On a cool fall evening, a small campfire can provide an inviting gathering spot in your own backyard. But it’s even better if you can create the same atmosphere at the beach or your favorite outdoor hangout. To that end, we designed this welded-steel fire basket that’s inexpensive, lightweight and portable, so you can toss it in the back of your vehicle and enjoy the warmth of a campfire anywhere.
Click here to download this complete article as a pdf.
You can buy the materials for this project at a home center or hardware store, but you’ll pay less at a metal wholesale outlet. The design is simple and efficient, so you can get the maximum number of parts from standard lengths to reduce waste.
Although there are only five sizes of parts for this project, you’ll have to make many cuts. If you don’t own a metal-cutting saw, consider renting one for half a day. The number of cuts required to make all of the infill pieces and the accuracy necessary for the frame’s miter cuts easily justifies the small expense.
You can make a frame side and an end out of each piece of 48-in.-long square stock, and each piece of 48-in.-long flat stock will yield five infill pieces. To ensure consistency, use a stop block clamped to the saw’s miter fence when cutting infill pieces.
A saw with a bonded abrasive wheel will often leave sharp “flags” on the workpieces. Use a file or bench grinder to remove them before welding, and be sure to clean off all oil and rust around the welds as well.
Although this project isn’t structural and doesn’t need to fit together with other fabrications, you should take steps to keep it flat and square as you work so the finished basket will look good. Be sure to weld on a surface that you’re certain is nonflammable and flat, such as a welding table, to prevent any twist in the frames. Use a square to check accuracy and clamp parts to the table to prevent them from moving. Always wear a welding mask, leather gloves and flame-resistant clothing to protect your eyes and skin.
Once you’ve built the first frame, use it as a template for the second one. The finished project will look better if the frames match, even if they’re not perfectly square. See the photos, for tips on how to keep everything straight and level.
Before finishing, remove any rust with steel wool or a Scotch-Brite pad. Clean the metal thoroughly with mineral spirits or a citrus cleaner to remove oil residue and dirt. Apply a high-heat-resistant paint such as Rust-Oleum High Heat Ultra.
Once the paint has cured, you’re all set to build a small relaxing fire at the location of your choice.
Recreational Fire Safety Tips
• Check and comply with all local burning regulations.
• Ensure the fire is at least 25 ft. from all structures.
• Don’t burn when it’s windy, and avoid using fast-burning or resinous woods.
• Never burn construction scraps or treated wood.
• Have a means of extinguishing the fire quickly, and don’t burn directly over grass or under low-hanging tree branches.