Shaping and Cutting Natural Stone

Shaping and Cutting Natural Stone

You’re done with your DIY outdoor fireplace or DIY outdoor kitchen and you are contemplating what you will use to cover the horizontal surfaces.  Look to natural stone for a possibility.  Shaping and cutting natural stone does not have to intimidate you.  There are ample resources that will help guide you through the process of getting your stone to fit the seating, shelving, and the top of your fireplace or kitchen.  And it looks beautiful.

Flagstone seating material and lighting on a DIY outdoor fireplace
Flagstone seating material and lighting on a DIY outdoor fireplace

Do Your Research

Do an online search for DIY outdoor fireplaces or DIY outdoor kitchens and you’ll see some amazing structures.  Pay attention to the horizontal surfaces and you’ll see that these DIY homeowners have used lots of different materials.  One of the widely used materials for the horizontal surfaces is natural stone.  The use of the natural stone will require some cutting and shaping of the material before it can be applied to your structure though.  This can be done via a couple different methods.

Cutting Natural Stone
Method One – Use a Diamond Blade
Flagstone on a DIY outdoor fireplace
Mark your cuts on the stone using a long straight edge.

The first and most common method of stone shaping is to use a diamond blade to cut it.  This is a very effective way of cutting the stone and curved cuts are even possible.  The final look will be a smooth edge that can be rounded off for a finer look.

The diamond blade you use to cut your cinder block can double as the stone cutting blade.  Depending on your saw, diamond blades can be used dry or wet.  Dry cutting is dusty so use a mask and prepare to be covered in the colored dust.  With a good blade, some stone, such as flagstone will cut through like a hot knife through butter.  Don’t try to cut too deep, too fast though as you will bog down the saw.

Check out this video showing how easy cutting natural stone can be using a diamond blade.  This is an example of a dry cut, using a 9″ grinder.
https://www.facebook.com/BackyardFlareLlc/videos/630083177148781/

One more thing to keep in mind about dry cutting is that your blade will become super hot and it will begin to soften and warp. When this occurs, simply stop cutting to allow the blade to cool down.  If you proceed too long with a warping blade, it may maintain that warped out-of-round shape even after it has cooled.

Cutting Natural Stone
Method Two – Hammer and Chisel Cutting

If you want a more rustic look, you can opt to chisel cut the stone.  This is a bit more of an art form and could require an extra piece or two of stone that you can practice on.  You will use a hammer to hit the chisel, but don’t hit too hard.  For the best cut, you will use small movements of the chisel head as you impact the chisel with your hammer.

If you are cutting a 12” straight cut using a 4” chisel head, you will probably hit the chisel at least eight to ten times along the way.  The stone may not break after the first pass so start again and continue as you first did until you see the stone begin to crack.

It is not uncommon to go from end to end three or four times before the stone breaks.  At times, you may have a stone that will not break exactly on your intended line.  This may be a result of a stone that already has cracks and fissures in it.  The stone will break where it is most vulnerable but it may not be exactly where you intended it to break.  This is the frustration of chisel cutting versus cutting the stone with a blade.

DIY outdoor fireplace, stone seating
DIY outdoor fireplace with chisel cut stone seating

Check out a great video on cutting natural stone using the hammer and chisel technique.
https://www.facebook.com/BackyardFlareLlc/videos/289085947915174/

Cutting Natural Stone – Practice Makes Perfect

A great idea is to purchase a small piece of stone ahead of your construction.  You can practice cutting lines, both with a blade and chisel.  With enough repetition, you will find the preferred method and look that will look great on your structure.

As always, happy building.

Dan

 

DIY Outdoor Fireplace and Pizza Oven Combos

DIY Fireplaces and Pizza Ovens Together? Yes…of course.

With any backyard comes building  and design decisions.  One of the great ways to spice up your space is to plan for more than two or even three things in one structure.  If you’re building a fireplace or an outdoor kitchen, then you should really think about incorporating a pizza oven into the structure.  It will add some additional build time and some extra cost, but it is a lot of fun to build and use.  So when you are making decisions, think about a DIY outdoor fireplace and pizza oven combo.

