It's simple, warm, and best of all, cheap.

Steve Bender Firepit
Credit: Steve Bender

Few things are cozier than sitting around a crackling fire in the yard during a crisp winter evening, airing grievances, and partaking of a favorite beverage. This calls for a fire pit, a pleasure Judy and I have denied ourselves for many years because the styles and prices of fancy ones intimidated us. Should we build one from stone or buy an upscale metal version? Decisions, decisions.

Some people place fire pits on their decks, but no way I'm taking a chance with that on a wooden surface. (A turkey fryer, yes, but not a fire pit.) My brother-in-law has a magnificent stone fire pit that burns natural gas and rests on the edge of a blissful lake. Flames dance upon a layer of gravel. But I've been afraid of gas ever since I saw a neighbor's house explode and burn due to a gas leak. Besides, we don't have a lake. What oh what should we do?

Then Grumpy had an epiphany. How fancy you make your fire pit really depends on how much you want to impress your friends. Judy and I have no interest in that. We just want to burn years of accumulated branches that have fallen in our woods, while we gaze at the flames and gossip shamefully. And that's how I got the idea for a cheap and easy redneck fire pit.

I remembered an old galvanized steel tub that sat in a heap of garden junk underneath the deck. I placed it on a circular area on bare soil in the back yard with no nearby plants or leaves or branches overhead. To keep the heat from melting the tub's bottom, I dumped about three inches of dirt in it. Then we gathered a variety of big and small sticks, sat them atop some dried leaves in the tub, lowered our fannies onto some old wrought iron deck chairs, and lit the fire. Instant magic!

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A nearby nose is always ready to douse any embers that drop from the tub. I also use it to thoroughly put out the fire before we go back inside. If rain is in the offing, I carry the tub to a protected spot under our screened porch so it won't fill with water and rust.

So let's review everything you need to recreate Grumpy's redneck fire pit. An old galvanized tub, soil, a hose, sticks, leaves, chairs, and a fire starter. Admit it! You're inspired.

Don't fret that this project holds fire pits to too low a standard, though. In the photo above, I'm sipping Glenlivet Single Malt Whisky from a beautiful, double-walled Norlan whisky glass. Suddenly, I've forgotten my grievances.