Do you know how to stack firewood? What’s the best way to stack firewood? Who taught you? It’s simple once you know how to do it, but there is a right way and wrong way to stack firewood. We tell you how to do it right and we recommend some powerful tools to harvest the firewood yourself.
“Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice”Henry Ford
Table of Contents...
- 1 How to Stack Firewood — The Right Way
- 2 The Tools for Harvesting Firewood
- 2.1 The Timeless Chainsaw
- 2.2 Log Splitters: The Ultimate Firewood Machine
- 2.3 Related posts:
How to Stack Firewood — The Right Way
Turning that old tree in your backyard into a stack of firewood is a great way to dispose of any mess resulting from tree removal while also helping to keep your home warm during the cold winter months. However, if you think that simply piling the cut wood into a heap is all there is to creating firewood, you are sadly mistaken. If you want your new pile of firewood to burn properly when the time comes to use it, you will need to ensure that it is first stacked properly.
In order for firewood to burn properly, it must first be seasoned. This simply means that the wood is allowed to dry until its moisture content is right around 20%.
If firewood is not seasoned properly, the excess moisture content in the wood will cause your fire to be harder to light. You will also find that your fire requires far more attention to keep burning and will produce a significantly larger amount of smoke. Finally, you may find that your firewood develops mold and mildew that prevents it from being safely burned inside your home. All of these issues can be avoided by learning how to stack your firewood properly.
Where to Stack Your Firewood?
The first step in creating a proper firewood stack is to select the best location. Since dead wood can make a great home for termites, you will want to ensure that the stack is several feet away from your home’s foundation, as well as any decks or sheds that may surround your home.
When selecting a location for your stack you will also need to consider any drainage issues that your yard may have. If your home is built on a slope, you will want to ensure that the stack is placed at the height of the slope in order to prevent moisture from draining under the stack after a heavy rain or snowfall.
Finally, ensure that the location you have picked receives plenty of sunlight during the day. This will help to speed up the drying process so that your firewood is ready when the cold temperatures begin to roll in.
Video — Firewood Seasoning Tips
Creating Towers To Secure Your Stack
Just like a row of books on a shelf, your firewood stack will require stability at both ends in order to prevent it from falling over. This can be done using several pieces of firewood that are approximately the same size.
Begin by laying two pieces of firewood parallel to one another. Next, place two more pieces of wood on top so that they are laying perpendicular to the original logs. Continue this process until the stack is at least six layers high. While you can build the stack higher, remember to never build the stack so high that it can no longer maintain structural integrity. This stack will serve as a type of bookend for your firewood.
After you have completed the first stack, repeat this process several feet away in order to mark the other end of firewood stack and provide the stability necessary to begin stacking your wood.
Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
VIDEO: How I Stack Firewood and Why
Stacking Your Firewood
Now that you are finally ready to begin stacking your firewood, the first thing you will need to do is determine which direction is west. This is important since a large portion of the wood’s moisture will be expelled through the cut ends. Providing proper air flow around these ends is essential to promoting fast and efficient drying. Since wind patterns typically shift from east to west, it is important to lay your logs so that they are facing in this direction rather than laying them from north to south.
Once you have determined which direction your logs should be positioned in, begin your stack by laying firewood in an irregular pattern. For instance, you will want to alternate the sizes and shapes of the logs so that air is able to circulate between each log. You will also want to place each log a small distance apart in order promote faster drying.
Continue this process until your stack has reached the same height as the towers that were constructed in the previous step. If you have any firewood remaining, you will need to create a second stack. Do not attempt to simply throw the last few pieces on top of an already full stack. Not only will this interfere with proper air flow, but it can also compromise the structural integrity of your stack and cause the support towers to give way.
VIDEO:Splitting Firewood the Right Way
A Few Final Tips for Stacking Firewood
- If you find yourself struggling when creating your firewood stack, keep these few simple tips in mind.
- A stable support tower is key to the success of your stack. If the tower is wobbling at all, try using different pieces of wood. Do not attempt to create your stack until after the tower is completely secure.
- It can take as long as 8 months for wood to dry even when stacked properly. If your firewood was cut at different times, be sure to stack it separately. This will ensure that you always know what wood is ready to burn and what wood requires more time in the stack.
- Smaller firewood stacks provide greater air flow and stability. When stacking a large amount of wood, always consider making multiple stacks rather than creating a single large stack.
- If your firewood has been sitting around for a while waiting to be stacked, be sure to check each piece of wood for signs of mold or other fungi prior to adding it to the stack. This will prevent your entire stockpile from becoming compromised by a bad piece of wood.
- While stacking firewood can be a calming and enjoyable experience for many people, it also serves a very important purpose. Without proper airflow, your firewood will not be able to serve its intended purpose of keeping your home warm while producing a beautiful and constant glow. Consequently, it is important to ensure your firewood is stacked securely with plenty of room for air to flow around each piece of wood.