Pizza ovens, like DIY fireplaces, do not have to cost an arm and a leg.  You can build them using pre-cut molds, making your construction very simple.  There are different styles of pizza ovens, like barrel type or dome type.  With the different styles come different looks and various sizes.  The overall functionality remains the same however, as they will retain crazy amounts of heat.  This crazy heat will cook pizzas in a matter of just a few minutes.

DIY outdoor fireplace and pizza oven
Cook away and have fun

Imagine having a backyard party with lots of family and friends hanging out.  You’ve set out the pizza fixings and you have partitioned the pizza dough for perfect personal size pizzas.  The sauce, the cheese, the veggies, the meat, all sizzling inside your pizza oven as each guest brings you their masterpiece to cook.

#outdoorfireplace #outdoorliving #fireplace #diy #outdoorcooking #masonry #outdoor #backyardflare #backyardideas #outdoorkitchen #pizzaoven
Outdoor gas fireplace and pizza oven combo with lots of seating.

If you are intrigued about the possibility of a pizza oven incorporated into a fireplace or an outdoor kitchen structure, visit a great company, BrickWood Ovens at www.brickwoodovens.com.  Backyard Flare, LLC has worked alongside owner Kevin at BrickWood Ovens, and we have used their foam molds to build very cool ovens here in Arizona.

 

where to go for more info

#outdoorfireplace #outdoorliving #fireplace #diy #outdoorcooking #masonry #outdoor #backyardflare #backyardideas #outdoorkitchen #pizzaoven
A beautiful slab of granite is at the perfect height to roll out the pizza dough right next to the oven.

Visit the gallery at BrickWood Ovens and even at Backyard Flare, and you’ll see some great fireplace/pizza oven combo structures.  The beauty is that both Backyard Flare and BrickWood Ovens cater to you, the DIY homeowner, who wants the challenge of building yourself.  You can do it with construction plans, foam molds, some perseverance, ingenuity, and dedication and attention to detail.

#outdoorfireplace #outdoorliving #fireplace #diy #outdoorcooking #masonry #outdoor #backyardflare #backyardideas #outdoorkitchen #pizzaoven
Great faux stone and some fantastic appliances are all a part of this beautiful fireplace and pizza oven structure.

Give it a shot and if you need any questions answered, please call Dan at 520-269-9740 or visit Backyard Flare at www.backyardflare.com.

Vintage and New Outdoor Fireplaces – They’re Everywhere

outdoor stone fireplace, house is gone
What stories can this AZ fireplace tell?

Outdoor Fireplaces – What History Can They Tell?

I have been traveling quite a bit lately.  Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to have gone to some really neat locations.  Just a few visited in the past few months are Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Winterpark, Colorado, El Paso, Texas, and the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.  When I go to a new place, I love the opportunity to walk around and explore the old and new.

One thing that seems timeless is the fireplace built in an old house lot.  They still stand, absent the house or an old cabin.   I love walking around these towns and noticing great outdoor fireplaces built in new areas, at shopping malls, at apartment complexes, and even outdoor patios of fancy bars and restaurants.

Vintage Fireplace
Old fireplace in a WV city park

The old vintage stone fireplaces through their cracks and stains can sometimes tell a silent story, letting your mind wander at how much they have seen and been witness to over the passing years.  Who graced the hearth and seating around these graceful structures?  What conversations and decisions took place in front of the fire?

Imagine the fireplaces in the homes and parks of West Virginia that kept home owners and those fighting in the civil war warm.  They used them every day during the harsh winters.  Imagine the fireplaces in the Grand Canyon lodges that kept tourists warm during the 1930s when the park was really becoming a destination.  Now those are old fireplaces with stories too abundant for us to even imagine.

How About the New?

Shopping center outdoor fireplace
Fireplace spotted in an AZ shopping center

But let’s think about how we can create our own memories and stories around an outdoor fireplace.  When you spot an outdoor fireplace at an outdoor shopping center, stop and check it out.  Sit on the hearth and if it is providing heat, enjoy it for a few minutes.  Relax and even grab a drink if you have time.  Become the history that can be told by that fireplace 100 years from now.

