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firewood (storing mostly)


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#1 mongo_jones

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 01:58 AM

so, having paid big money to have our chimney repaired and a wood stove installed we now have to burn a lot of firewood to justify all this expense. i've accordingly discovered that the world of firewood sales is a murky one, populated by unscrupulous sellers and idiot buyers (me). thankfully, the internet was invented both to create worry and alleviate it. i have thus thwarted the attempts of some retail nurseries to sell me a bogus "fireplace cord" (1/3 the size of a true cord) for about 3/4 the price of a cord. i have also resisted the online blandishments of establishments that offer kiln-dried birch (advertized as the "cadillac" of firewood) at very attractive prices: it turns out that kiln-dried wood has so little moisture in it that it burns too rapidly, with a concomitant higher risk of creosote build-up; and it turns out that birch is the cadillac of firewood only in the sense that it's overpriced relative to use-value (apparently burns too hot and fast, but looks good while doing so).

our fireplace installer also warned us against ever buying wood from grocery stores (4-5 times the real price he said); he recommended finding rural sellers (not so difficult for us as we live in rural minnesota). and i have since indeed found a guy whose wood is recommended as being of high quality and he quoted a reasonable sum for 1/2 a cord of air-dried and seasoned oak, ash and other hardwoods, cut to fireplace lengths and delivered. this arrives tomorrow. the problem now is that of storage. our fireplace installer, that sage of firewood, cautioned against storing the wood in the garage or stacked against the house--there's a small chance the wood may have termites or carpenter crawlies in it, he said, and why take that chance; he said most people without woodsheds (such people are we) stack it against a fence with a tarp over it. the problem is our fence (around the backyard) is down a sharp-ish incline from the front of the house and once the serious snowfall starts, hard to get to from either the front or down the deck (which also gets blanketed in snow). so, the viable options are a) stacking it a few feet away from the garage with no fence or wall behind it (it's too late to drive posts into the ground or create any elaborate support); or b) ignoring the sage's caution and storing it in the garage where we do have a lot of room (the wood guy assures me that there are no bugs in his wood, for the very little that's worth).

thoughts?

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#2 Chad Ward

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 02:47 AM

Stack it near the house but not in the garage or touching the house. If you have a couple of trees a convenient length of space apart, that's ideal. Otherwise, perhaps a couple of iron rods or even Home Depot fence posts would do the trick. If you fear the homeowner's association, get an LL Bean Wood Storage Rack. You don't need much, the wood stacks readily on its own. You just need something to keep at least one end from rolling away. But what you REALLY don't want is wood of unknown provenance stacked against your house or in your garage.
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#3 Jaymes

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 04:20 AM

You can buy storage racks similar to the one linked above at LL Bean's at your local Home Depot or Lowe's or any large hardware store. They work really well, and they come with covers and without. With is obviously considerably better. Resist the temptation to store all that wood touching your house or in your garage. Not only might the wood have termites or carpenter ants in it when it arrives, it will attract such creepy crawlies as snakes, roaches, mice, spiders, scorpions, etc., after it arrives. It's just not a good idea to stack it up touching your house. And the racks also get the wood up off of the ground, which helps greatly with the problem of attracting undesirable little guests to your woodpile.

Too late, but for the future, we always also get a little cedar. You don't want to burn a lot of cedar because it pops, and has creosote, and burns pretty quickly, but one log per fire does give off a lovely aroma.

You can buy a storage rack, or stack it somewhere on your property that is less than really convenient, and just bring in a little at a time when the weather is good to a closer porch or garage. Or get a small rack or big metal tub (like those old copper boilers) and put it right by your fireplace in the house and keep enough there for one or two fires. That helps a lot in avoiding having to dash through a snow- or sleet- or rainstorm to get enough logs for that night's fire. If you've got some big, wet logs, I've found that once I get a really roaring fire going with dry logs, it's hot enough to steam out the moisture from a wet log, so if I haven't covered the woodpile very well, I try to use up some wet logs that way.

I'm going to assume that the price you paid to your woodman includes delivery and stacking. If you don't want to buy a rack, it certainly can be stacked without one. They do a "crosshatch" tower at each end of the row. It works pretty well.

