DIY Firewood Storage Shed Using Reclaimed Materials

The past couple of weeks or so, Jesse and I have been in “clean up” mode where we try to knock as many things off of our to do list as possible. One of the things we’ve been doing is preparing for winter (yes, in the middle of summer) and one task on our list was building some type of firewood storage shed for our wood fired hot tub.

diy firewood storage

In all honesty, we only prioritized building a firewood shed or storage rack because we already collected our actual firewood for the year but we have no place to put it once it’s split! We had firewood leftover from last year but because winter caught us with our pants down, we didn’t have time to gather quality wood.

Luckily, we were fortunate enough to find a neighbor that had leftover mill ends which we snagged up. While these did get us through our first winter, they really aren’t ideal for firewood as they’re 50% bark. That said, they’re perfect for the hot tub!

Mill ends that got us through our first winter... but this winter it gets to be hot tub fuel!
Mill ends that got us through our first winter… but this winter it gets to be hot tub fuel!
Our wood fired hot tub... yes, we really do heat it with wood!
Our wood fired hot tub… yes, we really do heat it with wood!

As with most tasks we have, they aren’t simple. We couldn’t split and stack our newly collected firewood because the old firewood was in the way, and we didn’t have a place to put it by the hot tub. The only solution was to build a small firewood shed.

getting your own firewood
We can’t split and stack our GOOD firewood until the hot tub firewood is out of the way!

As one of our goals is to develop our property debt-free, we turned to our collection of reclaimed building materials that we gathered for pennies, and got to work with yet another scrap wood project.

Determining the Size of the Firewood Shed

The first thing we had to do was determine what size firewood storage solution we wanted. We figured that we had about a cord of mill ends from last winter, and since we don’t go through that much wood in our wood fired hot tub, we figured a cord of storage was perfect!

We decided to build a shed that was roughly 8′ wide, 4′ deep and 4′ tall.

building a firewood box

The Location of Our Firewood Storage

We wanted the firewood shed to be as close to the hot tub and hot tub deck as possible since we’re all about minimizing the amount of energy we expend just to accomplish simple chores. We aren’t ready to lose space on our deck, nor are we ready to dig the shed into the hillside, so we decided to put it at the base of the hill.

diy firewood storage shed plans

While this location may not be permanent, it’s a great solution for today’s needs. We did ensure that we built something somewhat portable so that we can use it in the future.

Ease of the Build: Easy but Not Without Excitement

Jesse and I have been taking on a number of small projects on our property prior to starting construction of our house including building a deck for our hot tub, getting started with solar power, making our own lumber, building a small cabin for $300, building our own sawhorses, and even building a deck for our RV.

With each small project we take on, we further our skills of both construction and teamwork which will make the house building project be a much more pleasant experience.

building-a-firewood-shed

Jesse took the reins with the design of the firewood shed, but the entire project went pretty smooth! Building with reclaimed materials is always a challenge because while they are often free or at least extremely affordable, they are not without their downfalls. In addition to plentiful warpage, rot, and nothing being uniform, reclaimed lumber more often than not is filled with rusty nails.

While it’s works pretty well to either pull the nails out or bang them in and flatten them with a hammer, they do pose a huge threat to chop saw blades! A blade for our double bevel sliding compound miter saw (one of the most critical tools in our homestead tool box) is about $50, so hitting a nail could cost us $50. We actually did cut straight through a nail we discovered, and the blade survived, but we don’t expect to get away with that twice!

We are always so diligent at checking nails before we cut, but today we missed one!

The other challenge we had is that the weight of the wood was too heavy and the front girder of the shed started to crack and bend under the pressure. Just our luck, this was happening as I was loading the shed with wood, and Jesse was on the bed in the trailer being victim to back spasms… he was unable to help me and our structure was about to break, with a cord of wood in it!

Maybe Malek was the straw that broke the camel's back. He did just eat a big dinner...
Maybe Malek was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He did just eat a big dinner…

In a moment of panic, I tried to think of what Jesse would do. I tossed a bunch of wood under the girder to try to support it and when I realized I might have a minute before it broke, I made a mad dash to the car where the car jack was located. I placed the jack under the girder, jacked it up to take the weight off, and searched our pile of reclaimed materials for something suitable to create a couple of middle legs.

