Holz Hausen - Goot, or bad?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.
Status
Not open for further replies.

Therivermonster

Burning Hunk
Dec 10, 2013
115
Tacoma, WA
Hello all! I have moved my family into a new to us house, which we will be installing a Fireview into come spring of 2014. I have started on our wood supply in preparation for next winter, and I wanted to get some feedback on my choice of stack, the holz hausen. With the wood I have right now, I'll be on track to build two of these. They are mostly composed of doug fir, alder, ash, and cedar. No hardwoods in the mix as of yet.

While reading through the threads, I don't see many of this style of stack being used and I'm wondering why What is the consensus?

Here is my first finished holz hausen.

 

adrpga498

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2005
942
New Jersey
I store 1/2 HH method and 1/2 conventional single row method. At the moment I have 8 cords for the next few years stacked. HH seem to get an approval look from suburbia type neighbors. I like the look also. I don't find any real advantage other then I can hide some uglies in the center without fear of falling stacks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CTFIRE

paul bunion

Minister of Fire
Apr 3, 2013
888
NJ
You might be doing yourself a disservice with those plastic pallets, they will not let water or air run through the bottom of your stack. Traditional wood pallets allow air movement under and through the bottom of your stack which IMHO is often underestimated in importance.
 

adrpga498

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2005
942
New Jersey
You might be doing yourself a disservice with those plastic pallets, they will not let water or air run through the bottom of your stack. Traditional wood pallets allow air movement under and through the bottom of your stack which IMHO is often underestimated in importance.

Good catch
 

Bigg_Redd

Minister of Fire
Oct 19, 2008
4,153
Shelton, WA
Hello all! I have moved my family into a new to us house, which we will be installing a Fireview into come spring of 2014. I have started on our wood supply in preparation for next winter, and I wanted to get some feedback on my choice of stack, the holz hausen. With the wood I have right now, I'll be on track to build two of these. They are mostly composed of doug fir, alder, ash, and cedar. No hardwoods in the mix as of yet.

While reading through the threads, I don't see many of this style of stack being used and I'm wondering why What is the consensus?

Here is my first finished holz hausen.


The consensus is that if it makes you happy go ahead and do it. If you want to maximize convenience and minimize drying time go ahead and skip it.

EDIT: ignore all the "hardwood" hype on this board. Our native species burn just fine and don't require 36 months to dry.
 
  • Like
Reactions: splitoak

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,593
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I've built 4 or 5 holtz mietes . . . my honest opinion is that they didn't take much longer to build once you've done one or two (some folks think they take a significantly longer time to build), they look interesting, you can stack higher and get more wood in a smaller foot print and still be stable (but you'll need a step stool or ladder and this will slow up your stacking time) and they offer the nice advantage that you can chuck the chunks and uglies into the middle and out of sight.

That said, some folks believe they speed up the drying process. I believe this is bunk. If anything the wood in the center does not dry as well. Wood on the outside dries the same as traditional stacks.

Best bit of advice is from Bigg Redd . . . if it makes you happy and you like it, go for it.
 

Therivermonster

Burning Hunk
Dec 10, 2013
115
Tacoma, WA
I actually took the first one that I made apart because I didn't like the way it was going together. It was maybe half the size of the one in the picture, and it's amazing how much wood it actually contained. I don't know a cord value, but there seemed to be a lot of wood in it. When I was putting this holz hausen together, the process seemed to go very quickly, especially considering that so much wood gets tossed into the center. Also, you don't have to make tight crib ends, or worry much about the stack falling.

The new holz (pictured) is stacked nice and strong. The middle is filled with the shorties and uglies. I used 8' 2x4s every now and again laid over the diameter of the pile to lock it together.

