DIY Portable Fire Pit: 3 Fun and Simple Methods

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Last Updated on June 11, 2021
Doug Stephen

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.

diy portable fire pit

Portable fire pits are fantastic products to take with you when you go camping or take a day trip to your local beach to spend some quality time with friends and family during the summer months.

Kids can roast s’mores in the flames, while adults can sit around the firebox and sip on a cold beer, sharing stories, jokes, and memories.

If you love the idea of owning a portable fire pit, but you don’t have the money to invest in a premium-grade, commercial-style option, then you should try to make your own firebox. Use materials you already have lying around your house to create a chic and ergonomic product.  

How to Build Your Own DIY Portable Fire Pit

Fire Pit

Photo Credit: Scott Robinson

There are several simple ways to make your own DIY portable fire pit, from turning a light tree trunk into a Swedish torch to using an old washing machine’s drum to create a sleek and ergonomic unit.

1. Wooden portable fire pit

You might know this method as the Swedish torch. It’s a practical and simple way to create a portable fire pit. First, you’ll need to find a relatively large block of wood or a tree trunk. The exact size of this wooden chunk doesn’t matter.

However, the block’s base needs to be level, and it’s good to remember that the larger the piece of wood, the longer the fire will burn and the longer this pit will last. You must also make sure you’re using dry, seasoned wood since if the chunk is too wet; you won’t be able to start a fire.

Use a chainsaw or an ax to slice a deep cross that looks like a flat X across the wooden trunk’s surface. You can also create an air circulation system by drilling a couple of 2”-wide holes in your log. Bore one hole in the side of the trunk, and another in the top, so that you’re creating a 2”-wide passageway that flows through the Swedish torch.

When you add dry kindling to your homemade fire pit and light a fire, you’ll find that a precise, powerful stream of air will flow through the side of the log and react with the base of the flame, supplying it with a steady flow of oxygen.

These types of fire pits tend to be relatively portable, particularly if you use a smaller, lightweight piece of wood.

2. Washing machine drum fire pit

If you find a scrap washing machine in the dumpster, or you’re about to replace your old machine, you can remove the appliance’s built-in drum and use this as the basis for a chic and portable fire pit. Recycling the drum will be better than disposing of it.

Remove the washing machine’s back panel, then use a wrench to unscrew the nuts holding the unit’s integrated concrete weights in place. Once you’ve removed these heavy-duty blocks from the machine, take apart the casing surrounding the unit’s drum. Use a drill to unscrew all the screws, then pull away the panels. This process will leave you with a heat-resistant stainless steel drum.

Now that you’ve got your firebox, you’ll need to construct a supporting frame that keeps the drum off the ground when you’re using it. One simple way to make this structure is to take the base unit off an old swivel chair and use this component as a robust and lightweight framework for your machine drum.

When you isolate the base component of a swivel chair, you’ll find pre-existing screw holes in the supporting frame at the top of this section, where the base was attached to the rest of the chair.

Drill screws into these holes, connecting the machine drum’s base to the top of this frame. If you want to give this DIY portable fire pit a particularly chic look, sand down the frame to smooth it over and paint the whole unit in a matte black paint with a weatherproof finish.

Most swivel chairs have base units with integrated casters, so you’ll be able to roll your fire pit from place to place with ease.

Invest in a fibrous cement sheet, then cut it to size, so it fits across the base of your machine drum firebox. This allows you to burn charcoal and wood at a high heat without having to worry about your metal framework coming into direct contact with the flames. If you want to grill food with this pit, rest a heat-resistant grate on top of the machine drum and cook meat and veggies over the smoky, flavorful fire.

3. Flower pot fire pit

One simple and cost-effective method of making your own portable fire pit is to upcycle a flower pot. You’ll need a medium or large plastic pot, non-stick kitchen oil, some gel fuel canisters, and wet concrete.

First, use your non-stick spray to coat the inside of your plastic flower pot, then pour wet concrete into the container. Spray your canisters as well.

Make sure you push these gel fuel canisters down into the wet concrete before the substance dries and sets. By doing this, you’ll create a suitably sized trench for the burners.

The number of gel fuel canisters you use will depend on how large your flower pot is and how much fire you want it to produce. If you choose to insert one canister into the wet concrete to create one space, make sure you place it centrally. To give your portable pit a rustic or coastal look, put some pebbles or shells around the outside of the fuel source.

Once your concrete has set, remove your plastic flower pot. If you can’t slide it off easily, just use a hammer and chisel to break the plastic up and peel it away from the dry, expanded concrete.

You should now have a miniature fire pit that’s easy to carry around and move from place to place in your backyard. Every time you want to start a fire, you can remove the old gel fuel canister and add a new one to the trench in the middle of the concrete pit. 

Doug Stephen

Doug Stephen

Create a Cozy Atmosphere Wherever You Go with a DIY Portable Fire Pit

You can go online and buy the best affordable propane fire pits, or you can make your very own homemade campfire grills. By building a portable fire pit is a cost-effective and satisfying way to create a product that can improve the atmosphere and ambience wherever you are, whether you’re standing on your patio, lying on a beach, or camping with friends under the stars.