Build a Backyard Firewood Holder
If you use a wood burning stove to heat your home, you know how nice it is to have a nice-looking, covered area to store firewood. This is a quick project that can turn a boring woodpile into a nice yard accent.
This past spring my brother built an in-ground fire pit at the end of our backyard. To complement this addition to the yard, and as a Mother’s Day gift, I decided to build my mom a decorative wood holder as we had firewood, but no place to store it.
I chose cedar for the parts that were more visible, and pressure- treated lumber for the less visible parts, but using cedar for all the parts is an option.
Brown notched the roof trusses so they would fit over the corner of the legs. A full-size drawing will help work out the dimensions of this notch.
Strengthen the Base
You can see three side braces joining two of the legs, as well as the X-brace at the back of the firewood holder. The X-brace protects against racking. Also notice the bottom braces, which the legs are sitting on top of. They get mitred together, and those mitre joints are hidden underneath the back legs.
Add Some Decoration
The vertical decorative rail is cut then fixed in place with screws, then the two angled decorative rails are cut and fixed in place from the back.
Start at the top
The starting point of this project is the roof section, as it will be constructed separately from the rest of the structure and will dictate the overall width and depth. The roof structure is a simple ladder design, made from pressure-treated 2×4 lumber. First cut six roof cross pieces at 21″ in length. This dimension will dictate the overall depth of the structure. I chose 21″ as it will nicely accommodate a typical piece of firewood, with a bit of overhang on each side.
Next, we need to cut the four roof trusses to length, and at an angle. The pitch of the roof will be determined by the angle you cut at the end of these pieces. You can play around with different angles until you get the look you desire. I chose an angle of 70° to give a moderate slope. Cut this angle on both ends of each of the roof trusses.
Cut a birdsmouth notch in each of the roof trusses to allow the assembled roof structure to sit on the 6×6 vertical posts. If you’re unsure of the angle for the birdsmouth notches, a fullsized drawing will help out. Another option is to leave these notches until you have the firewood holder closer to completion to make the cuts.
Take two of the roof trusses and lay them beside each other, standing on their bottom edges. Place three of the roof cross pieces between the roof trusses so their top and bottom edges are flush. Ensure the roof cross piece that will be closest to the outer end of the finished firewood holder is far enough away from the ends of the roof trusses, in order to leave room for the horizontal decorative rail down the road. Predrill and screw the parts together using four screws for each brace, two in each side. The front of these boards will not be visible, so the screws won’t be a concern. Repeat these steps again for the second side. When finished you should have two ladder type structures. Lay them aside for now.
Four strong legs
I opted to use 6×6 material for the legs for an extra heavy look, but 4×4 material is also an option. Cut the four legs to length. If you’re using 6×6’s these cuts can seem a little complicated, as most DIYers do not have a miter saw capable of cutting through a 6×6. Not to worry, as that is an easy obstacle to overcome. Just mark the beam to length and cut through as far as your saw allows, then roll the beam over and continue the cut on the next side. You now have four 6×6 legs cut at 5′ long.
Cutting the two bottom side braces and one bottom back brace that help secure the legs is the next step. These braces sit on the ground and are mounted directly to the bottom of the 6×6 legs to provide overall rigidity. Cut two pieces of 2×6 cedar at 24″ long and one piece of 2×6 pressure-treated to 8′ long. Cut a 45° angle at both ends of the bottom back brace and a 45° angle at one end of each of the shorter bottom side braces. Now take two of the legs, lay them on the ground 8′ apart, and screw the bottom back brace to the bottom of the legs so the corner of the 2×6 bottom back brace is flush with the corners of the legs. Screw the pressure-treated piece on with long exterior screws so it’s structurally sound.
Screw the bottom side braces to the underside of the two legs so the 45° angles create a mitered joint. You should now have two cedar legs lying on the ground with a pressure-treated 2×6 brace between them, and the two cedar foot braces mounted to the legs and sticking straight up in the air. Next, cut six side braces to fit between the front and back legs. Use long screws to toenail three braces to each leg. One should be flush with the bottom of the legs, one flush with the top of the legs, and the last can be attached 30″ above the bottom of the leg. With the assembly still lying on the ground you can position the final two legs in place and secure them with screws.
Stand up and strengthen
Attach four temporary 2×4s to the faces of the legs, near their tops. This keeps the legs fixed in place, relative to each other. Now it’s time to carefully stand the structure up. To give the assembly more stability, add an “X” brace to the back, made of two pieces of pressure-treated 2×4 lumber. I chose to mount one of these pieces flush with the back edge of the rear legs, 15″ from the ground and 7″ from the top of the legs, and the other slightly offset towards the front of the structure. To determine the correct angle for mounting inside the legs, tack each brace to the legs at the desired location and mark a vertical line on the brace where it intersects with the leg. Do this at each end of the braces and cut at the line. Toenail each brace onto the inside of each leg, being sure to pre-drill prior to mounting to avoid splitting the wood.
Back to the top
The completion of the roof is next. Cut the roof cleat to 21″ long, then take the two roof halves and line them up so the mating joint is tight. An extra set of hands may be needed to hold the assemblies together. Take your 21″- long roof cleat and place it inside the peak, half on either side of the joint, around 2″ below the peak, then screw it in from the outside. This will serve to hold the two halves of your roof together. Place it on top of the legs so the edges of the legs sit in the notches in the roof trusses. Screw the roof halves into the legs.
Cut and mount the horizontal decorative rail to the top of the front legs. There should be just enough space under the roof trusses for this piece to slide in on its face so that the side edge is facing out. Screw this piece straight down into the top of the legs.
Next, cut a piece of 2×4 cedar to fit between the horizontal rail and the peak of the roof. This piece is screwed to the center of the horizontal rail and tucks behind the edge of the roof trusses, where it’s also screwed into place. The two angled decorative rails form the “W” that sits under the peak of the roof. Cut these two pieces so one end forms a point that will fit snugly between the horizontal and vertical decorative pieces previously mounted.
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The last decorative pieces are the fascia; they are to be cut from 2×6 cedar and are 57″ long. They mount on the front of the roof trusses, covering any screw heads. Attach them from behind so no hardware is visible. Cut angles in the ends of these boards to match the ends of the roof trusses.
The final step is to sheet the roof. I cut two pieces of OSB 24″ wide and 57″ long, mounted to the roof trusses. This OSB didn’t overhang the decorative cedar fascia, as I could only get two 24″-wide pieces from one 4×8 sheet. You could make the entire structure 1-1/2″ narrower if you wanted to be able to cover the entire structure with the sheathing. Screw the boards to the roof trusses. Once it’s secured you’re ready to add shingles using appropriate roofing nails. I found that this project required less than a full bundle of shingles. I laid a few patio stones and placed the firewood holder on top of them. The stones helped keep moisture away from the wood and tidy up the entire look. A few coats of any exterior finish will protect the project from the elements, as well as keep it looking nice for years to come. If you choose to apply a film finish you may need to do more maintenance on it over the years, while a penetrating finish will require less maintenance.
Dan Brown is a music student at York University in Toronto and is excitedly engaged to his beautiful fiancée Krista. He hopes to use the proceeds from his woodworking to help fund the wedding, so the date is set for 2025.