What does a cord of wood mean?
If you have never purchased wood before then you must understand what a cord is and how you can use a cord to easily buy wood.
This simple guide will help you measure wood and understand how wood measurements can affect your purchase and give you more value for your money.
To give a quick answer, there are 128 cubic feet in one cord of wood.
Wood is sold by the cord and knowing the dimensions and volume of a full cord will give you a lot of value when you make your purchase. A full cord or a “cord,” is a stack of wood that measures 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long. The total volume of this wood is at 128 cubic feet.
Keep in mind that the exact amount of solid wood found in a cord may vary according to the size of a piece of wood. But most cords of firewood measure 85 cubic feet of solid wood on average. The remaining volume is made up of air.
The overall length of the pile of wood should be 8 feet. The length of each piece of wood should match the width or depth of the pile and averages 4 feet.
The cord is the standard unit of measurement when selling wood but rarely do firewood dealers sell 4 feet long wood. They mostly use other units of measurement instead.
Another unit of measurement when buying wood is a face cord. It refers to any stack of wood that is 4 feet high and 8 feet long. The depth or width of the pile is less than 4 feet; therefore each piece of wood in the pile is less than 4 feet long.
Compared to a cord, there is no agreed-upon length for pieces of wood in a face cord. Usually, the length of most firewood is 16 inches so the depth of most face cord piles is 16 inches or one-third the depth of a full cord. Aside from face cord, this pile of wood is also known as stove cord, furnace cord, run, and rick.
Another frequently used wood terminology is a thrown cord. This is a rough measurement of volume on wood that has been tossed or dumped into a truck. Compared to a cord or a face cord, the thrown cord is not stacked in a neat pile.
A loose thrown cord may have 180 cubic feet (6.66 cubic yards or 5.1 cubic meters) of space. It is estimated that when wood is stacked, this has a total volume that would equal roughly to 128 cubic feet or the volume of a full cord.
Considering that a typical pickup truck with a 6ft. bed is 54 cubic feet (2 cubic yards – level load-Stacked); an 8ft. bed is 81 cubic feet (3 cubic yards – heaped load- Stacked). Considering too that throw cord takes 30%+- more space compared to stacked wood. Therefore a 6ft. truckload has 30%+- thrown cord and an 8ft. truckload have 45%+- of a thrown cord.
Thrown cord wood pieces are usually between 12 and 16 inches long. When wood pieces are sold in lengths of 2 feet the total thrown cord volume should be at 195 cubic feet.
Another popular unit of measurement for wood is the green cord. A green cord is a measurement that was taken before the wood was cut, split and dried. The dried volume may be smaller than the indicated volume by 8 cubic feet. The green cord volume should be 180 cubic feet when the green cord is stacked loosely. When these are neatly stacked, these can occupy 128 cubic feet.
When green wood is seasoned it shrinks by about 6 to 8 percent. Be very careful because some firewood dealers sometimes measure and price their wood by the green cord instead of full cords or loose cords as a way to make up for the money that they would lose as a result of the shrinkage of wood.
A cord is just one of the terminologies used in measuring wood. There is also a face cord, green cord and thrown cord. Understanding each and being mindful of the measurements of each unit will help you find true value for your money.