So I picked up this patio table set from HD for $400. The center section is a removeable 12"x36" tile plate. There is about 2' of clearance underneath the slab, with the exception of the X beams which are probably about 6" from the ends of the center section.
So my question is, would it be unwise to drop in a fire pit in the center section?
12"x36" Drop In H-Burner w/ SS Pan:
I would keep the flames pretty low. I believe that the table frame is steel in the center section, at least the tile piece sits on a steel frame. The outer table rim appears to be aluminu. I'm not positive because I need to put it together still.
The drop in pan is around $350. If the project is feasible, I would likely buy my own H-Burner for $85 and weld a drop in pan from mild steel. I can make the pan smaller, and get a smaller burner as well. If I build it myself, and can wrap the pan with cement board or a some type of insulation. Any thoughts?
The pan will definitely be hot on all sides. Could be a burn hazard under the table if someones leg came into contact.
If you are making this yourself I would do a double layer pan and insulate the heck out of the space between the layers with fiberglass. Also a fiberglass enclosure to conceal the bottom of the pan would help to provide another layer of protection from heat.
The good thing about making your own pan is you will be able to make it hide the propane fuel source.
You could look into a biofuel fire insert. No lines. Just cut an opening and drop it in.
Interesting, I hadn't thought of that. I could certainly work with that setup. I don't think that the finished product would look as nice, but it would be cheaper than a pre-fab gas unit. I suspect that I can build my own propane unit for $170, including the fire glass. It looks like it would cost around $5 every evening that you burned the unit. A quart of fuel lasts 4-5 hours. If I had the unit on for a few hours in the evening, I could get two nights out of a $10 quart.
You can get this 12" model on Amazon for $150. Click on picture for larger image: