Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Firewood shed

I'm recording yet another small-to-mid-sized project that I did during my week's vacation.

I sometimes make tiny little fires in my backyard, in a small terracotta fire bowl.  Because the fires are small, I don't need a whole lot of firewood:  various branches gathered from my back yard are enough.  But I have odd little stashes in various places, including my back porch.  So for the past few months I've intended to make a little firewood stand.  So, here it is.

I started cutting the pieces of wood, intermittently, early in my vacation -- maybe the 19th.  And I finished it last night, on the 25th of September.  All of the assembly took place on the 25th.

The project is based around triangles, because triangles are structurally very strong.  It also meant that nearly all of the pieces are the same length -- which was handy.

You'll notice that the wood is currently darker at the joints:  that's because I rubbed boiled linseed oil on at the joints before screwing the wood together, to protect the wood from moisture at least a little bit.  If I had tried to oil the wood after assembly, the oil may not have reached into the joints.

Also:  I've had this wood lying out in the open for more than ten years, getting rained on.  Wood is remarkably robust:  it can get wet, and as long as it doesn't stay wet (i.e. it gets a chance to dry out again), it doesn't rot.  Note that the wood was off the ground:  if it had been lying in the dirt, then yeah -- it probably would've rotted.

Although:  if I lived in a cold and rainy climate, this might not have worked.  But we get most of our rain in the summer -- so it's sunny and things dry out pretty quickly.

Here's a tool I made myself, maybe five years ago.  Basically, it's a handle for an L-shaped Allan wrench of the correct size for the hex screws that I like to use on my larger projects.  The wood is actually a tree root:  I wanted to see if a root was strong enough to use as "wood" (the answer is "Yes"). 

For this sort of project I usually drive the screws with a hex-shaped bit, in an electric drill.  But it's a nuisance to keep switching between the driver bit and a drill bit (for making additional holes) -- so I'll often "start" the screws with this tool, and then drive a bunch of them at once, later on -- using the hex bit.

Because I often use this outdoors, I wanted the tool to be visually distinct from the dirt (and miscellaneous scraps of wood), so I spray-painted it bright green (because I like the color green!).  I achieved the spiral by wrapping the tool with a single spiral of narrow masking tape, with a gap between each loop; spraying the handle; and then (of course) removing the masking tape after the paint had dried.

Here's the wood rack taking shape:

Note that I also put some diagonals on the ends, to keep it from flopping over.  And that I've now oiled the whole structure.

Then I cut a scrap sheet of plywood in half, butted the halves end-to-end, and screwed it to the top of the frame.  By now it was starting to get dark.

This is a "Look!  I finished it on this day!" photo.  It was my last day of vacation, and I really wanted to complete this project -- so I worked right up to dark.

But here's a better photo, which I took this morning before work.

You can't tell from this photo, but the structure is about waist-high for me -- so it's not very large, as firewood shelters go.

It's sitting on top of a (salvaged!) plastic base to a portable basketball pole, which keeps the structure off of the dirt -- which will hopefully prevent rot, and make the structure last longer.

You probably can't tell (unless you click on the photo to enlarge it?), but there's a piece of one-by-four that covers the gap between the two pieces of plywood -- also rubbed with boiled linseed oil.

The black pots hold little stubs of wood that are too short to stack properly.  The three sections of the rack are for wood at different stages of drying:  the far left is for old, dry wood; the middle section is for "kinda dry" wood; and the far right is for "green" wood.  When I use up all the wood in the left-hand section, I'll transfer each section's wood to the left. 

Note that as I re-stack it, the order of the wood (which reflects how long it's been drying) will change.  For example, the wood at the bottom of the middle section will be older than the wood at the top of the middle section; when I re-stack in the section at the left, the less-old wood will end up on the bottom of the "To Use" section, and the older wood will be on the top of the "To Use" section -- i.e. the first to be used! 

This re-ordering doesn't apply to the wood from the "green wood" section -- but by the time it reaches the "To Use" section it'll be so seasoned that it won't really matter.

This project was noteworthy in that, except for the screws, all of the wood was salvaged, not purchased:  the long pieces were from a neighbor's house construction, and the red plywood was from the pallet from our solar panels (which explains the peculiar cut-outs:  I cut the wooden blocks out; I wasn't able to remove the nails).  In fact, the short screws that I used to attach the red plywood were salvaged from a previous wooden outdoor project that started to rot:  I threw away the wood, but kept the screws.


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