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Ambitious "vertical cords" crib project - input needed!

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by brobrandonb, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. brobrandonb

    brobrandonb Member

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    Here's my situation (background info):
    I have a smallish property that is pretty hilly on most of it and pond/garden/landscaping taking up most of the level areas. I could put my stacks downhill from my house, but they would be in the front yard and I'd have to slog up hill all winter. Fortunately I have a small side yard on the side of the house (which happens to be the North side) that is level and unsuitable for growing because it's so shady. It's also convenient to the door I haul the wood in to get to the stove!
    So instead of pathetic looking grass/weeds I promptly spread wood chips/ mulch and located my small flock of chickens there along with my stacks:
    [​IMG]
    As you can see, to better use my small space I'm stacking the cords 2 high (on top of wood pallets). I really like going 8 ft high since it permits me to get enough wood stacked up in that side yard to always have almost 2 seasons in reserve (rotating which side I burn every year, and then top off to let new wood season).
    Now to do so I tried cross stacking the ends - but I've learned that as the wood seasons and warps, shrinks, bends it settles so much that the stacks become unstable. The top half of some of my pile fell down this past season (the hurricane didn't help). It was no biggie, but it made a mess and last thing I want is for a kid to get buried in wood some day...

    A possible solution:
    support structure!
    [​IMG]
    Does this look like a good idea? This is a first draft I made up on sketchup (awesome free program). I am hoping I might be able to find some of the pipe at a junk yard if I call around enough. I'm flexible with what I use, but in my diagram I designed it for 1" black pipe. If I have to pay full retail for the materials I think it'll end up costing ~$400 but I have some contacts that might be able to hook me up with better prices.
    In the future it would be easy to add some roofing along the top to keep it drier - currently I tarp the top of the stacks in October. Depending on input I get from individuals I might be able to substitute some cheaper materials (like use smaller diameter pipe or maybe less concrete? I don't know...)
    But this is my start. Feedback? Questions? Suggestions? Am I just a loon?

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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    No suggestions, but I got a kick out of the way you blacked out your face, and not the kid. ;lol
    PapaDave, Snigg, NortheastAl and 4 others like this.
  3. brobrandonb

    brobrandonb Member

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    lol. My assistant is less shy than I am and will look pretty different by the time she is old enough to care about privacy concerns on the internet.
    NortheastAl, ScotO and Joful like this.
  4. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    I can't tell if your stack is 2 rows deep, but if it is, you could tie the two rows together by simply inserting a bunch of 4 foot long (or thereabouts) 2x4's throughout the stack. I've done that before and it sures things up pretty good. Your drawing looks like it would work to me.
  5. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    How deep does the frost go in the ground? I'm guessing 2'.
  6. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    ....yep, I been thinkin about this ambitious project and it seems like a lot of work, concrete, steel, cable.....wondering if you're an engineer? construction trade? architect? ;)

    could you go 3 rows deep for the first 4 foot of height, then 2 rows deep on top that, cutting a foot or more off total height, and tie in a bunch of 2x4's throughout the stack? Heck, I've even screwed 2x4's to the end splits on my stacks at times to hold 'em together and provide rigidity....cattywampus, on the ends of the stacks, long drywall screws, run 'em into whatever splits seem best.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Brandon.

    As for the Backwoods Savage recommendation, I like to work with what you have on hand if at all possible. One very quick glance at your wood stacks says that just a little bit more care in the stacking and you would have no problems at all. One only needs to look at that left end and see that this particular stack has a very likely possibility of falling. As you are cribbing the ends, it is a very simple matter of placing two pieces on the end and then looking from top down.

    For example, if we look toward the top of the stack, second tier down, we see 4 splits, or that is, we see 4 ends of the splits. When we build the ends, we will first place the outside split and the inside split. We then just sort of glance down (or up in your 8' stack) to make sure it is stacked somewhat squarely, sort of like you would want to place your building blocks when putting up a block foundation. You need it to be square. In this case, that outside piece could be a bit inside if you wish to give the end a slant toward the stack rather than square and for sure, rather than a slant toward the outside of the stack. That is a prescription for disaster. Once you place those 2 pieces, then just fill in between them with whatever fits, making sure that none of those pieces are higher than those outside pieces.

    With practice, one can build some very steady stacks that will hold for years and you can also do this on uneven ground! Many are afraid to stack on a hillside or any slanted ground but they need not fear so long as they know what straight up is vs slanting.

    Just a little practice and soon you will do things automatically and will have strong stacks. Good luck.
    NortheastAl and ScotO like this.
  8. brobrandonb

    brobrandonb Member

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    Lol. thanks for the warm welcome, but I've been lurking around here for a few years now, just shy on posting because of work, work, kids, work, cutting. ;)

    Thanks for the feedback so far.

    Frost goes about 20" down around here.

