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How Big Is a Cord of Wood? An Essential Guide to Firewood Measurements

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Picture this: a cozy winter evening, the comforting crackle of a fire, and the warmth it brings to your home. But have you ever wondered how to get the right amount of firewood and ensure it’s properly stored? Enter the world of firewood measurements, where the cord is king, and knowledge is power. In this informative guide, we’ll answer the questions, “how big is a cord of wood?” or “is a cord of wood 4x4x4?” and take you on a journey through the essentials of firewood measurements, from understanding cords to legal regulations, and even tips for buying and storing your kiln dried firewood.

If you’re looking to buy firewood, click here.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding firewood measurements and cord dimensions is essential for accurate purchasing and compliance with the law.
  • A cord of wood is a legally recognized measurement consisting of 128 cubic feet (4 x 4 x 8 ft) while a half cord measures 64 cubic feet.
  • Tips on buying, storing, seasoning and protecting firewood from pests are provided to ensure it will burn cleanly with minimal smoke.

Understanding Firewood Measurements

campfire, burning, camping

Imagine a bustling marketplace in the 1600s, where wood was sold in bundles secured with a cord, often in a tightly stacked pile. From these early days, firewood measurements have evolved to help standardize the quantity of wood offered and employed for individual purposes, determining how much wood is needed to warm your home throughout the winter season.

Today, firewood is typically measured by volume, calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of stacked firewood. But how did these measurements originate, and what do they mean for you when buying firewood?

The Role of Firewood Measurements

Accurate firewood measurements ensure customers receive the exact volume of wood they paid for. Using inexact methods like truckloads can lead to misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. Instead, cords and half cords of firewood are exact measurements, ensuring accuracy in purchases and giving a clear understanding of how much firewood you’re buying.

Knowing the difference between a full cord of wood, a half cord, a stove cord, or a face cord can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run, ensuring you have the right amount of firewood for your needs.

Brief History of Firewood Measurements

The history of firewood measurements dates back to the 1610s when sellers would stack wood in bundles secured with a cord. Buyers would bring their own pre-measured cord to wrap around the wood stack, ensuring accuracy in the purchase. This practice of tying pieces of wood together using a line, string, or cord helped minimize air space between the logs and led to the term “cord” as we know it today.

In this way, a standard unit of measurement specifically designed for solid wood firewood was born, and it continues to shape the firewood business to this day.

Defining a Cord of Wood

firewood, brushwood, wood

The cord of wood has come a long way since the 1600s, now serving as the legally recognized measurement for firewood sales. A cord of firewood is a stack of firewood measuring:

  • 128 cubic feet in volume
  • 4 feet high
  • 4 feet wide
  • 8 feet long

Comprehending firewood cord sizes and how log length and stacking methods can alter it is crucial when buying firewood.

Dimensions of a Cord

So how big is a cord? The dimensions of a cord of firewood measures 4 feet in width, 4 feet in height, and 8 feet in length, equating to 128 cubic feet. This is known specifically as a full cord of wood or a bush cord. This standardized measurement makes it easy for both buyers and sellers to understand the quantity of firewood and ensures that the agreed-upon amount is delivered.

In contrast, a half cord of firewood measures 64 cubic feet, precisely half the size of a full cord. Familiarizing yourself with these dimensions will help you make informed decisions when purchasing firewood.

If you’ve heard the firewood term “ricks” and wonder how many ricks in a cord? Let it be known that, when using ricks, there are 3 ricks in a cord. The rick of wood measurement is 4 feet high by 8 feet in length, with about 16 inches of width, equaling 42 cubic feet. This is also known as a “face cord” of wood, so the firewood measurements of a rick apply to a face cord of woods dimensions.

Factors Affecting Cord Size

Several factors can influence the size of a cord of wood, such as:

  • Log length
  • The way the logs are stacked
  • The type of wood
  • Size and straightness of the pieces

All of these factors can impact the final size of a running cord.

The manner of stacking or piling wood directly affects the size of a cord, with tightly stacked piles taking up less space than loosely thrown cords. Understanding these factors will help ensure you get the right amount of firewood for your needs.

Half Cord of Wood: What You Need to Know

A common unit of measure in firewood sales is a half cord, which equates to 64 cubic feet or a 4x4x4 feet stack. This unit is precisely half the size of a full cord, and distinguishing the difference is vital when buying cord firewood.

Understanding the various units of measurement and industry regulations is key to ensuring you secure the right amount of firewood for your needs. Knowing how to measure firewood accurately can save you time and money in the long run.

Dimensions of a Half Cord

A half cord of firewood measures 4 feet in height, width, and depth, equating to 64 cubic feet, which is exactly half the size of a full cord. When purchasing firewood, understanding the dimensions of a half cord can help you make informed decisions and ensure you receive the correct amount of wood.

When to Use a Half Cord

A half cord of wood is an appropriate size for small fires, such as campfires or fire pits, or for shorter durations, like a weekend camping excursion. By understanding when a half cord of wood is suitable, you can make more informed decisions when purchasing firewood and ensure you buy the right amount for your needs.

Other Firewood Measurements and Terminology

fire, campfire, burning

While cords and half cords may be the most widely recognized firewood measurements, there are other terms and measurements to be aware of. In this section, we’ll delve into:

  • Face cords
  • Loose thrown cords
  • Ricks
  • Racks
  • Pallets

This will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the various firewood measurements and terminology.

Face Cord and Its Dimensions

A face cord is a stack of wood measuring 4 feet in height and 8 feet in length, with a depth or width of less than 4 feet, indicating each piece of wood in the pile is less than 4 feet long. Typically, a face cord is 1/3 the size of a full cord.

To calculate the cost of a full cord when purchasing a face cord, divide the depth of a full cord by the piece length of the wood in the face cord and then multiply this quotient by the price of the face cord.

