Learning how to stack firewood is very simple, but many people never learn the right ways to stack wood and end up experiencing catastrophic stack failure (technical term for stack tipping over). They end up having to re-stack it multiple times after it keeps falling over. Or maybe the wood dries very slowly because they didn’t know how to stack it so it will dry faster. Avoiding these problems are very easy, you just need to know a few tips.
So you just got a bunch of firewood and now the question now is, what to do with it? You could just throw it into a random heaping pile. That is what I do most of the time. Since I produce firewood commercially, stacking hundreds of cords of wood is just too much work. So why do people stack wood to begin with? Is it really necessary or is it just just something we do out of habit?
Why Do We Stack Firewood?
As I mentioned above, in my case, stacking that much firewood is just too much work. But if you have only have a cord of wood or even several cords, it may be well worth stacking.
There are several advantages to stacking firewood. Stacking can help it dry faster. For drying wood, air circulation is very important. Stacking wood gets the wood off the ground and exposes both ends of every piece to the open air. It can also expose more wood to the sun if it is outdoors. In a heaping pile, much of the wood is buried underneath where it never gets any sun and air flow is limited.
Stacked wood takes up less space than a heaping pile, it looks better, is easier to measure, is easier to cover, and it helps keep it cleaner by keeping it off the ground.
Stacking Firewood – The How To (finally)
The first thing is the foundation. You need something to stack the wood on. (how is that for stating the obvious?) You could stack it directly on the ground but soil contact will make for wet and dirty wood, and possibly even rotten wood if left long enough. A concrete slab or asphalt is fine to stack it on. A firewood rack is great, whether you buy one or build one. Two parallel poles, 2×4’s or similar material on the ground makes a great foundation. When the pieces are stacked perpendicular to them, they support the ends of the pieces but not the middle of the pieces. This prevents the teeter totter situation that can happen when something is supported in the middle, which could make the pile unstable. The space in the middle also allows air to flow under the pile.
From this point up it’s not exactly rocket science. Simple start putting pieces on top of the stack parallel to each other until the stack is as high as you want. Sounds simple right? It is, but there are a few things to do to prevent catastrophic stack failure (yes I made that term up all by myself).
Catastrophic stack failure can and does happen . The chances of this can be reduced by paying attention to how the pieces are being placed together. Make sure the stack is going up straight and be mindful of how the pieces are being fit together. Try to fit the pieces together so they are stable. I could go into detail on how to do that but I think you are smart enough to figure it out. In the photo to the left you can see how the pieces are intentionally fit together.
Supports on the end of the stacks can help make the stack more stable. Whether it’s stakes driven into the ground or a firewood rack or some other clever structure you invented. Ideas for how to build a firewood rack is an idea for another post at another time. If you do a search on this site maybe I will have made a post about that by the time you are reading this.
Criss-crossing the pieces on the ends like the picture above can work well for making nice vertical ends if you don’t have a rack or other end supports. This is not the most stable way to stack wood and takes some practice. This should be done after you have some experience stacking wood together tightly, otherwise catastrophic stack failure can result.
Another thing I see people do a lot is stack multiple rows parallel with no space between the stacks. Notice in the photo at the top of this article how the rows have space between them. This allows air to circulate around the end of every piece. If you don’t leave a space between them, this can be worse for air circulation than a heaping pile. The same goes if you are stacking the wood against a wall or fence. Leave a few inches between the stack and the surface.
The Sun Actually Pulls Stacks of Firewood Over?
At least that’s what my great grandma used to say. Many times if you stack green wood it will start to lean toward the sun, sometimes to the point of catastrophic stack failure. (you are just waiting for the day when you get a chance to use the term catastrophic stack failure aren’t you) Anyway, she always thought that the sun somehow pulled on the wood. But I think it has more to do with the sunny side drying and shrinking faster.
Which ever one of those theories you believe, this leaning problem is something that does happen. So if the wood is green, you may want to stack it with a little lean away from the sun to help compensate.
So there you have it, you are now a firewood stacking expert. If you have any questions or comments please post them below.