Pay attention to where you are and if you see an old or even a new fireplace that needs to be in a photograph, take a pic and send it to us at, dan@backyardflare.com.  Let us know where and how you found it.

Thanks and as always, happy building!

DIY in 2018

Oh, it’s cold, but let’s start planning for later

Hello all you DIY enthusiasts, time to get your mind wrapped around the “DIY in 2018” mindset.  It’s time to figure out what great projects you will be building.  Something indoors is always good when Jack Frost is still hanging around, but why not get started on designing your new backyard?

#diyin2018 #outdoorfireplace #outdoorliving #fireplace #diy #outdoorcooking #masonry #outdoor #backyardflare #backyardideas #outdoorkitchen #pizzaoven
Lots of seating surround this enormous fireplace and pizza oven structure.

Bring that outdoor living space to life and build a beautiful outdoor fireplace and outdoor kitchen in your back yard.  While you’re at it, add a pizza oven and a sitting area.  Cover the whole project in faux stone veneer and stucco with a matching paint color and get to living outdoors.

 

 

 

The new year brings great deals and lots of sales on grills, grates, outdoor furniture, and even building supplies too.  Grilling out during the super cold months of January and February probably aren’t optimal, but if you get the supplies and the plan ready, you can start building right when the weather turns for the better.

#outdoorfireplace #outdoorliving #fireplace #diy #outdoorcooking #diyin2018 #masonry #outdoor #backyardflare #backyardideas #outdoorkitchen #pizzaoven
Outdoor gas fireplace and pizza oven combo with lots of seating.

We here at Backyard Flare can help you with a great design and we can certainly work with whatever structure shape you want to achieve.  Give us the dimensions and space you have to work with and we will show you some great possibilities.  We will work with you along the way and you’ll stay involved during the whole process.  It’s a fun process and you’re in charge.

Have a great beginning to your 2018 and let us help you get into the “DIY in 2018” mindset.  Happy New Year and happy building.

 

Decorate For the Season

Create Your Christmas Fireplace

Oh my…the Christmas season is in full swing and decorations are being added to everything indoors.  Why not add some spice to the outdoors too?  Add some small things or even some big things to your fireplace and make it spectacular.  Some people add great decor to their structures and turn them into a “Christmas Fireplace”.  We have seen some spectacular outdoor fireplaces this 2017 Christmas season that we just have to share.

Outdoor Fireplace Christmas
Amazing reds and greens make this outdoor fireplace pop with the Christmas spirit.

Does it get much better than a decorated outdoor structure with signs of noel and joy?  I don’t think so.  Check out the mantel covered in red berries and a green pine wreath above it. With the vases full of flowers, this fireplace makes me want a warm glass of cider or some hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

Outdoor Fireplace
Beautiful DIY outdoor fireplace decorated for the Christmas season

It doesn’t take much to turn an already gorgeous outdoor fireplace into a seasonal masterpiece.  Another wreath makes this fireplace step right into the Christmas season and the lighting overhead adds a lot too.   By adding reds and greens, as well as lighting and images of Christmas, you will turn a nice space into an even more welcoming space.

What are some of your holiday decorating ideas?  Write a comment and let us know and even share a picture of how you designed.  Thanks and we hope you have a great holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Care to add a DIY fireplace to your backyard?  Visit us at www.backyardflare.com for great information and ideas for your next project.

 

Outdoor Fireplaces and Draft Problems

 

Outdoor Fireplace Draft

#outdoorfireplace, #backyardflare, #outdoorfireplacedesign
Gorgeous corner fireplace built along a custom patio. No soot stains means it was built correctly.

I was surfing the web the other day as I do quite often and I noticed differences between good and bad drafting structures.  If you know what to look for, it’s very apparent, an it almost always has to do with the outdoor fireplace draft.  Some of the best looking fireplaces seemed to be the dirtiest.  I started paying attention to the fireboxes of some of these fireplaces.

Gas Fireplaces – The Good and Bad

A lot of fireplaces are designed and plumbed to burn natural gas or propane.  Gas fireplaces are easily controlled and can be turned on and off quickly.  This can also be problematic if the structure isn’t built correctly.

