The Art of the Wood Pile


Growing up in northern Minnesota we spent time each fall cutting, splitting, hauling and stacking firewood to heat the house for the upcoming winter. After college I moved to North Dakota for a while. There’s no trees to speak of there, thus no firewood for winter.

We joke about the Dakota chain saws. The ones we saw used there were, well, tiny. They looked like something the kids would have used to help dad cut wood. Something just big enough to cut a fence post. But I s’pose there’s no need for anything bigger out there. The other thing I noticed was that how to properly stack a wood pile was not common knowledge. The few that I saw were a mess to say the least.

Being back in the North Country and again stacking firewood in the fall, there are a few things I would like to share.

The wood that will be burned this winter needs to be cut, split and stacked before last winter. This gives it time to dry. If the wood isn’t dry when it’s time to burn you’ll have a heck of a time getting a fire lit and keeping it going will be frustrating as well.

The wood that is nice and light, and easy to carry is crap. It will be like burning paper and you will spend your day stoking the fire and go through a ton more wood. Hard woods are what your looking for; oak and maple are common examples. They are also more work to move because they are much heavier. But the extra weight is definitely worth it.

When your cutting logs make sure they are a uniform length . We tend to use the bar of the chain saw as a guide. Keep in mind that these pieces need to fit in the stove at some point. Having them cut to a uniform length will also keep your pile looking neat and tidy.

Stacking the wood should be done with the split side down and the fattest end in the front. By stacking this way you will end up with a pretty sturdy pile and in the event it does topple it will fall away from you and not on you. You don’t want a leaning stack, but by putting the fat end towards you your stack will lean away from you, should it lean at all.

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