Good point on the plastic pallets, Paul Bunion. There is no way I'm taking that stack apart, but I have plenty left to split and stack, so the next holzi will go on wood pallets. Thank you for the suggestion.
 

tcassavaugh

Minister of Fire
Jan 10, 2010
1,049
Southern Maryland
nice job. I like them, but don't do well stacking them so I normally just stack in a cone until i'm ready to move to the back to dry or sometimes right to the shed.....depends on the type of wood. one side of the shed is what I pull from, the other for the next season.
 

Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,811
Michigan
Some like the looks of them and try to justify it by saying the wood will dry faster. I believe that drying stuff has been debunked many times. As for myself, I had thought about making one or two but when I considered the extra time it would take to build, that was the end of it for me. In addition, simple thought should give you the answer to the drying thing. Air circulation is what is needed for drying wood and it is difficult to beat a row of wood stacked so that wind will blow through it. You also need to top cover the wood.
 

stejus

Minister of Fire
Jul 29, 2008
1,227
Central MA
Here's how mine looks for comparison (lower left side of pic). Your's might, just saying, might start to fall off at the top seeing they are hanging over the lower sections. Try to make the top sections going inward at the top so you don't have any overhang peices.

I dry all my wood 3 years at this point. This wood is no dryer than my regular stacks. Not sure if it dry's quicker if you only dry 1 or 2 years.

Douglas-20131207-00012.jpg
 
Last edited:

PA. Woodsman

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2007
2,240
Emmaus, Pennsylvania
Here's how mine looks for comparison (lower right side of pic). Your's might, just saying, might start to fall off at the top seeing they are hanging over to lower sections. Try to make the top sections going inward at the top so you don't have any overhang peices.

I dry all my wood 3 years at this point. This wood is no dryer than my regular stacks. Not sure if it dry's quicker if you only dry 1 or 2 years.

View attachment 121222



That's a really nice set-up you have there. Really nice with the woods in the background too.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stejus

Applesister

Minister of Fire
Dec 5, 2012
2,483
Upstate NY
Im surprised to see as many holz hausens here as I do.
Since Europe breeds better horses than we do in the Americas I assume they are smarter than us, historically.
I think there is an engineering trick to constructing these woodpiles, something that perhaps gets lost in the You tube videos.
Some key elements necessary for success that gets missed.
Proportion, height and the angle or slope of the splits, diameter, etc.
Laws of Proportion as Leonardo DaVinci might say.
Therefore the success of stacking in this method becomes open for criticism.
 

basswidow

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
1,316
Milton GA
These are two I built season before last. Like fire fighter Jake, I don't feel they take any longer to stack then traditional stacking. These went up quick and easy. They were all oak and I made the splits small and board like and this helped with the HH stacking. I made a HH the previous year and the splits were maple and bigger and the results were not as clean. They are fun and get alot of compliments. Like Backwoods said, I don't feel they season the wood faster. My results were the same amount of time to season as straight stacking. I also don't believe you can stack more in a smaller footprint with a HH - unless you make them super tall! It's just fun to vary the stacking. After these rows seasoned and turned gray, my realtor thought it was a stacked stone wall. 101_0738.jpg
 

adrpga498

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2005
942
New Jersey
If your trying to sell, I hope your realtor has a better eye for buyers then stonewalls.
 

smars4444

New Member
Dec 12, 2012
6
West Newbury, Ma
Holz Hausen.jpg
If your trying to sell, I hope your realtor has a better eye for buyers then stonewalls.
I have built several HH's and very happy with the results.. Pile on right is 5 cords, left one is 2 cords. I am presently burning from a HH that was 90% oak and stacked for 6 months, as a test, wanted to see if it was dry. Burning just fine, including the center pieces.
smars
Cub.12.12.13.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: D8Chumley

Therivermonster

Burning Hunk
Dec 10, 2013
115
Tacoma, WA
I checked on the holz yesterday during a break in the holiday activities, and the pile still seems solid. No pieces have fallen off the top, yet.

As I mentioned before, I have had one holz hausen fall when it was just about finished, and there seemed to be a LOT of wood to pick up. How would you go about figuring out how many cord are in a holz?

