Firewood Measurements

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Firewood measurements can be confusing for a lot of people.

With terms like full cord, face cord, rick, bush cord or even a truck load, knowing exactly how much firewood you're buying or selling is often misunderstood. 

Although we use these terms interchangeably to describe firewood, a cord of firewood is the only official measurement.

A cord of firewood has a total volume of 128 cubic feet which is actually a lot of firewood

Also referred to as a full cord, it can be stacked in any shape but it's commonly stacked 4 feet wide x 4 feet high x 8 feet long. 


Why is this important to understand?  

If you buy firewood from a supplier it's important to get the right amount of firewood.

After all, we typically heat with wood to help save money so you don't want to get ripped off by receiving less wood than what you paid for.

Or, if you sell firewood it's important to offer the correct amount of firewood to satisfy your customers and grow your firewood business.

Word of mouth is important when selling firewood so you'll want to make sure your customers are happy.

Firewood Measurements - Free Calculator

When I first started heating with wood, I didn't have a full understanding of how much wood I actually burned throughout the winter.

This made it difficult to determine how many cords of firewood I would need the following year to ensure I didn't run out.


To make things easier I created this free calculator to determine how much firewood is contained within your stack of wood.

Firewood Cord Calculator

To use the firewood measurements calculator simply enter the dimensions of your firewood stack into the appropriate boxes and click the calculate button!

This calculator is a great tool for determining how much firewood you need to last the entire heating season.  

It's a horrible feeling to watch your stack of seasoned firewood dwindle throughout the winter as you worry about running out of wood with a month or two left of cold weather.

cedar-logsCedar Logs

I always like to cut an additional 25 percent more firewood than I typically use in a season.  

By cutting extra wood and allowing it to season throughout the summer, it allows extra wood in case we have an exceptionally cold winter and burn more wood than expected.

This also eliminates the need to buy firewood in February or March if you run out.  

Since the world runs on supply and demand, many firewood dealers will charge a higher price late in the year because they understand seasoned firewood is a valuable commodity towards the end of winter when many people are running low, or have run out of dry firewood.

Cutting extra wood gives you a safety net for cold temperatures.  

Plus, if you don't end up burning the extra wood you can just save it for next year which will only help season the firewood and lower the overall moisture content.

The Dangers Of Burning Wet Firewood

Burning wet firewood is the leading cause of creosote buildup in your chimney, so time is your friend when it comes to seasoning firewood.  

Since the wet wood does not effectively burn, the unburnt gasses travel up your cold chimney walls were they adhere to the sides, leaving behind creosote which can become highly flammable.

Check out the infographic below that describes the 3 stages of creosote.


As long as you elevate your firewood off the ground by stacking the wood on pallets, using 2x4 runners or another similar method, you won't need to worry about the wood rotting or turning punky.

If you don't elevate the wood a few inches off the ground it will soak up ground moisture or become moldy because fresh air can not flow around the entire stack.

As long as you keep your firewood dry it will last for several years or longer before you have to worry about using it.

Cord Vs Face Cord Or Rick Of Firewood?

A face cord of firewood, also called a rick of firewood, is different than a cord.  

The common dimensions for a face cord or rick of wood is 8 feet long x 4 feet high x any length of wood.


Although the common length of wood is typically 16 inches, there is no exact length requirement.  

So......if you buy a face cord of wood that has 12 inch pieces you will be getting less wood than another face cord of wood that has 16 or even 18 inch pieces. 

By only buying or selling firewood by the recognized 128 cubic feet volume, you eliminate the guesswork and always receive the amount of wood you expect.

However, this doesn't mean you can't buy firewood by the face cord.

Many people buy it this way and it's typically not a problem.  

Just make sure you know how long the pieces of firewood are before you commit to a price.

Stacking Seasoned Vs Unseasoned Wood - Firewood Measurements

Some other considerations for firewood measurements are:

  •   Whether or not the firewood is seasoned
  •   How tight the firewood is stacked
  •   Taper and crookedness of the pieces 
  •   How many knots are on the wood
  •   The presence or absence of bark

Seasoned firewood is described as a piece of wood that contains a moisture content of 20 percent or less.  

Since seasoned firewood burns hotter, lights easier and creates less creosote, it costs more than green or wet firewood.  

You're basically paying a premium for the time needed for the firewood to dry out.

Like the old saying goes.....time is money and this holds true with good quality, seasoned firewood.


When the moisture leaves the piece of firewood is causes the wood to shrink about 6-8 percent.

Also, split, straight firewood that is tightly stacked will contain less air space compared to loosely stacked firewood that has a lot of knots.

So, when you compare a stack of seasoned, split, tightly stacked cord of firewood to a green, unsplit, loosely stacked cord of wood, the seasoned cord will contain more wood than the green loosely stacked cord.

It's just something to consider when you're buying firewood.

Overall - Firewood Measurements

Anytime you buy or sell firewood it's important to use the standard cord firewood measurement because it's consistent and it's universal throughout the country.

Buying firewood that's sitting in the bed of a pickup truck is confusing.

Depending on the size of the bed and how high or tight the wood is stacked can make a big difference in the total amount of firewood.

Using the cord description takes the guess work out of firewood measurements and it insures you're either getting what you pay for, or selling the correct amount of firewood!


About the Author

Nick Greenway

Obsessed with firewood, Nick is behind over 350+ of Firewood For Life's articles, as well as countless reviews, guides and YouTube videos to help readers like you reduce heating costs and create the perfect fire.