Loose Thrown Cord and Its Volume

A loose thrown cord is a form of cord specific to Maine, characterized by a loose pile of wood rather than a tightly stacked square. The approximate volume of a cord of wood that has been thrown loosely, also known as a loose cord, is 180 cubic feet. If you’re purchasing firewood in a state like Maine, it’s essential to be aware of this measurement and how it differs from other firewood measurements.

Ricks, Racks, and Pallets

wood, pile, logs

Ricks, racks, and pallets are alternative measurements for firewood. A rick of wood is a stack of wood measuring four feet in height and eight feet in length, the width of which is contingent upon the length of the individual pieces of firewood.

A rack, on the other hand, is a shelving or storage system that can be used to organize items, while a pallet of firewood is a cube measuring three-and-a-half feet, equivalent to one-third of a standard cord of firewood.

Legal Aspects of Firewood Measurements

Grasping the legal aspects and regulations that oversee the sale and purchase of firewood is important in this field. Both federal and state regulations play a role in determining how firewood is measured and sold, ensuring customers receive the correct amount of firewood and that sellers are in compliance with the law.

Federal Regulations on Firewood Sales

At the federal level, it is unlawful to sell firewood in units other than cords, half cords, or other fractions of cords. This regulation helps ensure accuracy and fairness in the firewood industry, making it easier for both buyers and sellers to understand how much firewood they’re purchasing or selling.

Additionally, firewood sellers who sell wood are required to provide a delivery ticket with the purchase, which should include the quantity, species, and price of the firewood.

State-Specific Regulations

While federal regulations play an important role in firewood measurements, state-specific regulations can also affect how firewood is measured and sold. These regulations vary from state to state, so it’s essential to consult local authorities or agricultural departments for specific regulations in your area.

Being aware of state-specific regulations can help ensure you’re buying firewood in compliance with local laws and receiving the correct amount of wood for your needs.

Tips for Buying Firewood

Now that you’re well-versed in the world of firewood measurements, it’s time to explore some tips for buying firewood. From understanding units of measurement to requesting a delivery ticket, these tips will help ensure you get the right amount of firewood and that your purchase goes smoothly.

Understanding Units of Measurement

Being familiar with the various units of measurement, like cords, face cords, and loose thrown cords, is necessary when buying firewood. Understanding these units and any applicable regulations will help ensure you’re purchasing the right amount of firewood for your needs and that you’re in compliance with the law.

Additionally, when buying wood, it’s crucial to:

  • Visit the supplier yard in person
  • Take your own measurements to guarantee accuracy
  • Avoid relying on rough measurements such as truckloads, piles, or pick-up truck loads

Requesting a Delivery Ticket

Asking for a delivery ticket when purchasing firewood is important, as it provides a record of the delivery, including the quantity of wood delivered, the date and time of delivery, and any specific instructions or conditions. This information can be used to ensure that you receive the correct amount of wood and that the delivery is completed promptly.

If the unit of firewood is advertised as a specific species of wood, such as oak or cherry, the cord must contain more than 90% of the advertised species, and firewood billed as seasoned must have a moisture content of less than 50%.

Storing and Seasoning Your Firewood

Proper storage and seasoning of your firewood are necessary once it has been purchased. Proper storage and seasoning will help decrease the moisture content of the wood, resulting in less smoke when burned, and protect the wood from rotting and being infested by pests. In this section, we’ll explore the importance of airflow and shelter, as well as tips for preventing pests and debris from infesting your firewood storage area.

Importance of Airflow and Shelter

Maintaining proper airflow and shelter when storing firewood is key to preserving its quality. Adequate ventilation and shelter help keep the wood dry and minimize the possibility of it becoming infested with pests.

Additionally, shelter safeguards the wood from inclement weather, including rain and snow. To optimize storage conditions, keep the wood off the ground, use a tarp or other cover to protect it from the elements, and ensure that there is proper ventilation.

Preventing Pests and Debris

To prevent pests and debris from infesting your firewood storage area, store the wood in a dry, well-ventilated area away from other sources of moisture. Additionally, covering the wood with a tarp or other protective covering can help keep out pests and debris.

It’s also a good idea to store firewood, especially green wood, away from live trees to reduce the risk of pests and diseases spreading, and to sweep away debris to deter pests from settling in.


In conclusion, understanding firewood measurements is essential for ensuring you purchase the right amount of wood, store it properly, and stay in compliance with legal regulations. From cords and half cords to state-specific measurements like loose thrown cords, these dimensions play a crucial role in the firewood industry. By following the tips provided in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make informed decisions when buying, storing, and seasoning your firewood, guaranteeing a warm and cozy home all winter long.

If you enjoyed, please check out our website and the services we offer. And if you need dry wood in Brooklyn, NY, we sell kiln dried firewood.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size is a cord of wood?

A cord of wood is a volume of 128 cubic feet, which includes about 600 to 800 logs in a 4′ x 4′ x 8′ pile and can weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

How many pieces of wood are in a full cord?

A full cord of wood typically contains 600-800 pieces of split firewood, depending on the type of wood and how it is split. Regulations about cord size can vary by country but in the United States a cord is typically a volume of 128 cubic feet—or a stack that is 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long.

How many bundles of firewood are in a cord?

A full cord of firewood contains 128 cubic feet of wood, or around 700-800 pieces of firewood. This usually equates to around 144 bundles of firewood.

What is a half cord of wood?

A half cord of wood is equal to 64 cubic feet, typically measuring 4ft x 4ft x 4ft.

What are the legal requirements for selling firewood?

When selling firewood, it is required to sell in cords, half cords, or other fractions of cords. Additionally, a delivery ticket must accompany the purchase.

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