How to make a tabletop fire pit

We had a fire pit at our previous home that was well-loved and much used. Unfortunately, even though our new home has two porches, both are covered and there is nowhere to put a fire pit. We decided that a small tabletop fire pit might be a nice alternative. It would allow the ambiance of a fire pit without compromising safety. You can certainly buy tabletop fire pits online, but we decided this was a project we wanted to make ourselves. Here’s how we made our tabletop fire pit. 

Our finished tabletop fire pit
Our tabletop fire pit

After doing some research, we found a video on youtube by DIY Creators that we really liked. We followed his basic instructions but made a few adjustments. We liked the  look and size of this firepit and we were looking for another reason to work with concrete. (Check out our very first concrete project here.) Plus, he makes it look really easy. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t as easy as we hoped.

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Project overview

The first step for this project was to gather the necessary supplies. This project ended up being more pricey than expected because it uses a refillable alcohol burner as opposed to the more commonly used gel fuel cans. The alcohol burning insert gives off a more substantial flame, burns longer,  and creates less waste than the gel fuel cans. The ethanol circular cup burner suggested for this project is about $50-$65. Three quarts of the ethanol fuel retail for $45 and the glass vase was also $40-$45. I looked for lower-cost alternatives for these items but was unsuccessful. One option would be to utilize the gel fuel cans but we opted for the more expensive ethanol burner because we felt it was a more eco-friendly option.

Steps to make the tabletop fire pit
Steps to make the tabletop fire pit

Once we assembled all of the supplies, we set up to mix the concrete (we used a different concrete product than what was recommended in the video). We did some calculations to determine how much concrete we would need, but ultimately we decided that we didn’t mix enough and we ended up adding a second layer (more about that later). Next, we filled a five-gallon bucket with clean water and used a second bucket to mix the concrete mix with water. We mixed the concrete using a grout mixing paddle attached to our drill (which we made sure was fully charged) and added the flow control. Once it was well-mixed, we poured the concrete into a third clean bucket. It is important to make sure that your bucket is level before adding the concrete as this bucket serves as the mold for your project.

Just like in the DIY Creators video, we then pressed the glass vase into the concrete in the bucket. Brian had marked on the inside of the bucket so we knew the approximate height that we wanted the vase to be after being pushed into the concrete. We made sure that the vase was in the center of the bucket and spaced out the four wood wedges to ensure that it stayed centered as the concrete dried. These wedges were clamped into place and we left the project sit for approximately one hour. We added a bit of water to ensure that the concrete didn’t overheat and crack (as we did when making our concrete table top), but I am not sure this is necessary and it seems likely I added too much.

After an hour, we removed the project from the bucket. Unfortunately our bucket must not have been level because the concrete was not even. It was also a bit flaky/crumbly on the top. We concluded that I had added too much water to the concrete so the top did not set correctly. Because we were unhappy with the finished look, we decided to add an additional layer of concrete. We placed the project back into the bucket, ensured that it was indeed level, and carefully added additional concrete. Although some concrete did get on the vase it was easy to remove with a razor blade once it had dried. 

Supplies needed

Supplies needed
Some of the supplies needed
  1. Glass vase
  2. Ethanol burner
  3. Ethanol fuel
  4. Rapid Set mortar mix
  5. Rapid Set flow control
  6. Three 5-gallon buckets
  7. Four wedges (can be made from pieces of wood or purchased)
  8. Clamps
  9. Decorative rocks or stones
  10. Drill
  11. Grout mixing paddle
  12. Bucket scraper
  13. Level
  14. Measuring container
  15. Razor blade
The finished tabletop fire pit
The finished tabletop fire pit

As a result of adding the second layer of concrete, we got a more smooth and even finish on the top but it is apparent that there are two separate layers of concrete in this project. I’m okay with it. My mother-in-law said she liked it and thought it was intentional – so let’s go with that. Ultimately, we are happy with the finished project. After cleaning the glass, I added some inexpensive decorative stones and the burner. It looks great on the outdoor coffee table that Brian made and provides some nice ambiance when enjoying an evening on the front porch.

Would you ever try this project? Have you ever made a similar project?

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