I was able to quickly cut a couple sets of legs, prop them up on some bricks, get them screwed into the girder, and release the car jack. I think this saved the day but we probably should have put a leg there to begin with. Live and learn… this wasn’t meant to be a perfect structure!

Not a bad fix for a rookie! I'm glad Jesse was able to lean on me today or else our entire project could have been a failure.
I’m glad Jesse was able to lean on me today or else our entire project could have been a failure. A year ago, I would have let him down, guaranteed.

Download Our Firewood Shed Plans

We thought it would be fun to share some of our plans for once, so because Jesse has already been practicing Google SketchUp to finalize the barndominium plans, he was willing to sketch up our plans for you all!

In these plans, you’ll see what we actually ended up doing, as well as the measurements. With these plans, you should be able to build your own simple firewood storage shed for an affordable cost. Even if you don’t have access to reclaimed materials as we do, the entire structure can be built with 2x4s, screws and a couple pieces of roofing. Easy as pie!

What’s next?

We still have quite a bit to get done on our to do list and aren’t quite sure exactly what we’ll get done before winter. As promised earlier this year, we’re trying to be kind to ourselves and free up as much bandwidth as possible before starting construction of our barn / home. We even had a little fun this summer foraging for edible plants, canning up a fruit storm and making our own root beer, which we deemed critical to our happiness.

Going forward, we are really focusing on getting buttoned down for winter, taking care of a few personal tasks like paying off existing debt, and we even have a long list of things that we need an excavator for, so we can only imagine what the next month has in store for us!

Woah... our shelter skeleton! Don't ask what's going on here... too soon.
Woah… our shelter skeleton! Don’t ask what’s going on here… too soon.
Finally... some light into our garage / cabin structure! Yes, part of winter prepping too.
Finally… some light into our garage / cabin structure!

Get involved!

Super easy and quick way to build your own firewood storage using barnwood and other reclaimed materials!What are your ingenious firewood storage solutions? We know all of you seasoned veterans have them! We have seen some wild-looking ideas on Pinterest and Facebook. Do you have some sort of shelter you use or do you keep it simple and stack your wood between a couple of trees, and cover it with a tarp? Let us know in the comments so that we can pool together all of our wisdom!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

  1. Allen says

    In looking at your quick fix, I thought you may find this tip helpful:

    The compression strength of a block of wood is not only more than the shear strength of the deck screws, but it will tend to wear out much slower – translated into laymens terms, it is nearly always better to place the block of wood directly under the girder it is supposed to be supporting, rather than relying upon the strength of the screws alone, that way, you can use the screws to simply insure that the blocks remain in their strongest position, rather than hoping that the screws don’t rust or tear out from the stresses of holding up the bulk of the load.

    Good luck, & hopefully Jesse can recover quickly too!

    • AtlanticAcres says

      Allen, I totally concur. Hopefully they can/will change this soon. Also, as a side note, you should reconsider how you stack your firewood. Leaving the non-bark side up will collect and absorb water. If you stack with the bark side up – the bark will help shed water and your wood will dry faster and remain dry.

    • Jens Hultman says

      And to add to Allen,s comment. When you build walls, place a top plate on top of the vertical studs and then build the roof on top of that. Attaching the roof construction with just screws puts all the weight on the screws. With a small construction like this, it’s probably not a problem. The weight of snow will probably not crack the screws.

  2. Amy says

    Great thinking and awesome job making that off the cuff fix that I am sure will last till: you guys decide to move it, make something more permanent, or Jesse can get a look. Great Save Alyssa!

  3. Ty Tower says

    When they first started selling Tungsten Carbide Saw blades they were marketed as being capable of cutting through nails all day and still staying sharp. Perhaps the tungsten quality now has gone down but they don’t seem to handle nails like they did.

  4. Bill says

    Allen’s comment is so very important and the fix is so simple. Just slip a 2-by of the appropriate length between the feet you screwed to the beam. Please. It is a safety issue. WHEN the screws gripping integrity gives way at an inopportune time, one of you may end up under a pile of wood and with serious injuries. It’s not an issue of “if”, it is an issue of “when.

    Never rely on fasteners for load bearing. Rely on fasteners to hold load bearing members in place.

    We all are probably a little envious of what you guys are doing. Keep it up.

    I really like the inclusion of the foraging and its rewards including the beverage.

