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How I Stack Wood

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by Eric Johnson, Jun 1, 2006.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Over the years I've learned that if you want to stack firewood to any decent height without it falling over, it's best to build it up evenly along the entire length of the stack. I usually go up in 2-foot intervals. While I'm not the neatest wood stacker (or cutter) on the planet, I do get free-standing piles over 6 feet high that don't fall down while they're being built, or later.

    To make sure I'm stacking straight between the posts, I run a piece of thin nylon string on the ground between the posts. If you make sure that the string is in the middle of the chunks when you put down the first layer, your pile will be straight.

    This first shot is the first course of a 40-foot long pile of 24-inch (more or less) beech and hard maple. This wood was cut, hauled and split in the summer of 2005. I'll be burning it this winter.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Here's the stack with the second course in place. Note that I use 7-foot steel fenceposts secured with regular polypropelyne rope tied about two-thirds of the way up each post to hold everything together

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  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Here it is, capped off at 6.5 feet with the final course. Four cords nice and snug. The wood goes right on top of the poly rope. The weight tensions the rope, pulling the stakes tight against the pile, so the top third of the wood is holding the entire stack really tight together. If you tried to secure the rope without allowing the wood to tension it (say, by running 2x4s along the length of the pile), it wouldn't work because the rope would stretch and the posts would spread out as you laid more wood on.

    The first couple of years I tried this, I was afraid that the rope would snap, leaving me with bent posts and a sea of wood. But that's never happened once in over 12 years of doing it this way. You have to replace the rope every few years (when it starts to powder), but it won't break.

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  4. crow

    crow New Member

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    Hey Eric!
    I've been gone for a while...But I was just checkin' out all that I've missed these past few months ,as my mind turns back to wood burning(i've got my first cord coming this weekend~100$ cut,split delivered) & I came across your post/pics. Gotta tell you: Your wood stack is a thing of beauty.
    I am envious of the flat ground you have . I'm on QUITE A HILL. So I'll have to figure on a different way to stack my wood.
    Kudos to you though! Very sharp.
  5. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Eric

    I'm going to admit it. I copied you exactly and it was very sucessful. Appreciate the pictures!
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You could do it, crow, if you had one really long stake at the bottom of the hill and a short one at the top. I think.......

    Seriously, overcoming challenges like that is one of the most satisfying things about handling and storing wood.

    Corie, glad to hear it worked out. The only remotely tricky part is figuring out how much tension to put on the rope, or should I say, stacking the wood evenly so that the stakes remain more or less vertical.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Great Technique!

    This is a perfect example of an article that would go nicely in the Hearthwiki. In fact, as an example, I moved a copy of it there so everyone can see how it is done!

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Stack_Firewood_1/

    As a for-instance of editing, someone could add the part about doing it on a hill to the bottom of article.

    Wiki Wiki, I'm trying to "sell" the Wiki.
  8. crow

    crow New Member

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    I was inspired by your wood pile...and I cleared out the garden from the only really level spot on my lot to make room for my pile.
    I have a little over a cord stacked now , free-standing on wood pallets . I will have another delivery soon...and that's when I'm going to incorporate your stake method,Eric.
    Right now , the pile is not so high that it needs that (about 4 feet tall) ...but when I add to it , it will definitely need the stakes for added stability. I'll send a pic when I'm through.

    Sure is nice to have wood all stacked outside seasoning in the sun ....

    I look at it , and it makes me smile.


    This first delivery ~ I received for 100$ the same amount of wood I had to pay 400$ for last year. I'm ordering another load for sure!
    Nice mix of wood. Well seasoned. Can't beat it.
    Red oak, elm, maple ,black walnut, apple, a little poplar, hickory, ash.
    ...happiness.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I use those sign posts too, driving them in with a pipe-type tool that slips over the top. Worked well in the last place with sand soil. The new place is rocky, so it's hard to find a good place to drive it down sometimes and then it might be rather shallow. I've been using two posts on each end.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You should try the nylon rope, velvetfoot. It makes all the difference and you'll only need one stake on each end. When you use the rope you don't have to drive the post very far into the ground--just enough to keep it from popping out on the bottom.
  11. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    You're right Eric! I didn't read your initial post carefully enough! I wonder if a little line (as needed) as you are going up would prevent the tilting effect on those metal posts. I put rope on on top of one pile from one post to another, and it turned out somewhat lame, never mind that who knows what will happen when I go get some wood in the middle of winter. :)
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I stack near the posts but not against them, until the pile is about 2/3 of its desired height. Then I tie the rope to the posts so that it is laying across the top of the stack. Then I fill in against the poles, being careful to balance the tension between them so that one doesn't get pulled over and they remain roughly vertical. When that's done, I start laying the wood on the rope in the middle of the stack, moving out evenly in both directions towards the posts. Pretty soon, nothings' going nowhere. If you put the rope on too soon, it's hard to work around.
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The clothesline I had gotten at the hardware store was surprisingly expensive.
    I could probably use something like the nylon twine Home Depot uses.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't think clothesline is going to cut it. Go to the Depot or Lowes or a hardware store and get some of that 1/4 to 1/3-inch yellow polypropelyne rope. Sometimes it's blue and sometimes it's white. You see it used a lot in boating. It's cheap--maybe 10 cents a foot. The Depot sells it either pre-cut or you can cut your own from a spool.

