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Well, I'm not really a builder or very mechanical. But I had to move in with my dad . He is 92 and needs a lot of help its hard to get away at all and sometimes it is frustrating , .. anyway I can go outside in yard to escape a while.. lots of rocks , I wanna build a fireplace in yard to cook on. Maybe rock furniture.. not sure what cement to use . Anyone have any ideas , or pointers.
 

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There are all kinds of details you need to think about when building a stone fire place. Do some research on the basics and decide what you want to do with the thing. Use it to burn trash or to actually have a place do do some outdoor cooking in an attractive (primitive?) fireplace. Look for things like: firebrick liner for fire box; smoke shelf in chimney to help develop draw; metal fire box supports for metal grate insert to cook on.
I have not built one in about 20 years and the first one I saw built was over 50 years ago by my grandfather at a place he owned in NW PA. He had a pile of stones delivered and went to work with a trowel, a mixing hoe, a pile of sand, bags of cement, and a thing to mix in. No plans, just his pipe and them crooked Italian cigars he chewed - never lit. It took him about a week due to breaks to go fishing and to let the mortar set. That fireplace worked fine and all of us used it for years. Wonder if it's still there?

I envy you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There are all kinds of details you need to think about when building a stone fire place. Do some research on the basics and decide what you want to do with the thing. Use it to burn trash or to actually have a place do do some outdoor cooking in an attractive (primitive?) fireplace. Look for things like: firebrick liner for fire box; smoke shelf in chimney to help develop draw; metal fire box supports for metal grate insert to cook on.
I have not built one in about 20 years and the first one I saw built was over 50 years ago by my grandfather at a place he owned in NW PA. He had a pile of stones delivered and went to work with a trowel, a mixing hoe, a pile of sand, bags of cement, and a thing to mix in. No plans, just his pipe and them crooked Italian cigars he chewed - never lit. It took him about a week due to breaks to go fishing and to let the mortar set. That fireplace worked fine and all of us used it for years. Wonder if it's still there?

I envy you.
He , your grandfather sounds like a he was a cool old guy. I bet that fireplace is standing unless someone knocked it down. I'm just looking for a cooking fireplace nothing too fancy , but functional . I guess I can go to the library , WiFi is slim here. And I use my phone , hard to see. Lol. And thank you for your time and reply .
 

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He , your grandfather sounds like a he was a cool old guy. I bet that fireplace is standing unless someone knocked it down. I'm just looking for a cooking fireplace nothing too fancy , but functional . I guess I can go to the library , WiFi is slim here. And I use my phone , hard to see. Lol. And thank you for your time and reply .
You know what? This summer I am going to head on up to Cochranton and take a look. Was going to do that last summer but stuff got in the way.
 

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He , your grandfather sounds like a he was a cool old guy. I bet that fireplace is standing unless someone knocked it down. I'm just looking for a cooking fireplace nothing too fancy , but functional . I guess I can go to the library , WiFi is slim here. And I use my phone , hard to see. Lol. And thank you for your time and reply .
You know what? This summer I am going to head on up to Cochranton and take a look. Was going to do that last summer but stuff got in the way.
Keep me posted .
 

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Mortar mix would be just fine for laying stone. Just add very/very little water as you mix it for best results. Actually almost dry is the best mix for stone, as opposed to the mix for laying block or brick. Fill in any voids in the joints after you've finished a section, or at the end of a work session, then brush over the joints with an old large size paint brush. Shimming the stones with small pieces will be required as you go. Just keep going and make the joints pretty later as described above. It might be necessary to leave the shims till the joints harden the next day in some cases.
And thanks for looking after pop, at 82 I can appreciate how much that means to him.
 

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Been wanting to put in a backyard closed BBQ pit with a brick oven next to it. Saw one in a back yard in Arlington VA, complete with an attached pavilion and tables for about 20 people. That guy did a lot of entertaining.

Down here in York county there is a museum called Indian Steps. There is a rather extreme outdoor kitchen of stone work behind the place that was used in its glory days to cook for huge gatherings.

Right now, I would be happy with an outdoor fire pit. But with a twist. I have the iron work to put a spit over the pit. I also want to be able to mount a tripod to hang my huge cast iron kettle (I think it is about a 35 gallon size.) over the fire to cook as well. When I was a kid, and my relatives got together out at a picnic grove for a weekend, they would make a huge cast iron kettle of bean soup or clam chowder for the crowd.

