Monday, August 22, 2016

Woodshed DIY Resources

August DIY Update: 
Woodsheds Again

In the Western states, our summer dry season is approaching its end. (Sometimes in a fiery burst of heat. Our sympathy to the folks currently threatened by active wild fires; we're feeling very lucky NOT to be fighting big wildfires yet in the Okanogan County this year, for once.)

Our wood shed - already stocked
with about 1 winter's supply
for our rocket mass heater
If you need a woodshed, or a bigger or better woodshed, to hold all that lovely wood you've harvested and split this spring, it would be a REALLY good end-of-August project for this week.

Properly dried and stored fire wood can provide more than double the same heating energy as damp or green wood. (Soaking-wet wood can act as a fire extinguisher, meaning dry wood is infinitely more effective as a heating fuel.)

A good woodshed is not just storage out of the rain – it's a clever wood-drying machine. The shape and structure promote great ventilation, often using slatted sides or racks, and sometimes featuring dividers so you can run two years' supply side-by-side with ventilation between each row. Good wood sheds keep not just rain but groundwater and evaporating moisture from remaining anywhere near your precious fuel stores. 

A good wood shed should be so well-ventilated it's almost windy inside. If your climate is very humid and foggy, you might need to consider a design with some heating function to dry the air - perhaps an enclosed shed whose metal or clear plastic roof helps it functions like a solar dehydrator, or a storage attached to your heated space such as a mud-room, lean-to, or the back corner of a shop or barn. 
(In most climates, these heated spaces are not necessary to achieve dry wood, and the risk of bringing wood-eating bugs into a large wooden building may outweigh the convenience and drying speed associated with heated spaces.) 

Common structures that can double as wood-drying storage include a well-ventilated greenhouse, barn, daylight basement, or a temporary fabric structure such as a canopy tent or suspended rain-fly tarp. 

Bad ideas for wood sheds include almost all tarped-over woodpiles on the ground.  Unfortunately, these often act more as moisture-trapping mushroom farms than as dry storage. Basements are another location that may be useable for storing already-dried wood, but may be too damp or lack the necessary ventilation for a reasonably fast initial drying and curing process.

If you would not leave books or linens in your wood storage, for fear of damp and mold, consider improving it.
Assembling a 24-foot-wide bow shed carport
(yes, it's taller than our 24x36 cabin)

We are also in the middle of building an extra-big carport, using the largest approved size of “bow-truss” from some university extension service barn plans we found online. 

The main motive for this project is actually ice-free access to our vehicles while Ernie recovers from an elective surgery this fall.  But I'm definitely looking forward to stacking a little bit of extra firewood in here for convenient access this winter.  (and possibly to creating an entryway/greenhouse....)

Here are some great resources for building an inexpensive, spacious woodshed:

Simple shed roof with tilt-up walls:

A bow-shed greenhouse much like ours (this company does sell plans and accessories, but similar plans are also available elsewhere for free).

Barn construction details for those with loftier ambitions - MANY designs and details free to download from North Dakota extension service, well-adapted for snow and wind loads:

Many barn and shed (and other ag building) plans from Tennesee extension service– try #6100 for a nice simple shed, or #6298 for a gothic-arch bow-shed, greenhouse, or carport:

If you already have a woodshed you love, please send a picture, or share pictures or links in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!
Erica and Ernie

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