Chinese Firewood Carrier

Ever since Peter Follansbee wrote about the Chinese firewood carrier that Daniel O’Hagan adapted from Rudolf Hommel’s China at Work (great book), I’ve been itching to make one for myself. With the heating season now full on and my nine-year-old hauling firewood into the house most days, I decided it was time to finally knock one of these together.

The Original from Hommel's Book

Long time readers here might have picked up that some of my favorite historic artifacts are rural utilitarian objects made with function as a top priority. Although these items are often coarsely made, they always bear the evidence of many generations of use which testifies to the integrity of their design and construction. And, I must admit, the roughness develops patina beautifully.

When I set out to make one of these wood carriers the other day, I decided to make one as rough but rugged as possible. I decided to try making one from mostly green wood and without any planing. The stock for the base was riven and joined with through tenons.

Instead of planing the base pieces flat, I simply oriented the convex side up so that the carrier ended up with four feet. Also, because of the irregularity in thickness, rived the proud bits off with the joint assembled by setting the edge my hatchet to each protrusion and splitting them off in one whack each. The tenons were drawbored with three pins each. Everything came together rock solid. Some of the drawbore offsets were quite extreme – nothing like the workmanship of risk to get the blood flowing!


The uprights were rived from mostly dried stock I had kicking around my wood pile. I shaved them to size with a drawknife and bent them around a maul and clamped them over the weekend. The uprights were tenoned into the green base and top piece at an angle to encourage the bend to remain. The round through tenons were then wedged and the wedges pinned in place.


This lightweight little carrier was banged out of less than spectacular material in only a few hours but it is super rugged and will only get more so as it continues to dry. And the carrier makes hauling a decent size load of wood a snap. My nine-year-old’s chore just got a lot easier.

Guess I need to make one for myself… It’d be awfully handy to have one hanging around the shop.

- Joshua


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