    For the line that goes between the posts on the ground, any string will do.
  15. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The local hardware store does not have the best prices but they sure are convenient, like the masonry cut off blade real yesterday which saved a 40 minute round trip to HD.
  16. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    That is an excellent way to stack. If I could stack 6' tall safely it would take up alot less room. I would only need 4 rows 24' long instead of 6 rows. If my Holz Hausen doesn't pan out this year I may try Eric's system next year.
  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Eric I have a different spin Instead of the post I use 2/4 or planks whatever is about 5" and drive 4 20 penny common nails into the framing part of the pallet I cross stack at the ends near the post planks then fill in the middle. I many of my piles are over 5' high .
    If I ever start from scratch again I will use rope 1/2 way up like you do. I have one of the lumber yard banding strap machines. I can run a couple metal bands around a pallet, put the forks on my front backhoe bucket and move a full 1/2 cord at a time
  18. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    One thing I notice in your posted picure Eric, is the consistancy of split size. My splits can range from 6" long to 18" long, and many times the split can be larger on one end than the other, or there's knots, sometimes (particularly with Elm) I'll have cut the log into 8" disks, then split the disk into 3 peices resulting in a virtually rectangular center chunk and two 1/2 moon shaped side chunks etc... So with all this variation, I end up with a lot more odd size shapes than you have.

    My wood stacking technique which can result in stacks as high as 7', but more typically 5'-6' is to stack on pallets. Around the outside's I stack first one direction, then the next layer is stacked 90 degrees to the first. In the center of the stack go the more odd shapes that don't lend themsleves to a stabile pile. So far I haven't had one fall over since I quit tying strings to trees (remember I had one pile fall over three times last year till you mentioned to not tie to treees :) ) One key to this technique is to try to use the most regular split (sort of a 1/2 log or triangular shape) that are at least 14" long around the outsides.

    Most of my wood is scrounged and maybe 30% of the time I don't get the opportunity to cut my own lengths, OR the wood is elm which dictates lengths no longer than 8", regardless of diameter. If I don't cut the lengths, often they exceed my stoves 16" stated max length, so I cut them in half and end up with something like 10" lengths. A real pain for stacking and stove stuffing.

    An interesting consideration for those considering a new stove is the max log length it can accept. While not a show stopper, if your getting your wood is delivered, pre-cut, This could be a massive pain if your stove won't take the wood guy's splits.
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Over the years dealing with log loads, I grew to hate the inevitible odds and ends. They're a real pain to stack and handle. Now, since I cut all my wood to length in the woods, anything that's too ugly or short just stays there. My lengths still range from 22 to 26 inches, probably averaging 25.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We're looking at taking down an elm this fall. I hadn't heard about short rounds for elm. Is this for hand splitting only? I was going to go for 16" long lengths and power split them. Will this work?
  21. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I split with at 6lb maul, so any elm longer than 8" can be a bear to split. In general I like burning elm, I'd swear it burns better than it's BTU content indicates. It lights easily, and burns a long time.

    For you with a power splitter, longer lengths would be fine, maybe still tough to tear apart, but I've never used a power splitter, so no experience with elm and hydrolics.
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've been told that there are male and female elms, and that one of them is impossible to split by hand while the other can be done. I think either will succumb to the right hydraulic splitter. I notice a lot of dead and dying elms around here in central NYS. They're reasonably big trees, so I don't know if they're seeing the Dutch Elm disease for the first time, or if this is just a periodic resurgence of the disease. They do grow fast around here. I've got three more in my yard that gotta come down this fall.
  23. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Warren will be right there , he LooooooooooVES ELM . Warren , dont think you told us how much you love ELM in a wile , think it due time for a refresher .
  24. suematteva

    suematteva New Member

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    Let's see which one is the more difficult to split?????Male or Female...

    (((Ducking)))))
  25. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Your cruel....!!!!

    BUT... I'm now sure Elm is no where near as bad as trying to split wet pine rounds that are 18" across. Plus after all the splitting effort, it doesn't heat half as well as elm. I've come to terms with how hard Elm is to split, plus my technique of cutting elm into disks, then splitting seems to work o.k. Clearly Elm is Natures cruel joke and people like you are just too willing to remind those of us who are too stupid to learn or have "free elm here!!!" dangled in front of us, that we hate that blasted wood. Well Roo...I haven't split much elm lately. It's faded from my mind a bit... It's been mostly maple for a bit, but I do have a monster elm waiting for me. It's on the ground and sitting there laughing at me just saying..."go ahead just try to cut a 16" length and split me"
    (blood pressure rising a little)
    Yes...I hate elm...I guess I love to hate elm. It's the ultimate wood to burn. Burning elm is such a fitting end to such a miserable material, but in the end...in a way...the elm had it's revenge...When you burn the stuff it leaves klinkers stuck to your firebrick, which seems to attract huge amounts of heat, thus destroying the firebrick. Yup elm stinks and Roo was just soooo willing to remind me that I hate that stuff....Well, thanks a LOT Roo!!!!!!!

    ;-P

    (Warren takes a deep breath and remembers we're all friends here, and decides NOT to stop by Roo's house and leave a big chunk of elm on his chopping block)
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