What Is a Cord of Firewood?

It confuses customers, causes disputes during firewood drop-offs, and goes by several different names.

No, it’s not money. It’s the measurement of a cord of firewood.


The Volume of a Full Cord

A cord is a stack of wood that measures 128 cubic feet and is most often stacked 4’ high by 4’ deep by 8’ long (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998). It is important to note that firewood logs are often cut at 16” long (V, 2023).

Photo: fullservicechimney.com

Seems pretty straightforward, but the confusion comes into play when you consider that a full cord can contain anywhere from 600 to 800 logs. Plus, these logs can be configured in any manner that adds up to 128 cubic feet.

So, how can firewood buyers ensure that they are not getting shorted?

How to Measure a Cord of Firewood (For Buyers)

Short of showing up to your local woodyard with a tape measure, you cannot guarantee that you are receiving exactly 128 cubic feet of firewood.

But you can use some visual tips to make sure you aren’t paying the price of a full cord for a face cord.

  • A ¼ ton, ½ ton, or ¾ ton truck without racks will hold approximately a half cord
  • A ½ ton or ¾ ton truck with racks will hold approximately one full cord
  • A 1-ton truck with high racks will hold approximately one and a half cords (Umatilla National Forest - Forest Products Permits, n.d.).

Photo: forestryforum.com

This is a helpful trick since firewood is delivered to the customer most of the time.

Firewood Terminology for Beginners

As if buying a cord of firewood wasn’t confusing enough, there are several other terms concerning the size of a pile of firewood.

  • Face Cord: Approximately ⅓ of a full cord
  • Rick Cord: Another name for a face cord
  • Sheldon Cord: Any cord larger than a full cord (varies in size)
  • Stove Cord: A face cord with 12” long logs used for cooking
  • Running Cord: A full cord that has not been divided and stacked (one long row of logs) (ProCut Firewood, 2023)

Keep in mind that these terms and their definitions vary from company to company. If you are stumped by these terms when buying firewood, remember that a full cord is 128 cubic feet of firewood, and work off that number if you want more or less wood.

How to Measure a Cord of Firewood (For Sellers)

If you sell firewood, you know what a cord is (hopefully). But you may have not found the best way to stack and store your cord of firewood.

If you have not already, you will want to invest in a firewood basket. Firewood baskets are large wired baskets that will perfectly fit a full cord.

Photo: rackandshelf.com

Not only does this eliminate the need to measure, but firewood baskets can also be moved by a skid steer to reduce manual labor.

If you don’t want to toss logs from the log splitter into the firewood basket, we recommend a TWC firewood conveyor.

Place any sized model at the end of your log splitter and before your firewood basket so offloaded wood will fall into the basket.

Here is an example of Tree Master Tree Service using firewood baskets in combination with TWC conveyors to streamline their operation:



Cord - stacked vs loose? in Firewood and Wood Heating. (n.d.). The Forestry Forum. https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=72639.0

Full Service ChimneyTM. (2021). What is a Cord of Wood? Full Service ChimneyTM. https://fullservicechimney.com/what-is-a-cord-of-wood/

Large wire firewood storage Baskets | Firewood Containers. (2023, April 22). Warehouse Rack and Shelf. https://rackandshelf.com/product/storage-products/bulk-containers-storage-bins/wire-mesh-containers/firewood-storage-wire-baskets/

ProCut Firewood. (2023). How much firewood is a cord, and what is best for me? ProCut Firewood. https://procutfirewood.com/how-much-firewood-is-a-cord/#:~:text=A%20sheldon%20cord%20is%20any,t%20usually%20for%20sale%20anyway

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (1998, July 20). Cord | Length, width & Thickness. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/cord

Umatilla National Forest - Forest Products Permits. (n.d.). https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/umatilla/passes-permits/forestproducts/?cid=stelprdb5417750

V, D. (2023). Whats a cord of wood. Log Splitters Direct. https://www.logsplittersdirect.com/stories/739-Log-Rack-and-Firewood-101.html


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