How to Stack and Store Firewood
There's more than one way to stack firewood. Jared and Jake cover wood stacking techniques including how to properly load wood into firewood drying racks to improve airflow.
Welcome back to RuggaMade, folks. I'm Jared and we've got our VIP guest here, Jake, from Dude Ranch DIY. Hey, everybody! So, Jake's been visiting with us for a while and we've made a whole bunch of videos. I hope you've been checking those out. We've been splitting a lot of wood, so the wood is piling up. That led us to the question of how do you stack and store your wood? Or, do you even stack it? How do you store your wood, whether it's long term or short term? Is it for seasoning purposes or just to grab from to burn? All those kinds of topics.
So, why don't we start by looking at sort of a best case scenario if you've got the resources to store it inside? Yeah, that's nice. So, we got kind of a nice storage shed here; nice, dry wood. So, do you ever store wood like this or do you have friends [and] family members who do? I, personally, don't because I don't have the means to do it with a nice little shed like this. My shed is filled with a lot of tools and equipment but I think this is a great option if you do have something like this and you can afford to put your wood in here as kind of like a final resting place before you burn it for that season, I think. Because, obviously you can't store years and years worth of wood in here, you're limited in space, but if you're you have wood outside somewhere drying and seasoning for a couple years and then you're ready to burn it that season, this acts as a final resting place for it for you to pull from over the winter. That way, you're guaranteed that you know your wood is staying nice and dry out of the elements. It no longer really needs all that airflow and the sun to bake all that humidity and moisture out of it, so I can see here we got it up on some pallets which is nice to minimize the ground contact and just keep that ground moisture out of there. I mean, it looks like it's some pretty nice, dry stuff. Yeah. Oh, yeah. This is some premium hardwood here. Yeah, that's going to burn nice and quick. Yeah, I mean, here you've got the advantage of no rain issues, so you don't have to throw a tarp on and pull the tarp back every time you want to grab some. Right. In this case, it's nice and close to the house so even in the winter, trudging through the snow, it's not far to go. Just grab a bundle. Absolutely.
But now, there are plenty of other ways to store and stack wood. In this case, would you bring wet wood into a shed like this where it's not going to get any sun and not very much airflow? I guess it kind of depends on your timeframe. Me, personally, I wouldn't because I think sun and airflow are pretty much your two biggest factors, next to time, of course, but it's certainly a viable option. I just think it's probably going to end up taking longer for the wood to season and fully dry rather than being outside, exposed to that wind and sunlight.
All right. Well, why don't we head over to another part of the farm and look at some other ways to store wood. Even if you had a place like this you know, if you're trying to pile up and get ahead of the game and store like a year or two worth of wood, you're going to have to be outside, of course. So, we've got some racks. You mentioned pallets? We can also use pallets outside. Absolutely. So, why don't we head over there? We've got to stack up the wood that we just split anyway. All right. Let's do it. Sounds good.
So, for the average homeowner who’s just doing a typical amount of splitting and they just need a place to store a couple of cord, maybe. So, we've set up a rack here outside the barn. Let's stack up the wood and that's going to pretty much do it for the average person. Yeah. I think these racks keep it nice and simple and they're relatively inexpensive. You can kind of change the length and everything of the amount it'll hold. Yep. It's pretty easy. At the end of the day, if you cut it 8' x 4' tall, you can get a cord pretty quick. Yep, that's exactly what the dimensions are here. It's just some 2x4 pressure-treated and, let's see how much of this wood will fit in there.
All right, so let's see how the pro stacks. Well, the nice thing about these racks is it kind of takes the guesswork out of it because you have sides and you're keeping it up off the ground so stacking goes pretty easy. I do, however, like to usually keep, with these triangle pieces, I like to keep one of the flat sides down for that first row. Yeah. That way, it's pretty stable and the other big thing is just making sure that your wood is nice and centered. You don't want the whole row to be tipping forward or backward one way or the other. Yeah. We have mostly consistent-length stuff but some of the shorter stuff I'm kind of setting aside so we don't want that to be the foundation. That's always good to put on the top but consistent length is always nice.
Now, do you ever care which side the bark is facing as far as rain getting in there or air? So, I typically like the bark to be kind of, like, down because it gives the wood a little bit more exposure to the sun, especially in those summer months when you can keep your wood uncovered for the most part but to each of their own. Some people like to think that [for] the wood on the top row, if the bark is exposed, that it'll help keep the rest of the wood dry, which I guess has a little bit of validity there.
So, you mentioned covering. So, once this is as high as we were going to go for the day, what would you do as far as covering and does it matter the time of year or type of wood? Well, I definitely think covering is important and when I cover wood or when you cover wood, if you're using a tarp, it's nice to keep the tarp just covering the very top of it. Maybe you can drape it down six inches on either side but if you cover the whole thing, it doesn't really give the moisture anywhere to go when it does escape the log. So, what can end up happening is you'll have wood drying out there and then you go to take the tarp off and there's all this condensation on the top of the tarp and that just keeps…it's like a cycle where it condenses up on the top and then drips back down, soaks the wood again, and the wood takes a lot longer to end up drying that way. So, the more airflow the better.
