How to Stack Firewood

If you decide to transition to firewood and you want to enjoy relaxing wood crackling sounds on a cold winter’s night, you're going to need a place where you can store the wood until it's dry and you can take it out conveniently. Learning how to stack firewood is a valuable skill because you'll know how to dry your own wood instead of being at the mercy of firewood dealers.

If you live in a dry area you might think that you can throw the wood into an unorganized pile because it's not likely to get rained on but rain is not the only way it soaks up moisture. The reason being is that the ground exposes it to additional molding/moisture and various insects can penetrate from the ground, effectively filling it up with high levels of moisture.

Log Tote Bag

log-tote

Outdoor Log Rack

Outdoor Log Rack

Indoor Log Rack

indoor-log-rack

If you have unseasoned wood that is high in moisture you'll have a hard time getting it to burn, and even if you manage to do it your fire will go out faster and produce enough smoke to clog up your chimney. This is why organizing your firewood is important and it provides practical access during the winter months.

If you leave the wood on the ground it's going to soak up all the ground moisture. This further increases the moisture level of your unseasoned wood to over 50%. In an ideal world the moisture should be at 20% or under. If you knock two pieces from the pile together you should hear a high-pitched clapping noise. This is a reliable indicator you have dry wood. It takes 4-6 months for wood to naturally dry out to a reasonable “seasoned” percentage.

Best Firewood Shape

A wedge shape is the best shape you want to have your firewood when you're chopping or purchasing cords. This is because wedge-shaped logs burn in the most efficient manner and they're the easiest to stack up.

How much is a cord of firewood? Click here to find out

wedge-firewood

Chop your logs in a way that they are as uniform as possible because this will make it easier on you to stack them. They should have a similar length/shape to make sure they don't spill over and provide ideal air penetration for drying.

Set The Foundation

You're going to need a flat surface where you can start stacking the logs, preferably isolated from the elements. We recommend you do this in your shed or a flat piece of concrete near the house. Alternatively you can purchase wooden pallets or whitewood studs and position them over the ground. These tools are designed to prevent the logs from touching the ground. Flat surfaces ensure the stacked wood doesn’t spill over at the first sign of external pressure.

The Process: How to Stack Firewood

Stacking is very simple and straight-forward process. Once you've created a flat surface/foundation you can initiate the stacking process. The wood has to be stacked together in order to remain stable and accessible. This is why chopping the different logs to similar lengths is important.

Start by stacking a "tower" at the very edge of your flat surface. A tower is a structure comprised of 6 different levels with 4 logs each that you line up proportionally. You want to place 4 pieces for each level and have 6 levels for each tower. The best way to imagine stacking is as progressive construction for a building because you’re building it floor by floor.

First you lay out 4 pieces next to each other and then you lay more on top of them pointing in the opposite direction. Repeat the process until you have 6 levels. This way you should have 24 pieces for every completed tower. Start at the edges of your foundation by using the most evenly-cut, proportional logs and when you make it to the central area throw in the irregular/out of place logs. This way your structure will be highly stable. They are also elevated above a certain level which means they won't be soaking in moisture from the ground. Finish the process by covering the logs.

Stacking Against A Wall

Stack of firewood

When you're trying to stack firewood in places such as your storage shed, you shouldn't place it directly next to the wall. Leave at least a few inches of empty space between the wall and your stacked logs to provide easier air penetration at the lower levels. This will help expedite the natural drying process. If you don't have a cover for the stack you should consider placing the longest logs at the top in order to serve as a natural cover. This way if the logs are left exposed and it starts raining the lower levels won't be affected to the same degree.

How To Confirm Dryness

You can find affordable moisture meters to help you measure the moisture levels in real time. Unseasoned wood is cheaper than seasoned wood and if you purchase it on time during the off-season you should be able to stack it fast and allow it to dry naturally. This is the best way to save money and have quality seasoned firewood at your disposal.

Green firewood has a moisture percentage of over 50% while dry firewood usually hovers over the 20% mark. If you can't purchase a moisture meter the fastest way to tell is to knock two pieces together. If they make a clapping sound that means the wood is dry. If they make a dull, soft sound that means they’re still moist.

Green-wood

Left: Green Firewood Right: Seasoned Firewood