Stacking Firewood – How to Stack Firewood

Before you learn how to stack firewood, you may want to decide whether you really want to stack it in the first place. What is the purpose of stacking firewood?

Stacking your wood creates a pile with a smaller footprint, requiring less storage area, and a neatly stack pile looks nicer than a random pile. Stacked firewood also keeps more of the wood off the ground so it can get better air circulation, which helps to keep the wood dry and clean. Many people choose to simply leave the wood in a random heap. It’s up to you to decide whether the extra labor is worth the benefits of stacking firewood.

After choosing where to store your firewood, starting with a foundation is the first step. A well built firewood rack is ideal, but not necessary. I don’t have one myself. It is best if you can stack the wood off the ground. Something as simple as a couple 2×4’s or other similar material laid down parallel on the ground is good. These should be spaced apart to accommodate the length of the pieces of firewood to be stacked perpendicular on top of them.

The purpose of this is to keep the wood off the ground. This helps keep the wood dry and clean and allows air to circulate under the wood. And with the wood being supported at the ends of the pieces, instead of the middle, helps to create a more stable stack, especially when you have uneven and crooked pieces. It’s the same concept of tires on a car being placed on the edge of the car, and not in the middle. If the tires were placed in the middle, the car would easily tip over.

After that, stacking the wood is simple. Taking a little extra care to stack the wood with the ends as even with each other and fitting the pieces together tightly will help to create a more stable stack. It is easy to not pay attention and stack the wood to where it starts to lean. If this starts to happen, you can sometimes push the leaning stack to where it is straight, but better to do it right in the first place. Too much lean and the stack could fall over.

If you don’t have a firewood rack, you can simple slope the ends of the stack. Or there are ways to make nice vertical ends if you would like. A common way is to criss cross the ends of the stack. I have done this many times and it works well, but is not always the most stable option. There are many ways to use a post or other object at the ends of the stack to make a vertical end. But that is another article for another day.

If your wood needs to be dried, a helpful technique is to leave some space between parallel stacks or between stacks and any wall or other surface. Just a few inches allows for better air circulation to help with drying.

If the wood is green, keep in mind that wood shrinks as it dries. As it shrinks, there will be some shifting. If one side is exposed to the sun or open air more than the other, that end of the individual pieces will dry and shrink faster than the other. This will cause the stack to lean in that direction. I have had many stacks fall over for that reason. One solution is to plan in advance and stack the wood with a lean in the opposite direction. And sometimes you have to keep an eye on it and push it back upright when it starts to lean too much.

And of course, think safety. Stacks of wood can and do fall over sometimes. So be sure to place them so they won’t damage anything important if they do. Check with local safety officials and do not let children climb on stacks.

5 thoughts on “Stacking Firewood – How to Stack Firewood”

  1. Hello Madrone Firewood,

    One comment about just leaving firewood in a pile; I’ve tried that, and found that the center of the pile does not cure well. I’ve moved piles of firewood that were 8 to ten months old only to find that two feet below the surface of the pile, the wood is damp and mouldy.

    If you want to cure firewood in a pile, it must be in a shed or barn where it gets no rain on it and the ground is bone dry. (Some state parks in Vermont store and sell fireplace wood that way and it is quite dry in only a few months.)

    Love your comments on stacking firewood. If folks want to cover their stacked firewood, only cover the top and a few inches down the side. This allows plenty of air to circulate and dry the woood. I’ve seen seasoned stacked wood that has been rained on for three days, and only the top few pieces are wet,and those are only wet on the surface. Throw that wet wood in a hot airtight wood stove, and you can’t tell it from dry wood, it burns fine.

    Keep up the good work,
    Dave

  2. What a great article. I work at a lumber yard and have spent some time looking at wood shed plans and there isn’t much that you can do for under $450. I may be shooting big at 4’x8′-8′.

    I like the approach of covering the top few inches of the file with a tarp. Maybe that and some 4×4 posts paired at the ends of the pile is the cheapest way to go and still have a neat dry stack.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  3. I have a lot of green oak logs is it better to stack them parallel to the ground or is it better to stand them up to let moist to enter the log and then it freezes and does some splitting and drying?

  4. I like the look of stacked wood, but do you know how messy split wood is? We heat part of our house on wood and I can say that the conerr we keep the wood inside to the stove is very messy!

  5. It sure is messy but I’ll bet, that since this wood’s primary use is dcvroatiee, the bark has been stripped, making it far less messy. I would also bet it’s only used for kindling, and infrequently at that!

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