How to Build a DIY Fire Pit for Grilling, Socializing, Destroying Evidence, Etc.

When you seem to have a bit of free time on your hands — which, unfortunately, is more the norm these days — we’re guessing your significant other has a list of things for you to do. (You must spend your free time productively, after all.) Some people call it the honey-do list. We call it something else that starts with an F followed by numerous asterisks.

The worst part is, once you think you’ve finished the list, you are told you’re only through Volume 1. You’re never told just how many volumes there are, but, then again, you probably don’t want to know. It’s too depressing.

But with our years of wisdom in these matters, we have come up with an idea. When she starts to pull out the list, act as if you’ve suddenly had a brilliant idea. Tell her you noticed on one of her HGTV shows how great a house looks when it has a backyard DIY fire pit. (Don’t try to give too many specifics about the show, or you’ll be busted for sure.)

Then announce that you’ll be taking on some DIY projects by building a family fire pit in the yard— then head out the back door. The f***ing honey-do list goes back in its secret hiding place, and you’ll be working on a cool project. #win-win

If she starts to object, remind her how many fun times you can have with a fire pit, such as a backyard family camping trip … making s’mores with the kids … romantically cuddling on a cool autumn night while “enjoying” a wine tasting … destroying evidence before that IRS audit starts (did we say that?). So many possibilities.

When building a fire pit, it can be done within several hours, once you have the materials. But if you want to make sure it drags out for several days or weeks, we won’t judge.

How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit

1-Check Your Regulations

Before starting, it’s possible that your local regulations or homeowner’s association have some rules about constructing fire pits. You will want to check these rules before starting, or you may have to tear down the fire pit later.

For a those who prefer to watch someone build the fire pit, instead of just reading about it, Home Depot’s fire pit building video is a good place to start.

2-Find a Spot

The ideal DIY fire pit will measure three to four feet in diameter (from outer edge to outer edge). You don’t want it to be too close to any dead leaves, trees with low hanging branches, or other combustible materials. And, no matter how ugly your neighbor’s new wood fence is, don’t place your fire pit too close to it with the hope that a stray ember happens to land on it. We hope it goes without saying that it can’t be too close to your fence either— or to your house, shed, garage, or other structure.

Pick a relatively flat piece of ground. You don’t need to go so far as to test the spot with a level, but the flatter the area, the better.

Some people choose to build it over an existing brick patio, which greatly simplifies the construction process (and eliminates a couple of the following steps, of course).

3-Decide on Shape and Color

When building a fire pit, the two easiest shapes will be a circle or a square. Rectangular blocks work to make the square shape, while trapezoidal blocks work for a circular pit.

Then purchase the blocks you need for the pit. Don’t worry too much about exact measurements, as you can use spacer blocks to make up the difference if the measurement of the primary blocks come up a bit short. (You may have to cut some of the spacer blocks.)

This is also a good time to discuss color. There are a lot of choices. Find a picture of a fire pit that’s wife-approved and go with that color. There are grays, tans, reds and a whole bunch of other ones.

4-Prepare the Ground

The total diameter should be 45 inches. Use spray paint to mark it so there are no giant mistakes later.

Now you need an actual pit. Dig the pit shape about 6 inches deep. You should dig the hole several inches wider than you are planning for the measurement of the pit.

Pack the hole with gravel. Pick a fine type of gravel that will pack tightly into the hole. Use a hand tamper to pack it. Dampen the gravel a few times as you’re in the process of tamping it down to ensure you will compact it as tightly as possible.

(This is a step you should skip if putting the fire pit on an existing patio. We can’t emphasize this enough: Do not take a jackhammer to your patio.)

5-Lay Out the Blocks

Place the first layer of blocks on the ground. If you’re making a square pit, start at the corners with large blocks. As you move along the edges, you may need to add spacer blocks occasionally. (If you want to be fancy, add the spacers in a regular manner, so it looks symmetrical.)

For a circular DIY fire pit, the math gets a little tricky. (In other words, we don’t want to do it here and show off what we’ve forgotten from sixth grade.) As you lay out the trapezoidal blocks, you’ll need spacers (smaller blocks) to achieve the overall curve.

You will want to use a level here. Make sure the first layer is level. Add leveling sand underneath the blocks in the first layer as needed to straighten things out.

6-Create the Wall

Once the first layer is level, you can start adding the second layer. If you used spacer blocks, stagger their location in the second layer, so the spacers are not sitting on top of each other. Additionally, don’t allow the seams between layers of blocks to line up.

