Building an outdoor fire pit can be done in as little as an afternoon with the right tools and the proper knowledge and materials. Rather than hiring a team of stone masons, consider building your own outdoor fire pit to save money and have a real sense of accomplishment.
Mark the Pit
You can make your fire pit in any shape you like, as long as it is well planned and executed. The simplest and most functional fire pit is probably going to be a circle pit. By marking, digging and leveling your pit ahead of time, you can have the whole masonry process through in a few short hours, if not less time.
Laying the Bricks
One misconception about the brick laying process is that you have to mix mortar, get out your trowel and set to work in a traditional fashion constructing the outer wall. This is not necessarily required, as there are hundreds of products and materials readily available from your local hardware store.
Though many opt to lay concrete under their fire pits, it isn't an absolute necessity, and it can add days on to your project as you sit and wait for the cement to dry. Another option you can opt for is a thick layer of gravel at least six inches thick that will ensure that your fire is a safe distance from any underground flammables like tree roots; it will also hold your first courses of bricks in place. The gravel will serve as a drainage solution, it can also be used to keep the bricks level.
Instead of mortar, you might consider using masonry adhesive, a type of mortar glue substitute, and staggering your bricks as you go. Though this doesn't create as solid of a structure as rebar enforced mortar, it is more than enough for any light residential fire pit. Masonry adhesive dries very quickly, often in just a few short minutes, so you should begin laying your adhesive only when you are prepared to lay your bricks as well. If the adhesive feels weak, you can always add more between the joints, or go back and lay some mortar to the joints after the fact.
Cap the Bricks
For a professional finish, you can cap the bricks using flat natural stones and mortar. By overhanging your cap stones over the exterior edge, you create a professional finish that is both catching to the eye and functional for guests sitting around the fire pit. You should lay your cap bricks out before attempting to set them to find the ideal and level configuration.