Even with a gas fireplace, burning either natural gas or propane, which are very popular, soot build up can still be a problem.  This occurs if the fireplace does not vent well.  Heat rise in a fireplace is most often referred to as the draft.  The single most important aspect of any fireplace, inside or outside, is its functionality and whether the smoke rises effectively.  This will be either through the chimney or out the front of the firebox and up the front of the structure.

Now some may think that because a gas fireplace doesn’t produce smoke that it shouldn’t matter.  The truth is that gas fireplaces are sometimes dirtier than a wood burning fireplace when it comes to soot discoloration of the structure.

Pay attention to the inside of outdoor fireplaces that you see around your town.  Stick your head inside and look up.  Do you see a tiny chimney opening, or a large opening that will collect the smoke before allowing it to evacuate upward?  Most of the time, there will be very apparent issues with regard to the path of least resistance.  When a firebox height in is equal to the chimney opening, you will have problems with a bad draft.

Importance of a Good Fireplace Draft

The smoke or invisible soot from a gas burn will exit the structure through the front when draft is affected.  This smoke and/or soot will travel right up the front of the structure and the front will turn black.  A wet rag and some dish soap can easily remove the soot from a fireplace.  It’s just a hassle to deal with.

If you’re interested in building a beautiful outdoor fireplace in your backyard or if you just want to explore the possibility and learn more about them, please visit us at www.backyardflare.com.  Thanks for reading.

 

3 Great Ways to Finish Your Outdoor Fireplace

After building your outdoor fireplace, outdoor kitchen, or other outdoor structure, there are endless ways to finish the look.  You will have to consider options for both your horizontal and vertical surfaces as well as extra bling such as lighting.

This article isn’t long enough to possibly explain or list the seemingly endless combinations of veneer and seating options so we’ll just briefly talk about a few of the more popular looks.  There are a lot of manufacturers that make and deal in different types of products but they all effectively do the same thing. They add a beauty to the outside surface of your outdoor fireplace.  Faux stone, tile, stacked real stone, and stucco are among the most popular looks.

Vertical Surfaces

The basic purpose of these vertical veneers is to cover the drab gray cinder block.  Let’s go through them one by one.  Faux stone looks very realistic and it can add a rustic look like the fireplace was built entirely out of rock. Lots of different looks are available.  Tile veneers can expand into regular ceramics or even a natural travertine stone.  These tile veneers will give you a more modern look most of the time.

Outdoor fireplace with stacked stone, flagstone and lighting
Stacked stone and lighting on a three sided outdoor fireplace

Stacked stone is a real stone that has been milled and shaped so the pieces fit together nicely.  Some of the better products will look seamless.  The small size of the stone allows for several different colors and stone variations to be used in conjunction with each other.  Very elegant.  The final veneer that offers a great look is stucco.  Stucco can be textured or applied as a smoother surface.  The beauty of stucco is that it weathers well and it can be painted to match other items in your backyard.

Horizontal Surfaces

When it comes to the horizontal surfaces of the outdoor fireplace, look to natural stone for a smorgasbord of different textures and colors.  Most of this stone is very easy to work with.  You will cut the sections of stone with the same diamond blade you used to build your cinder block structure.

Flagstone seating on an outdoor fireplace
Flagstone ready for trimming

If you decide on the color of the vertical veneer and the horizontal surface material at the same time, you can pick great matching elements.  Certain colors and textures really complement each other but there is definitely no “one way” to complete the finish work of the structure.  As far as veneer and horizontal surface material is concerned you have more options than you can imagine.

Lighting

Lighting is a great way to add that special flair to any outdoor fireplace.  It brings a certain elegance to the fireplace and if used along the bottom of the hearth, it will frame it nicely.  Low voltage lighting is the way to go for this look and the addition of this lighting is relatively inexpensive.

Faux stone, stucco, and lighting added to an outdoor fireplace
Lighting adds a great look to any fireplace

Comment on this article with your thoughts.  Share your favorite final look and/or what you did to make your fireplace a one of a kind.

Visit us at www.backyardflare.com for great content and ideas for your outdoor fireplace.

