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Woodpile photos prove effort is labor of love

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Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2010 4:00 am | Updated: 1:23 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — Wood Stack Recap

In my last column we talked about stacking wood and discussed whether or not one method was better than another. I also asked for reader pictures that would show off wood piles. Boy, you did not disappoint!

The question posed last time was this: Is there a better way to stack wood than another? My answer emphasized proper air flow around the stack, no matter what the shape, so that if the wood got wet, it could adequately dry. I suggested keeping the wood stack covered during the summer to protect it from rain, though in the winter I usually keep my stack uncovered. In response to that statement, I got an e-mail from Colin Craven, Product Testing Director from the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, supporting my view.

“We did a research project at CCHRC this summer on drying firewood. The most significant finding was that the firewood needed to be split when stacked. That allowed birch, spruce and aspen all to dry to under 20 percent moisture content over the summer. Unsplit logs fared rather poorly no matter how they were stored and stacked. I think this is significant, as I see many stacks of firewood with unsplit logs out there.

“Our findings definitely support your statement that you should keep the firewood covered during the summer. Well-cured but uncovered stacks of birch absorbed quite a bit of water after some rainy periods in the summer.”

Now, about those pictures, not all of which can be published here. The first one came from Dave Lumley and his late brother Charley who cut 90 full cords of wood three years ago while clearing lots for a contractor in North Pole. He said they sold it all that fall. He figures he would have had enough wood for 10 years or so if he would have had a wood stove. He just bought a wood stove now, and wishes he still had all that wood. He’s back out there with the saw again. Very impressive Dave!

Another unbelievable firewood cutting picture was submitted by a reader who preferred to remain anonymous. He stated that even with his camera set on the panoramic setting, he was still unable to get all the wood in his picture. He reported that the “pile” is about 200-feet long, three rows deep, and 5- to 6-feet high. He figures he’s got enough wood until 2014-2015, probably 30 cords or so. He called it his “spring obsession.” This reader also felt solar gain was beneficial for drying the stack, noting that his sits against a south-facing slope and gets about 12 hours of direct sunlight a day. He had this to say about the recent hub-bub concerning burning wood:

“In all the discussion of wood burning in our community, what I find interesting is the lack of discussion on the ramifications of burning fuel oil. What I am referring to is the social consequence of Middle East oil, shipping, trucking, spills, etc. There is far greater enlightenment with regard to auto fuel consumption and much less so with the fuel we consume heating our homes.”

There’s something to chew on.

And finally, a photo of a beautiful and functional woodshed submitted by Pete Thomson of Fairbanks. Pete stated he didn’t want “the standard boring wood shed.” The top is transparent to let the sunlight in, with the ground covered with patio concrete paving blocks to reflect the heat. All four sides are open to allow airflow. He says he designed it as he built it and has had several people ask for the plans, which he says are in his head. It holds about six cords of wood. Awesome wood shed Pete!

Thanks to all who contributed pictures or information, and if you’ve got an interesting wood stack photo you’d like to send me, I may just run another batch! Until then, happy cutting and burning — and remember to check the batteries in your smoke alarms!

Got a question about the outdoors or life in Alaska? Send your questions to Girl in the Woods at brookelynbellinger@hotmail.com. Brookelyn lives in Delta Junction. Visit her website at www.brookelynbellinger.com.

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