Friday, May 29, 2009

Firewood Racks

After a Memorial Day of wood chopping we needed somewhere to put up all the wood to dry and be stored for this fall/winter when we are going to need it to heat the house. So Family Day became a trip to Home Depot and building of firewood racks. This project is incredibly simple and I dare say that I could have done it myself. One person can easily take the project on by themselves with the help of a lovely assistant to support and carry large objects only a couple of times.

Our racks were constructed to fit just about a full chord of wood. A full chord is 128 cubic feet. This basically means the length, height, and width of your rack needs to multiply together to make 128. We used the dimensions of our covered back patio to figure out how big we wanted to make our racks, and they fit just under a full chord of wood. (It will take about one and a third racks to equal a full chord.) However, we have a smaller rack which was previous made by Jules to accommodate the extra.

We did not use pressure treated wood because we designed the racks to fit under our patio which is covered and doesn't receive much of any rain. If the racks are going to be exposed to any elements or merely covered with a tarp, pressure treated wood is a must. This will increase your initial costs by maybe $15, but will mean you don't have to replace your rack year after year.

2 2x6x10 boards
2 2x4x10 boards
6 2x4x8 boards
1 box of 3 inch wood screws
Total Cost 26.50

Power drill with Phillips head bit and pilot hole bit
Miter saw (or a protractor and a pencil)
Power saw
measuring tape

None of these tools is absolutely necessary, all can be improvised or used with manual power, but these tools make it so much quicker and so much easier. More power to anyone who would do this without the above tools. You are significantly more simplistic that we are and that is awesome.

First we constructed our base. Cut 6 sections of 2x4 (use the eight footers), each 15 inches long. Create a rectangle using 2 of the 15inch sections on each end and the 2x6 boards for the sides. The other four sections of 2x4 you will be using in a minute.
Cut 3 sections of 2x4 (again the eight footers), each 11 1/2 inches long. Drill these sections spanning the middle of the rectangle to create support. Place them at even intervals (you just need to eye ball it) and put at least 2 screws in each side since all of the weight is going to be resting on them. These supports keep the base from bowing out.

Now you will be using the other three 15 inch sections you initially cut. The firewood needs to be stilted up off the ground so that air can circulate around it. This not only prevents bugs, but it also helps the wood dry out so that it will burn significantly better and not mildew. Starting at each end, screw a 2x4 section down flat against the outside beams. The last two sections can be placed evenly across the rest of the base. When you turn the base over, you now have feet for your stand to rest off the ground.

With the base now complete, it is time to construct the top and arms of the rack. Set the base aside and prepare some ample space to lay out the rest of the rack. Cut 4 sections of 2x4 (again the eight footers) each 6 feet long. These will be the arms of the rack. Save the left over two foot sections as they will become support beams.

We laid out each arm separately, and then fastened the arms to the base one at a time. Mainly this was due to just how large and difficult to move both arms would be attached together. Screw one of the 6 foot sections you just cut onto the end of one 2x4x10 inch board. Screw the other 6 foot section to the other end of the 2x4x10 making a very large U shape. With the aide of a lovely assistant, carry the U shaped arm out to the base and attach it to the inside corners of one side. Notice that the top 2x4x10 is facing out and the beams were screwed on the inside of the base. This alternating provides more stability for the structure.Repeat this process for the second arm, using the other six foot sections and the last 2x4x10. At this point the rack is almost done.

The only things left to do are to support the side arms so that they don't begin to bow out with all the weight of the stacked wood. To do this use the scraps of wood leftover from cutting the arms. Turn each remaining 2 foot section into two 11 1/2 inch sections. You should have four 11 1/2 inch boards. Lay the rack on its side (some help from the lovely assistant is useful here due to how rickety the whole thing is at this point) and drill one section at the very top joining the two arms together and one halfway down the arms.
Lastly, construct the rest of the side supports. Move your miter saw (or protractor and pencil) to a 45 degree angle. Using the last 2x4x8 create four boards which measure 21 1/2 inches on their longest side and 15 1/2 inches on their shortest. Both ends should be 45 degree angles facing the opposite way. They should look like trapezoids. The exact length of the board is not important, but the angles are. The board is going to fit between the base corners and the side arms to help them from bowing out. As long as both angles are 45 degrees, and they alternate in direction, you can slide the board into place regardless of its exact length.

When all four board are cut, place them directly opposite from the corner created by the base and the side arm. This should create a right triangle. (Flash back to sophomore geometry!)

You are done! There is your constructed firewood rack. It is heavy, but not too bulky now for two people to carry together. With the base being only 15 inches across, it allows for 18 inch logs and split wood to be stacked nicely. This should fit into the average wood stove or fireplace. We measured the door to our fireplace insert first (just in case) and I'd recommend doing the same to anyone before they begin the process. It might mean tweaking the base measurements. The rest will stay roughly the same.

With racks built we ventured into our local National Forest and came home victorious with truckloads of split firewood. The Spicy Barracuda gladly helped me stack it; growing in excitement as he watched the stack get bigger and bigger and the rack get fuller and fuller.

Now we have almost an entire rack of wood ready and waiting for the winter. Not only is there a significant feeling of accomplishment (and great exercise) when you are chopping the wood, but stacking it all up adds a finality to the whole process. You can sit back and view your work in a concrete product as well as knowing you are securely warm without aide of the Natural Gas company.All in all the entire experience was great fun! We are going back out in three weeks and plan to put together the last of the firewood racks this weekend. I'm very glad to know that The Barracuda has an appreciation of the work involved and can actively participate in the stacking. He has gotten so strong! We are very proud of him! I will say though, the success of the endeavor was mostlikely due to the expert supervision of Guadalupe.

3 thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Great detail and excellent description. Good job posting this for all to see and use!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, really helpful.

Anonymous said...

I built two racks together as one unit side by side and it greatly increased stability (even at 8' tall). Simple to do, just make the spacers on the bottom and the 3 pieces on each end longer to tie the two racks together, then one across the top mid-span.

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