VIDEO: Stacking Firewood in a Circular Pile
The Tools for Harvesting Firewood
The Timeless Chainsaw
Some people buy their firewood and have it delivered directly to their home. This is the most convenient way to get firewood but this is also the most expensive way. Another approach is to harvest the firewood yourself, whether that means using your own trees or trekking into the woods, with your permit, and harvesting wood legal in local forests or bucking fallen trees
If your budget is tight and you like doing the work, then making your own firewood logs can be quite satisfying, but you will need some serious tools to get it done. A gas chainsaw is essential for felling large trees over 16 inches. Even though gas chainsaws have their shortcomings, they are the most powerful type of chainsaw available. For high-volumes of wood and if you’re cutting hardwood, I recommend a chainsaw with at least a 50cc engine and a 20″ bar and chain. This is for cutting wood under 18-inches.
Of course, for larger logs, consider the ECHO CS-590 (59.8cc/24″) or the Makita EA7900PRZ2 (79ccc). The advantage of gas chainsaws is they come in all shapes and sizes, and you can run them all day far away from electricity, as long as you have gasoline on hand. They’re great for power but fall short when it comes to comfort, convenience, emissions and health.
Excellent Gas Chainsaw for Large Trees and Logs: Echo CS-590 / 59.8cc
Let’s be honest, inhaling toxic emissions isn’t healthy. Besides fumes, gas chainsaws are fairly heavy, especially the more powerful 50cc models and higher. Maintenance is also a big chore and you can’t avoid it with a gas engine. Unfortunately, this is the price you pay for power. Lastly, they’re noisy and you should definitely be wearing hearing protection to save your hearing.
On the other side of the equation, it’s possible to use an electric chainsaw to fell trees or for bucking trees up to 16″ in diameter. The term electric refers to either corded-electric chainsaws or battery-fueled saws. In 2023 you can buy a cordless chainsaw with as much power as a 45cc gas chainsaw. They’re not the toys they used to be, albeit some are, but the top brands make rugged chainsaws.
The only caveat I have with a good quality electric chainsaw is you’ll need an extra set of batteries, and maybe two extra sets of batteries. As you know, batteries only last so long, usually under 45 minutes for a 5Ah battery. The more you push the chainsaw the shorter the battery life. In theory, if you had two sets of batteries charging at all times you can run your cordless chainsaw all day.
The drawback to this method is you’ll need to have access to electricity wherever you are. In other words, if you had a small inverter generator with you, you can plug in your charger(s) and have it running while your bucking logs. It’s more expensive this way, but if you have the money, you won’t have to endure the fumes and the loud saw in your ears and face. Another consideration is speed, and although cordless chainsaws like the new EGO Power+ 1610 (see below) are getting faster, they’re still slower to cut wood than gas.
For high volume wood, gas can’t be beat.
New Breed of Cordless Chainsaws: EGO Power+ 1610 — As Powerful as a 40cc Gas Saw
Log Splitters: The Ultimate Firewood Machine
For making your perfect firewood logs, there’s nothing better than a gas log splitter. They come in electric and gas but no battery powered machines just yet. Maybe next year, or the year after. I’m sure a cordless log splitter is coming soon. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Here’s the hard truth about splitting logs into firewood — if you want hardwood firewood then you need a lot of splitting force some the hardest woods. A 30-ton is your minimum tonnage if you have a lot of hardwood logs, and it may not be enough for ultra-dense woods like Hickory; that requires about 1800 lbs-force, depending on species. A 37-Ton will be able to handle the hardest hardwoods even if they’re green. Seasoned logs are the easiest to split and green is tougher.
A log splitter can take a small log or large log, up to about 25″ in length and split it into two or 4 pieces, depending on the wedge you use — all you have to do is get the log in the right place. If you intend to split many cords of wood this season then you’ll want a powerful log splitter with a fast cycle time believe it or not, an electric model is a good choice if you plan on using it near an electrical outlet.
Powerful 30-Ton Log Splitter with a Kohler 196cc engine: XtremePowerUS
When I really think about it, it’s so much easier buying firewood as long as you can afford it. But most people don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on buying multiple cords of firewood. Harvesting trees into firewood is an ancient tradition and reminds us of how difficult life was long before humans got their TVs and smartphones. It should come as no surprise that splitting firewood is common. As our winters get colder and the power grid becomes more unreliable, firewood might be the most reliable source of heat.
As long as you protect your firewood from moisture, you’ll be able to burn it for heat and cooking. The power grid in most cities and towns were built decades ago, when electricity was initially brought to the region. Even though they’ve been upgraded over the years, they’re still showing their age, especially in Texas and California. Rolling blackouts are increasing in frequency during the moments when we need it the most, like scorching heat waves and freezing winter nights.
Powerful 20″ Corded-Electric Wood Splitter: SuperHandy 20-Ton
In order to prevent a complete shutdown of the power grid city officials have to initiate rolling blackouts. It seems that the only thing keeping humans civil and civilized is electricity. I fear that widespread electricity outages for the long-term will truly turn us back into the wild animals we all are.
Your firewood would be worth its weight in gold if the circumstances are just right. Let’s hope it doesn’t get that bad. For now, keep practicing the art of firewood harvesting and consider it practice for the worst case scenario.