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Holzhausen wood stacking

 
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I've been cutting down dying birch trees and bucking/splitting them for use in two winters.  I stack in a holzhausen style which is a round wood pile.  We can get 4-5 cords of wood into a 10x10 footprint.  Due to drying issues in the core of the pile, this year we're doing two cylindrical stacks and trying to leave the core open.  We'll also take some pallet wood and make a roof over the stacks so it looks like a single pitch version Shakespeare's globe theater.

The holzhausen started today with the rings of wood that start the stacks on an inward tilt.  We reuse them because it takes a while to find chunks that lay flat.




Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I copied this thread out of the BB for split and stack wood (https://permies.com/wiki/101204/PEP-BB-woodland-sand-splitandstack) to give it its own thread.

 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I've been cutting down dying birch trees and bucking/splitting them for use in two winters.  I stack in a holzhausen style which is a round wood pile.  We can get 4-5 cords of wood into a 10x10 footprint.  Due to drying issues in the core of the pile, this year we're doing two cylindrical stacks and trying to leave the core open.  We'll also take some pallet wood and make a roof over the stacks so it looks like a single pitch version Shakespeare's globe theater.

The holzhausen started today with the rings of wood that start the stacks on an inward tilt.  We reuse them because it takes a while to find chunks that lay flat.

Starting pile of wood is 10' long (per tape measure on the ground) and the general middle height is 3' so it's well over 1/2 face cord.



Mike this is the coolest woodpile I've ever seen!
I would love to see a picture of the completed holzhausen!
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Clay, we really like them.  I have a good picture of an early one from several years ago and a picture from this fall but it's more distant.  Enjoy!
Baby-holzhausen.jpg
Baby holzhausen
Baby holzhausen
20191027_165416_resized.jpg
Current holzhausens (4+ cords ea)
Current holzhausens (4+ cords ea)
 
Clay Bunch
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Is the shingle style roof a viable option for keeping the wood dry?
How do you use the wood while keeping it dry? Is this just for seasoning wood and then you store it in another style?
 
Mike Haasl
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Time for a better update!  We've been stacking wood this way for four years and we keep learning.  The theory is that wood stacked this way is really stable and dries as fast or faster than wood in a normal stack.  So far we've determined that it is much more stable but it doesn't dry as fast.  But we're working on that last part.  I suspect that a full size pickup in 2wd wouldn't be able to push the stack over (unless it got a good run at it).

The first year we did smaller holzhausens like this one:


It had one perimeter ring of wood and the entire core was filled with round un-split logs.  It sat on a layer of pallets and didn't have a roof other than the semi-careful orientation of the topmost chunks and some pieces of birch bark.

The perimeter ring and the upper wood in the core dried out after two years but the lower core was still unseasoned.  We also built it with straight sides which started to push out (as you can see in the photo) and I ended up wrapping a piece of wire around the stack to keep it from spreading.

We then went to a double layer of pallets to get more airflow under the pile, and put a tarp down to prevent grass from growing up and blocking airflow.  We also started making them bigger (10' instead of 7-8' diameter.  This way one stack would take care of us for a winter.  We then did two perimeter stacks.  Instead of tightly packing rounds in the center, we just jumbled in the "uglies" that wouldn't stack well anyway.  That worked better but the core still didn't get fully dry after two years.

Now we're just leaving the core out.  Just a double circle so the air can chimney up through the stack easily.  We also got some sawmill slab wood and made crude shingles to shed rain better.  They're just sitting up there, no fasteners (yet).

Plans for next year are to make the piles bigger by a foot or two in diameter or height.  We might start putting in 10 foot cross logs at a few points to further brace the pile together.

I think a roof is a good idea as long as it can let air out the top.  The slab wood we're using doesn't meet at the middle (since it isn't protecting any firewood in the core).  We leave these stacks up for 2 years and then move the wood up to the house for the winter.  If you did want to remove wood from the pile, you could just tear off a foot from the top at a time and try to re-roof it to keep rain off until the next time you grab wood.

