Sunday, January 10, 2016

How to Cut, Stack and Store Firewood

Experienced wood-burners have a few tried and tested methods for storing firewood that can prevent wood from rotting and dry it out efficiently. Choosing the right wood, and cutting, and splitting properly are also factors to take into consideration to prepare for the next season.

Firewood cut, split, and stacked to allow air circulation

When cutting wood in the forest look for dead trees first before cutting down and good healthy tree.
Make sure the tree has not rotted out, then cut into lengths appropriate for the fireplace or wood stove. 

Next, split larger logs in to pieces so that the interior wood is exposed to the air. Wood that has not been split will not dry out. Spitting wood is good exercise, but there are hand mechanical, electric, and gas-powered wood splitters available from $150 to $1,000 to make the job much easier!

The next step is to prepare a location for the stacked wood that is away from the house and open on both sides to allow for wind to blow through and dry the wood out. Place 2 x 4's or blocks on the ground lengthwise, then stack the wood loosely in rows. Avoid the temptation to tightly pack wood so it takes up less space. By not placing wood directly on the ground it won’t rot out.

Place rebar in the ground vertically or other support at each end of the stack to hold the wood in place. Cover with a tarp or lean-to to keep weather off of the top of the wood while allowing air to circulate through the ends.  If you use a lot of wood you may want to build a permanent structure with a roof. Let wood dry for at least 6 -12 months before burning. Be sure to purchase or cut wood at least six months before needed for the season to make certain it is dried out. If purchasing wood from a firewood vendor, order very early in the spring or even place your spring order in the fall of the previous year it will be needed.

Wet wood at more than 20% moisture content uses a lot of energy and time to dry the wood out before it will burn. For this reason, an inexpensive moisture meter is a good investment. Bring pieces of wood indoors several days before burning and place then a couple of feet away from the side of the masonry heater to dry it out if necessary. The optimal moisture content is 15 - 20%. 

The Top-Down Burn Method: To start a fire, place two to three large logs on the bottom, then two to three medium sized logs on top of that, then very small pieces of wood, and finally kindling. Add a couple of pieces of Fatwood to the top and light the fatwood with a match. ( Dry Fatwood is the center part of the pine tree with high resin content and lights very easily). This is the top-down burn method which has been proven to be cleaner burning, emits less CO, and is longer lasting. 


Marge Padgitt is the publisher of Wood-Fired Magazine and president of HearthMasters, Inc, in Kansas City, Missouri

1 comment:

  1. Cool site, I certainly did a lot of cutting and stacking of firewood in my day back in Oregon, I too question science and how we perceive the world around us.


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