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How to stack a firewood pile to build a Holz Hausen

There are many different ways to stack firewood.  In this post, I will discuss how you can build a woodpile which is easy to build, dries wood quickly and leaves you with a unique looking woodpile which will impress your friends.

This type wood pile has been called many different names other than a holz hausen such as holtz hausen, holden hausen, round or a beehive stack.   All of them describe a woodpile where firewood is stacked in the shape of a round cylinder.    Stacking the wood in this way, helps create an stack effect airflow which rises in the center toward the peak of the woodpile.

Hols Hausen Advantage:  Unlike other methods of linear stacking, the holz hausen is a stand alone woodpile without the need for firewood rack or shed.   As some say, the "stack is the rack".     You don't need to build a rack that's going to rust or fall apart in a few years.   If you have a lot of wood, you can avoid building a woodshed by building multiple piles or larger ones.

Below I will walk you through all the steps, tips and considerations on building your very own holz hausen.  

Step 1:  Location

If you are trying to stack a bunch of firewood so it can dry out over the coming year , you may want to stack it in a area that's out of the way but easily accessible so you can get your split wood to the location easily.   If possible, the woodpile would ideally be in an area that is somewhat dry and accessible to any breezes that blow.  Also think about how accessible the woodpile will be when it's time to burn the firewood.   You may want to stack woodpile closer to your home so you do't have to walk too far through the snow to grab another load for the fireplace or wood stove.   If you have an outdoor firepit or a pizza oven, you may wan to locate it near them for easy access to the wood.

Once you pick a good location for your pile, make sure the ground is level, solid and relatively clean.   Move aside any leaves or sticks in the area where you would want to build the pile.  

Step 2:   Decide what diameter you would like

You need to decide what size of woodpile you would like to build.   This includes how big a diameter you want as well as how high you intend to build it.   These two dimensions will determine how much wood you can ultimately stack in the holz hausen.   A common size for a holz hausen is one that is 8 foot diameter.   You can also make larger woodpiles but you need to consider that it may be hard to reach the inside of the pile on say a 10 foot diameter woodpile.   Also note that as you build a smaller diameter woodpile, it get's more difficult to stack the wood properly.   For example, a 6 foot diameter takes more skill to build properly and you may want avoid building one this small until you have some experience.

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Step 3:   Starting the base  

For this example, we will assume you are building a 8 foot diameter woodpile.     Your first step is to find a stick,or other post and push it in the ground where you would like the center of the woodpile to be.    

 

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Place a post where you want to center of the pile

 

You next step is to tie a string to the post at ground level.   Using a tape measure, mark the string or tie a knot in it as 4ft long from the post.   You will use this string as a guide to layout your base.

 

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Here is an example of using a tree instead of a post

 

Now that you have your 4 foot string tied to your pole,  you are going to lay logs around the perimeter of the woodpile, using the string to make sure none of the log lays outside of the 4ft string.   I like to hold the string at the ends of the logs so make sure it is lined up properly.   Keep lining them up around the perimeter, using your string as a guide to give you a perfect circle.   

 

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Position you log so that the outer edge is lined up with the mark on your string. In this case , a knot is used as the mark

 

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Shown here using a Cordwood Cover. Position your logs around the perimeter of the circle. It's the same if you use a string

 

Once you have our perimeter ring of logs laid on the ground, it's good to throw down some bark and small pieces of wood on the ground to keep your wood off the dirt by raising it slightly.   If you choose to use a Cordwood Cover, it comes with a mesh base that serves the same purpose and in addition keeps worms and bugs away from your firewood.  

If you don't feel like measuring a string and manually laying out the circle as mentioned, we sell a product called a Cordwood Cover that includes a 8 foot mesh circular  base which you can just lay on the ground and start stacking.    The base also includes integral straps with buckles on them which will allow you to strap down a cover when your finished.   

Once you have your perimeter circle of logs laid on the ground, now you want to add wood around the perimeter that points toward the center of your woodpile.  