    Yes I know it's overbuilt, no I'm not in construction, architectural, or anything - but I do dabble in everything trying to remain a jack of all trades. I don't let anything intimidate me and that seems to have worked well for me so far in life. I've witnessed autopsies, been in burning buildings, can try to fix darn near anything (decent sucess rate), and tought myself to operate heavy machinery on a few occations. So yeah, learning to draft in a CAD was just another item for the "list", but I did it special just for y'all!

    Some of the comments have made me think maybe I need to reevaluate how meticulous I am with my stacking and maybe keep a bob and level nearby when doing the ends... doing that plus incorporating some cross beams and screwing on some supports on the outside (genious - so simple!) might be the ticket. It sure would be a cheaper way to go and if I don't like my results it only takes me two years to burn thru the stacks and I can do whatever project I want.

    I don't like the idea of stacking in a triagle or pyramid just because I like to know how many cords I have and am going thru. Hopefully this year will be less than previous years with the addition of some substantial blow insulation that is happening in the autumn (doing that with a buddy I know with free access to a machine!). Sadly it's only going in the attic since the house is masonry constuction - but it should help.

    Another suggestion a friend of mine had to reduce effort and cost would be to forgo the footers in leu of some pressure treated and painted 6x6 lumber sunk into the ground. keep a foot or two above ground and bore pilot holes in the ends for the piping to attach.

    So yeah.... I'm still not sure which way I'm going to go at this point.
  9. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Shrinkage and settling become a big factor as you go higher. I stack 9' high on asphalt double row after the wood has been split for at least a year. It is amazing how much it still shrinks leaving a potentially dangerous amount of mass that high. My kids are getting older and know not to mess with it but I would think long and hard about the potential liability. Maybe add some fencing into the plan with a way to remove sections on one side as you burn it?
  10. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Don't take this the wrong way, but your pipe drawing (with all those ground anchor points) seems like major overkill. And yes, I have the name "Overkill" for a reason;) Have you considered welding a round or square "pad" to pipes.that will be making ground contact? I'm assuming you are going to weld or bolt this pipe structure together, and I am sure it could work out fine, but IMO I think it would be equally as good with just pressure treated wood instead of pipe. Maybe make a "deck" structure that would essentially just sit on the ground, and make "X" bracing out of PT 2x4's or 2x6's.......going through all of this work, I'd be additional g a roof to it and just making it a woodshed if I were you.

    Maybe a slatted back out of reclaimed barn siding or decking, too......just to add stability.

    Anyway, just my input. I think the setup you have will work, but I think its a bit TOO heavy-duty!

    I want to stack my pile higher down the road as I am almost out of ground space, I will be building a roof over my stack as well....
  11. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    One thing I suspected (and confirmed) when I got back into woodburning two years ago, was that I would change my mind more than once, on the best way to stack wood. So, I resisted the urge to build anything permanent (or more accurately... I didn't have time, which helped me "resist the urge"). In any case, I'm glad it worked out that way, because I changed the layout of my wood splitting / stacking area at least three times in as many years. I think I'm getting closer to the ideal setup with each re-arrangement, and will probably get around to building the "permanent" racks in the next year. My troubles were making the aisles negotiable by tractor with front end loader and trailer in tow, centering the aisles on existing trees I did not want to cut, improving stacking / removal efficiency, etc. I'm processing a wee bit more wood than the average homeowner, though. 14 cords in my first year, and I have at least 19 cords on the ground right now.
  12. brobrandonb

    brobrandonb Member

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    Hearth.com Members - One of the reasons I thought to go for pipe instead of treated lumber is the cost isn't that much greater, possibility exists I can get some or all of it from a scrap yard and it'll be cheaper, and it'll last for forever and a day. Even if I buy retail a 10' length of pipe goes for just under $20/ea (hoping I can find much cheaper scrap, but don't know yet) . A pressure treated 4x4 of equal length will go for $13 at home cheapo and at least my local store has been carrying crummier and crummier lumber. I think the premium paid for steel could be worth it *IF* I go with this project... but right now I'm just not sure.


    Yeah... that is a concern of mine also. More of a concern also is since this is on the property edge that somehow a future neighbor could complain to the township and I could somehow get hassled about any "structure". Hopeful that is not likely since there is a sort of hedge between here and there already anyhow and right now the area on the opposite side is an eyesore of a gravel driveway (which I'm cool with - just don't complain about my stacks!)

    One possibility is for me to build just two of these dividers on the end closest to my driveway to keep things nice and neat where it's most viable and where there is the most foot traffic. Then I can "test drive" my design and stack the rest off the end, free form with some of the suggestions I have been given above. If I really like it, in the future I could build more of the supports where needed.

    Again thanks for all the input. I need to post around here more often because there are a lot of great like-minded fellows here. I'll keep thinking over my options when I'm bucking tomorrow morning at a friends place. >>

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