DIY Metal Fire Pit Tutorial- Hack Challenge Finale

Well, it’s the last week of the upcycling hack-challenge! The project for this week is an idea that Tim heard of a while back, and we were hoping to get to do at some point in the series, and luckily we found out a couple days ago that we would be able to get our hands on an old metal basin from a washing machine – just in time! :) These metal basins make excellent fire pits because of the holes all over them, which allow in plenty of air and help keep a fire going strong with very little effort. So here is a tutorial of how Tim converted one into a fire pit!

Here’s a note from Tim: If you want to try this yourself you can find a wash tub from a large appliance repair store (we got ours from a local Maytag store that let us have it for free) or try your luck at a junk yard. The spray paint, the legs and their hardware cost < 25$.

Take a metal basin from an old broken washing machine – it may be rusty on the bottom, as you can see on this one. But the first step is to fix the top edge, which can be sharp and ragged. Bend down the edge all the way around, and then crimp down the edge underneath to finish.

Then, you’ll need to remove the center piece, because it juts up in the middle of the basin. Turn over the basin, and carefully cut around the center.

Cut six equal lengths of perforated angled bar, for the legs. Three will be attached directly to the sides of the basin, and the other three will bolt onto those, to give you some flexibility in adjusting the height. Tim chose a three-legged and adjustable height design to make it more stable if the ground is uneven. Measure around the basin, and divide in thirds (Tim actually found on this particular basin that the number of holes going around it were divisible by three, which made it easy to find the thirds.) Mark and drill holes on the side of the basin to fit the bolts, and then attach.

Spray the outside with paint that is high heat resistant and helps prevent rust- I chose a copper color, and I really like how it turned out!

The holes all over the basin help to draw in plenty of air and help keep a roaring fire!

Unfortunately, with the hot and dry weather we’ve been having, there is a burn ban right now, and so we weren’t able to actually light a fire in it to photograph for this post – I put a lamp inside it for the photo above, to give a little idea of how the light shines around it, because it is one of the things I love about this fire pit. But here is a photo which a friend of Tim’s sent over, who also has a fire pit made from a washing machine basin:

As always, use safe practices when working with fires.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed all the hack-a-week challenge posts – and that you’ll be sticking around for the new challenge which starts next week – all about doing your own blog design makeover!

Have any ideas for future challenges?
Leave your thoughts and comments below, I love to hear from you!

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  1. Stephanie
    Posted June 29, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Love the colour you painted this! We made something similar a few weeks ago but left the drum its natural silver colour. Now that it’s had a couple fires in it it’s got a lovely heat-induced patina :) Might copy your “legs” idea to make ours a little taller…

  2. Posted June 29, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Very cool — I’m impressed. I love its portability factor, and it looks beautiful.

  3. Posted June 29, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I think it looks like a perfectly toasted marshmallow… browned on the outside but still white on the inside. Guess what were doing as soon as the burn ban is lifted…

  4. Posted June 29, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    What an awesome project. It looks so cool! We used to have fires all the time before we moved to the desert. I miss our Friday night bon fires and hot dog cook outs :)

    • Posted June 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, we haven’t done one in a while – we’ll have to roast some marshmallows and hot dogs after the burn ban is lifted – I can eat an extra one for you. ;)

  5. Posted June 29, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Too cool! I love how it looks with the light in it very awesome. :-)

  6. Posted June 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    This is a really neat idea! :)

    • Posted June 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I definitely would have never thought of it, I’m so glad Tim decided to make it! :)

  7. Posted June 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Love it! Great idea! Thanks for sharing

  8. Posted June 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    What a clever idea! I’m going to have to send this along to my brother-in-law, since he’s been talking about making something for their patio. I love that it uses the old washer part.

  9. Posted June 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE this! We just bought a new house, and my husband has been raving about having a fire pit. Can’t wait to try it.

  10. Posted June 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    If you want to try this yourself you can find a wash tub from a large appliance repair store (we got ours from a local Maytag store that let us have it for free) or try your luck at a junk yard. The spray paint, the legs and their hardware cost < 25$.

  11. Heidi
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Great idea! I’m looking forward to trying this, but was wondering what you did about the hole in the bottom after removing the center piece. Does it need to be covered or filled in, or can it just be left open?

    • Posted July 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh, it can just be left open. It’s not a huge hole, and really, lots of grills and things have some sort opening in the bottom to allow ash out – otherwise it would just build up over time – and let air in which helps the fire. The bigger pieces of wood you would put in the bottom would block smaller pieces falling out, too. If you wanted, though, you could put a grate in the bottom, or some kind of pan (maybe the washing machine lid?) on the ground under the whole thing.

  12. A. Warnke
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    My question was the same as Heidi’s. What did you do about the whole in the bottom? I would need it filled in some how. I wonder if I could do this with out the guys help?

    • Posted July 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      I just posted a comment above – you don’t really need to cover it, but if you wanted to, you could put a small grate or something in there … but for the most part, your bigger pieces of wood will block the smaller stuff, and the hole is helpful for letting ash fall out and having air come in. :)

  13. tjacobsd
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    oo ooo ooo….my mind’s eye just saw this upside down with a light mounted inside as a deck table.

  14. Jacquelyn
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Check Craigslist on the FREE section. There are tons of washing machines on there, all for free. Looks beautiful. We rescued an old bbq pit and use that for our fire pit. Works great.

  15. Dee
    Posted May 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    What about the paint burning in the tub? Isn’t that toxic?

  16. christine
    Posted November 17, 2014 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    we have one .. not really necessary to remove center ‘post’ works fine :)

  17. Becky
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    great idea! Where did you find your paint?

  18. Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for some other informative site.
    Where else may I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal approach?
    I’ve a venture that I am just now operating on, and I’ve been at
    the glance out for such information.

  19. Jesse
    Posted July 16, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I have already done this. One hugely important tip,…. do NOT use a starndard steel/porclain coated steel drum. It will warp over time. The heavier uses will warp it faster, and significantly. Use a stainless steel drum. Also, for the large hole in the bottom, I used two burners from discarded natural gas water heaters. Just remove the supply arms/brackets, bolt them together sandwiching the drum. Fit perfectly and designed for the heat.

  20. Grainne
    Posted July 17, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    What did you use to fill the centre hole you cut out? or did you use anything?

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