It’s recommended to use a construction adhesive to adhere the layers together. This is the safest idea, reducing the chance of the layers collapsing if your kid crashes his or her bike into the DIY fire pit. Before you stack the second layer, use a good bead of adhesive atop the first layer, and then add the next layer of stones. Just as importantly, make sure the layers are level.

If you’re building the fire pit over an existing patio, you should adhere the first layer to the patio.

Ultimately, you’ll end up with a wall that’s three to five layers high (or 16 to 32 inches).

For easier cleaning, you may want to place a fire pit bowl inside the walls that hold the fire (especially if you’re on top of a patio surface). But you also can start the fires directly on top of the gravel inside the walls if it’s directly on the dirt.

Best Products for a DIY Fire Pit

Trapezoidal Concrete Retaining Wall Block

These trapezoidal blocks work nicely when you want a circular fire pit. Each measures 4 inches high and 11.75 inches on the long side. And, yes, each one is heavier than sh*t.

Buy 10 for $14 on Home Depot

Rectangular Concrete Block

If you want an easier math problem in calculating the size when figuring out how to build a fire pit, stick with rectangular blocks and a square fire pit. Each of these rectangular blocks measures 3.5 inches in height and 10.5 inches in length.

Buy 10 for $39 on Home Depot

Loctite PL 500 Landscape Block Adhesive

This adhesive is perfect for building a fire pit, as it’s made for use on masonry, metal, wood, and other materials. It’s also messy, so keep the kids the hell away. (A kid loves nothing more than a fully loaded caulking gun.)

Buy for $6 on Amazon

Crushed Granite Rock Fines

Because crushed rock like this is expensive, you can use this material in the upper one-third of the DIY fire pit and pea gravel in the lower two-thirds to save a bit of money.

Buy for $30 on Home Depot

Pea Gravel

If you will be using a fire pit bowl in your construction, you could save some money by using this pea gravel in the entirety of the base of the fire pit.

Buy for $10 on Amazon

Sakrete Leveling Sand

Sure, you could borrow some sand from the kids’ sandbox to level out the first layer of your DIY fire pit. But, first, it’s not official leveling sand, so it won’t work as well. And, second, do you really want the petrified cat sh*t that always seems to be in the sandbox underneath your fire pit?

Buy for $5 on Home Depot

Razor-Back Steel Tamper

Repeat after us: The tamper is only made for use on compacted dirt or gravel. It is not made to squish the dog sh*t in the yard instead of picking it up with a scooper. Trust us: Squishing the sh*t into the ground does not make it disappear.

Buy for $30 on Amazon

Irwin 48-Inch Level

When you’re wondering why you need a level when building a fire pit, you can use it to keep the layers of the fire pit properly aligned. Plus, using a level — a big one — makes it look like you know what the hell you’re doing on any construction project.

Buy for $31 on Amazon

Sunnydaze Metal Fire Pit Insert

If you are going to want to use an insert in your DIY fire pit, you have to make sure the dimensions of the inner edge of the pit blocks match the size of the insert you want to use, so the lip of the insert rests on the blocks.

Buy for $135 on Amazon

X-Marks Steel Fire Pit Cooking Grill

To do some actual grilling after building a fire pit, rather than jamming your food on a stick, you’ll need a steel grate.

Buy for $93 on Amazon

RumbleStone Square Concrete Fire Pit Kit

Maybe you originally wanted to know how to build a fire pit from scratch. Now, though, you’re not so sure. Can you calculate exactly what you will even need to build one?

This kit looks great, measuring 38.5 inches on all four sides with 21 inches of height. You will pay a little extra for this unit versus a DIY fire pit where you assemble the parts yourself, but having all of the parts ready-made for you in a kit may be worth it.

Buy for $620 on Home Depot

RumbleStone Round Concrete Fire Pit Kit

For building a fire pit that’s round, having a kit may be the way to go. Calculating the exact amount of items you need on your own can be a challenge.

You will pay more for this kit than for the individual pieces. However, you may save almost as much on gas for the car from not having to make extra trips to the hardware store to pick up items you forgot.

This DIY fire pit measures 46 inches in diameter and 14 inches in height.

Buy for $549 on Home Depot

Although we only recommend picks we really love, we may earn a commission on purchases made through links from our site.

(All fire pit photos from Home Depot)

GoT Prequel ‘House of the Dragon’ Is Set to Begin Production

GoT Prequel Starts Filming
(Twitter/GameOfThrones)

HBO is sitting pretty right now. Sure, some of their shows have been delayed due to COVID (come back, Succession!), but with the launch of HBO Max and the news that 2021 will be filled with movie premieres – from Wonder Woman to Dune to The Matrix 4 and more – they shouldn’t be wanting for new content.

