How to Stack Firewood Outdoors

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There are any number of ways to stack wood outdoors, but which way works the best?

Things You'll Need

  • Several Wooden Pallets
  • An Appropriately Sized Tarp
  • At Least 4 Three Foot Lengths of Rope.
  • A Place to Stack
  • If you heat exclusively with wood or just supplement your heat with it there is one thing that you will need. That one thing is dry firewood.
    If trees are cut down after the sap has run out of them they naturally dry faster than if they are full of sap. There are two types of wet wood, and they are either wet from sap, also called green wood, or wet from water. A combination of both will make your drying process take longer, but not to worry, it'll be dry before you know it.

  • Let's say that you buy or chop a cord of wood, which is measured as enough wood to fill an area 4' x 8' x 4' high. The first thing to do is to make sure that the wood you bought or chopped is the right size to fit in your stove. Next, place four wooden pallets on the ground in a square pattern making sure that the ground is flat and level.
    Some people might want to spray some grass killer under the pallets to stop any growth that will be a pain to trim because of the close proximity to the pallets.
    Spraying an insecticide on the immediate area will also aid in the stopping of any insects that will want to use your woodpile as a home.

  • All of the wood is going to be placed on these pallets, but its the how that matters. The object of stacking is to allow the wood to dry but also to make sure that the pile is secure enough to remain upright and in tact for the next several months.
    As a rule of thumb, wood should be stacked close enough together so that a mouse can run between it, but not a cat!

  • The four corners are the critical places for your pile. Place your flattest and most stable pieces of wood there. Similar thicknesses of wood should be stacked next to them by a watchful eye to insure that the pile is going up evenly. The corners are what will hold back the weight of a row of wood, so set them first. We want most of the wood to have the ends facing out from the pallet, or perpendicular. In other words, don't stack the entire row of wood parallel to the pallet with the long side of the wood showing.

  • Let's take one side of the pallet grouping and deal with that first. As you look at the pallet, lets call the corners front right and front left, back right and back left. The front right corner has a piece of wood perpendicular to the pallet placed completely at the corner. Next on the front side should be three parallel pieces to the right, all of which are the same length as each other and match the height of the corner piece. Place them three deep right next to the front right corner piece. Still building the front side, do the same placement of three parallel pieces next to the front left corner piece. Now, place perpendicular pieces next to each other to completely fill in the first level of the front row.

  • Repeat this process on all four sides and finish the first level completely. Next you need to reverse the process. Go to the front right corner and place three parallel pieces deep on top of your first level perpendicular piece. Watch your height variances. Keep them as close in height as you can. Do the same for the front left corner and now fill the entire row in with perpendicular pieces. All the force of all those fill in pieces is being held in place by the parallel pieces in the corners. Repeat the process all around to complete level two.

  • Keep alternating levels like that, always reversing the placement of wood on each level. As you get better at the process it will get easier. Always, if given a choice, have wood tip back towards the center of the pallets as opposed to tipping downwards towards the outsides of the pallets. We want to keep the weight of the wood heading towards the center of the pile instead of leaning precariously outward.
    Remember, that as your wood dries, it will shift in the pile, so the best idea is to keep it always pointing up and in instead out down and out. After you do a few rows, take a smaller piece of wood and tap the ends of the perpendiculars a few times to get them pushed back in as far as they will go. Stability of the pile is what we're after.

  • Build the pile until you either run out of wood, or it gets too high for you to reach the top. As you put on the top layer of your pile, remember not to have any sharp points sticking up because you'll be putting the tarp on next. Keep your pile as flat on top as you can. Any big depressions can turn into water-holes after the first rain and we don't want a breeding ground for mosquitoes. We don't want the water up there either because its like the Sword of Damocles hanging as a threat over our drying wood.

  • Take a tarp that has no holes in it and is big enough to cover the entire pile and provide a two or three foot drape on all sides. Tie your lengths of rope to the four corner pieces and as many others as would make you comfortable. Now, carefully place, not drag, your cover over the top of the pile. Remember that our tarp is of no use to us if we put a hole in it. Center the tarp and tie all of the ropes to the pallets. You did it! Congratulations! You're a wood stacker!

Tips & Warnings

  • If you can place your woodpile where a lot of wind blows on it, that will speed up the drying process.
  • If you can get good enough to build your pile so that each row going up is a fraction of an inch out further than the one below it, then when you add the top row it will be like an overhanging roof keeping all of the lower rows back out of the rain.
  • Have all your ropes fastened to the tarp already so once your ready to put it on you can do it quickly especially if you are doing it by yourself and it's a windy day.
  • If you are going to build each level out a fraction of an inch, don't get carried away and start going out several inches per level or you may have some serious stability problems.
  • As you are building the pile always make sure of your surroundings and that you have a quick exit route away from the pile if it starts to fall.
  • If it starts to fall, just get away and let it go. yYou can't hold it up!That wood weighs a lot more than you and can do serious harm to you if you aren't careful.

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