Judging Wood Shrinkage

An expert on cordwood construction advises that wood shrinkage is a problem best solved preventively.

wood shrinkage - man building cordwood wall

If you thoroughly dry it in advance, wood shrinkage won't be a problem in cordwood construction.

Photo by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

Content Tools

Q: When building with cordwood, how do you judge wood shrinkage so that future air leaks are prevented?

A: It is best to eliminate that problem before it can develop. The amount of shrinkage in wood varies according to the age, moisture content, and species of the logs you're working with. The basic building blocks should have time to dry, shrink, and stabilize before you start construction. To make sure they do, cut all of your wood and then allow it to air dry like firewood. Debarking and splitting the rounds will speed up this process considerably, and the chores are well worth the extra time and effort.

Jack Henstridge, the author of several books on cordwood construction, is the director of the Indigenous Material Housing Institute.