How To Measure A Cord Of Wood

How To Measure A Cord Of Wood


Measuring wood can be quite overwhelming. Even experienced DIYers who have sufficient practice working with wood can get confused with measurements at times.

But in order to get the best value, you need to know how to measure wood properly. Otherwise, you may end up disappointed.

Are you trying to figure out how to measure a cord of wood? If so, then the easy to grasp, step by step cheat sheet we are listing below will help you out.

My very first attempts to measure a cord of wood were a painful task. Luckily, we are no longer limited by the old ways as the open online communication has made this world a better place. I am excited to share with you the tips and tricks I’ve learned so far.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

  • Tape measure (or a yardstick)
  • Calculator
  • Notebook and a pencil (or a pen)

A Quick Pro Tip

Get familiar with the terminology

It would be hard (if even possible) to measure a cord of wood if you don’t understand the terminology. Here’s what you need to recognize in a nutshell.

A full cord

A full cord measures 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long, with a total volume of 128 cubic feet. However, most cords of firewood are approximately 85 cubic feet of solid wood. That’s because the rest of the space is taken up by air.

A face cord

A face cord is a stack of wood which is 4 feet high and 8 feet long. However, each piece of wood in the stack is less than 4 feet long. The length of the pieces of wood in a face cord is not regulated strictly. The depth of most face piles is 1/3 of a full cord.

A thrown cord

A thrown cord refers to the volume of wood which is not stacked in neat piles but thrown at the back of a truck. A thrown cord should take up an estimated of 30% more space than a stacked cord. That will make up for roughly 128 cubic feet of wood in total when stacked as opposed to 180 cubic feet volume pile in the truck.

A green cord

A green cord refers to a stack of wood which has not been dried and cured completely. The wood will initially shrink with approximately 6-8 percent. Thus, when negotiating over the price of a green cord, make sure you keep in mind the percent of wood you will lose as to get a discount on the regular price of a loose or full cord.

Step by Step Instructions for Measuring a Cord of Wood

Step 1 – Measure the length, the height, and the depth of the pile

When it comes to measuring face cords and full cords, the height should be 4 feet while the length should be 8 feet. With thrown cords, however, the length and height can vary but you still want to measure the stack and check if the measurements match the ones pointed out by the dealer.

Step 1 Measure The Length The Height And The Depth Of The Pile

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Measuring the depth of a pile is done by measuring the average length of the pieces of firewood. The estimated length for a full cord is 4 feet. For thrown cords, this length is measured by bringing the overall volume of the stack (180 cubic feet) after multiplying the length and the height of the pile.

Step 2 – Calculate the volume of the cord

Step 2 Calculate The Volume Of The Cord

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Finally, you want to calculate the value of the cord using the following example. Let’s say Rob is about to purchase a face cord with an average piece length of 12 inches for $80. Rob needs to divide the depth of a full cord (4 feet which equal 48 inches) by the average piece length.

48 inches / 12 inches = 4
4 * $80 = $320 (the full cord value)

Ultimately, knowing how to measure a cord of wood is important as you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money for poor value. Meanwhile, calculating the volume of a cord after taking the measurement into consideration is not a hard task to accomplish.

Thus, first things first, you’d better take the time to familiarize yourself with the terminology for best results. Personally, I am glad for checking the piles of wood every time I need to order my materials because this has helped me numerous times to avoid getting scammed.

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Join us in the comment section below with any questions or useful tips. Like and share this article to help us spread the passion for woodworking and DIY!

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