    B

  5. G. Tabor says

    Alyssa,

    I watched your video on harvesting firewood and realized it’s a significant amount of time and effort to gather enough to carry you through the winter, especially now that you’ve added the hot tub. I wondered if you guys have considered building a rocket mass heater? If I remember correctly, you’re anticipating a need for almost 9 cords of wood this winter between the cabin and the hot tub. Search the internet and you’ll find lots of youtube videos on how to make them, but here’s a link to a great source to get your research started:

    http://www.rocketstoves.com/

    The basic design uses a specially made burn chamber (either jtube or batch box) which exhausts into an inverted 55 gallon drum. The exhaust flows from the bottom of the drum into ductwork which can be run horizontally for 10′ or more and loop back before exhausting through the ceiling. The exhaust tube is embedded in a cobb bench or structure of your choosing/design, which stores the majority of the heat from the exhaust and slowly releases it over a period of up to 24 hours. The burn chamber ensures an efficient burn and the exhaust running through the cobb stores the heat generated. By the time the exhaust actually enters the exhaust stack, the exhaust temp is cool enough to touch the pipe without burning yourself. This should cut your wood consumption by more than half in heating your cabin. Another strategy would be to insulate the hot tub… a good hot tub blanket or two for the surface of the water, along with 1″ or 2″ blueboard (rigid insulation rated R6) cut in a similar fashion to what you’ve done with the wood walls, capped off with another layer of boards and a cap rail for aesthetics would be enough to help retain heat in the hot tub and reduce the need to continuously stoke the fire to keep the water from freezing this winter. It would be good to have a 2″ blueboard base under the floor as well, as the elevated platform means the entire exterior will be exposed to winter temps and accelerate heat losses. Some people have used RMH’s to heat saunas. If you ever chose to enclose your hot tub, you could incorporate one into the design.

    A key advantage of an RMH is that you charge the mass in one intense burn and the heat releases for hours. Imagine being able to charge the mass before going to bed, and finding everything is still reasonably warm in the morning. Another benefit is that these heaters are extremely clean burning when compared to traditional wood stoves or fireplaces, so the clean burn dramatically reduces the CO and other dirty elements of your exhaust.

    All the best!

  6. Jens Hultman says

    I’m not sure what advice you’re after. You seems to do everything right with drying wood. Make sure air can get to it from beneath, from all sides and in between it and protect if from rain.

    May I suggest again that you try to build a timber frame shed for the wood close to where you plan to have your barn and your apartment? There will be many future trips between the apartment and the shed, so a nice looking building with the possibility to split wood inside it with a Smart Splitter will be a gift from heaven. And an opportunity to practice timber framing.

    Best wishes from a fellow Dewalt Mitre Saw Owner (a DW 777).

    • says

      We would love to build a timber frame shed and there is a high likelihood we will do so! I’m sure we’ll come up with an elaborate yet simple storage system for the barndominium but not sure what we’ll settle on this winter… we may try to get by with what we have but I do think I saw another shed on our to-do list. It would be nice to always have 2-3 winters worth of wood but maybe have a couple cords that are easy to grab by the house so we don’t have to trek long and far in the snow. Oh, the possibilities! Glad you like your saw, we are still loving ours!

  7. says

    As someone who lives on the land too, poor health is a real kick in the pants. When you have to down tools because of illness, the work only gets harder, the longer the list has to wait. But you cannot force recovery either. We can only learn patience and endurance from the experience, trying not to overdo it again, when our good health returns. Because the temptation is there to make up for lost time again. Life on the land is really an endurance strategy, as much as it’s about maintaining infrastructure. As couples, we really learn how important we are to each other, in the relationship. It certainly tests teamwork!

    We are contemplating a wood shed too, although in Australia we don’t have to worry about snow during winter. So we’re relying on electricity for heating at the moment. We’re going to be felling sapling trees for our building material, using them whole and cutting notches into them for joining. I’ve built a lot of chicken housing in my time, starting with a chicken tractor, and it makes good building practice. If you cannot use a notch in the wood to help support the load, and have to rely on screws (something I’ve had to do) buy cheap metal brackets to help support the join and the load too. For something so small, cheap and readily available, brackets are literally life savers.

    My chicken tractor even survived a tree falling on it. While it sustained damage to some pieces of wood, the main structure remained in tact, and saved the occupants inside. Which is why I always tend to over-engineer. I’m actually in the process of revamping that same tractor, and studying the soundness of the structure recently, the only piece of wood I’ve had to replace, is because it has rot. I’m really pleased I’ve gotten so many years out of that initial investment of time and materials.

