How to Make a Fire Pit from an Old Washing Machine Drum

| June 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

An enjoyable way to improve the look and ambiance of your outdoor space is to add a fire pit. What’s more, if you can take your fire pit to the beach, a tailgate party, or camping, it will enhance all of your recreational activities. Learning how to make a fire pit from an old washing machine drum is a simple and affordable process that just about anyone can accomplish.

To make a washing machine fire pit, you’ll engage in an activity known as “upcycling,” a process that goes one step beyond recycling. Upcycling converts unwanted or scrap materials into useful, functional products. The following video gives you a brief overview.

Things You’ll Need

There are two categories of items you’ll need to complete this simple project; tools and supplies. Optional items are listed as well.

Tools

a. Power drill and drill bit
b. Hacksaw
c. Screwdriver, gloves
d. Wrench
e. Tape measure
f. Safety goggles
g. Ear plugs if desired
h. Small, 2 pound sledge hammer (optional)

Supplies

a. Washing machine drum
b. Piping or angle iron for legs
c. Nuts and bolts

Optional Materials

a. Bicycle wheel rim
b. Circular saw blades
c. Landscaping bricks
d. Spray paint
e. Grill or spark screen
f. Wooden handles
g. Lawnmower chassis
h. Office chair chassis (metal only)

You might be wondering where in the world you’ll be able to find an old washing machine drum, but you might be surprised just how available they are once you begin looking. Check the want ads in your local newspaper or online classifieds for someone selling a washing machine. You might even find people willing to give them away just to get rid of them. Do your best to find an older model that has a porcelain coating for more heat resistance.

Other potential sources are salvage yards, recycling centers, appliance repair shops, and the streets of your neighborhood just before garbage is collected. Always be sure to get permission before taking anything.

Making a Washing Machine Fire Pit

Step 1 Remove the Drum from the Washing Machine

You’ll need to remove the top of the machine and the agitator to get at the drum. Take your time, there’s no hurry, and don’t worry about damage to other parts. You only need to protect the drum itself.

There are a lot of makes and models out there, so we can’t really give you exact instructions. If you hit a roadblock, get a friend to help you with this part.

Step 2 Prepare the Legs for Installation

Let’s assume you are using steel piping similar to that used on chain link fences. Just cut either three or four legs (either number is fine) with a hacksaw to the length you desire. The legs need to be long enough to go about half way up the drum and also lift it to the level you’d like. Ten to twelve inches off the ground is good.

If you choose to keep your fire pit close to the ground, just use two pieces of flat steel about two inches wide and three to four feet long.

Step 3 Install the Legs

It’s important to mention here that legs are not necessary. You can dig a hole eight to ten inches deep and set the drum firmly in it for stability or you can set it on the ground and use bricks to securely hold it in place. You’ll even get some radiant heat from the bricks.

For steel pipe legs, hold one in place and mark the location of holes already in the drum. An easy way of marking is to hold the leg on the outside while using spray paint on the inside to get clear marks of where the holes already are. Then just drill holes in the spots marked on the pipe. Repeat this step for all legs, but be sure to space the legs evenly around the drum.

To secure the legs, simply slide bolts through the aligned holes and fasten very tightly with a nut. Repeat this step for all legs.

For flat steel lets, it’s even easier. All you need to do is drill holes in the bottom of the drum, or use existing ones, and bolt the legs to the bottom of the drum in a crisscross pattern, like those used on Christmas tree stands.

NOTE  Use existing holes in the drum whenever possible to avoid damaging the porcelain and creating potential rust spots.

Step 4 Place it in a Safe Location

Before starting a fire in your washing machine fire pit, use the following criteria to locate a safe place to use it.

  • At least 25 feet away from any structures such as houses, sheds, or fences
  • No overhanging tree limbs
  • Out of reach of pets or children
  • Clear ground for several feet all around

Options for Your Washing Machine Drum Fire Pit

Step 5 Cover Center Hole in Bottom

If there is a large hole in the bottom center of the drum (where the agitator was), you can simply bolt an old circular saw blade or other piece of scrap steel over it.

Step 6 Add a Cooking Grill or Spark Screen

Again, using upcycled materials, improvise a cooking grill out of an old barbecue grill or refrigerator shelf. A spark screen might come from metal, never nylon, screen material you find in a junkyard.

Step 7 Add Handles

This is much less difficult than it sounds. Simply push a long bolt, at least six inches long, through one of the highest holes on the drum. Be sure to push it from the inside out so it is extending several inches outside the drum. Use a nut and lock washer to fasten it in place.

You can now add a wood handle, available and most hardware stores. Repeat the process on the opposite side of the drum.

Step 8 Add Wheels

Admittedly, this step is for the intermediate do-it-yourselfer. You can attach either a lawnmower chassis, complete with push handle, or a steel chassis from an office chair instead of legs so that you can easily push your fire pit from one location to another.

Step 9 Paint the Exterior

Heat resistant paint comes in a variety of colors that will fit in with any outdoor setting as well as make your new fire pit look more attractive. This is an easy process that takes less than 30 minutes.

Washing Machine Fire Pits Offer Many Advantages

In a practical sense, the perforated drum is well ventilated, burns both wood and coal, is tall enough to keep the smoke out of your eyes when sitting, and you can clean it out with a garden hose.

Who cares about keeping up with the Joneses? Nowadays, being economical as well as environmentally aware are what matter more. When you make a washing machine fire pit, you’ll save money, do your share to eliminate some unwanted scrap, and build a lot of great memories with your family and friends.

This resourceful homeowner shows you in the video how to take apart a washing machine to get the drum out for your project.

Here are the results of his efforts in the following video.

Filed Under: How To Guides