You don’t need to have a house in the country that relies on firewood for winter heating to realize just how convenient having access to dry hardwood kindling is. Even those who occasionally ignite logs in a fireplace or outside in the firepit or pizza oven understand how easy it is to get things going with just a short walk to the wood pile instead of driving to the hardware store for a bag of logs (again).
While you can stack firewood just about anywhere outside, if left exposed to the elements, it will take much longer to dry out, and burning wet wood causes a smoky fire. A firewood rack helps keep logs neatly stacked and protected while allowing airflow on all sides to promote drying.
When it comes to finding a rack that fits your burn needs, the issue is often size. If you use firewood as a primary heating source, you’ll likely buy, or split yourself, a cord — 4x8x4 feet — of firewood each season. That’s a lot of wood for the occasional user who might not have the storage space or need. On the hand, many decorative racks are designed to hold only a fire’s worth of fuel. That’s why this firewood rack is the perfect upgrade — you can size it to what you’d like.
Steps for Building a Firewood Rack
For a list of tools, materials, and the full cut list, scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Using a standard cover that is 4×2 feet, we designed a rack that holds about ¼ cord of firewood. Here’s a good rule of thumb to gauge your usage: Estimate about 4 to 5 logs will burn per hour of use. This rack would hold enough fuel for about 20 to 25 fires.
Step 1: Cut the parts for the base and the roof.
Using the cut list provided below, trim the pressure-treated 2x4s to length using a circular saw and a rafter square. You should have four long pieces and four shorter pieces, which will make up the frames for the base and the roof. Set these cut pieces aside because you’ll be using them later.
Step 2: Assemble the frames for the base and the roof
Start by building the frame for the base: Arrange two long and two short 2×4 pieces on a worktable or the ground, so that the ends of the shorter pieces are kept, or covered, by the longer 2x4s. Square up the ends and then drive a pair of 3½-inch-long exterior grade screws through the corner of each longer 2×4 into the shorter ones, creating a rectangle.
Repeat this step to build the rectangular frame for the roof the same way.
Step 3: Assemble the joists and blocking
The four 2×4 joists, and the blocking connecting them within the base, will help stiffen the floor and support firewood that might be shorter than 24 inches long. Cut the base’s joists and blocking using the cut list provided.
Take two joist pieces and mark the center of them using a rafter square. Connect these two joists with the blocking by screwing through the joist into the end grain of the blocking, creating an “H.” Repeat this with two more joists parts and one more blocking part until you have a pair of H’s.
Finally, connect the two H’s with the final piece of blocking. But this time, position it off center about width of a 2×4, so you can attach it with screws.
Step 4: Attach the joist assembly
Now set the joist and blocking assembly inside the base. (You might need to use a hammer and a scrap of wood to convince it to fit.) Use four scrap pieces of 2x4s to space assembly away from the sides of the frame, leaving room for the legs you’ll add later.
Make sure the top of the joist assembly is flush with the top of the frame. Then drive a pair of screws through the long edges of the frame and into the ends of each joist piece where they meet.
Step 5: Build the roof
On the roof, the rafters and the single purlin will provide support under the cover to prevent a load of snow from sagging in. As with the floor joists, build the H out of two rafters connected by the purlin.
Drop the rafter assembly into the roof frame, center it, and secure it with screws through the roof frame and into the end grain of the rafters. Use 2×4 scraps to space the first and last rafters away from the short ends of the frame, leaving room for the legs you’ll add later.
Step 6: Add the legs
Using the cut list, trim four legs to set the finished height of the firewood rack. Here is where you can customize your build. If you need a shorter rack, trim the legs a bit, but keep in mind that the rack cover will extend down from the top about 18 inches, so you’ll want it to leave enough exposed wood under it to encourage airflow.
If you decide to make the rack taller, you might need to add some diagonal bracing across the back using a 2×4 to provide lateral support.
Working on the ground, set the base down and slip one leg between the frame and the first joist. Square the leg up with a rafter square and drive a pair of screws through the short end of the frame into the leg from the outside and two more from the inside. Now repeat this process for the remaining three legs.
Rest the assembly down on its back. Slip the roof over the four loose ends of the legs. Attach the legs to the roof the same way as the base: Drive two screws through the frame from the outside into the leg and two more through the rafter into the leg. If you want to use an exterior stain to dress up the pressure-treated rack, now is the time to coat it.
Step 7: Load and cover
Fill the firewood rack with cut and split lengths of hardwood at roughly 16 to 24 inches. Then add the protective rack cover over the top.
What You Need
- 2×4 pressure-treated frame: (4) @ 50 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated frame: (4) @ 21 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated joists: (4) @ 21 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated blocking: (3) @ 12 5/8 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated rafters: (4) @ 21 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated purlin: (1) @ 11 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated legs: (4) @ 47 inches long
- 2×4 pressure-treated studs: (10) @ 8 feet long
- 3-1/2-inch exterior grade screws
- 48-inch firewood rack cover
- Exterior Stain (optional)