For many rural folks and homesteaders, a fireplace or woodstove is an essential part of the home. However, finding a safe and efficient place to store all that wood can be a chore. In this article, Jim Mize shares how to build a custom DIY firewood rack in about an hour for $65.00 or less (and yes, even the less-than-handy can do this).
As spring arrived this year, my firewood rack on the porch was empty and I noticed it had finally given up the ghost.
More accurately, rust had eaten through the metal tubes and the rack was too wobbly for another season. So I began the search for a replacement.
As I scrolled through possible candidates I found some with features I liked and others in the size I wanted, though to get both I would be into hundreds of dollars. Being frugal, or as a friend once said, “Moths fly out of your wallet when you open it,” I decided to build a DIY firewood rack.
Also, I confess I’m not much of a handyman so this project fits in the category of “If I can do it so can you.”
My thoughts on design started with functionality and how I planned to use the rack.
I keep about one day’s worth of firewood inside, so I wanted my firewood rack to hold about what I would use in a week. Also, I wanted a separate place to store kindling because when it mingled with the larger pieces in my old rack I was always having to move layers of wood to get to it.
The key components in keeping this project simple were a pair of brackets I stumbled upon while searching for firewood racks. These brackets are designed for the do-it-yourselfer to use with 2x4s to build a rack of any size. The brackets make the depth of the rack fixed at just over a foot, but the length and height can be whatever you want.
In my case, I wanted to have a certain volume of storage, but at the same time, optimize the use of the lumber without wasting any. (Remember the part about my squeaky wallet).
Since I was using eight-foot 2x4s, I worked in dimensions of four feet so I would get two pieces out of each 2x4. Or in other words, my firewood rack would be four feet long and four feet tall.
I should offer one comment that woodworkers know and I was reminded that dimensional lumber doesn’t measure the same dimensions.
This matters when you select hardware to go with the project. My 2x4 measured 1.5 by 3.5 inches so I purchased wood screws for that dimension. Also, my eight-foot 2x4s were an inch longer than eight feet so I added a half inch to the four foot measurement to cut them in half.
Also, I used pressure treated lumber since the wood rack would be outdoors but under roof.
To separate the kindling and since it would weigh less, I added a second rack at the top. This will keep the center of gravity lower with the heavy wood on the bottom and help to keep the rack stable.
My brackets also came with metal braces to use on the upright 2x4s to keep them the same width at the top as they are at the bottom. I did find these useful as the upright pieces tended to bow inward as they went up.
Depending upon your preference, the wood could be stained or painted for the desired appearance. In my case, since I’ll be using it at my cabin, unfinished wood will blend in just fine.
In total, I purchased the bracket kit, four 2x4s and eight wood screws. The other screws came with the bracket kit. I have about $35 tied up in the bracket kit, another $30 in wood and perhaps an hour or so in assembly.
I saved a little money over buying a metal rack, but more importantly, I was able to design the size firewood rack I wanted with the ability to separate firewood from kindling.
In addition, the rack is sturdy and should last for years. If I ever want to change the dimensions of the rack, it’s a simple matter of replacing the 2x4s with a different length.
Regarding tools, I used a handsaw, tape measure, drill with both drill and Phillips screwdriver bits and a pencil for marking the wood where I wanted to cut.
In hindsight, building the DIY firewood rack was the easy part. Now I have to split enough firewood to fill it.