How to Build a Log Cutting Rack
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Providing your own wood is an excellent way to be more self-reliant, especially if you heat with a wood stove. With a small stand of good hard woods and good plan to sustainably harvest, you can provide your own heat year-after-year. The wood is also great if you have an outdoor oven for cooking in your back yard!
Once you have cut down a tree and have a pile of long logs to work with, a log cutting rack can come in handy for cutting firewood-length pieces. It allows you to pick the wood up off the ground to cut at waist height, saving your back a few aches and pains as well as reducing the risk of dulling or damaging your chain on the ground when cutting logs at ground-level.
The log-cutting rack can also be set up to make multiple cuts at a time, and can be used to cut through piles of branches to make kindling-length wood very quickly.
- 10 5-foot 2x4s to serve as legs
- 4 10-foot 2x4s to serve as bottom runners
- 10 2-ft 2x4s to serve as cross-stabilizers and log-holding racks (the shelves)
- One box of exterior wood or decking screws, sized to the thickness of your cross-stabilizers/shelves plus another 1 to 1 1/2 inches to anchor into the legs (typically 1 1/2 or 2 inch length should work fine)
We recommend pre-drilling holes before installing screws to avoid splitting the wood. Based on experience, nails will pull out from the weight of the logs, which is why we recommend screws.
How to Build your Log Cutting Rack
Step 1: Lay 5 of your 5-foot leg pieces out on level ground (a garage floor worked perfectly) placed approximately 2-3 inches farther apart than your desired cut length for your firewood. This spacing is important to determine based on the length of firewood you will typically need. We wanted 18-22 inch firewood pieces, so we spaced legs at 24 inches, giving us a few inches of wiggle room on either side of each “shelf” that will hold the logs up off the ground.
Step 2: Place one of your 10-foot runners across the bottom of your leg pieces, lining it up about 4 inches from the bottom of each leg. Use a square or level to make sure that your legs are even and the runner will be straight. Attach the runner to each leg using 2 wood screws placed diagonally from each other.
Step 3: Place another runner on the five legs, this time about 18 inches from the bottom (ground-end) of each leg. Make sure the pieces are square, then attach the runner to the legs using 2 wood screwed placed diagonally from each other as for the first runner installed in Step 2. Set this section aside.
Step 4-6: repeat the steps above to build the other side of your rack.
Step 7: Take one of your assembled side pieces and lay it flat with the stabilizers on top. Attach one 2-foot 2×4 vertically resting above the second stabilizer at each intersection with a leg using 2 wood screws. You will have 5 boards sticking up vertically from your stabilizer.
Step 8: Using a sawhorse, another person, or some other means for holding your rack in place, assemble the first part of your rack. You’ll place the cross-sections that you attached in step 7 on top of the horizontal rail on your second stabilizer side. Holding that in place, attach the horizontal cross bars to the other side to form the first level of your rack. This level is primarily for structural purposes.
Step 9: Now that the foundation of your rack is build, the next level of 2x4s will hold the wood as you cut it. Attach these pieces just below waist height at the same location on each leg. You’ll need another person or a clamp to hold these in place while you drill and add screws.
Note: If your rack does not feel stable enough for your liking, you can add a second set of cross-beams by adding a 2×4 or pallet wood on the other side of the legs. This will make the rack heavier, but if you don’t have to move it much, that will work just fine.
How to Use your Log Cutting Rack
Now that you have your own log-cutting rack, using it is easy. You simply lay a large section of wood (or multiple pieces if they are not too thick) over the rack using as many sections as needed. Secure lighter pieces to the rack using rope or rubber straps. Determine how long you want your pieces (we prefer logs that are about 1.5 ft in length) and make cuts between your cross-bars with your chainsaw!
Be sure to use appropriate safety equipment including a helmet with face-mask, ear protection, chaps, and steel toed boots!