    I really like your efforts with the shed, and with rescuing it in time too. As someone who lives on slopes, and spent many years carting things up and down – it’s always easier to dig into a hillside once, so you can cart things downhill, for the life of that structure. Rather than carting continuous loads uphill. Although you obviously had limitations with health, this time around, which probably helped determine it’s location. If you’re wondering if it will be worth the effort to relocate the structure uphill, next summer, trust me, it will be! :)

    • says

      We have also found that living on the land is about endurance! We realize that any health issues are to be taken seriously (even if it means just paying attention to them) because if we push too hard, we can break. Yes, teamwork is extremely critical and certainly tests teamwork. Good job on your chicken tractor! These things are so funny but totally make sense. It’s quite an accomplishment to not have it taken out by a tree! And I’d love to see how the sapling shed comes out. Right now, it seems if we put the structure on the hill we will have to make trips both up AND down the hill with wood, and it’s even further from the cabin which means extra walking. I think when we “finalize” things though, we’ll be sure to ensure we have to expend as little energy as possible. There are many ways to stay fit on a homestead that don’t involve unnecessary walking or carrying, hah! Sounds like you’ve learned a lot in your years so far, thanks for all the great feedback! Hope you’re having a good winter down under… looks like the roles will reverse soon!

  8. says

    Many years ago my family was offered summer camp cabins for salvage. They had been built by volunteers with minimal materials. The one sturdy one was moved to our adjoining property intact but the rest were broken down into panels and brought down to the farm and reassembled into a sort of carport/garage. Later the driveway access was cut off but it is directly above the entrance where we bring the wood into the house. Our saws are stored in the front and there is plenty of room in the back to just throw the wood as we cut it and not bother stacking it.
    Small stuff gets cut on the bandsaw. Larger long stuff goes from the cart or trailer to the sawhorse and is cut with the electric chain saw. I have also found that it is much safer and quieter to put the generator in the cart and use it to cut culled trees around the property. With the Jaw Saw plugged into the other outlet I can quickly switch to limbing and cutting to cart length.
    Something to think about as you work on the plans for your barn/home; Is there a place for a covered area with air flow but out of general eyesight that you can just cut and throw your wood and not have to stack it? The chore I hated growing up was hauling a wheelbarrow full of wood under the house, stacking it, filling the wheelbarrow with dirt, taking it to the fill area to dump and then coming back with another load of wood. In the long run it was worth it to have the wood furnace under the house and eventually my father’s carpenter shop.

  9. says

    Your wood shed looks great! I like that you put it at the base of the hill, on the way up to the hot tub! Question: are you learning how to regulate the heat in your hot tub? I was wondering if it got too hot, do you just add cold water, or do you wait until the fire burns down and get in then? My husband and I have been considering buying a wood fired hot tub, or making a solar hot water tub, and just can’t seem to decide! Maybe a hybrid of both? I love reading your blog!

  10. MARTIN KERKER says

    I just noticed that your metal roof on your temporary wood shed is running the wrong way. It should run with the slope of the roof so the snow will slide off. Another suggestion is to buy a pickup truck jib crane that slides into the receiver hitch on your truck. Northern tool makes a hand crank cable crane approx. $199.00. coupled with a log tong. It could be a lifesaver for your backs when your making firewood. Your property has come along way, keep motivated.

  11. Dustin Horn says

    Just a few things (Don’t shoot the Msngr):
    -Cut a round of firewood to put under center of front & rear of rack

    -Make 2 beams using Two -2×4’s sandwiched together for roof beams and put them on top of the Upright posts running front to back. Next Cut 2×4’s In half (or similar) and run these opposite the beams and turn roof 90 degrees so snow load slips off (called Purlins)

    -Firewood dries by forcing water out the ends of logs. In this way you want to keep water off the top and air flowing thru. Some ppl stack the wood where they cut it to dry (one row thick) then retrieve it as needed. Once snow is down a plastic sled with sides works great. If you can source some used cross country skis (craigslist under $20) you can make a sweet sled. I have pics if you want.

    – Now would be a good time to build a saw buck as well.

    -http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/how-to/g103/how-to-build-a-firewood-shed/

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