So I have had to put my gazebo railing project on the back burner for at least a week. My robin friend continues to remain nestled into her nest waiting for her eggs to hatch. I am guessing there is still between 5 and 7 days remaining before the baby robins arrive. I did as much pre-work in the garage as I could on the railings. The rings have all been cut, all the balusters have been cut to length, and the end plates that are going to support all the horizontal sections have been cut and drilled. I now need to get into the gazebo to start custom fitting all my horizontals. So now I wait for nature to take its course.

 Since I have no shortage of projects to complete I thought this would be a good opportunity to get my head wrapped around a job that I have been procrastinating. I have spent the last 4 years landscaping my own place. I had a solid game plan from the get go and have managed to stick to it. Each year I continue to complete bits of pieces of the master plan. One of the items that still needed some attention is an outdoor fireplace. The landscape plan included a free standing outdoor fireplace situated on the stone patio. I had purchased a Heat N Glo Montana 36” fireplace almost 3 years ago and it has remained in its shipping wrap in the corner of my garage since then. The purchased fireplace still needs to have a structure built to house it. I have been dreading this job for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I am not familiar with building code when it comes to HVAC installations. Second reason is that the project includes masonry work which is something that I struggle with. I decided to take a deep breath and just suck it up and start the dreaded job.

 The overview is this; the fireplace is a stainless steel insert. Building code requires a chimney height of 6 feet 4 inches minimum which means that this freestanding unit will reach the 10 foot tall mark by the time it is done. The actual footprint of the unit is 60” x 30”. The main construction material will be lumber with a few steel fabricated parts added. The finish will be architectural stone, stucco, and some metal highlights. Over the past couple of years I must have read the install manual no less then 15 times so that I could get all the code and clearance requirements correct. I finally almost, kinda, sorta, feel like I know what I am doing. I am going to refrain from going into too much detail on the pre-build; you’ll see it come together as I go. So let’s get on with it and start at the beginning.

 The foundation comes first. My concerns? No shifting of the structure and it needs to be able to handle wind loads. The footprint is fairly small compared to the height therefore I am concerned with the forces that the structure will be subjected to under high winds. I took this into consideration 2 years ago when I built the stone patio. The patio was built on a slope therefore I needed to haul in a lot of road crush in order to build level. I laid down about 10 inches of road crush and tamped it in. Then I constructed a 30” x 60” foundation, for the fireplace, out of pressure treated 6 x 6 inch rough lumber. The base was all lag bolted together and then placed on top of the 10” road crush base. I then drove 36” long sections of rebar through the lumber base into the ground. Once the base was pinned in place it got filled and surrounded with 6 more inches of road crush and then received a final tamping. Is this good enough? I don’t know but I hope Mother Nature thinks so.

 So where the project actual begins, 2 years later, is getting the base for the fireplace fabbed, that is the base that will sit on the patio base. I want to be able to bolt the fireplace solid into my pressure treated lumber so I opted to weld up the foundation. After calculating all my heights I settled on using 3” x 3” x .125” square tubing. The fabricating of the base is nothing complicated as you can see from the pictures. All the pieces got cut with the band saw and then they were all joined with the TIG welder. A coat of Tremclad will give it some rust protection. The idea for using a steel base was to try and avoid the rotting factor of a wooden base. I figured rust moves slower then rot.

So although it may appear that I do not have much to show for my efforts I feel as though a ton of progress has been made behind the scenes. I spent most of my time planning and calculating. Someone once said to me that a job well planned is a job half done so the way I see it I’ve got about 40% complete. For now the welder needs to placed aside and the woodworking tools will be coming off the shelves.


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