Smars, nice piles there. I love the big one. Makes me want to build a biggun.

Also, Jotul F500 vs Hearthstone Shelburne. Which would you choose?

Thanks everyone, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas.
 
Last edited:

smars4444

New Member
Dec 12, 2012
6
West Newbury, Ma
River,
I use the formula: Diameter (in feet) squared X .7854 X Height (in feet)= total cubic feet. Divide by 128 cu/ft in a cord... pretty damn accurate. The 5 cord HH took a looong time to build... a lot of wood! My 2 cord HH's have been stacked for 6-12 months and are dry, I will give the big one at least a year and then see what the middle looks like.
smars
 

Therivermonster

Burning Hunk
Dec 10, 2013
115
Tacoma, WA
I just did a quick calculation, and it seems that with the holz being 8' in diameter, and a little over 8' tall, my holz has a bit more than 3 cord in it. I know that there is a lot of wood in there, but that seems like a LOT, to me anyway.
 
I just did a quick calculation, and it seems that with the holz being 8' in diameter, and a little over 8' tall, my holz has a bit more than 3 cord in it. I know that there is a lot of wood in there, but that seems like a LOT, to me anyway.
You have pi (3.14159) cords in there. A square stack of the same size will hold 4 cords.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,593
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I checked on the holz yesterday during a break in the holiday activities, and the pile still seems solid. No pieces have fallen off the top, yet.

As I mentioned before, I have had one holz hausen fall when it was just about finished, and there seemed to be a LOT of wood to pick up. How would you go about figuring out how many cord are in a holz?

Smars, nice piles there. I love the big one. Makes me want to build a biggun.

Also, Jotul F500 vs Hearthstone Shelburne. Which would you choose?

Thanks everyone, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

F500 . . . I actually had the Shelburne as one of my top picks. In the end I went with the Oslo . . . very few folks seem to dislike the Oslo.
 

Lyn

New Member
Feb 21, 2013
4
Cumberland, Maine
Hello all! I have moved my family into a new to us house, which we will be installing a Fireview into come spring of 2014. I have started on our wood supply in preparation for next winter, and I wanted to get some feedback on my choice of stack, the holz hausen. With the wood I have right now, I'll be on track to build two of these. They are mostly composed of doug fir, alder, ash, and cedar. No hardwoods in the mix as of yet.

While reading through the threads, I don't see many of this style of stack being used and I'm wondering why What is the consensus?

Here is my first finished holz hausen.

 

