This is a great project for all those firepits sitting in our back yards to make them more functional and pretty. If you’re like us, we use our fire pit almost year round. And two years ago we constructed our own built-in firepit. Check that post out here.
But we also have an old portable firepit that we used a lot but the metal insert started wearing away. We threw away the insert and kept the outside base because it was in good shape and thought we could do something with it. At first we thought maybe a planter but it’s pretty big and that would require a hearty green thumb. Not so much. So I decided to make it into an outdoor table with a game board for a little extra fun. This project can be done for working firepits too since this table top can be easily removed.
Here’s how I made the table top – and game table – for our old firepit:
First, I needed to find the right wood. All the research I did suggested we use a weather tolerant wood like cypress or marine plywood but both were very hard to find so I went with pressure treated wood planks – the same wood used in decking.
The hardest part of this project was figuring put how much wood I needed and how best to have it cut.
My fire pit is 36” square and I wanted my top to be slighter larger. So I bought three 1” x 8” x 8’ (long) planks at Home Depot. I had them cut each piece so that I got six 37-1/2” long planks.
I also needed the top to be secure and not slide around too much but I didn’t want it to actually attach to the base. Since we removed the insert, I decided to add added a middle section of wood that would sit inside this opening, keeping it from moving too much. So I added three 21” long planks for this middle section.
I’ll use five of the longer planks for the top and three of the shorter planks for the support part underneath. The amount of wood planks you’ll need depends on the size of your fire pit.
In addition to the wood planks, you’ll also need the following:
Galvanized mending plates
Paint – I used whatever I had on hand – white and gray exterior paints (same paint we use on our house)
An oil based pecan stain
Sanding sheets/electric sander
Ruler & pencil
For the checkers:
Unfinished round wood circles – found at Michael’s (28 total)
Spray paint in 2 different colors (left over from other projects)
1. First, I sanded the 8 planks of wood to smooth the edges. Then I painted one coat of my white exterior paint. I only did one coat because I wanted a faded, transparent look to this table top. I sanded them down again to give them a more worn look.
2. Next, I needed to attach the planks together so I arranged the 5 larger wood pieces upside-down and placed the 3 smaller planks on top of them, going in the opposite direction. I measured to be sure to 3 smaller planks were placed in the exact center.
3. I used wood screws and screwed the smaller planks into the larger ones. Be sure the screws are either galvanized or stainless steel to hold up better outdoors.
4. Since the inside square panel is too short to reach to the two end pieces, I used 4” galvanized mending plates to join these end pieces.
Now your tabletop is constructed! You can add the checker board pattern to make this tabletop more useable and fun.
5. First, measure the game board square so that it fits your table top. I did a 20″ square and made the individual squares 2-1/2″ each. Keep in mind there are 64 squares on a checker board.
6. Next, paint the squares. You can use painter’s tape but I seem to have better luck painting them by hand. I decided to use the gray on half the squares and kept the rest the color of the background.
7. After I painted my gray squares, I let them dry completely then lightly sanded them to add to the worn look.
8. When done, I added 2 coats of a pecan colored stain to the entire piece. I liked that the stain protects the wood – especially the exposed areas and I also like that it gives the tabletop/game table a slightly darker look.
9. For the game pieces, spray paint both sides of your wood circles with two different colors. Let dry. Each player needs 12 game pieces but I made two extra for each.
If you’re making a table top for a working fire pit, you can add handles to the top so that it’s easier to take on and off. Since our site pit is no longer working, our table top will stay on but there was no easy way to attach it. This worked for me, making this new table easier to store in the winter time.
Here’s our new (non-working) fire pit cover and game table. It adds a nice touch to the sitting area along with a few friendly games of checkers.