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Seasoning Firewood

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Postby ncrawshaw » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:09 pm

Most firewood that I've seen being seasoned in woods is split and stacked horizontally allowing air to circulate and dry the wood. Chatting to our chimney sweep today, he suggested that the best way is to stack the cords of wood vertically, the same way up as it grows; the sap then sinks to the bottom of the log which is cut off prior to burning. Any views on this please?

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Postby RichardKing » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:29 pm

I was unaware that chimneysweeps were experts on seasoning wood.

Water/sap is conducted up the vessels by capillary action, which is against gravity. Evaporation will remove water from the surface of the wood.

The key point is to cut and split the wood to its final size to give the maximum surface area to volume ratio while stackimg it in such a way & position that it gets good airflow, prefferably protected from rain.

What does your chimneysweep suggest you do with these offcuts ?

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Postby mikepepler » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:22 pm

If you cut a longish log (say 2-3m), and leave it to season for a while, when you come to cut it up you find that the ends have dried. Keeping the ends exposed to moving air helps this process, so I imagine that if you stack the logs vertically, the bottom ends up seeming damp simply because it was on the ground and never got the chance to dry.

As Richard says, it's all about surface area and air flow. We stack our logs on bearers to keep them of the ground and cover them some of the time. The larger ones we split straight after felling, the smaller ones (say under 10cm) are left whole, but if they're birch are "striped" with the chainsaw. Striping breaks the bark and lets the moisture out - I compared some striped and unstriped birch left for 6 months over the summer, and the unstriped one was still damp in the middle of the log.

I did a little video of the way we're processing firewood now, you can see it here:

This year we're stacking them to dry in similar racks, but much wider, as I've got a longer chainsaw bar now. We'll them cut them to the customer's desired length later in the summer in the racks.


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Postby Darren » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:25 pm

I fell it,stack it by the ride. Take it home as soon as possable, split it. Get in undercover as soon as poss. I stack around the outsides then throw it randomly into the middle so there is plenty of air flowing around.

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Postby ncrawshaw » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:40 pm

Thank you for your replies. The chimney sweep sees the effects of using unseasoned wood in his work! He also installs woodburners and flue liners etc. It seems that splitting and horizontal stacking is still the favoured way to go, I was interested to see if anyone else did it his way.

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Postby RichardKing » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:46 am

Sunday I felled some standing dead Sweet Chestnut (probably killed by Phytothera). It was remarkably dry and ready to use except for the bottom couple of feet, which was of course in contact with the ground. Somebody did previously raise the subject of seasoning timber as standing trees, presumably by ringbarking. That natural combination of good airflow & shedding water produced firewood with considerably less effort & no double handling.

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