Three Phases to Plan Your Backyard

Building Your Backyard

If you have ever wondered how to go about building your backyard to perfection, then keep reading.  We hope this article will give you a bit of guidance.

Great Patio

For many, their backyard area is an eyesore.  Others just need a bit of spicing up.  If you are in either category, you can achieve the perfect backyard if you adhere to the right phases in the right order.

Building your backyard
Phase One
planning

The first phase is planning the layout.  Step back and really look at what you have.  This will be a great time to brainstorm with a tablet of paper and pencil to sketch out different scenarios.  By drawing different layouts on a piece of paper, you can compare the different possibilities and see what works the best for your space.  You may find that certain layouts will make better sense than others.  Talk your ideas over with family and friends and take in their ideas.  You never know, you may not have thought of everything.

Building your backyard
PHASE TWO
gathering

Building Your Backyard
Custom Pima Design with added wood storage voids.

The second phase is gathering what you will need to get the job done.  This includes everything from a construction plan, the tools necessary, and the materials needed to build your project.  If you are wanting to build a masonry structure, have the vendor deliver the blocks, mortar, and cement on a pallet to as close to the work site as possible.

The tools needed are sometimes specialized so you won’t have too many other opportunities to use them again.  These will be trowels, masonry cutting blades, etc.  Borrow what you can and don’t buy them if you don’t have to.  If you must buy a tool, buy cheap, and even if you must buy two, it still may not be as expensive as one professional grade tool.

Building your backyard
PHASE THREE

Building Your Backyard
Modified Pima Design with wider chimney stack.

The third phase is the best part, the building of the project.  A solid foundation is paramount for many masonry structures due to their weight.  A lack of stability under a masonry structure could result in shifting and cracking.  The building phase is a great time to get help from family and friends.  Sometimes a pizza and beverages go a long way.

The building phase will be the part everyone will see so definitely take your time and pay attention to the small stuff, the detail, the minutia.  It’s the attention to detail that will make your project a stand-out backyard.

When you get to lighting and irrigation make sure you don’t have too much of the project finished.  This is especially irritating if you have to rip out some of the progress to add electrical and water lines.

While building your backyard, pay attention to the phases and your project will turn out to be the talk of the town thus your neighbors and family will be in awe.  Be careful because you will then be the go-to for the how to.

If you need any assistance on a masonry structure like a fireplace, kitchen, pizza oven, and want a DIY construction plan, visit www.backyardflare.com.  Building your backyard does not have to be a chore or burden.  We’ll help you along the way and give you the insight you’ll need to get it done and on a budget.  Happy building.

Natural stone was used for the seating surface, shelves, and top.

 

Cinder Blocks Explained

Cinder Blocks Explained

Cinder block sizes vary and many different shapes are available for your outdoor projects.  There are short ones, tall ones, solid ones and some are made with holes/voids.  Not only are they different sizes, but some that are classified with the same dimensions can be slightly different allowing them to be used in a different manner.

You can build outdoor structures such as fireplaces, kitchen, and pizza ovens using primarily the blocks that are described in this article.  Just for a bit of clarification, most people will call them cinder blocks but there is a slightly more technical term for them.  They are sometimes referred to as concrete masonry units (CMU) by the folks that make them and sell them.  When shopping for these blocks, you only need to call them cinder blocks though and know a little about how they are sized.  The cinder blocks sold in the United States are sized in inches.

Cinder Blocks and Sizes Explained

8x8x16 Block

8x8x16 block

The most common cinder block is an 8x8x16 as seen in the adjacent picture.  These measurements are the depth, height, and width respectively.  Most construction projects, needing any structural integrity, will be built using this size block. These blocks have voids, designed to be filled with concrete, which provides great strength.

 

 

8x8x8 Block

8x8x8 block

These 8x8x8 cinder blocks are perfect cubes that are widely used in conjunction with the 8x8x16 cinder blocks.  These blocks also have voids which allow them to be filled with concrete.

Some have notches manufactured into them for rebar, but the notch will not be used most of the time.  When you are building using a running bond/staggered pattern, these will certainly be useful.