Some people don't even cover their wood because in the winter time it's cold, it's chilly, there's typically more wind and some people say wood dries better in the winter time because there isn't as much humidity in the air. So, it's kind of, like, to each their own.
With my IBC totes, I cover the top and that's pretty much it. I like as much airflow as possible to help dry it out as quickly as possible. All right. Well, that's a pretty good start. Yeah, definitely, and having these sides kind of takes all the guesswork out of it. [You] can kind of pile up one side and then work your way over and you don't have to worry about it falling. If you don't have the option of having the sides, you can always do the “log cabin” method; however, I found that that does typically take a little bit more [precision] and a little bit more time to be able to get those nice even log-cabin ends. That way, it doesn't end up falling over. You almost have to be kind of a stonemason finding the perfect interlocking pieces, which can take more time but, in the end, you can make a nice stack of wood anywhere and you don't need to have the two by fours which is definitely a good option. However, this kind of, like I said, takes the guesswork out of it. Yeah, this is simple. It's the low cost. It does work nicely and it's flexible with the size of the stack. I mean, you can have a much smaller version of this. Just cut these two by fours shorter and that could just be what's on your back porch, what you grab for, just for your daily stoking needs as opposed to having… you could have 10 of these out back for long-term seasoning and storage. Right.
Now, in terms of effort, what about the other extreme? What about just a big freaking pile of logs? Well, so you can see that, typically, you see that in the more commercial operations and stuff where you might have a firewood processor, a conveyor, they're just dropping them just dropping it into big, big piles. Does that ever make sense? It must, otherwise people wouldn't be doing it. Personally, I don't do that because, one, I don't have a machine that can stack it up that high like a conveyor but, I mean, my thinking is that a loose pile like that must get an awful lot of airflow because the wood isn't stacked. A lot of exposure to the sun, granted, you're out in a field or something or a big wood yard; however, you do end up probably losing that bottom layer of wood if you're not on pavement or a concrete pad because it typically, in a big operation like that, you're loading trucks with a front-end loader or something like that and you're just scooping it all up and if you're not then running it through a firewood disc cleaner or a trommel or something, you're getting all of that material that's down on the bottom. Another good option is a firewood bucket to sort out all the fines, but that's [an] added expense. Yeah. Like the tumblers. Right. So, I mean, a pile definitely has its place. I think a lot of people do use it but it's just not the proper solution for me and my operation. Yeah.
I think, partly, it comes down to the time. How much time do you have to stack, stack it neatly, get the benefits of the drying, and look nice versus just the time saved to just dump it in a pile? Absolutely. I think these racks - you see them quite often - and it's for good reason. They're relatively cheap, they're easy, you can move them around when they're empty, and you can change that size. It's just a great solution to load up your firewood whether it's just beginning the seasoning process or, like you said, on your porch ready to go into the wood stove. Yeah.
And then, one other method we want to mention is, just, pallets. We saw the pallets in the shed where we've stored our nice, dried, ready-to-go wood, but you can store it outside on pallets too? Absolutely. Have you ever tried that method? I have tried that. Before I got into the whole IBC Tote thing, I was using big rows of pallets with just fence posts banged into the end to act as sides. But, even if you don't have the fence posts, you can kind of start at the end and taper your way up, so it's kind of like a big mound and you don't have to worry about it falling over. So, pallets are great because they keep the wood up off the ground and it provides plenty of airflow between the rows.
Now, you've got a tractor with forks. Did you ever do the pallets where they had sides and you could… now you've got the totes, which is kind of perfect for the commercial operation like yours, but did you ever use that fork approach with the pallets? I never did, only because I kind of saw that as an option and then I saw the totes, and the totes I was able to, luckily, get really good access to; however, if I didn't have such a good steady supply of totes, I think I probably would have looked at the pallet option because pallets are pretty readily available for basically free. Yeah. And, with a couple nails or a couple screws, you can take off a couple of the pieces and screw a pallet, or two pallets, to a pallet and then you got a nice little box with sides that you can stack up all your firewood. You can even pick it up with a tractor if you have that and move it around your wood yard up to your house or into your barn. All right. Well, we got this all stacked up. It looks like we only got a couple pieces left there to hold down the tarp so, Joe, why don't you back up that truck full of wood?
All right. All that’s missing is a tarp. Let's get it. There we go. That should do it. Absolutely. All right. Well, I think we covered a whole bunch of different options for stacking and storing wood. Absolutely. Something for everyone. Different budgets, different stages of the drying game. Yep. That was fun. We appreciate you coming down and talking to us about this. Always happy to help. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Be sure to check out Jake's Channel Dude Ranch DIY and thanks for visiting.