And then there’s this: more Game of Thrones is coming.

Maybe not in 2021, but soon, especially now that we know the much-anticipated prequel is ready to begin in production!

Yesterday, the official Game of Thrones Twitter account tweeted out the news that House of the Dragon, the Westeros set prequel that takes place centuries before the original series and focuses on the reign of the Targaryen family, will actually get rolling in 2021.

Not much is known about the show yet – we’ve covered the tidbits here and there, including some casting calls that gave hints about potential characters – but anyone who’s read George R.R. Martin’s books knows that there’s plenty of exciting material to mine.

We do know that Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum, recently seen on HBO’s limited series The Third Day and The Outsider) landed the lead role of King Viserys I, the father of Rhaenyra and Aegon II and the ruler of House Targaryen some 300 years before Daenerys arrived.

He’s described as “a warm, kind, and decent man” who “only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy.” As we know, “good men do not necessarily make for great kings.” Just ask Ned Stark.

Shooting should begin very soon. Pray to the gods that we get this show before the end of 2021!

12 Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 12/04/20

Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 12/04/20
(Getty/sarahwolfephotography Twitter/simoncholland)

COVID or not, the festive season is upon us. The temperature’s dropping, tiny lights brighten even the darkest streets, and honestly, it feels good. As with any event involving gifts and/or sweets, kids pick up the scent like a bloodhound hot on the tail of their prey. They’re amped up, as they should be. Despite the countless curveballs this year has thrown, the holidays are a time for celebration – not even a pandemic is getting in the way of that. Fortunately, the parents of Twitter are here once again with their most hilarious takes to dampen the pre-holiday stress, and we’ve rounded up 12 of our favorites just for you.

HapPre-Holidays!

Just imagining it did the trick

We’re hovering around 10% festive

It’s a beautiful thing

At least once they’re asleep, it’ll be a good 3-4 hours before they need a glass of water

Progress is progress

Well why did you tell her if she already knew

There’s no coming back from that

Wise beyond their years

To be fair, this would also work on me

The hunter and its prey

Works every time

Peppa is over 7 ft tall, that’s honestly incredible

Did you miss last week’s funniest parenting tweets?

Father Figures: Daddy Snuggles

“I’m an ER Nurse… my job is exhausting most times.

My patients show up on the worst day of their life, sometimes it is the beginning of one’s life and the end of another’s. Sometimes I worry that when I’m at work, my son Keagan isn’t getting enough nurturing, enough snuggles.

I’m upset that I miss bedtime, our snuggle time, but then, I log in to the Nest cam when I have a minute at work and see this… my son deserves snuggle time from his daddy too… it makes work a bit easier knowing he gets this no matter who puts him to bed.

My husband is a US Marine. He literally gives 100% at work and for his country, and 100% at home to his family and me. There will never be enough words, enough thank you’s from me to him.

I’m lucky, I’m grateful, and I’m happy… even when he drives me nuts!”

– Ainne McAllister

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively Donate $500,000 To Help at-Risk Youth in Canada

Ryan and Blake Donate
(Getty/BG024/Bauer-Griffin)

We’ll never grow tired of watching celebrities use their fame and fortune for good. If there’s anyone who’s fully embodied the spirit of giving back, it’s Deadpool star and all-around sweetheart, Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is generous with his financial donations, and his generosity with his time further demonstrates his compassion for others. Reynolds uses his privileged position to brighten the lives of his fans, his crew, and anyone lucky enough to cross his path.

This time, giving back is a family affair for Ryan Reynolds and his wife of eight years, Blake Lively. Canadian-born Reynolds has always had a soft spot for his home country, supporting a number of Canadian charities over the years. Most recently, Reynolds and Lively made a generous donation to Covenant House, an organization that supports homeless, at-risk, and trafficked youth. In total, the couple donated $500,000 to the incredible organization – $250,000 to Covenant House Vancouver, and $250,000 to the center’s Toronto location.

“Ryan and Blake truly understand that young people who are facing homelessness deserve unconditional love and absolute respect,” Krista Thompson, CEO of Covenant House Vancouver said in a press release. “Their generous donation and compassionate support mean so much to Covenant House and we are truly grateful for their continued friendship. Just like Ryan and Blake, we hope this gift highlights the value of each and every youth; and inspires others to open their hearts to those struggling with the crisis of homelessness.”

