Outdoor firewood storage racks range from small porch sizes for simply getting a few logs for the fire to one designed to hold a whole rick for drying. Prices vary according to lumber costs, but the cost usually runs between $25 to $60 for materials.
It’s fairly simple to build a firewood rack. Basically, you build two vertical end frames and stretch boards between them according to the size rack you want.
How Deep Should a Firewood Rack Be?
A rack should be as deep as the length of the wood it’s holding. A common depth is 18 inches, but it depends on how long your firewood logs are. If the ends of the logs hang over the edges of the rack, it’s not going to hurt anything. If the rack is deeper than the length of your logs you will have to attach bottom slats to your rack frame to hold shorter logs. If you need a firewood shed check out my article How Do You Make a Simple Firewood Storage Shed? for ideas and tips on building a firewood shed.
How Long Can Firewood be Stored Outside?
This question has a lot of variables that affect the answer. What is your climate like? Is there a lot of humidity generally? Do you have a roof over the wood or keep it covered in other ways? What kind of wood is it? Do you keep the wood off the ground?
If you have split hardwood and keep it off the ground using a rack or other framework it probably will last three or four years before it starts to go bad. Covering the top of the stack with a tarp will help it last longer, but only cover the top, letting it hang over the sides just a bit. This protects the wood from rain and snow but keeps the air flowing around and through the wood, helping to keep it dry.
Does Firewood Dry in the Winter?
Firewood can dry in the winter, but it usually dries more slowly than in the warmer months. Winter air usually has lower humidity than air in warmer weather, which helps dry the wood. What’s missing is the heat from warmer weather which helps the drying process. Even if your wood gets some direct sun, the sun’s rays are weaker in winter and don’t have as much an effect.
How Do You Make a Firewood Rack Out of 2x4s?
For this project, you’ll need an electric screwdriver, an angle square or some kind of angle tool to keep your boards square, and a C-clamp to hold your wood pieces together while you’re fastening the screws. As for the screws, #10 zinc wood screws are recommended. They should be three inches long.
You may have trouble with the usual Phillips head screws stripping while you’re trying to drive them in. Another choice is a T-star head, which will require a matching driving bit for your screwdriver. There are other choices in screws, but just make sure that the ones you choose are wood screws made for outdoor use and three inches long. You should probably get extras in case you strip a few screw heads.
Your lumber should be all pre-treated. You can build a rack completely out of 2 x 4s, but if you want to build a long rack that will hold a rick of wood, you might want to invest in 4 x 4s for the vertical end posts. Also, for a long rack, you should probably use 2 x 6s for the long horizontal planks, as they will need to support a lot of weight and are unsupported in the middle.
You’ll need to plan your rack first according to how much wood you plan to store in it. Most racks can be built with the ends being fairly similar for each plan. The only large difference is how long the rack will be, and perhaps the height. There are building plans for racks, but they really aren’t necessary for an uncomplicated rack. A rack can be a small one on your porch or a long one for drying a whole load.
Unless you’re building a small rack, you’ll want to build it where it will stand, as the larger ones are pretty heavy. This will also enable you to make sure the ground is level where you want to put it. Start by getting all your pieces cut to size. The vertical posts are usually around 4-1/2 feet tall.
The horizontal bars for the end frames can be 12, 18 or 24 inches long, depending on how deep you want your rack to be. Your long pieces will be the length of your rack.
Make your vertical frames for the ends by marking a place for the horizontal lower bars on your two vertical studs. Plan to have your bottom bar a few inches above the ends to keep everything off the ground except for the ends of the vertical studs. Use four screws to attach each end of the horizontal bar on the bottom, then do the top.
The bottom bar usually faces the inside of the frame, while the top bar is set on top of the posts like a cap. Set your long boards narrow side up on top of the bottom horizontal frame boards and attach them to the posts. That’s all there is to it.
A couple of tips will help make this easier. First, since you’re using long screws, drilling holes for the screws first will help with insertion and help prevent the screw heads from stripping. One way to further strengthen the rack is to use glue made for exterior wood use on the joins.
You can also use corner brackets if you want to butt all your ends together. Since your rack will be in use outdoors for years, holding weight, anything you can do to make it stronger can only help it last longer. Smaller racks can be outfitted with swivel casters underneath, making it possible to roll your rack around if it needs to be moved. Read my article What is the Best Way to Store Firewood Outside? for more options for storing and seasoning firewood.
Firewood racks are simple to build and don’t take any precise measurements, other than making sure that any paired boards are the same length. While they can’t be adjusted after they are built, they can be planned in many ways to suit the amount of wood you plan to store and the place you have for storage.