After hours/days of cutting and splitting firewood you’re left with a pile of firewood ready to be stacked. You know where it will all go, but just how high can you stack it? Short stacks take up a lot of room and tall stacks are run the risk of falling over. It can be hard to find that sweet spot. So that begs the question, how high should you stack firewood?
Firewood is typically stacked between 4ft and 6ft high. Keeping your stacks short is safer and makes stacking/collecting firewood much easier. You can go higher if you need to store a lot of wood, but I wouldn’t go higher than 8ft. Taller piles can fall over causing injury and they’re harder to work off of.
So I have a lot of firewood that needs to be stacked. What are the benefits to going with shorter or taller piles? Continue reading below to find the answer to that question and many more.
How High Should You Stack Firewood?
You can end up with a lot of firewood after taking down a few big trees. I had to cut down 3 trees that were over 4ft wide last year. Just one of those trees ended up producing over 8 full cords of firewood. Every cord is 4’x8′ and 4′ tall. That’s a lot of space that I needed to come up with.
Thankfully I can go through a lot of wood heating my house, barn and workshop! With all that firewood I was tempted to increase the height of my stacks so they wouldn’t take up as much space. I ended up stacking a few rows at 8ft when my wife noticed a major problem. She wasn’t tall enough to reach the tops of the piles!
We found that the sweet spot was right around 7ft tall to maximize space. That’s still taller than I would recommend, but the height is manageable. My homemade racks are made out of 2×4’s so they’re 8ft tall and there’s some free space up on the top.
6ft Firewood Racks Are Best For Most People
A 6ft tall firewood rack will be the sweet spot for the vast majority of people. It’s tall enough to save some space and short enough to be easy to work with. Plus you shouldn’t have to worry about the pile falling down on somebody. Most people can step back and get out of the way before a 6ft tall pile topples over.
The picture above shows a 6ft tall rack that’s partially filled with firewood. If that was completely filled it would be about a cord and a half of wood. That’s plenty of firewood for the majority of people that use firewood as a supplement to their regular heat.
There are a few scenarios where it would be better to stick to shorter wood piles. I used to stick to 4ft tall wood piles when my kids were younger. They liked helping dad stack and gather wood and it’s much safer to keep your piles short. Plus young kids aren’t the best at stacking wood so taller piles run the risk of falling over.
You will also want to keep your piles short if you’re not using a firewood rack or stacking wood on pallets. Pallets are great for getting firewood up off the ground, but they need some reinforcement to handle the weight of taller piles.
How Tall and Deep Is Your Firewood Rack?
You should only stack wood as tall as your firewood rack will allow. Deeper and wider racks will be able to handle taller piles than short narrow racks. I recommend building dedicated firewood racks if you go through a lot of firewood. A well built wood shed is another good option if you only go through 1-2 cords per year.
I messed around with pallets and making my own racks for years, but I recently switched to using firewood rack brackets (This is the one I use). They’re so much easier than building your own rack and I end up saving time/money in the long run.
Instead of making completely new firewood racks every 5-10 years I can swap out a few 2x4s and call it a day. The only downside to these is they’re kind of narrow. You can always build another row behind if you really need the extra space.
I usually build my racks 8ft tall to avoid cutting down boards, but that’s taller than I like to stack my wood. The added space on top doesn’t bother me, but you might want to cut the boards down to 6ft lengths. You will probably save some money on boards since you can use the cutoffs for interior/top support.
You Shouldn’t Need A Ladder For Firewood (Keep Piles Under 8ft)
I recently went over to my buddies place to help him finish splitting and stacking his firewood for the winter. He recently built a small Lean-To on the side of his barn that he wanted to fill with firewood. So after we finished splitting the wood we started stacking it against the burn.
He decided to bring out a ladder because he wanted to get the most out of his space under the Lean-To. My job was to hand up the wood and he would slowly stack it into nice 12ft piles. The piles were tall and sturdy thanks to the nice racks he built, but that wasn’t the problem.
Once winter rolled around he had one heck of a time getting his wood down and into the house. His kids/wife couldn’t climb the ladder and safely toss down wood. A month into the winter his wife fell down off the ladder pulling a few feet of firewood down on top of her. She ended up breaking a leg, but things could have been so much worse.
That’s why I recommend keeping your wood piles under 8ft tall so it’s easy to get the wood off. You don’t want to pull wood down from the top of the pile and end up dragging the whole thing down on you. It’s better to take up more room playing it safe than risk injury.
Keep Pallet Stacks to 4ft
Pallets are a very cheap and convenient way to get firewood up off the ground. I used to go to my local farm store and pick up a truckload of free pallets every weekend. Some of those went into my weekly bonfire and others were used around the farm.
For years all of my wood was stacked on pallets and that worked out fine. The only downside is you need to keep the stacks lower than with a traditional rack. I like to keep pallet stacks under 4ft tall, because going any higher than that can cause the pallet to collapse. You can go higher if you reinforce them, but at that point you might as well build a nice rack from scratch.
Kids Need To Safely Reach Firewood
I mentioned this briefly above, but it’s extremely important so it needed its own heading. Don’t stack firewood taller than 4ft if you have young children. Taller piles run the risk of falling over and seriously injuring children.
You can ban your kids from playing around the wood piles all you want, but that’s not going to do much. I know the way I acted when I was younger. Five year old Justin would climb on anything that I could find. My parents telling me to stay off would make me want to do it more.
Keep your wood piles short to keep your kids safe! It’s not worth risking serious injury to save a little bit of space.