Firewood isn’t complicated. You set it ablaze and enjoy the warmth. So, why does buying the right amount of firewood have to be complicated by confusing terms like cord and rick? How much firewood is in a cord, anyway?
We understand your frustration. Unfortunately, like any other industry, the firewood business has its jargon, too.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand how much firewood is in a cord, rick, face cord and bundle.
(Plus, stick around to the end because we have some helpful tips for figuring out how much firewood you need!)
Now, without further ado, let the firewood measuring begin!
How is Firewood Measured?
The standard way to measure firewood is by volume, meaning length multiplied by width multiplied by height. So, you will usually see the measurements formatted in one of two ways: Companies will either list the length, width and height of their stacks, or they will give the full volume in cubic feet (or meters, if you’re in Canada).
Because we lumberjacks don’t like to throw numbers around a lot, we have come up with shorthand ways to represent our firewood measurements. These common terms include:
- Face Cord
How much wood do these terms represent? How much wood is a cord of wood? We’ll take a look at each below.
How Many Cubic Feet of Wood Is in a Cord?
Most people in the firewood industry agree that a cord of firewood measures 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or 128 cubic feet.
Be Careful! Cord Measurements Can Vary
We say “most people” agree because the regulations for measuring cords vary from state to state. So, you should always be careful when buying firewood that the cord the company you’re buying from is talking about is the standard cord. If not, you could purchase less wood than you thought you’d be getting!
How Many Pieces of Wood A Cord Contains
This may vary more wildly than you might think because it depends on how long vendors cut their logs. Some vendors cut their logs into pieces as short as 12 inches or as long as 24 inches.
Four rows of 12-inch logs, three rows of 16-inch logs and two rows of 24-inch logs all contain 128 cubic feet of firewood, but the first option will contain the most pieces and the last will contain the fewest.
How Much a Cord of Wood Weighs
Depending on dryness and species, a cord of wood can weigh anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. In other words, if you’re carrying it up a set of stairs, you should make more than one trip.
Generally, dry wood is lighter than moist wood, and softwoods are lighter than hardwoods, though this is not to say that softwoods are any good. Hardwoods are heavier because they’re denser, which means they yield the hottest flames for the most time. Avoiding moisture is much more central to your firewood’s success.
How Much Wood You’ll Be Getting
So, how many pieces of firewood are in a cord? Unfortunately, there’s no way to say exactly how many pieces you’ll be getting. It depends on how long the company cuts logs.
The standard length for a piece of firewood is 16 inches. But some companies use 14-inch pieces and others use 18 inches. Here at Lumberjacks, we always cut our kiln-dried firewood to the standard 16 inches.
Typically, a full cord will contain somewhere between 600 and 800 pieces of firewood. If the company you purchase from cuts their logs shorter, you will probably get closer to 800 pieces. And if the pieces are longer, you will probably get around 600 pieces. For the standard length of 16 inches, a full cord likely contains around 700 units of firewood.
You should also be aware of how tightly the company has stacked its cord. If the company stacks their firewood very loosely, then the 128 cubic feet will include a lot of air space. As a result, you will be getting less wood than you’d get from a company that stacks their wood more tightly.
Stack for Yourself to Make Sure
For this reason, it’s always a good idea to stack the wood yourself to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. The company you’re purchasing from should be fine with you stacking your own wood and shouldn’t insist upon stacking it themselves. The most trustworthy companies will only stack their wood for you if you request that they stack it.
Bottom line: If the company isn’t okay with you stacking the wood before completing the sale, they are probably not an honest business.
Terms Related to a Cord
If you hang around lumberjacks long enough, you’ll probably hear them use other phrases like bush cord and stove cord. Here are some definitions for these and other cord-related terms:
- Bush Cord – This phrase is just another way of saying a full cord, or 128 cubic feet, of firewood.
- Running Cord – People use this phrase to describe a full cord of firewood with all pieces stacked parallel to each other.
- Sheldon Cord – This phrase is frequently used to describe an order of firewood that measures more than a full cord. There is no exact measurement for a sheldon cord.
- Stove Cord – People use this phrase when talking about purchasing wood for a stove. The wood in a stove cord is often shorter (around 12 inches long) to fit in the stove. So, a stove cord may measure 4 feet high by 8 feet long by 12 inches deep, but there is no official measurement.
These are just a few of the many terms for firewood volume out there. While all this industry slang can be daunting, the most important thing to remember is that a full cord measures 128 cubic feet. Once you know that, figuring out these other terms is as simple as understanding how they relate to a full cord.
