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What You Need:
- Old washing machine drum
- Angle grinder (optional)
- Cup wire brush, cut-off wheel, flap-wheel sanding disk for grinder (optional)
- Angle-stock and flat-stock steel (optional)
- High-heat paint (optional)
- Welding torch (optional)
- Safety glasses
- Get your hands on an old washing machine drum.
- Use the angle grinder with the cut-off wheel to remove any plastic bits from the drum, as well as the center spindle.
- If desired, remove the metal top lip and grind it smooth with the flapper-wheel. Smooth out any other rough or sharp areas.
- Clean off any grime. Use the wire brush attachment if you’d like.
- If you’ve got a welding torch handy, fashion legs out of the angle-stock and flat-stock steel and weld to the base of the drum. (optional)
- If you’d like, paint the drum with high-heat paint for extra polish.
Fact: a good-looking and functional fire pit is expensive. Wasn't it not so long ago that a fire pit only cost two sticks and some rocks?
Better still, it's a great upcycling project. Upcycling is a form of recycling that elevates lesser materials into more useful ones. It saves you money and is good for the environment. Think about it this way: It would take less energy to turn a washing machine drum into a fire pit than to melt it back down into steel.
And it's not even that hard to do!
1. Obtain a recycled washing machine drum.
If you’re not looking to take apart your own washer, it should be simple to obtain a washing machine drum from a used appliance store, eBay, or Craigslist. After all, people replace their washing machines all the time. That leaves a lot of drums just lying around waiting to be repurposed into fire pits.
2. Get rid of any plastic bits on the drum.
Use your angle grinder with the cut-off wheel to strip the drum of any plastic, including the plastic rim and base. Remove the center spindle if you’d like, but it’s not strictly necessary.
3. Clean up your edges.
If you want a cleaner look, you can cut away the top lip of the drum. If desired, remove the metal top lip and grind it smooth with the flapper-wheel. Smooth out any other rough or sharp areas that could mar the fire pit’s appearance or cut your fingers.
4. Clean off any grime.
If you’re working with a used washing machine drum, you can expect it to be pretty filthy. Years of soap scum and other nasty residues mean that a cleanup job is probably in order. If you’ve got a wire brush attachment for your angle grinder, it should make quick work of the task. If not, you may need some steel wool and serious elbow grease.
5. Give the drum legs.
If you’d like to set your fire pit on the ground and skip this step, by all means feel free! But if you want to add some legs to slightly elevate the drum—and complicate the construction process—you’ll want to get your hands on some angle-stock and flat-stock steel. Cut the angle stock steel into 4 pieces of equal length and weld them to the base of the drum. Next, cut small squares of the flat-stock steel and weld them to the bottoms of the legs so that they don’t sink into the ground.
6. Paint it.
Your washing machine drum should be all cleaned up, which means that it’s ready for a coat of high-heat paint to give it a more finished look. Sarah and Joe used black for a sleek, postmodern aesthetic, but so long as your paint can stand up to a great deal of heat, any color will do.
Now, for the most important step of all: making s’mores.
This article was originally published on April 12, 2014, but has been significantly updated with new information and step-by-step instructions.
June 13, 2016