each bench, and a single-course wall at the front. The front and side walls must be 500 mm high; the back wall must be 900 mm high. Leave the walls to cure for 24 hours and then fill the cavities with sand, compacting it to the level of one brick down, so that seats can be laid using bricks, cemented together with mortar. Leave the bricks to cure overnight. Make a plaster mix by combining 1 part cement to 6 parts plaster sand. Plaster all surfaces of the benches and allow to cure for at least 48 hours.
5 To make the fire pit between the benches, tie the builders’ line to the central peg, let it out 70 mm, and scribe a circle. Lay eight bricks sideways in a star shape, pointing outwards from this circle. Then lay two concentric circles of bricks around this star shape and mark the outer line of this circle. Remove the bricks and dig a cavity in a concave, bowl shape. Replace the peg with the 22 mm pipe, driving it in with the 4 lb hammer to secure it.
6 Make a strong mortar mix by combining 4 bags river sand and 1.5 bags cement. Layer the concave cavity with some of this mortar and then replace the bricks in the star-shaped pattern, surrounded by two concentric outer circles. Set the bricks evenly in the mortar, using the rubber mallet. Then fill the gaps between them with mortar, compacting it as you go along.
7 Place a mortar border around the outside and smooth the surface of the entire structure with a float. Then clean the bricks with a sponge. Allow the pit to dry and then apply your concrete stain, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to cure before applying the Brixeal, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
8 Lastly, scribe an arc between the two benches to find where you want to place your sleepers, which will help complete the circular structure of this fire pit area. Dig out the arc, insert your sleepers vertically, and secure them with mortar. Lay the landscape fabric between the benches and cover it with small pebbles.