- First, if you have a choice, build a woodshed near the back door
Don’t forget that you or someone will be struggling toward the kitchen door with an armload of wood in two feet of snow. If your woodshed isn’t or can’t be moved close to the back door, at least create a safe and direct route from one point to the other.
- It’s never quite time to cut wood until it gets cold
It never seems so important as that first frosty morning when you realize that your woodpile is still soaking up sun and offering warm hiding places for mice while your house is frigid. The lesson is to cut and stack your wood before you’re ready to. When you’re finally ready to
tackle it, you’ll be glad that it’s all done and you can sit down nearÂ the stove, take off your shoes and enjoy the first cheerfully crackling,Â wonderfully smelling, contentment-inducing fire of the year.
- Never stack wood higher than the shortest people in the family can reach
Stacking wood higher than whoever is going to unstack it can be dangerous. A dozen chunks of wood falling on your head and body can leave bruises and broken bones. Although it may seem funny, particularly to younger family members, it’s a real danger.
- Wood splits much easier when it’s cold
It splits even better if it’s frozen. (You needed an excuse to not split it all right now, didn’t you?)
- Leave enough room to walk into the woodshed!
It’s great to get enthused about getting in enough wood for the winter, but don’t forget that you have to get in and out of the woodshed. Keep the stacked wood away from the door to avoid having snow or rain blow in when you’re trying to load your arms. That means you
have to have room to actually step inside to load up.
- Better an inch too short than an inch too long
What’s more frustrating than a stick of wood that’s one inch too longÂ to fit in the firebox no matter how you turn it? I knew a man once whoÂ habitually cut the longest pieces of wood he thought he could get awayÂ with, to keep from making more cuts. More than once, the wood went backÂ for a second cutÂ when it didn’t fit. It would have been faster to do it right the first time.
- Hard wood is harder to split but it lasts longer
A piece of good hardwood can be a real bear to split properly even with the best tools, but once you’ve got it split, you’ve got fire and heat for a long time. Soft wood splits easier but it burns up fast so you have to split at least twice as much. That means you’ll have to haulÂ twice as much, store twice as much and carry in twice as much. Yes, and haul out twice as many ashes.
- A good axe is worth more than its price, no matter what that is
There are axes and then there are axes. While part of the right axe depends on you – your weight and height and muscle tone – the biggest part of a good axe is that it’s a good axe. I mean, it’s made well, it’s well balanced with quality materials. The handle is angled just right,Â the edge stays sharp and there’s a certain heft to it. If you go to the store to buy one, wave it around (not in people’s faces) a little bit so you can tell how it feels. If feels right, buy it even if you have to sell your baseball card collection to do it.
- Two people stacking wood doesn’t necessarily mean twice as much woodÂ gets stacked
Now and then people work perfectly together. Most of the time they doÂ not. If you have to stack wood with someone else, be sure that someoneÂ else is the kind of person who looks before he swings around with anÂ armload of wood and make sure he works in a consistent manner so youÂ know where he is all the time. You don’t want to hit him accidentallyÂ and you don’t want to be hit accidentally either. A lot of time isÂ wasted while you wait for the other one to finish dumping his load orÂ when you have to stand back while he picks up another piece or two.
- A beautiful woodstack looks like art.
But a good woodstack looks like work. That may not even need an explanation. Just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean it will work. A good woodstack is one where the wood is stacked more or less evenly, but not so shored up that when you pull a piece away, something is going to collapse beneath it. You can spend hours getting a woodstack balanced perfectly and the first time you grab an armload in a hurry, it may come undone.