Here's an illustration:

Stacking firewood

The only problem I have is that when I'm digging around for various sizes of logs, sometimes the stack gets pretty messy, and the end towers topple and I have to restack.

I hate when that happens.

So my final suggestion is that you do stack it a foot or so from the garage, without a fence or wall behind it, either using the crosshatch towers option or, better, in a wood storage rack that you just ran out and bought from Home Depot.

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#4 Rail Paul

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 02:26 PM

I usually collect a few wood pallets and wine boxes in my various trips to the wine stores and prowling through an industrial park nearby. The pallet wood is free, usually made of well dried wood, and burns well as kindling. Ten minutes with a power saw produces hundreds of foot long pieces.

There was a serious storm in March, which downed many trees in our area. The town cut the bigger limbs to get them out of the street, and left them for the taking. That wood is nicely dried now.

Our local utility will let me know where their tree trimmers will be working over the upcoming week, if I ask. I also note the Asplundh and Nelson tree trimmers who do contract work around the power lines. A $20 bill will get me as much wood, nicely cut in one and two feet pieces, as I can put in the back of the SUV. Last year I had some work done in the trees around our house, which netted about a half cord of split (by me) wood.

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#5 g.johnson

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 03:29 PM

Store it in Flatbush.
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#6 mongo_jones

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 03:41 PM

thanks for the storage advice, chad and jaymes. i went out this morning and surveyed the yard, and i think i've found a flat spot by the fence that is far enough from the side of the house for bug safety and close enough for relatively easy retrieval of wood when the ground is snowed under.

i also looked online at the racks that home depot etc. sell. they seem like unnecessary expenditure to me. even a feeble diy person like me should be able to improvise something that works the same way at far lower cost: a couple of posts, some cinder blocks and a couple of 2x4s should do it. if it's possible to get 4-5 foot tall metal thingies with an L at one end, that'll be even easier: set two down 8 feet apart, put cinder blocks on the L part to hold them in place and place a couple of 8 ft 2x4s on the cinder blocks for the platform on which the wood will sit. tarp/plastic sheeting over the top and tented over the fence posts to drain moisture away. seems reasonable, yes?

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#7 Jaymes

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 05:08 PM

thanks for the storage advice, chad and jaymes. i went out this morning and surveyed the yard, and i think i've found a flat spot by the fence that is far enough from the side of the house for bug safety and close enough for relatively easy retrieval of wood when the ground is snowed under.

i also looked online at the racks that home depot etc. sell. they seem like unnecessary expenditure to me. even a feeble diy person like me should be able to improvise something that works the same way at far lower cost: a couple of posts, some cinder blocks and a couple of 2x4s should do it. if it's possible to get 4-5 foot tall metal thingies with an L at one end, that'll be even easier: set two down 8 feet apart, put cinder blocks on the L part to hold them in place and place a couple of 8 ft 2x4s on the cinder blocks for the platform on which the wood will sit. tarp/plastic sheeting over the top and tented over the fence posts to drain moisture away. seems reasonable, yes?


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#8 cstuart

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 05:09 PM

thanks for the storage advice, chad and jaymes. i went out this morning and surveyed the yard, and i think i've found a flat spot by the fence that is far enough from the side of the house for bug safety and close enough for relatively easy retrieval of wood when the ground is snowed under.

i also looked online at the racks that home depot etc. sell. they seem like unnecessary expenditure to me. even a feeble diy person like me should be able to improvise something that works the same way at far lower cost: a couple of posts, some cinder blocks and a couple of 2x4s should do it. if it's possible to get 4-5 foot tall metal thingies with an L at one end, that'll be even easier: set two down 8 feet apart, put cinder blocks on the L part to hold them in place and place a couple of 8 ft 2x4s on the cinder blocks for the platform on which the wood will sit. tarp/plastic sheeting over the top and tented over the fence posts to drain moisture away. seems reasonable, yes?

