One of my most recent outdoor projects was to build a wooden storage rack for holding firewood outside the Red Maple Inn in Burton, Ohio. I have built a number of firewood storage racks over the years, but none have been more durable than the ones which were built from treated 4×4 lumber. I recently built the one pictured for the Inn, which burns firewood for the ambiance in their large dining room.
One of the biggest issues with burning firewood in your home is that you need to store the fuel supply in a dry space off the ground. In order to accomplish this you need something strong enough to support the weight of at least one Rick of wood. This size is important since the Rick and Cord have become fairly well accepted as the legal measurement for a specific quantity of firewood.
So when it comes time to build a decent storage rack for your firewood, you first have to figure out where you could put something of this size? It is true, you could go to any large home improvement store, and purchase a tubular metal firewood rack for about $50 to $250, and you would get something that should last about five years or more. However, I prefer to have a wooden frame to hold my firewood, and the least costly method of building a structure like this usually involves recycling scrap lumber. It is a very “Eco-friendly” process, and can actually save people money when compared to purchasing a simple metal unit from a store.
My preference for making this frame is to use four by four inch square posts cut to make an open u-shaped frame that is 8 feet long, 4 feet tall, and at least 14 inches deep. These dimensions are exactly the size of a standard “Rick” of firewood, with the pieces final cut length averaging 16 inches. They can be longer, but the ideal firewood length is somewhere between 16 and 18 inches depending upon the dimensions of your fireplace or wood burning appliance.
For this particular project I started making the frame by cutting two long pieces of 4″x4″ treated lumber to exactly 104 inches, which is the 8 foot length plus 4 inches extra at either end for the uprights to attach onto these lateral rails. Once you have the long pieces cut, you need to cut four riser pieces to exactly 52 inches, this is the 4 foot height, plus the 4 inches lost due to the height of the long bottom rails which you will be attaching these uprights to.
Next I used Ledger lock screws to attach the uprights to the laterals. These screws are made just for this kind of work, and they are really strong, and with an electric clutch drill, they are very easy to work with. The tip is self tapping, and it bites into the wood under moderate pressure. It is important to have the two pieces of wood clamped or held together very tightly since this bond is really important to the frames structural integrity.
Next I had to make top and bottom end supports to hold the risers in place. These four identical pieces were cut to 22 inches, since I set up the long bottom rails at 14inches wide, measured to the outside face of front and back rails. This gave me the 4 inched overlap on each end of these blocks to attach them to both the bottom rails, and the base of the uprights as well.
I attached the remaining two pieces which were cut to 22 inches on top of the uprights at the ends, and these act as a cap which helps keep the uprights from spreading apart.
As the finishing touches to the structural integrity of the rack, I cut two 2×4 inch treated boards to attach across the back edge of the rack to help hold it square, and to keep firewood from falling backwards off the rack. These were nailed In using galvanized twist nails which hold the lumber together tight enough so that it will not warp or pull away from the frame boards.
Lastly, I have dug small guide trenches into the gravel and dirt in order to level the unit. It is extremely important to have this rack be level since having it fall would be a terrible thing! There is a great deal of mass in a stack of firewood, and there is a significant risk for the handler if the storage rack is not secured and tip proof.
One addition I plan to add onto the rack pictured is a metal roof which will keep rain and snow off the firewood. This item is going to be made from scrap metal siding pieces left over from a pole barn project. I should thank my pal Michael M. for his physical help with this project which we did mostly in the rain. You never know what trouble we might get into once things start moving along.
Please contact me if you plan to build something like this, and I can forward sketches that may help you out.