By Jim Baker
As a young man, back in the days of dinosaurs and stone tablets (according to the teens who know me today), I stacked far more wood than I care to recall. And stacked it all by hand. The old, two-this-way and two-that-way was, my grandfather insisted, the only way to properly dry wood for burning. And, yes, I stack now, somewhat. I have two circular stacks such as those I read about in one of the magazines put out by Ogden Publications. I am also row stacking a little in the way of everyone else around where I live. Yet I am now just pyramid stacking (cone stacking, whatever you choose to call it) simply because for me, it is the easiest. My future stacks will be tossed on pallets, as I mentioned in my first post, to keep the wood off the ground.
My pieces are split and just tossed. Eventually the geometry does seem to work itself out. I stack this way for a simple reason. I am a little lazy when it comes to doing twice the work for half the result. Neatly stacking wood, when working alone, means each piece may be handled two or even three times depending on the circumstance. That means, if my math works like I think it does, splitting and tossing is two to three times faster than splitting and stacking when working alone, which I am doing.
It also works in space savings. My platform of four pallets is roughly 55 to 65 square feet of ground space. My tossing means I can get those piles upwards of 10 to 12 feet high. Neatly stacking means I can’t get that high without getting on a ladder, and doing that with one person is a real up and down walk! And once piled to my satisfaction, I do not cover the whole stack, just the very peak and then down a couple of feet.
In the summer here, when temperatures here are well into the 90s or more, even when rain wet, that pile will remain more than reasonable dry. I do want the air to get through the pile, and, yes, I will have some wet wood if I am hit with several days of rain. Yet having a useable stack next to the back door in a dry area ensures I have a couple of days of perfectly dry wood available all the time.
I have been cautioned about stacking next to the house from friends in the termite as well as the insurance industry. Apparently, some termite policies (which most of us have some sort of) and most homeowners’ policies, will not cover termite or other boring insect damages if there is firewood stacked next to or in some cases, within a specified distance from the house. Be sure to check before you get bit so to speak. No real pun intended.
I just read an older article about this very subject written by Janna Benning in a 1994 issue of Mother Earth News, and there are several good points made in that article. Yet in my case, from the stacking to the storing to the handling, I do not have a ‘shed’ to stack my wood in, nor do I have the available ‘free’ money to build one, as nice as they may be to have. I also, like is mentioned a few times in the article, prefer to not stack directly on the ground.
In my particular case there is a full blown tradeoff on time available, costs, lack of a true storage facility and the ability to have one in the future. All in due time I am sure. So for now, reclaimed pallets keep my wood off the ground, the stacking is done in a cone or pyramid, and, since in my case, the logs themselves have lain dormant for some months before I cut and split them, stacking is also a storage/space available resolution combined.
Am I doing it ‘right’? No, probably not. Am I doing it so it is workable, feasible, inexpensive and suits my needs? Absolutely.
Happy stacking my wood-splitting friends. Photographs of my wood pile are coming I promise – I am just technologically challenged!
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