The Firewood Supply: Chopping and Stacking Firewood (Part 3)

By , September 6, 2014

I’ve been sharing with you my strategies for cutting and stacking firewood for seasoning in rain country (start with The Firewood Supply: Chopping and Stacking Firewood (Part 1)):

Don’t be afraid to restack your wood a few times. Even if I’m not moving stacks from the beach to shelter, I sort my wood now and then, separating drier wood from the wet so that it can be put on the top of the stack, turning the pieces to better expose each side. Moving them around in this way speeds drying.

I find a crosshatch stacking pattern, with pieces faced one way on top of another layer at right angles, to be best. This stabilizes the stack, and allows room for airflow. It also makes it easier to reach the wood.

This is a lot more messing around than most people find necessary. In our northern rainforest, it’s well worth the time and effort to move the wood around. It doesn’t all dry uniformly, so a little extra handling ensures that the dry wood “rises to the top.”

Bark plays a part in my wood drying strategy. As the tree’s outer skin, bark keeps a living tree from drying out. After the tree dies, it continues to do that job, which is counterproductive to seasoning. On the other hand, the bark naturally sheds water, so if a stack of wood is drying uncovered, the bark helps.

Apparently, opinions differ. In Norway, there seems to be a huge debate raging on whether it’s better to stack barkside up or down. My rule of thumb: if seasoning wood outside, stack wood bark-side-up to shed water. If wood is under cover, stack it bark-side-down to evaporate faster.

If your wood is green, the bark will be tight and hard to remove. Dead wood bark is often loose. Sloughing off the bark helps the wood dry faster. It also has an additional benefit in our part of the world: fungi are prolific in the rainforest, attacking trees between bark and wood. Removing the bark exposes the fungus mycilia, drying it out and preventing further damage.

Bark can be used as firestarter once it dries, or can be laid out on garden paths to be crushed into mulch.

Once my firewood is seasoned and ready to use, I often split it further to fit specific needs of the moment. It’s no fun to paw through the pile looking for cooking wood or a warming log. Better to take a bigger chunk and split it into the sizes you need at the moment.

As soon as it’s the right size and dryness, I bring as much of it inside as I can. We have a wood box in the stove area (not too close!) with cubbies for kindling and warming wood. I make sure this box is always full, with as much wood as possible indoors, continuing to dry still further until it’s actually put in the wood stove. This also ensures that you have a good supply of wood right where you need it should the weather turn harsh.

As long as wood is kept reasonably dry, it will eventually cure in spite of your efforts, but if you take extra pains, it’ll cure faster, and be ready to provide heat to your home far sooner.

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