Sunday, November 8, 2009

Matters of the Hearth

As late autumn is here, I took delivery of some firewood for the cold, drafty city house. I buy the wood from a man in-state, who maneuvers his truck down my street here in the old section of the city. Once at our door, we throw the wood into the courtyard garden, I pay him, he drives off, and I spend the next hour or two stacking the wood. I have endured endless lectures from older family members about the proper ways to stack firewood, and have split more cords of wood with a maul than I can remember... all of which I think fondly. Because the courtyard is small, and I took a full cord of hardwood (white and black birch, cherry, and hickory), I wanted to stack it well and efficiently. Traditional log racks only hold about 50 or so logs, and do not do the trick for me. I knew that a cross-stack or two would come into the picture, and since I would be using a brick wall as the back and as one end, I could pile the rest between the wall and a tall-but-steady cross-stack. Out of curiosity, I checked online for some creative stacking photos, and found the following.
Stunning. The axe (not splitting maul) in the stump completes the sculpture, as if it were just felled. Below, haystack-style piles are still impressive.

In France, a house with a large over-hanging roof creates a nice shelter for the firewood, against the house walls. Notice the temporary boxes around the windows. The picture below shows a very tight and efficient cross-stack, though if you have children, they must stay out of the tempting labyrinth of stacks.
A smaller version of the felled tree sculpture:
In the end, I realized that my son might try to climb the stack, so I put in some flying buttresses of wood stacks to hold the thing against the brick, and worked in a few courses of small rounds. A few years ago, I took delivery of all unsplit birch, and spent the winter swinging the maul myself, but the neighbors made it clear that the "hobby" was unsuitable for the city. As I write this, a birch fire roars, the Brandy tastes wonderful, the slippers are comfortable, and the wood is safely stacked outside, and yes Father, the wood is stacked bark-side up.

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