Stack Trace

I was pondering, as I helped stack my parents’ wood for the winter, that there’s more skill than you might think in the job. Their wood store is wedged in between the house and the garden wall, and if the wood is going to season properly, you have to leave gaps between the rows for the air to circulate, so that you’re not building one big heap of wood, but a series of free-standing walls which have to be stable enough that a catastrophic de-stacking won’t occur on top of my parents as they fetch the wood for their woodburner. Not to mention the irregular shape of the logs – which mean that the individual rows have a tendency to slope forwards or backwards if you’re not careful, especially when you’re me and not exactly spatially skilled. My finely honed technique, developed over the years, involves working on three rows at a time – one which is almost completed and can handle the really gnarly bits of irregular wood as you’re not going to be putting anything much more on top of them (and also the shorter bits as you want a nice bottom-heavy cross section to each ‘wall’), one which is part-way built where you’re adding in the more wedge-shaped bits to counteract any developing lean, and one which is just getting started where the nice long flat bits go to create a stable base layer. Working this way, it means any one piece of wood only gets picked up once – for maximum efficiency – and there’s always an appropriate place for it to go.

wood stack

Or then again, it may just be that stacking wood is a repetitive unskilled task, and I have a tendency to overthink things left to my own devices.

Dad skimming stones

In other news, you never grow out of stone skipping, once you have mastered the technique


8 Responses to Stack Trace

  1. Remember going on a drystone-walling weekend, which I imagine’s much the same. Sadly I couldn’t get away from the idea that if I just unbuilt the entire wall and started again, it would all fit together SO much better…

  2. welshcyclist says:

    Sadly, you lost me wood stacking, far too complicated for me! But I enjoyed reading your methodology.

  3. disgruntled says:

    Ah, now drystone walling really is a skilled and complicated job

  4. Andy in Germany says:

    You think this is bad, you should see how complex stacking wood for carpentry is. I spent hours learning the not terribly interesting details. One presentation was so full of numbers my head fried after ten minutes…

  5. disgruntled says:

    There’s probably a long German word for it as well …

  6. Charles says:

    Wood stacking tutorials are welcome. The large, huge, removal van is on the drive, we are camped in our bedroom sitting on camping stools. The big move is one. Let’s hope completion occurs nice and early tomorrow as we are off to the swamp, sorry Somerset Levels. 27 years in London, time for the big move.

  7. disgruntled says:

    Yikes – good luck! Are you starting a blog?

  8. Sigh I love a nice log store…. This is the book for your Christmas list

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