What Should I Do?

How to Stack Firewood

Preparing your wood stack for seasoning and drying
Monday, February 2, 2015, 6:22 PM

Why stack firewood?

Stacking is necessary to dry out wood that is not yet seasoned. If you have green wood that was recently cut, it must be dried to burn efficiently. Ideally, it needs to be stacked outdoors and in the sun if possible. You should never store green wood indoors. This can result in mold because of the moisture coming out of the wood. Another benefit to stacking is getting the wood off the ground so it can dry out faster. It's important to get good air circulation underneath and around your stack. Another great benefit to stacking, it looks nice and orderly compared to a big heap, and is easier to deal with when taking wood to your wood stove or boiler.

Stacked Wood Pile

Where to stack your firewood

Hauling firewood is a heavy reoccurring chore, so you will want to choose a spot that is as close to the burn site as possible. I chose a spot beside my garage that's not too far from my basement doors. If at all possible, its best to keep it covered in some way. This can be done under a roof, or under a tarp. If using some type of covering make sure to keep the sides exposed and only cover the top of the stack. This will allow air to flow around the firewood. If you are stacking next your house or another building, you may want to consider checking the local building and fire codes. In some areas it is recommended or required to be a certain distance away.

How to stack

When stacking, you want to keep it off the ground. Wood that is in contact with the earth will soak up moisture and begin to rot. Stacking on a hard surface like concrete is okay, but you should put down 2x4's underneath to allow air to flow. If stacking on the ground, definitely keep it off the earth. I used pallets that I got for free from a neighbor. I laid 2 pallets end to end, 5 pallets long giving me a stacking area of around 8' by 17'. This size can hold about 4 cords stacked at 4' high.

So to get started, I make what I like to call the end towers. When building the end towers, you need to use split pieces that are straight and smooth. Start with 2 split logs running parallel with each other that sit as flat as possible. You don't want logs that wobble back and forth, which will make your tower uneasy. Next put 2 more split pieces running parallel, opposite to the first 2 on the bottom. You continue this pattern taking care that each piece sits well on the other without too much wobble. This is the most time consuming part, but it is the most important part, because these towers will be holding some of the weight of the stack. You should not go higher than 4' with your stack.

Stacking Wood

You can add smaller pieces in between the main support logs. I don't like having wasted spaces. Take your time and make a nice stack by trying to fit each piece together nicely. It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together. The better job you do, the more you can fit into a space. If doing multiple stacks, leave a few inches between the rows for good air flow.

As a side note, if you don't have nice straight pieces to make the end towers, you can drive 2 posts into the ground and stack between them. I've even seen wood stacked between two trees, but keep in mind trees sway with heavy winds and could end up toppling your pile over. You could even stack your firewood without the end supports at all, just don't make the ends too vertical or could end up with a firewood avalanche!

Wood Pile Covered with a Tarp

Once the stacking is finished, it is time to cover the stack. I went with a tarp cover for this year. But in the Spring I plan to build a roof connected to my garage. The tarp is okay, but it won’t last much longer than a year, besides a roof will look much better.

This article and pictures were provided by my neighbor Mark, who just installed an extremely efficient wood boiler. Thanks Mark!

~ Phil Williams

Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant and designer and creator of the website foodproduction101.com.  His website provides useful, timely information for the experienced or beginning gardener, landscaper, or permaculturalist. Phil's personal goals are to build soil, restore and regenerate degraded landscapes, grow and raise an abundance of healthy food of great variety, design and install resilient permaculture gardens in the most efficient manner possible, and teach others along the way.

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6 Comments

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2247
Thanks once again for an informative article, Phil!

I have been thinking on and off about improving how/where I stack my firewood.  I am only using the firewood as a back-up to my oil furnace right now, so I'm not getting as much experience with the whole process as I might.  But even now I can see that the tarp I have over the pile isn't staying in place, and snow is getting on parts of the pile, getting it wet.  So I have also been contemplating putting up an extended roof off my garage/workshop to better cover the wood pile next year.  I figure that would make the process of grabbing wood for the stove easier too, if I don't have to wade through snow to get it, and constantly clean snow off the top of the tarp to get at it.