 

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Place logs around the perimeter pointing toward the center of the circle

 

There are a few important tips that will make building the woodpile much easier:

Tip #1:   If the log has a narrow end, place that end toward the center.  If we use a pizza analogy, the pointy part is near the center and the wider end (i.e. crust) is on the outside of the circle.

Tip#2:  Save the strange shaped logs for later in the center.   That's one the many advantages of a holz hausen.   Rather than fussing to find a place for a knotty or odd shaped log like in traditional woodpiles, you can throw it into the center of the woodpile.   This is great when you have short cutoff chunks, kindling scraps etc.   

Tip #3:   Make sure to keep the outside of your cylinder vertical or slightly leaning inward.  You don't want your diameter to get wider as the pile grows in height.  Not only is this unstable, but it will look strange when you are done.   Some people make the diameter smaller as they build higher to give it more of a "beehive" look.  You can do this by placing the logs slightly inboard of the row below. it.   This takes a little practice to get right but can make a really nice looking pile.

Keep working your way around the woodpile ad you build the perimeter higher.   Your basically building something that looks like a large 8 foot wooden donut.   As mentioned in Tip #2, once you get the side to a decent height (e.g. 1-2 ft), you can throw odd shaped logs, kindling etc on the inside of the "donut".   Keep filling the inside with a mixture of the odd shaped pieces as well as normal shaped logs.

 

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Throw odd shaped logs, short logs and kindling scraps inside

 

Holz Hausen Advantage:   You don't have to stack the inside of a holz hausen.   This saves time over a traditional woodpile because your not individually stacking every single log.   This can save a lot of time, but still give you a elegant and nice looking woodpile when you done. 

Tip #4:   You may find that the logs start to outward.  If you notice this is happening, you should put a log on the perimeter in the same orientation of your first circle to prop up the log so it tips inward.  This will build a strong and stable woodpile.

Keep building your woodpile unit you get to your desired height.   Keep in mind that you don't want the pile to be so high that it would become unsafe or hard to reach the logs when it was time to use them.  A common height is around 4-5 feet high.    Take a step back from your hold hausen pile to make sure it's level all around the perimeter.   Fill any low spots with logs as needed.  

Step 4:  The "Roof" 

Once you get your woodpile to your desired height, you need to build your "roof".   First start by throwing logs in the middle to raise the center of the woodpile higher.  You will put your logs on this to give you roof for shedding water.    Once you have the center higher like a dome, you should place your "shingles" on top.   Start by placing the logs with the bark up toward the sky.  With each new row, start them inside of the previous row so you work yourself toward the center of the pile.   When your finished you should have a nice roof to protect your woodpile from the rain and elements.   

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Stack the roof by placing each row inside of the previous row to make a shingle roof

 

Once of disadvantage with this type of roof is that it's not perfectly waterproof.   In addition, you end up burning your roof the first time you take wood off your pile!   Once your roof is gone, I would recommend covering it with some type of tarp to keep the rain, snow and leave out of your pile.   You can read a little more about it here.    Cordwood covers solves this problem by giving you a form fitted cover which includes vents at the peak that allow condensation and humidity to leave your woodpile while keeping rain out.  The cover comes with integrated buckle straps that secure the straps to the mesh base template mentioned above.   No longer do you need to worry about your roof, as you remove wood from the woodpile to burn it, tug on the adjustable straps once in a while to tighten the cover on your nicely build wood stack!   

Advantages of a holz hausen woodpile

  • They look awesome!

  • The technique uses natural stack effect to dry the wood. Air rises in the pile as it warms up during the day which removes humidity from the woodpile as it dries out.

  • They are fun to build

  • There is a place to put those odd shaped logs that are hard to stack. Jus throw them in the middle.

  • The stack is the rack: You don't need a woodshed or wood rack that tips over, rusts and falls apart

  • They can hold A LOT of wood. depending on the size you choose.

  • With the addition of a Cordwood Cover, you don't need to mess around with trying to figure out how to tie down tarps on your woodpile or throw logs on top of the ugly blue tarp to keep the wind from blowing it off like it always does no matter how hard you try to tie it down.

  • Did I mention that look really cool!

Hope this article helps you get out there and build your very own holz hausen woodpile.  

Happy Stacking!