It’s finally fire pit season again and I pulled the tarp off my fire pit to discover a large, ugly rust hole had formed. I priced the replacement of the pan and found it to be almost as much as a new fire pit! I found this excellent tutorial online about a DIY repair and thought I would try it out. Total time to complete this project (including shopping for parts) was about 5 hours. Total out of pocket expenses was about $30 USD. Definitely worth it!
I started by building a paper template of the insert design. I considered taking a fancy approach and attempting to join the sides together, but in the end, I’m very glad I took a simpler approach and just made a single cut and overlapped the sides. This gave me the ability to use fewer bolts to secure the pan, and less joint gaps for ash to buildup.
Next, a quick trip to my favorite local hardware store where I bought:
- 36″ x 36″ Aluminum sheet (I guess my pit is bigger than the one in the tutorial above, because I needed 30″ x 30″ which is a bit harder to find than 24″ x 24″ piece they used)
- 1/4″ x 3/4″ bolts, with nuts, washers and lock washers
- Rust-Oleum High Heat spray paint
Using a jig saw with a metal-cutting blade, I made quick work of trimming the aluminum sheet to size. I made 4 cuts and fit it inside the existing pan. I trimmed the edges using some tin snips. I found marking with a grease pencil helped to mark cuts and line up edges.
I rounded the corners and tried not to have any edges sticking up since they were sharp. Note: Sheet metal can be nasty stuff to work with, so I always wear heavy gloves. I forgot one time and found myself bleeding with a minor graze of the material.
I drilled 8 holes through 2 layers of the aluminum and the underlying pan. I fastened the bolts with the washers, lock washers and nuts. I used a ratchet to tighten securely.
Next, I took it out into the grass and sprayed it with the Rust-Oleum. I gave it 2 coats, since it comes in a big can, which dried quickly. I also sprayed the mesh grill cover since it was looking a bit weathered too. There was high humidity on the day of the project which resulted in some splotches as the propellant hitting the metal attracted water from the air. However, I wasn’t too worried about making it look good since it would soon be covered in ash.
In the end, it looks good and I hope it will extend the life of my fire pit for at least another year or two. I know heat will make the aluminum expand, so I’m interested to see how this holds up after the next fire. A special thanks to infarrantlycreative.com for their excellent tutorial that gave me the confidence to do this on my own.