How to Build a Firewood Rack

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A firewood rack is a great place to keep your supply of wood organized and easy to access. You can use any species of wood for this project, but it's best to choose one that grows with little taper and few branches. Eastern red cedar, white cedar and aspen are all good options. This is a project you can easily knock out it a couple days, after you have the trees harvested. If you harvest the materials yourself, building a firewood rack is very inexpensive.

Firewood stored off the ground seasons faster and shelters fewer pests.
(Jeff Farris)

Things You'll Need

  • 4 inch log sections 6 to 7 feet long (4)
  • 3 inch log sections 5 to 6 feet long (4)
  • 2 inch log sections 3 to 4 feet long (4)
  • Chain saw
  • 4 inch fixed blade knife
  • Angle grinder with wood carving disk (optional)
  • Draw knife (optional)
  • 1 1/2 inch tenon cutter
  • 1 1/2 inch drill bit
  • Heavy duty drill (1/2 inch chuck)
  • Heavy mallet
Step 1

Ideally, you can build this project taking down just four trees. Try locating trees with minimal taper, 14 to 16 feet tall, and about 4 inches in diameter at the base. Depending on species, you'll probably find that the diameter has narrowed to about 3 inches, 6 or 7 feet up from the base. This gives you the next section, and if the taper continues normally, after 5 or 6 feet it will likely be down to 2 inches. In the field, cut the logs to the approximate lengths indicated in the Things You'll Need list.

Things you'll need to make a firewood rack.
Jeff Farris
Step 2

Lay the four largest logs next to each other on a workbench. Adjust them laterally until the bases are as closely matched in diameter as possible. Mark each with a brightly colored marker at the point where you intend to cut them to make the bottom of each vertical post. Cut each at the mark. Mark each at 5 feet 6 inches and cut to length. Repeat the process for the long horizontal rails, cutting them to 4 feet 6 inches and for the short stretchers cutting them to 14 inches.

Align the logs so that they uniform in diameter at the base.
Jeff Farris
Step 3

Strip the bark of each log section. Start by probing with the knife, finding the soft layer between the bark and the trunk. Pry up, grab and rip the bark off. The sooner you do this after dropping the trees the better.

Strip the bark from each section.
Jeff Farris
Step 4

Smooth down branch junctions even with the trunk. This can be done with a drawknife, but it is much faster using an angle grinder with a wood carving disc.

Smooth branch stubs even with the trunks.
Jeff Farris
Step 5

Stand the four vertical posts on end, selecting which side will face in and out. Any bow or curve should be adjusted so that it has minimum impact on the rails and stretchers.

Determine alignment of the posts.
Jeff Farris
Step 6

Make a pencil mark close to the end of each post on the face oriented toward the distant post. Make another mark a foot from the end of each post on the face oriented toward the close post. This alignment and marking makes it simple to keep your right/left orientation correct when drilling.

Mark faces.
Jeff Farris
Step 7

Clamp a vertical post to the workbench with the face that has the mark close to the end facing straight up. Measure 5 1/2 inches from the bottom and make a mark at the top center of the post. Make another mark at 63 1/2 inches. Drill 1 1/2 inch holes at both locations to a depth of 2 3/4 inches. Make sure they are aligned to each other and keep the drill vertical as you drill. Repeat for the other three posts.

Drill rail holes.
Jeff Farris
Step 8

Cut a tenon with the tenon cutter on the end of one of the short stretchers or a similarly sized piece of scrap. Press it into the hole at the bottom of one of the posts. Lay the post on the workbench with the pencil mark indicating the stretcher holes (one foot from the end) facing up. Shim under the end of the piece mounted in the hole until it is parallel with the workbench surface. Now the top of the post should be perpendicular to the hole just drilled. Mark at 12 inches and 57 inches and drill 1 1/2 inch holes at each point as in the previous step. Repeat for the other three posts.

Make sure your second set of holes are perpendicular to the first.
Jeff Farris
Step 9

Cut tenons on the ends of the horizontal rails and the short stretchers. Use a drill with a side handle and keep a firm grip on the drill at all times. Watch your alignment carefully, keeping the tenon centered on the workpieces.

Keep a firm grip when cutting tenons.
Jeff Farris
Step 10

If your rail sections are slightly too large to start your tenon cutter, taper them with the angle grinder.

Taper ends for an easier start.
Jeff Farris
Step 11

Assemble the wood rack, knocking the joints together with a large mallet or scrap of firewood. It will likely hold together very well on its own, but you can add an exterior grade wood screw to each joint for added stability.

Assembled rack half full of firewood.
Jeff Farris

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not harvest trees from public or private land without explicit permission.
  • Read, understand and follow all manufacturer's recommended safety procedures when using power tools.
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