How important is loose stacking in a drying stack?

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Sep 2, 2020
122
UP, Michigan, USA
I have 3 cords of mixed hard and soft maple that was cut last winter. The splits are all between 16 and 18 inches long and between 2 and 5 inches across.

I want to burn them this coming winter.

I am stacking them uncovered, in 1 split deep stacks in a breezy, sunny place on a drying rack made of 2X4s.

I find that if I try to stack the splits so the stack is stable and not prone to falling, there is not much room between the splits. In other words, they fit closely one to the other.

Questions:
I had heard that you need to make a drying stack so air can flow well between the splits. How important is this? Do I just accept my loosely stacked, unstable stacks falling down sometimes?
 

Stinkpickle

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
588
Iowa
Air flow certainly helps. You can stack them log cabin style, and they should remain stable with good air flow.
 

BigJ273

Feeling the Heat
Feb 15, 2015
482
Maryland
You should definitely top cover them. I prefer metal roofing panels. About $12 each. I don’t like tarps because they trap the moisture.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
1,750
Colorado
Sean why is your wood pile "unsteady" cannot you make it stronger or something and your working with a lot of wood---figure out something to make them "dry" but safe for you---maybe stack them long ways or something and put a good wood roof on there too and maybe let the air flow through that area up top or something---make holes in the sides or something---I am no expert but I see you are working with a lot of wood and want it to be safe for you---Build a new wood shed.....Go for it.---lol mrs clancey
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,177
SW Missoura
If you stack 1 row deep it doesn't really matter how tight you stack it....it will get plenty of airflow regardless. I stack mine like putting a puzzle together. I probably take longer than most folks to stack wood but I certainly don't enjoy bailing hay twice. And definitely top cover like others said. I use old metal roofing panels and they work excellent.
 
Sep 2, 2020
122
UP, Michigan, USA
Air flow certainly helps. You can stack them log cabin style, and they should remain stable with good air flow.
If you stack 1 row deep it doesn't really matter how tight you stack it....it will get plenty of airflow regardless. I stack mine like putting a puzzle together. I probably take longer than most folks to stack wood but I certainly don't enjoy bailing hay twice. And definitely top cover like others said. I use old metal roofing panels and they work excellent.
Thanks.
How do you keep the panels from blowing away?
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,340
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I pack it tight, green, like a big 5 cord cube in a shed on foam pallets. Plenty of airflow despite 6 rows deep and tight stacking. 12% moisture in 18 months.

Top covering is only pretty good but better than nothing. Rain blows sideways and drips off of the top cover onto the wood. Get a shed.
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,177
SW Missoura
Thanks.
How do you keep the panels from blowing away?

Throw a few unsplittabled or some nasty crotch pieces on top of each piece. I use cinder blocks but that's because I have an excess of them. Make sure and layer the panels like shingles so water doesn't run under the downhill panels. Yes sheds are better than top covering but unless i had the lumber already I wouldn't think of building one right now.
 
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moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,853
Iowa
Stacks at my place have evolved from 3 splits wide to 2. I get quicker/uniform drying this way. Stacked on pallets in full sun/wind. No top cover. I tried tarps and they were a dismal failure. Any other top cover simply gets picked up by the wind and blown off out here.
 
Sep 2, 2020
122
UP, Michigan, USA
I just remembered that I have a few bundles of leftover roofing shingles. I think I can fashion something with that, the ironwood poles I have on-hand and the ideas from the comments here.

Thanks All!
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,625
Northern NH
This works well. I use long deck screws to screw into the ends of the logs.

That stack is two rows wide but I leave about a 12" gap between the rows at the bottom and throw loose "uglies" and shorts in the gap as I build up the stack. I lean each row inwards as I go. I also weave long sticks of firewood the width of the stack in with the firewood as I stack about half the height. That pile is mostly beech and it was dry in one year.

The top covering is old plastic sign stock similar to AZEK used for trim in houses these days. It overhangs front and back about 8"

top cover.JPG

The second photo shows that I use what I have. I am doing a "solar kiln" on one stack. Metal roofing set up like the plastic above and two stacks have old galvanized roofing set on top of pallets on top of the pile with some pallets on top of the tin to keep it from blowing off. That is better than nothing but I prefer the method above P6080263.JPG
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,177
SW Missoura
I drill holes in mine. Then use thick, tough string and run it from the panel and then to a screw drilled into the pallet or a piece of wood at the bottom
I do something similar on some of my stacks. I drill the edges of the panels and use tie wire ran through them going under the stack and tie back to itself up top. I live on top of a hill and catch a lot of wind here and that works best with little investment. Some day I hope to have a shed like Highbeam lol. It's pretty nice.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
1,750
Colorado
I see on the last pictures a flatter top cover (peakbagger) would not a slanted roof work better for I am about to get my carpenter to build me a "tiny" wood shed maybe holding about 1/4 or 1/2 cord of wood--think about 48 inches in length and divided in half with a slant roof with on those Deck Blocks and maybe about five foot high and open in the front but the roof could this be less slanted like yours? c
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,625
Northern NH
As long as there is some slope for the water to run off I just keep it simple. The key is with a double stack to make sure the roof overhangs all four sides. All stacks had 2' high piles of compressed snow on top of them at one point in the spring. The stacks with the slanted roof dripped down off the lower edge and I eventually pushed the blocks off. The two stacks with pallets on top held onto the blocks much longer and no doubt more water got into the stack. The black plastic just sagged until it was on top of the wood pile

Note there devices called a solar kiln than can be used to dry firewood or lumber. The have a slanted roof facing forwards with translucent panels to capture the sun. There are also circulation fans and an internal baffle. They will dry the wood very quickly but they cost more than few bucks to build. Here is link to one of the many YouTube videos on the Virginia tech design Solar Kiln Overview - YouTube. In my case my town has high property taxes and if I build a structure like a woodshed they tax me on it every year. By building a roof over wood pile with the roof supported by the wood pile they can not tax it. Same with the black plastic enclosure, when the wood is dry it takes me 20 minutes to take down.

I also have another stack that uses long metal roofing panels. On that one I set it up so that the slant goes left to right with the slant facing into the prevailing wind.
 

hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
660
Indiana
The soft maple could be ready. Hard maple -- another year would help.