In normal times, the work Covenant House does is extremely taxing. Taking in youth who have fled unsafe situations, who often come in with severe trauma, is a monumental feat. Without safe havens like Covenant House, those who walk through their doors would have little chance at the security and support it takes to recover from their trauma. Reynolds and Lively encourage others to donate as well, and an Instagram post by the organization explains that donations will be matched through the month of December.

According to the Covenant House website, the services they provide are extensive. While Covenant House operates as a crisis shelter with transitional housing, they also provide counseling, health care, education, job training, and so much more to 16-24-year-olds regardless of their backgrounds. Ultimately, Covenant House provides every individual they serve with a much-needed sense of security, and perhaps more importantly, a sense of hope.

“They do the work of heroes,” Reynolds said. “For us, helping Covenant House this way isn’t a donation, but an investment in compassion and empathy; something the world needs more of. The young people who pass through the doors of Covenant House more often than not have a story marked by extraordinary trauma. They are so much more than that trauma. They have so much to offer the world. Matching this gift is saying you believe in them. You believe in the power of compassion to transform the trajectory of a human being.”

Every 2021 Warner Bros Movie Will Hit Theaters and HBO Max on the Same Day

The Matrix 4 What We Know So Far
(Warner Bros)

It seems the tide has finally turned.

After a year of trying to figure out what to do with their blockbusters during the pandemic, which resulted in a mixed bag of approaches from various studios, including some movies being released into theaters, some movies being available on streaming for a fee, and many movies being pushed to 2021, Wonder Woman changed everything.

Last month, Warner Bros made the decision to release Wonder Woman to both theaters and HBO Max on the same day, and apparently, they’ve decided to move forward with that approach for every other movie they’re releasing in 2021.

This means that Dune, Matrix 4, and everything else on their 2021 slate (which, as of now, includes “The Little Things,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Tom & Jerry,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “In The Heights,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Reminiscence,” “Malignant,” “The Many Saints of Newark,” “King Richard,” and “Cry Macho”) will hit theaters and HBO Max on the day of their release. No specific release dates have been made available as of yet.

“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement statement “No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”

This news is a double-edged sword for movie fans. On one hand, it will be amazing, convenient, and cheap to have access to these films in their living rooms, especially for those who already have an HBO Max subscription. On the other hand, this is terrible news for those who enjoy the movie theater experience, – especially for huge superhero movies like Wonder Woman 1984 and The Suicide Squad, and big sci-fi action flicks like the Matrix sequel and Dune – as it’s likely to further reduce revenue for an industry that has already been flattened by the pandemic.

They’re trying to spin this as good news for theaters, which, if they’re even open in 2021, may face audiences reluctant to gather inside them.

“With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films,” Sarnoff continued. “We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”

So far this hybrid model is exclusive to Warner Bros; no word on whether other studios will do something similar (not every studio has its own streaming service). 2021 is going to be an interesting year for movies, and could well set the course for a future of in-home entertainment from which the multiplex experience never recovers. But as 2020 has shown us, life is unpredictable.

At least we’ll have some exciting movies to watch while we wait to see how it shakes out.

The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda Make Their Fortnite Debut in Season 5

Mandalorian and Baby Yoda Fortnite
(Epic Games)

Fortnite’s Chapter 2: Season 5 kicked off this week and with it has arrived one of the most beloved bounty hunter dads in the galaxy.  Sorry, no, it’s not ‘Jeans Guy’ (but maybe he’ll show up at some point).

Disney +’s insanely popular The Mandalorian made his debut and he looks very slick.  The good news is you’ll unlock him immediately with the purchase of the new Zero Point Battle Pass.  The bad news is if you want to unlock The Child (aka Baby Yoda) to follow you around, you’re going to have to hit level 100 in the Battle Pass.  That’s gonna take some time.

With this new bounty hunter themed Fortnite season, there comes an additional six original characters to unlock in the Battle Pass, new areas to explore on the island, weapons to use (like Mandos Sniper Rifle), and quests and bounties to complete for rewards.

My kids and I go through Fortnite “phases” where certain seasons of the game hold our attention while others don’t, but so far we’re having a blast with this new one.  The squad is back together, we’re working on our first Season 5 Victory Royale, and things are looking promising.  If it doesn’t hold their attention for as long as it takes me to unlock that adorable little Yoda lookalike though, well, I’m just gonna have to fly solo as Mando does.  This is the way.

You can download it here and if don’t want to fly solo, definitely be sure to check out The Dad Gaming and The Dad Gaming – Fortnite on Facebook to join up with others!