One additional thing I'd like to throw out there for consideration/discussion is being careful not to have your wood pile too close to your house, which can increase the odds that your house could get infested with carpenter ants.  We had a bad problem with carpenter ants several years ago, when we were actively using the woodstove, and I know my ex thought the problem stemmed from having had a longstanding pile of wood too close to the house (within a few feet, right outside the back door).  We also had a tree near the pile that had branches extending over the roof of the house, which could have provided them with an easy path in.  Here is one article that discusses the issue, @ http://www.pestnet.com/ants/carpenter-ants/

  • Protect firewood: Only you can prevent firewood infestations! Carpenter ants love firewood. Make sure the wood pile is away from the house, elevate it above the ground, and cover it with a tarp to protect it from moisture.
  • Trim the tree: Trim back trees and shrubbery away from the house to destroy any natural bridges.

Carpenter ants also like moist wood, which is another very good reason to elevate your wood pile, to keep it from absorbing moisture, and to keep it covered/dry.

If anyone has more specific knowledge about how far away your wood pile should be from your house to avoid carpenter ants, I'd be interested.  (I did a quick search on-line, but just found generalizations like "keep it as far from your house as possible").

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 345
Ants

Pinecarr,

Thanks for the info on the carpenter ants. This pile is pretty close to an old garage, but not the house. My neighbor has considered building a lean to porch off the garage for a roof like you were describing.

Phil

 

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3176
lean tos

I built a lean to on the side of my barn about 35'X20'.  I store all my firewood there until fall when I transport a good bit of it to the porches of the house for convenience.  I use both 2"X4" frames that I made to keep it off the ground and either stack the end piles as Phil suggests or use steel fence posts for the ends.  I find I can stack the piles higher than 4' when I use fence posts, up to 6'.  I used pallets for a while, but found that the slats bend with the weight of the wood and after sitting a while the piles will tumble.  Also, if you use fence posts, drive them deep if you have a dirt floor that is subject to getting wet in the spring.

One nice thing about the lean to is that I also use if to store lots of other stuff like wheelbarrows, log splitter, straw bales, scrap lumber, etc. Its also nice to have shelter from the rain when you're cutting and splitting.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2247
Thanks for the responses, Phil and Doug!

Doug, your "lean to" sounds very much like what I am considering.  I'm glad to hear it has worked out for you! 

I have also used metal fence posts at the ends of my pile, when it leaned like it was going to fall.  They seem to have worked well in terms of adding an extra level of stability to it.  (Maybe if I was a better stacker I wouldn't need 'em, but there you have it!:)

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1192
Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 470
propaganda - read the article critically!

The article makes some valid points - the opaque and possibly corrupt process by which some rules are made - at least if you take it's claims at face value.  I would research even those points more carefully given the following:

  1. The total dollars per year from the sue and settle "travesty" is just under $1 million.  Compare that to dollar values thousands, tens of thousands or even a million times larger to the banks, oil comanies, etc. from things like quantitative easing. 
  2. That paltry million dollars a year is most likely enriching lawyers, not the "far left" environmental groups.
  3. Wood smoke is really a significant pollution problem with real health impacts that probably should be regulated in more populated regions - at least when there are other options available.
  4. Cigarette smoke in a closed car as a comparison? - I remember being trapped in that situation a few times during my child hood in the 1970s.  Talk about thick smoke.
  5. The article makes no mention of how much more expensive the lower emissions stoves are.  If it's not much, then why not?  Especially if any existing stove is grandfathered in with possible exceptions of the regions with the biggest wood smoke problems.

Finally, as far as I can tell, the emphasis on the wood smoke issue in the article is an attempt to build sympathy for the plight of the common man, when the real issue is CO2 regulations that impact big coal.  This quote from the authors bio tells me how much I should trust his claims on coal regulations:  "I have recently written a new book titled "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax".  And from the books web site:

Melting glaciers, suffering polar bears, rising oceans- these are just a few of the climate change crisis myths debunked by noted aerospace expert Larry Bell in this explosive new book. With meticulous research, Bell deflates these and other climate misconceptions with perceptive analysis, humor, and the most recent scientific data.

Apparently, the book claims that among other things, sea level rise and melting of glaciers that is already happening and well documented are hoaxes.

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