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#9 ghostrider

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 05:27 PM

our fireplace installer, that sage of firewood, cautioned against storing the wood in the garage or stacked against the house--there's a small chance the wood may have termites or carpenter crawlies in it, he said, and why take that chance; he said most people without woodsheds (such people are we) stack it against a fence with a tarp over it. the problem is our fence (around the backyard) is down a sharp-ish incline from the front of the house and once the serious snowfall starts, hard to get to from either the front or down the deck (which also gets blanketed in snow). so, the viable options are a) stacking it a few feet away from the garage with no fence or wall behind it (it's too late to drive posts into the ground or create any elaborate support); or b) ignoring the sage's caution and storing it in the garage where we do have a lot of room (the wood guy assures me that there are no bugs in his wood, for the very little that's worth).

thoughts?

Ha. The previous owners of our house did exactly that - stacked right against the house, in a termite-prone neighborhood. Didn't matter if the bugs were originally in the firewood or not, it created an easy path for them from the nest into the house. We made them get rid of the woodpile & dig out a nearby infested stump before we signed the contract, & then spent years learning how laughably inadequate such superficial measures were.

If your fence is wood, don't stack against that, & the fence will then last a bit longer. If there are termites in the firewood, you're screwed anyway because they will build an underground nest & try to eat your house, but you can buy yourself a little time.
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#10 mongo_jones

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 06:28 PM

thanks for the storage advice, chad and jaymes. i went out this morning and surveyed the yard, and i think i've found a flat spot by the fence that is far enough from the side of the house for bug safety and close enough for relatively easy retrieval of wood when the ground is snowed under.

i also looked online at the racks that home depot etc. sell. they seem like unnecessary expenditure to me. even a feeble diy person like me should be able to improvise something that works the same way at far lower cost: a couple of posts, some cinder blocks and a couple of 2x4s should do it. if it's possible to get 4-5 foot tall metal thingies with an L at one end, that'll be even easier: set two down 8 feet apart, put cinder blocks on the L part to hold them in place and place a couple of 8 ft 2x4s on the cinder blocks for the platform on which the wood will sit. tarp/plastic sheeting over the top and tented over the fence posts to drain moisture away. seems reasonable, yes?



somewhat predictably i ended up buying a large rack and cover that were on sale. it's a miserable sleety day and i didn't feel like traipsing around the outdoor area of the hardwood store to look for pressure-treated 2x4s.

it was easy enough to assemble. i'm not sure if it will hold all the wood that's coming, but we'll see.

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#11 mongo_jones

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 08:44 PM

i now have about 60 cubic feet of oak stacked on a rack by the fence, and another 6 cubic feet in a smaller stack by the garage (2 feet from the side of the house) for quicker access. so, a little over half a cord. $150 for the wood, delivery and help stacking it: i call that a good price. as a bonus i got to listen to an old-school southern minnesota accent for the 20 odd minutes it took us to stack the wood.

by the way, the storage rack i got at the hardware store (menard's) looks identical to the ll bean one chad linked above. however, it is bigger than the large ll bean version (8 feet across, 4 feet high, and a foot across) at a third of the price. we stacked it 8 feet wide, 5 feet high with logs about 18 inches long. i have some plastic sheeting over it now--it's probably not optimally covered, but i'll fix that later. i'm going to return the fancy cover i bought as that's a fitted cover that goes over the whole thing, and that's apparently not a good thing because you want the wood to "breathe".

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#12 GG Mora

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:58 AM

A lot of old timers around here just lay a sheet of old metal roofing over the top. But then the sides of the pile get blown full of all manner of frozen crud from the sky. I've always just used a cheap tarp from the hardware store to cover the top and hang down about a foot on the sides. Last year, Mister Handy built a woodshed just out the back door, so covering is no longer an issue.

A long way of saying yes, you were right to return the poncey fitted cover.

#13 mongo_jones

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:49 PM

woke up, looked out of the living room window, and yes, the large stack toppled over overnight. piled it too high?

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#14 SLBunge

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:45 PM

Five feet is pretty high over that length. I didn't notice that it was particularly windy last night. The ground was moist yesterday and as you put all that weight on the rack the legs may have settled sort of unevenly causing it to tilt forward.

Did you put patio stones or anything under the feet?
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#15 Orik

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:50 PM

I came here to suggest Menards but I see mongo has already saved big money.
I never said that