Friday, May 24, 2013

Quest for Fire ... Bowl

I want the Astrofire backard fire pit by ModFire.
Photo Here
But I can’t afford it.   If you can afford it, you should totally go here and buy it because it’s amazing.
I could save up for it, I suppose, but we have people coming over for a BBQ very soon and I want to have my fire bowl situation resolved by then.  So, I decided that I might try to build my own.  Full disclosure: I project managed but MD did all the actual building.

Disclaimer: The Hubs and I have no special knowledge.  We are just two dorks who like to make stuff. We followed the CIAC instructions but beyond that, I have no clue if this project is safe or not. This blog post is not a tutorial for making your own fire bowl. It is simply a record of what we did and the results. Hopefully we won't blow up. If you try this at home, which I can't recommend as I am not an expert, I take no responsibility for your experience.  Fire is dangerous.  Do your own homework.



Since the plan was to get rid of the old Weber portable grill that we’d been using as a log-burning fire pit (Too smoky!) I decided to repurpose it for this project.  It has a vaguely flying-saucer shape and, when attached correctly, the boomerang legs are actually pretty cute.  (Note: The legs in the photo below, from Weber, are on upside-down.) It could easily look quite retro with a little bit of tuning up.  It ended up being perfect for this project. This is the model we used. 
Photo Here 
MD removed the legs and gave them a quick touch-up spray of silver paint.  He scrubbed the body of the grill inside and out with Barkeeper’s Friend to remove any grease and ash and to give the surface a little bit of grip.  We wanted to be sure that the new paint would stick!

We picked up a can of ceramic engine paint at the auto parts store.  This stuff can stand up to engine heat so it should be fine for a fire bowl.   We used Dupli-Color Torque-n-Teal which is a nice bright mid-century blue.

Photo Here
MD sprayed the grill body inside and out with two coats of paint and we left it in the sun for a few hours to cure.  While the paint was drying we headed down to Building Resources (our local used building supply store) and bought some tumbled tempered glass to fill in the body around the fire ring.  We could have gotten colored fire beads at Home Depot but I'd much rather support my local re-store.

We used a Campfire-in-a-Can as the fire unit.  This was the expensive part, but it still saved us a ton of money compared to the Astrofire.

Photo Here
The company website shows lots of creative examples of what you can do with your CIAC.  One example shows it nestled inside a big terra cotta planter and surrounded by glass beads, so we knew we were on the right track.  After reading all the great reviews on Amazon,  we felt like this was definitely the way to go. 

Once the paint was dry, we nestled the original Weber BBQ rack  down inside the bottom of the grill body to act as a riser for the CIAC fire unit.  We didn't have to do any mods to get the CIAC to the right height.  When supported by the rack, it was just perfect!  To keep the glass from falling through the rack, we covered it with a circular piece of sheet metal.

We didn't have to cut a hole in the side of the grill for the gas line because Weber kindly did that for us already.  On each side of the grill body there are small metal plates that hold the handles on.  Beneath the plates are nice and smooth factory drilled vent holes.  We just ran the gas line out one of the vent holes.  When MD put the handle and plates back on, he simply turned one plate slightly to expose a hole for the gas line.

Then we just filled in the empty space around the CIAC with the tumbled glass and set the log ring on top.  That was it!  Done!

We spent just under $400 to build our backyard fire pit and I like it nearly as well as the fancy one.  It's pretty cute!
Ready for a test.
It works!
It's small but mighty.
It looks lovely in the twilight!
Since it's propane, I'm comfortable burning it on the wooden deck.


  1. Amazing - so ingenious! I'd spend every spare minute outside if I had one of those!

  2. What a brilliant idea! That turned out perfect! I had never seen a Campfire in a Can before. That rules!

  3. Nice, I build one last year. It cost quite a bit less for the fire insert from an Oakland friend who sells them.

  4. Thanks Nicole and Elisa.

    Daniel, your fire pit looks super cool. Thanks for the link! Using the cast iron cauldron is a great idea for extra heat radiation.

  5. Well done you guys!!! It looks awesome...when's the weenie roast?!?!

  6. oh my goodness! I read this on the day you posted it and thought "How clever! I want to make one!" Today, at my local salvation army, I found this same weber grill for $6! Now, I have to make one. Thank you for the brilliant tutorial!