Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Winter of Warmth

from living tree to seasoned firewood in as little as three months

A friend, Cindy Dunne of design company Blue Farm Graphic Design in East Meredith, recently posted to her Facebook page (photos included here) her success in creating 2 Holz Hausens for her winter firewood storage. The Holz Hausen is one of the most unique forms of storing firewood, and a tried and true method at that. They look like a beehive made out of wood and are very pleasant to gaze upon. Almost like a prehistoric form, or modern art in the manner of Andrew Goldsworthy.

No matter what form you choose to stack your cordwood, situate it with a southern exposure where there are no trees to block the sun and in a place that is easy to transfer it indoors.

Historically, the dimensions of a Hotz Hausen are a 10-foot-diameter circle with a center pole 10 feet high. You may want a shorter one if this is your first try with say… a 7-foot-diameter base, stacked to a more reachable height of 7 feet. Place a splash of paint or other dryness indicator at the 5 ft. 8 in. level. 80 percent of the 7-foot pole's height.

1. On level ground, lay out pieces of split firewood, end to end, to form the base circle (you can use other things like bricks or other lumber). Some folks like to build on top of a tarp. Beginners may want to put a measuring pole in the center of the circle to use to measure against as the pile shrinks or seasons.

2. Place wood in a spoke-like manner (perpendicular) with outer edge resting on the base circle. Keep pieces with good bark on them for your top (#6)

3. As the height increases, place some pieces as shims across outside edges of these spokes to keep wood tilted toward the center

4. The interior space is filled with the wood standing on end (upright). This acts as a chimney as it pulls air in and up through the pile, aiding the drying process.

5. Continue this stacking process until you have reached a height of about 5 feet. For the top 2 feet of stacking, don't use any shims. This will allow the wood to begin to slope down toward the outside.

6. Place the top layer with the bark side up. Like a tile or thatched roof, this prevents rain and snow from entering the mass of the Holz Hausen.

As the wood dries, it shrinks and the stack settles, losing 20 percent of its height. More and more of the pole is exposed above the top of the Holz Hausen. When you can see that patch of paint at 80 percent of the pole's height, the wood is ready to burn.

Be patient if you try this – do a little research online to see other styles. Some create an actual roof like profile for a real “wood house”. Building a beautiful wood storage system is kind of like giving a gift to yourself - twice over!

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