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

Forget the Monolith, Germany’s 7-Foot Woody Has Vanished

Germany's Penis is Missing
(Getty/picture alliance)

2020 is the gift that keeps on giving… and taking away.

We had murder hornets until we didn’t (seriously, when was the last time someone mentioned them?). We had a parallel universe until we didn’t. We even had a mysterious monolith, until we didn’t.

Today we bring you news of a disappearing monolith of another kind, and hopefully, this one won’t be coming (back) anytime soon.

Fresh on the heels of the silver monolith showing up in Utah, then vanishing, only for a similar one to appear in Romania, and then California, a different erection has made the news. This one was in Germany.

Four years ago, someone inexplicably planted a 6-foot wooden penis on Grünten Mountain in Bavaria, Germany. It became a landmark for tourists and hikers and perverts (probably?); it even appeared on Google Maps! At least it did, until earlier this week when it vanished.

According to the German paper, Allgäuer Zeitung police are attempting to locate the lost erection.

This isn’t the first time there have been shenanigans with the shaft; apparently, it was knocked over back in November, but maybe it had just gotten old and tired.

Many think the enormous wang was placed there as a prank by college students, but what was once a funny joke has now become an actual beloved photo opportunity, and everyone wants it back.

May I suggest sprinkling some Viagra on the ground?

A Third Monolith Appears in California

California Monolith
(Twitter/NorbertElekes)

It’s baaa-aaack!

For the past week or so, many of us have been captivated by the saga of the silver monolith. It first appeared in Utah, this strange silver structure that was just sticking out of the ground. People hardly had a chance to compare it to the black monolith in Kubrick’s sci-fi classic 2001 before it suddenly disappeared. (The New York Times learned that some guys just took it down, though it seems like they were not involved in erecting it.)

Then, it suddenly reappeared. At least, a monolith just like it did, emerging on a hillside in Romania.

Speculation was rampant. Was it an art installation? An alien message? A prank like the giant woody in Germany? No one came forward to admit it was a Banksy-style guerilla art project, and no UFOs descended to claim ownership of this strange piece of metal.

And now there’s a third monolith. This time, in California!

A hiker on Pine Mountain in Atascadero, California stumbled upon it on Wednesday morning. It’s ten-feet tall and looks just like the other two: stainless steel, about 10 feet tall. Also, like the other two, there are no clues as to who or what put it there.

Unlike the other two, this one is merely standing on the ground, as opposed to being dug into it, according to Atascadero News perhaps the aliens were interrupted before they could finish installing it.

The world will be watching to see if – and when? – this one disappears, and we’ll all be waiting to see if we get an explanation for these bizarre monoliths that are sprouting up across the globe.

One cynical tweeter already has a guess:

I’m not sure if I’d be annoyed or relieved to learn this is all promotion for 2001 Part 3: The Monolith’s Revenge!

The Dad Of The Month, November 2020: John Kay

(Photos courtesy of Heather Kay)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for November 2020: John Kay. Since becoming a dad, John has exhibited a tangible excitement for fatherhood and a willingness to go above and beyond, even during a worldwide pandemic. His wife, Heather, couldn’t help gushing about him in her nomination:

“A good dad is hard to come by – John is the glue that holds it all together. He’s a one-of-a-kind dad. He was born for this. He embodies what every young boy needs in a father.

“We have a 2.5-year-old son named Hudson, who, thanks to his Dada, knows how to use mustard as a binder for meats when they BBQ on the Traeger. Hudson loves to read along to the book ‘Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada’ by Jimmy Fallon thanks to John’s wonderful impressions of animals! (Hudson’s dad also does a very good impression of Grover from Sesame Street.)

“John has worked throughout the pandemic. He manages transportation services and has been essential on the front lines, ensuring the public gets the goods they need. He comes home every day to help around the house, help with dinner, or pick up anything that’s needed. He volunteers to bathe our son every night and read him goodnight stories.

“He’s also a wrestling coach for a local high school and has taught our young son how to wrestle – he’s very good at it! The day we brought Hudson home from the hospital, John put pool noodles around every single hard surface in our home to make sure our new baby was totally safe! Looking back, it’s funny because now they wrestle and play WWE all the time!

“John has taken Hudson to every sporting event (pre-covid) and has also waited in lines for VIP meet and greets so that our son can meet famous hockey and baseball players! He’s is a wonderful dad and does it all with a smile on his face. He’s an excellent role model for our son and I am forever grateful that Hudson gets to have such an awesome father like John!”

To honor John and exuberance for fatherhood despite an incredibly difficult year, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. John’s unfailing optimism, creativity, and excitement for life are exceptional attributes that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.