Keep in mind that most rock can't take the repeated exposure to high heat on one side and cold temp on the other without cracking and falling apart. So either use fire brick for a liner or plan so the are is large enough that the fire isn't directly exposed to the rock.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Mortar mix would be just fine for laying stone. Just add very/very little water as you mix it for best results. Actually almost dry is the best mix for stone, as opposed to the mix for laying block or brick. Fill in any voids in the joints after you've finished a section, or at the end of a work session, then brush over the joints with an old large size paint brush. Shimming the stones with small pieces will be required as you go. Just keep going and make the joints pretty later as described above. It might be necessary to leave the shims till the joints harden the next day in some cases.
And thanks for looking after pop, at 82 I can appreciate how much that means to him.
Hey, thank you for the tips . I don't have the time to reply further at this moment . But I do have a few questions.. glad to have dad around . Lost mom in January. Stage 6 dementia, tough to watch , but passed at home with family . Dad is a handful.. lol..
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Been wanting to put in a backyard closed BBQ pit with a brick oven next to it. Saw one in a back yard in Arlington VA, complete with an attached pavilion and tables for about 20 people. That guy did a lot of entertaining.

Down here in York county there is a museum called Indian Steps. There is a rather extreme outdoor kitchen of stone work behind the place that was used in its glory days to cook for huge gatherings.

Right now, I would be happy with an outdoor fire pit. But with a twist. I have the iron work to put a spit over the pit. I also want to be able to mount a tripod to hang my huge cast iron kettle (I think it is about a 35 gallon size.) over the fire to cook as well. When I was a kid, and my relatives got together out at a picnic grove for a weekend, they would make a huge cast iron kettle of bean soup or clam chowder for the crowd.

Keep in mind that most rock can't take the repeated exposure to high heat on one side and cold temp on the other without cracking and falling apart. So either use fire brick for a liner or plan so the are is large enough that the fire isn't directly exposed to the rock.
That's some cool ideas , but I wouldn't know where to start... lol.. thank you.
 

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you know you need a footer right?
Ideally, you would excavate to below the frost level which would be about 3', and create a solid foundation to build on.
The solid foundation/footing, need not be poured concrete however, but could be dry layed stone or concrete block on solid earth. Just dig a narrow width trench, dry lay the block or stone, and backfill both sides as you go. Id probably use 12" wide block, then fill the holes with concrete mix.
Remember, all those old and beautifly restored stone farmhouses across the state, had no footings of concrete, just stone layed right on the dirt. And also remember there was no cement for mixing mortar. what there was, was a product known as mud just like that you played in as a kid.
Today of coarse modern building codes would require removing solid rock, and replacing it with concrete. lol
Cement wasent introduced into the mixing of mortar until well into the 20th century. Early on the mortar was simply mud, and later it became soaked lime mixed with sand.
All the old houses with the wood lath and plaster interior walls were done with just soaked lime and sand.
Gypsum, like cement, wasent discovered until later.
As for the fire brick and smoke shelf, they would be very important for an interior fireplace inside a home.
But for an outside fireplace, not as important, if at all.
Just build it as best you can and enjoy it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
you know you need a footer right?
Ideally, you would excavate to below the frost level which would be about 3', and create a solid foundation to build on.
The solid foundation/footing, need not be poured concrete however, but could be dry layed stone or concrete block on solid earth. Just dig a narrow width trench, dry lay the block or stone, and backfill both sides as you go. Id probably use 12" wide block, then fill the holes with concrete mix.
Remember, all those old and beautifly restored stone farmhouses across the state, had no footings of concrete, just stone layed right on the dirt. And also remember there was no cement for mixing mortar. what there was, was a product known as mud just like that you played in as a kid.
Today of coarse modern building codes would require removing solid rock, and replacing it with concrete. lol
Cement wasent introduced into the mixing of mortar until well into the 20th century. Early on the mortar was simply mud, and later it became soaked lime mixed with sand.
All the old houses with the wood lath and plaster interior walls were done with just soaked lime and sand.
Gypsum, like cement, wasent discovered until later.
As for the fire brick and smoke shelf, they would be very important for an interior fireplace inside a home.
But for an outside fireplace, not as important, if at all.
Just build it as best you can and enjoy it.
thank you sir . You guys are giving me hope...
 

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Sounds like a cool project for you to complete if your talking footers in rocky ground sounds like a good time haha. wish i had a place to do this at but with some sacks of regular old mason mix and a block trowel and a good but of imagination will get you a long ways what type of stones are you dealing with hopefully there not sandstone as mentioned above. Also you could utilize a few of those clay chimney flue block and stack some stones around the outside. They do make some heat resistant mortars if your looking to spend a little extra money but ive seen many built over the years with just mortar mix. Id invenst in a good angle grinder with a diamond cutting wheel. Just have fun with it and be sure to post pics of your progress

Btw jims dad if your talking cochranton by french creek if you dont get up let me know im in the area might be able to get a pic of the chimney if its accessible..
 

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Very interesting thread and subject . I am actually in the early stages of a fire pit area . The cast grill attachments sound interesting . I also plan on adding a lean-to type shelter on the rear 12 feet . We enjoy backyard fires so much , I figured I may as well build it to be enjoyable year round . I still need another ton of pea gravel to bring it up level . The landscape cloth you see in the back right corner is an old stump I should have taken out before starting . The lean-to photo is kind of what I'm thinking of building .
 

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