Other learnings:
  • Start with a base ring that is stable.  I have to deliberately split wood into an ideal shape to make for a good base piece (sketch below)
  • As you stack, try to keep the rows tilting inward.  Put the fat end of pieces out to help maintain the tilt
  • Bent, ugly, tapered, short chunks are helpful to fill gaps
  • When the stack gets level or slightly tilted down, put in another ring piece
  • Some people stick the ring pieces in willy-nilly, we try to make a full circle for aesthetic reasons
  • The inner ring will tilt in quicker than the outer due to the smaller radius so it might have more outer rings over the course of its height
  • Don't aim for a cylinder, make a slight gumdrop shape
  • Use 3' logs to bridge between the inner and outer row of wood.  Not a lot, maybe 12 per holzhausen
  • Near the top, let the rows tilt down and try to get the inner and outer to line up to a good roof slope
  • The pile will shrink over time so the roof pitch will get a bit shallower
  • Our-latest-one-no-wire-needed-due-to-gumdrop-shape.jpg
    Our latest one - no wire needed due to gumdrop shape
    Our latest one - no wire needed due to gumdrop shape
    2-years-ago-sides-too-straight-so-there-s-a-wire-wrapped-around-it-to-keep-it-standing.jpg
    2 years ago - sides too straight so there's a wire wrapped around it to keep it standing
    2 years ago - sides too straight so there's a wire wrapped around it to keep it standing
    Custom-split-bottom-ring-piece-to-give-good-support-a-quarter-split-will-want-to-rotate-outwards.png
    Custom split bottom ring piece to give good support - a quarter split will want to rotate outwards
    Custom split bottom ring piece to give good support - a quarter split will want to rotate outwards
     
    pollinator
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    Interesting, I never heard the word Holzhausen before (well, I did, because it is a common village name in Germany).
    When googling a bit it seems it is only used in the US.

    In Germany we would call this Holzmiete, Rundmiete or Holzfinne. There are numerous sites with explanations and How-to-Videos.
    Definitely not enough wood or ground to build such a thing, but looks very neat!
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Thanks Anita!  I always had a hard time finding information about them.  Getting lost in translation would explain things.  I'll do some searching for those videos.
     
    pollinator
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    What's the main incentive to stack this way?  It looks time-consuming and difficult to remove the wood when you need it.  I don't fancy playing jenga trying to get my firewood, how does removing pieces work?

     We only cut up already dry logs for firewood so even if it did dry faster I wouldn't find that perk incentivizing.  
     
    Mike Haasl
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    The main incentives are:

    I can stack 4 cords of wood in a 10' by 10' area (100 ft2).  If you do "normal" wood piles 4' high, you'd cover 128 square feet and ideally they'd be spaced apart for airflow.    

    These piles are quite stable.  I wouldn't be worried about kids playing around them.

    They're cool looking :)

    But, I'm using them to dry wood for 2 years before I use it.  If your wood is already dry and you're going to burn it within a few months, no need to do this.  I just need 8-12 cords of wood drying so that I'm ready each winter.

    Removing wood is easy.  Just start at a top corner and pull wood off until you get sick of it.  Putting it up requires more care.
     
    Clay Bunch
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    Mike are you using this solely for drying and then moving to a covered area after the two years? It looks awesome. I'm just trying to figure out once it's time to burn how do you remove wood while utilizing your shake style covering.

    I've only ever used traditional grandpa taught me  style stacking and it's always been under an over hang or a structure specifically for covering the wood.

    I am really intrigued by the space saving possibilities and structural soundness of the stacking.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Yes, I'm just stacking wood out there in the back 40 to dry.  Then in Sep or Oct we tear one pile down and stack it up close to the house for use that winter.  So we tear it down in one fell swoop.  If someone wanted to just remove half for some reason, they could take the shingles off, demolish it down to the height they want, and stick the shingles back on.  This probably wouldn't work well if you want to grab an arm load at a time.
     
    Clay Bunch
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    That makes more sense! Just brainstorming here but I wonder if there is a way to use compost or extra exhaust from a nearby heat source in the middle of the stack to speed up your cure!

     
    Clay Bunch
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    That space in the middle seems like edge that's asking for some kind of function stacking.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    I had wondered if it would make a good deer hunting blind.  Just set some window frames in the pile as you go (and a door) and you could hide really well.  Could also be a castle for kids to play in.  I use it partially as a view blocking device.  
     
    Clay Bunch
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    Mike Haasl wrote:I had wondered if it would make a good deer hunting blind.  



    Hahaha please post a picture of yourself peeking out of your wood pile with your rifle if that happens.

    Also I like the view blocking idea. I had not considered that advantage
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