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Many years ago when our homes were heated by wood and coal, homes were built to accommodate the storing of these fuels. Many homes had a coal cellar where a truck (or wagon) could dump coal via a chute into a room located off the main basement where the boiler or furnace was located. Firewood was likewise stored conveniently next to the home on a covered porch and many homes had access doors to the outside located beside the hearth or woodstove.

When electricity and natural gas became the energy source for most Americans, coal cellars and firewood storage areas were no longer part of the average home design. Firewood was used more for effect than to provide heat. Consequently, for those of us that rely on a woodstove to heat our home, the storage and handling of firewood is once again a matter of necessity. Burning a woodstove 24/7 uses a lot of firewood and getting the wood to the stove and keeping an adequate supply close at hand is a challenge.

In my situation, there is no convenient way to store large supplies of firewood in close proximity to where the stove is located. Over the past few years, I developed my own "Firewood Handling System". I have no experience in modern materials handling, but I am a believer in developing a process for anything one must do more than once. Here's how I move wood from outside to inside and maintain an adequate supply with minimal trips and effort.

In early spring I begin to cut and stack wood so that it is sufficiently dry for burning in October. I usually only cut standing dead timber, so the wood is borderline dry when it is felled; by October it is the perfect fuel. I stack my main cache to the left of my house between trees that provide support for my piles - as the picture shows.

This wood supply is about 20 feet away from my lower porch, which is on the same floor as the woodstove. To move a few days of wood from this location to outside the back door, I created a firewood rack on wheels. I purchased a tube firewood rack that is approximately 4' wide by 4' in height and mounted it on 2x4's with casters on the bottom. I can then wheel the rack to the end of the porch, load it with a couple day's supply of wood and wheel it back beside our back door.

My woodstove is located about 20' from this door adjacent to a wall to the right. I actually contemplated cutting a firewood access door on this wall, but I couldn't sell that idea to my bride... she told me, "the exercise was good for me".

To solve the problem of moving sufficient quantities of wood from this outdoor location to the stove - and storing it conveniently, I designed another wheeled contraption that I call "The Ultimate Indoor Firewood Rack".

This rack is also mounted on casters. I wheel it to the back door, load it with a few days worth of wood and push it back where it sits conveniently beside the woodstove. As you can see in the picture, the 'skirt' on the bottom that conceals the wheels also houses a drawer where I store matches and fire starters.

I completed this project last year and actually talked about it in this blog. For those of you who are new to the Log Home Neighborhood, you can read more about it in the DIY Group here. On my Log Home Directory website, I give complete instructions on how to build this rack and you can download those plans at no cost.

My goal with such DIY projects is to make my life easier. Saving thousands of dollars per year on natural gas may seem like a good idea, but if the work involved to do so is too great, the savings isn't worth the price. Now that I have my "Firewood Handling System" in place I have more time to devote to the ever-growing 'Honey Do' list.

BTW, for more information on this topic and other woodstove tips, visit my 'other' Log Home bLog.

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Comment by Tom Heatherington on September 22, 2008 at 10:35pm
Shelley, if Paul had to survive a Montana winter he'd be telling me to get back out there and buzz up some more kindling! Thanks :-)
Comment by Shelley Martinez on September 22, 2008 at 10:31pm
Very creative!! (And I still can't get over how much wood you cut! I think Paul Bunyon would be impressed!)
Comment by Tom Heatherington on September 22, 2008 at 9:51pm
Hey Glenn, thanks for the compliment. I thought that indoor firewood rack was one of my best ever inspirations... it sure beat stacking wood all over the rug :-)

As to how many cords we burn, I'm really not sure. For the past few years I just kept adding to the size of my stacks (as pictured above) basing my needs on how much I had before I ran out of wood the year before. We didn't always burn the stove 24/7, but last year we did and I ran out of seasoned wood in late February... had to order a load. I remember how much I had put up prior to the season and added what I felt would be another month's worth of wood. Additionally, I have approximately 1.5 cords in reserve that should be well seasoned by Jan/Feb.

The secret is the stove. We replaced our old stove with a new one from a Canadian company. This stove burns wood more slowly and more completely and I only have to empty ashes once a week. This stove makes all the difference... its one of those that cycles air over the glass to keep it from getting dirty, has a temp. controlled fan and blower... We love it.
Comment by Glenn V on September 22, 2008 at 9:27pm
Really impresive Tom. I had seen your indoor rack and was impressed. How many cords do you burn a year? Covering it up is a good idea. We had a bad ice storm here last winter and someone I know had a lot of firewood for just such an emergency but it wasn't covered so needless to say it wouldn't burn.

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