Lyn

New Member
Feb 21, 2013
4
Cumberland, Maine
Hi, I have been stacking wood like this for the last 35 years and wouldn't do it any other way. When we first got our wood stove I stacked in rows and as the wood dried the rows would become unstable and fall so I got to stack the wood again or the melting and refreezing of the snow would freeze it in place until Spring (plus I was always worried that the wood would fall on one of my kids, the cats, or the dog).. Stacking the wood once was more than enough for me and I was looking for a way to get around this problem. Back then there was an oil embargo going on and lots of people were heating with wood. There were several magazines about heating with wood and one of them talked about how Scandinavians stacked their wood in circles called Holz Hausens. They would put ten cords in each one. The purpose of the pole in the center was to tell them which stack was the driest because as the wood dries the stack shrinks and more of the pole shows. I have tried it with and without the pole and found that the pole helps me to keep things centered. I have read a lot of posts on this subject and there are a lot of misconceptions. No where in that article did it say that the wood would be dry in 3 months. Drying time would be affected by the type of wood, the weather, and how tightly it is stacked. I don't use pallets or gravel to stack on. I live in Cumberland, Maine and the soil in our yard is sand as far down as they can dig so I stack on the ground. I start of with half rounds in a circle and then stack the wood so that the outside end is angled up and the inside end is down. The wood in the center is stacked on end starting at the pole and working out until it meets the wood of the outside circle. This is supposed to facilitate air circulation much like a chimney and helps the drying process. (That's what the article said) You continue this process till it is as tall as you want it to be and then gradually stack the outside circle so that it is level and then so that the inside end angles up. The wood that is standing on end in the center must continue to reach the outer circle all the way up because as the outside circle of wood dries it will lean on the inner layers of wood and that is what will keep the stack stable for as many years as you want. The people who toss their wood into the center of the circle are going to get less wood in the stack and it will not be stable. Put bark on the top and you are all set. In 35 years I have only had part of one fall and that was because I used what I call "cheaters". Cheaters are those thin pieces of wood placed sideways to keep the outside circle angled downward. They will dry and cause the stack to be unstable. I put about 1 1/2 to 2 cords in each stack by choice. Make it too wide and you can't reach the center easily and make it too tall and you risk a log dropping down on you as you try to get it down from the top. (This is me speaking from experience). I make my stacks a little less than 7' tall because my husband is 6' tall. I am only 5' 3" so when I am finishing a stack I end up climbing on to it and walking on top of it. The stack should be that stable even then. I have often said you could party on them and they wouldn't fall down. I know this all sounds like it should take forever to build these things but it doesn't. My husband splits the wood right next to where our next stack will be. I know that some folks have said they would never walk in circles to stack wood but when you have it in rows you have to walk from one end to the other a lot of times. Walking is walking. So does it dry wood quicker? I don't know because I have never timed it. Does it dry wood well? Absolutely. Does it take forever to build one of these? I don't think so but I have not stacked in rows for 35 years and I don't have a stop watch running. All I do know is that I only have to stack the wood once.
Oh, and a minor additional benefit of stacking wood this way is that they aren't just stacks of wood, they are conversation pieces. I hope this way too long explanation helps.
woods 3.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Woody Stover

Therivermonster

Burning Hunk
Dec 10, 2013
115
Tacoma, WA
Hi Lyn! Thanks for the great post.

Both of our holtzies are holding up well so far. The wood seems to be drying OK as well.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,285
Southern IN
gradually stack the outside circle so that it is level and then so that the inside end angles up.
About how far up the stack would you say that you are, generally, when the splits become level?
I may try one. I stack double rows on pallets, and the stacks are in the woods, so I have to deal with leaves, catkins, etc. getting between the rows.
 
Last edited:

Lyn

New Member
Feb 21, 2013
4
Cumberland, Maine
I start leveling off at around 2/3 of the way up and at the same time I start to use shorter pieces . I do level for a 2-3 layers (depending on how big the wood is and then start to reverse the angle so that the inside end is angled up and the outside end is angled down. I took a couple more pictures to illustrate some of the directions in my previous post. These were just taken yesterday so this is the remaining wood from one of the Holz Hausens. base of stack.jpg Center of pile.jpg
This just shows the base. This is looking down into the center
I tried to take a photo to show the changes in the angle of the wood but it doesn't really show up all that well. I guess I would have to be currently building one to do that. I thought about things that I have learned from stacking wood this way and one of them is that, like everything else in life, a good foundation (base) is the most important means to success. Try to use half rounds that are the same height because using a big, fat piece of wood and then a little skinny one next to it just makes everything harder in the long run. Let the first few layers of the outer circle hang out a few inches over the half rounds base and then gradually move them in a bit and make the upright wood in the center be a little less wide to get that cone or beehive shape. It adds stability and it protects the inside wood from snow and ice. You can see how clean the ends of the center wood is after being exposed to the elements since last October. I don't use a tarp to cover these because I don't need to. Our wood stove is a Jotel Combi 1 (an antique by now, I'm sure) but it is little and only takes 12 to 14 inch logs. If the logs were longer I think it would be easier but if I can do it with wood that short then any length of wood will work. Give it a try. I will be happy to answer any questions, Good luck
 
Status
Not open for further replies.