Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Stacking wood the German Way: The Holzhausen

I love our wood stove. It is cost effective and gives a nice intense heat that accommodates my large, old house. Yet I am pretty green when it comes to cord wood stacking, trying to find the best way to store and dry wood, since wet wood is terrible for a wood stove. I needed the right balance of effort, cost, maintenance, and heat stability.

We go through about 5 cords a year, plus about a pallet of compressed wood fuel. I used to stack wood in the traditional tower method, consisting of several rows of piled wood held in place by a support tower at each end. The end support towers contain logs perpendicular to the one above and below. It seemed straightforward and had some Zen aspects to it, but one to many stacks fell and stacking wood twice is no fun. There had to be a better way. Thus began a quest to find the best ways to stack, store, and dry wood. Sure a wood shed is the best protection and has stable ends, but that was not the right solution.

Each pile contains about 1-1/2 cords

Each pile contains about 1-1/2 cords

The web revealed many articles, photos and blogs of amazing wood stackers. Some piles have animal designs in them, or crazy geometric patterns that seemed like it would take the whole summer to do. I wanted something easy. But then there it was, the most fool proof, structurally sound, and low maintenance wood stack ever; the holzhausen.

The stacking begins with a circle of logs on edge.  Each successive log goes around facing the center.  The goal is to have the logs falling towards the center.  The center void is filled with vertical logs.  The top is capped with bark up logs.

The stacking begins with a circle of logs on edge. Each successive log goes around facing the center. The goal is to have the logs falling towards the center. The center void is filled with vertical logs. The top is capped with bark up logs.

Originated in Germany, the holzhausen (“wood house”) looks like a beehive. The conical form stacks the wood around and around, pitching the wood towards the center so it falls in on itself. Irregular-shaped pieces get placed vertically inside the round pile to create vertical air movement, known as the “stack effect”, which keeps the wood inside dry. This method has its share of artisans as well, but it is simple enough to start practically, leading towards a cleaner, more artistic woodpile.

Wood stacking has its share of competitiveness and critics. While the holzhausen can become a work of art, even the worst looking pile can be effective and stable. Search the web for holzhausen videos, since they are the best way to see and learn the best tricks and techniques. And soon you will join the competition for the prettiest woodpile.

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