Whether you’re looking to stock up for personal use or keep your restaurant well-supplied, you’ll need to understand what a cord is and how to use that information to measure the amount of wood you’ll receive. One of our most frequently asked questions is how much firewood makes up a cord, so allow us to help you better understand what you’ll need to consider. It’s important to understand cord of wood measurements, as many vendors attempt to sell cords of wood that are not a true full cord, often causing consumers to overpay for firewood.
What is a Cord?
Adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture, a cord of wood is 128 cubic feet, with the wood being stacked as tightly together as possible and each piece of wood running parallel to one another. A cord of wood is based on three dimensions: length, width, and height. After recording the cord’s volume, we can determine that a typical cord of wood can range from 700 to 900 pieces of firewood, assuming each piece is 18” long.
While the regulations of what is considered a cord can vary depending on the country, in the United States, the Department of Agriculture Weights and Measures division determined a full cord of wood is 128 cubic feet. When you shop with ButlerWood, our full cords are 128 cubic feet and measure out to 4’ x 21.3’ x 18”.
Misconceptions of Measuring Cords
Many wood suppliers market their wood products by the cord, however, it’s important to understand the length, width and height of the wood stack in order to verify the cord is a full 128 cubic feet.
Many suppliers consider a 4’ x 16’ stack of wood as a cord. This is actually a face cord as it does not include the length of the wood. A 4’x16’ stack of wood must be 2’ long to be considered a full cord. Industry standard for cooking wood is typically 18” long. Therefore, in order to have a full cord of wood, the wood stack must measure 4’ x 21.3’ x 18”.
Below is a diagram showing the differences between a face cord of wood and a true cord of wood.
While 128 cubic feet is the standard for the U.S., there are a few other terms of measurement you may need to know when determining how much firewood makes up a cord of wood.
- Face Cord/Rick Cord: A stack of wood 16 feet wide by 4 feet high by 18 inches long. Put another way, a face cord is 96 cubic feet. Though typically smaller than a full cord, a face cord may be preferred if you’re shopping for personal use.
- Half and One-Quarter Cords: As the names imply, these are lesser amounts of firewood with logs that are typically shorter in length than a full cord. A half cord is 64 cubic feet, and a quarter cord is 32 cubic feet.
If you’re unsure how much wood is in a certain kind of cord, you need only ask your supplier to clarify. This practice is important to ensure you know exactly how much wood you’re getting, and, as a supplier, we’re happy to help you learn the different terms and get you the exact cord you need.
So, how do you properly store and protect a cord of wood? If the wood has already been split and dried, you usually only need to stack the wood in a place that is convenient and sheltered from the weather. If your wood is not split and wet, you’ll want to first convert the logs into more manageable splits. Once you’ve chopped the wood, you’ll need to keep your splits in a spot with good airflow so they can air dry—just make sure it’s not so windy that your stack gets blown over!
Regarding the drying process, the conditions you give your wood splits will affect how efficient the process is. For instance, you’ll want to keep them raised off the ground using bricks or pallets so that it’s not potentially sitting in mud or pooled water. From there, the best method is to stack the wood in a row and place stakes at each end to secure them in place. If the stack needs to be more than one row deep, ensure there’s enough space between the rows to allow adequate air circulation. Finally, cover the top of the stack with a tarp or other protective coverings to keep your wood safe from the weather. Even if you’ve stacked your logs within any sort of shelter, placing a protective tarp over the top of the cord is still a good safety precaution to implement and ensure nothing compromises your wood.
Just be aware that if you’re air drying a cord of wood, it may take six to nine months for the wood to reach below 20 percent dampness. Once it has, however, the wood can be considered sufficiently “seasoned” and is ready to be burned. For this reason, it’s a good idea to buy cords from a supplier, such as ButlerWood, if you’re in immediate need of wood. All of our wood is pre-seasoned and ready for use upon purchase, making it much more convenient for customers, such as restaurants, who require a consistent supply.
Gauging How Much Wood You Need
If you intend to buy a cord for personal use, it may be more prudent to buy a half or one-quarter cord—unless you plan to use your fireplace or build fires frequently. Most fireplaces hold two to three logs at a time, so those are good numbers to consider when gauging how much wood you want and how often you anticipate actually using the wood. If you want to stock up for the winter season, however, a full cord of wood may be your best option to ensure you’re well equipped.
For commercial purposes, such as open-fire cooking in restaurant kitchens, full cords will be much more economical because you’ll certainly be using the wood on a consistent basis. If you find that your business is going through cords at a much quicker pace than anticipated, it may be a good idea to upgrade to Sheldon cords.
To learn more about the cords we have to offer you at ButlerWood, get in contact with us today! We source all of our wood from our own land clearing services right here in Texas, and with it, we’ve been able to provide the entire country with quality cooking wood of all types to create delicious meals that bring Southern hospitality across the nation.