 

8x4x16 block

8x4x16 block

An 8x4x16 cinder block is half as tall as standard 8x8x16 cinder blocks, so they are very good to incorporate into your structure. These cinder blocks are used as a transition block when only a little bit of height is needed as they are only 4” tall.  These blocks also have voids.

 

 

 

4x8x16 block

4" block used for your outdoor fireplace
4x8x16

Occasionally, you will need a cinder block that is only 4” in depth.  These cinder blocks are measured 4x8x16. They have much smaller voids in them which makes them harder to fill with concrete.

A lot of cinder block walls are constructed using these blocks.

 

 

 

8x2x16 cap block

Use these cinder blocks for finish work and solid surfaces.
8x2x16 cap block

One of the last widely used cinder blocks is an 8x2x16 cap block.  When you only need to add a couple inches to your structure or to close off a section, you will use these blocks. These cinder blocks are solid and are also used when a flat surface is needed for finish work.

If you are interested in building an outdoor fireplace or kitchen there are great ways of building them.  Cinder blocks are just one way of constructing them, but it’s a fantastic way to build a structure with great integrity and strength.  Visit www.backyardflare.com for great outdoor fireplace designs, ideas, and DIY construction plans.

 

 

Great Ways to Finish Your Outdoor Fireplace

Great Ways to Finish Your Outdoor Fireplace

There are some great ways to finish your outdoor fireplace.  Basically, there are endless of ways to add the finishing touches which will make your outdoor fireplace a one of a kind.  Even if you build the basic rough structure that another person constructed, yours will look different.

If you pay attention to detail, your fireplace and backyard landscape can look like something in a magazine.  We will cover five of the big finishing touches and things you can do to give your fireplace the wow factor.

1. Low voltage lighting

Even when the fireplace is not being used, low voltage lighting is a great way to add a great night time visual aspect to it.  The lighting is powered by a transformer specifically designed for these types of lights.  By connecting the fireplace lights to landscape lighting in your yard, everything will be illuminated at the same time.

Lighting adds a great look to any fireplace
2. Natural stone seating surface

By using a natural stone material for the seating, you will have a very durable, and inexpensive surface.  There are a couple widely used stone options, such as flagstone and bluestone.  Both can be purchased at landscape supply retailers and you will have tons of colors and patterns to choose from.  Cutting the stone is as simple as using a diamond blade for a smooth edge or a chisel and hammer for a rough rustic edge.

Natural stone was used for the seating surface, shelves, and top.
3. Stacked Stone Veneer

Stacked stone is a great way to finished the vertical surfaces of the fireplace, but it can be somewhat expensive as compared to other finish options.  This type of material is purchased in arrangements that will fit together seamlessly.  The stone is real and engineered during the cut process, meaning that it will be very easy to install.  Cutting this stone will take a bit more time and patience as it is sometimes brittle.

Stacked stone added to the fireplace hearth.
4 . Faux Veneer

Faux veneer is a fabulous way to add a cheaper finish to the outside of your fireplace than natural stone.  The great thing about faux veneer is that you can find virtually any texture, color, shape, and size imaginable.  The faux stone is basically a manmade product that is painted and finished to look just like a real material.  The faux stone is very easy to cut but it may take a bit of extra time fitting it together.  There is no “one way” to put it together most of the time, so using your Tetris skills will come in handy.  Faux veneer will usually require corner pieces that will give you a great finished look as the material wraps from one vertical surface to another.

faux veneer outdoor fireplace
DIY built fireplace with faux veneer.
5. Wrought iron accents

Wrought iron accents will add both a décor and some functionality to your fireplace.  First, add an elevated fire grate in your firebox.  This will both give you a great look, but it will aid in keeping your burning wood elevated for proper air flow.  Fireplace tools will give you the capability of working and stoking your fire as you need to.  Many tools sets will come with a holder as well keeping it nice and neat.

outdoor fireplace wrought iron
Adding wrought iron definitely adds character.

Well there you go, five considerations that if done right, will set your fireplace on a pedestal.  You don’t have to do them all to achieve a great look, but they certainly won’t hurt.

If you want to build your own outdoor fireplace, check out www.backyardflare.com for some great ideas and inspiration.  We are sure you will get a vision for how you can transform your backyard into a great destination.