The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again... least, here in Central Pennsylvania. I woke up yesterday morning and it was a brisk 62 degrees in the house. Just the right temperature for the onset of The Fever.

For you hunters, that means Buck Fever. But I gave up the hunt years ago once I figured out that I was more likely to succumb to frostbite or a fall from a tree stand, than the deer was to my bullets. So I exchanged the passion of the hunt for the passion of the wood fire.

Yes, this is the time of year that every wood-burner gets the fever to start that first fire. The woodstove and flue have been professionally cleaned, the firewood has been split and stacked...

Ah, nuts. Yes, I had the stove cleaned, but I've been so busy on other projects that I forgot to take down the two or three trees that I had targeted for firewood this year. Too late now. I'm the perfect sucker, uh, customer for the firewood vendors, one of the minions who wait until the worse possible time (peak demand season) to find some firewood to buy. Since it's being bought so quickly right now, and I'm pretty cheap when it comes to buying wood, I'll have to settle for some green wood that was probably cut within the last month and split yesterday.

Which means I'll have to get creative with the stacking and drying. One year in similar circumstances, I stacked all the wood in the garage (The Wife loved that...) and kept a kerosene heater and box fans running in there, hoping to pre-dry the wood a little. It was pre-dried a little.

This year, I'm going to try something different. I'm going to build a Holzhausen. Here's a classic article from Mother Earth News that not only explains what a holzhausen (German for wood house!) is, but how to construct one. The basic idea is that you're constructing a chimney made of wood. Wind from any direction will be sucked into the round pile of firewood and hit a vertically-stacked center column that will direct the air upward. If you've done it right, and you're lucky with the weather, your wood will dry faster and more uniformly than if you've used the conventional rectangular woodpile arrangement.

And of course, there are videos on the web that show the whole process. This one is the best I've found. The narrator in this video doesn't use the vertical center stack or kindling splits to balance the stack as detailed in the Mother Earth article, but he does a pretty good job of showing the general idea, and even shows what can go wrong if you don't take care in your construction effort.

I'll build mine this weekend or next and give an update when it's all done. Until then, fellow wood-burners, enjoy the woodpile season.


Firewood For Life said...

The Holzhausen looks pretty neat, nice video.

Scott Guiser said...

Hey Chuck, let's see you holzhausen! I build a cuple and liek the way they look. Alos, I think they are doing the job of drying the wood very well, too.

Anonymous said...

Nice video! If you don't mind that I correct a typo: House in German is Haus (pronounciation identical to English, despite the different spelling). Wood is Holz, so wood house in German would be Holzhaus. Not Holzhausen. If you want the plural: wood houses -> Holzhäuser. :-)

Greets from Germany. Keep on posting interesting stuff.

Chuck Ray said...

Thanks for the correction. Holzhaus it is!