What is a Cord?

We often are asked about volumes of firewood and what is a cord, as the terms used can vary from person to person. The variety of terms used and a varied interpretation of them can lead to misunderstanding between the firewood supplier and the customer.

Information about firewood can be found in many places on the Internet. One excellent resource is the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin #7103, Units of Measure and Conversion Factors for Forest Products.

A full cord is a pile 4' x 4' x 8', yielding a volume of 128 cubic feet. This is a standard cord and is the volume you would roughly expect to measure when stacking a full cord of delivered wood. Variations on a full cord are face cord, run, rick and truckload. No matter what terms are used to describe it, firewood is sold by volume.

Standard firewood is 16" long. If you make a stack of 16" firewood 4' high and 8' long, this is a "run" or "face cord" or sometimes a "rick." This amount is what you see when you look at the long "face" of the pile. If you stack three 16" runs, they will total 48" wide and you will have the full cord in all three dimensions (see drawing at right). A misunderstanding can lead to the delivery of a run or face cord when a full cord is expected. If you are buying 12" wood, you would need 4 runs or face cords to stack to the full volume of 128 cubic feet. As long as the buyer and seller agree on the volume measurements used, there should be few surprises.

Another measure is the thrown cord, which is generally how truckloads of firewood are measured. This method is based on the loose volume as thrown or dumped into a truck. From the Cooperative Extension Service document No. 7103:

Approximate Stacked Volume of a Cord of Wood
Cut and Split
Length Approximate Cubic Feet Approximate Percent Shrinkage from 128 Cubic Feet
48" 128 0
24" 110-113 12
16" 103-107 16
12" 100-103 20

The chart shows that when a firewood supplier delivers a load of green cut and split firewood and it stacks to a full 128 cubic foot cord, the supplier had to use up to 1/5th more than a cord of 48" green wood to supply that full cord. Another consideration is that wood shrinks when it dries, between 6 to 8 percent on average. This loss of volume from cutting, splitting and drying is a cost that firewood suppliers have to consider when pricing their product and delivering firewood.

Some suppliers deal with this shrinkage by selling on the basis of a green cord. A green cord volume means that the wood occupied 180 cubic feet as a thrown volume of green, unseasoned wood and should stack to 128 cubic feet. Once it is dried, the volume once you have stacked it would be smaller by about 8 cubic feet. The volume of dry wood is still called a green cord, since it is the same quantity of wood that occupied 180 cubic feet when the wood was green.

Maine law provides for scaling of firewood-length wood, either round or split, on a "thrown in" basis. We think these suggested measurements are a good rule of thumb to use for selling firewood in any state.

Length of wood in the thrown cord. Volume required to stack as a full cord.
12" or 16" wood 180 cubic feet
24" wood 195 cubic feet

A thrown cord of 12" or 16" wood will occupy 180 cubic feet; 24" wood will require 195 cubic feet to contain a cord.

When we built the boxes for our current firewood delivery trucks, we made the volume of each compartment 209 cubic feet when level full. By using this generous volume, which is larger than the standard practice for all firewood lengths that we produce, we are sure that you get full volume and full value when we deliver a cord of firewood to you. There will of course be variations between loads depending on how the wood fell into the box. The price may be a little more expensive than some other suppliers, however we provide a better value to you with our kiln seasoned, heat-treatment certified locally harvested firewood.

We work hard at having wood available at all times to cut, split and dry for your needs. Please see our Firewood Supply and Species page for more information.

For firewood pricing, call: (802) 453-4884


Dry wood inventory

Available Firewood
16" cut and split, dry $410 per cord
We are able to make other lengths of dry firewood for an additional charge. Prices are subject to change without notice. For firewood pricing, other lengths, or delivery charges, call: (802) 453-4884.


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