For example, the most popular of these terms is a face cord. We’ll look at how that term relates to a full cord next.
How Many Face Cords Are in a Cord?
A face cord is smaller than a full cord of firewood. Typically, it will be 1/3 the size of a cord. A face cord shares the 4-foot height and 8-foot length with the full cord. The difference is the width.
A standard full cord is 4 feet deep, which usually consists of three stacks of 16-inch-long wood. However, the face cord is only one stack deep, making it approximately 1/3 the size of a full cord.
A helpful way to think about it is to think of a full cord of firewood as a person’s head. A face cord is like the portion of your head you would consider the face.
Not An Exact Measurement
The problem with a face cord as a measurement is there is no standard definition for it. How much wood you get will depend on how long each piece is cut. Some face cords will measure 4 feet x 8 feet x 12 inches, while others will be 4 feet x 8 feet x 18 inches. So, the total volume of wood you get can vary.
Purchase Face Cords with Caution
Because of this, it’s crucial to be careful when buying from a company that sells wood by the face cord. Be sure to ask how long they cut their wood because that will determine what type of value you’re getting for what you’re spending.
At Lumberjacks, we always cut our wood to the standard length of 16 inches. So, when you purchase a face cord from us, you know the stack will be 4 feet x 8 feet x 16 inches. We always hand stack each order before sending it out for delivery to ensure this.
How Much Firewood is in a Rick?
Another common firewood measurement term is a rick. The problem with this term is it gives no hints to how it relates to a full cord. The truth is when people use the term “rick,” they mean the same thing as a face cord, which is why we prefer to use that term instead.
So, a rick of wood is a stack of wood that is four feet high and eight feet long. The width of the stack will depend on how long the pieces of firewood are. Therefore, there is no standard measurement for a rick of wood.
For this reason, whenever a company tells you they sell wood by the rick, you will need to do more research to determine exactly how much wood you’ll be getting. Make sure you don’t get shortchanged by a company that cuts their firewood extra short!
How Much Firewood Is in a Bundle?
Many firewood companies will also sell their wood by the bundle. Like with face cords and ricks, there’s no standard for how much wood a bundle will contain. However, there are some general guidelines that most companies tend to follow with their bundles.
A typical bundle will contain 4-6 pieces of firewood. So, the total volume of wood you’ll receive will be somewhere between 0.75-1 cubic feet of wood.
Bundles usually come either wrapped in plastic or net bags. They are convenient to purchase and transport for one-time use.
How Much Firewood Do I Need?
Of course, understanding firewood measurements is only half the battle. Next, we need to determine what those measurements mean for us practically.
So, here are some helpful guidelines for determining how much firewood you need for different situations.
For a Campfire or Bonfire
How much firewood will you need to enjoy a fire in the great outdoors? In this situation, you will probably be best off purchasing firewood bundles.
How many bundles you’ll need will depend on how long you want the fire to last. For a two-hour fire, you should probably be okay with a couple of bundles. But if you need the flames to rage for six or more hours, then you’re likely going to need at least five bundles. Of course, this amount will vary depending on several factors.
For a Fireplace
The amount of firewood you need for your fireplace will depend on how often you plan on using it. A fireplace can only burn 2-3 logs at a time. So, if you only occasionally use it (e.g., one fire every other week), then a face cord of firewood should last you a few months.
However, if you frequently use your fireplace or rely on it to heat your home, then you may want to purchase a cord of wood or multiple cords.
For the Winter
So, how many cords of firewood will last a full winter? The answer to this question will depend on several variables, including the size of the space you need to heat and how well insulated it is. But generally, a cord of wood can last as long as 10 weeks. So, 1-2 cords may be enough to get you through the winter.
However, the extra cold winters we experience here in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin may require more like 3-4 cords for long-term warmth and comfort. Once again, it all depends on your situation and personal preferences.
Transporting Your Firewood Order
Regardless of the size you order, any vendor that’s local to you will likely be able to deliver firewood in three business days or fewer. Naturally, we recommend that you leave the largest deliveries up to professionals like us.
If you’re thinking about picking an order up yourself (say, with a pickup truck), the size of conventional vehicles is only so capacious for a months-long supply of firewood, especially if you don’t even have a pickup truck.
At most, a standard pickup truck can store a half cord of wood as long as logs are stacked tightly enough. If you consider the popularity of face cords, this is pretty respectable, but a full cord isn’t going anywhere without a more industrial vehicle. As for what a half cord of firewood is, this comes out to 64 cubic feet.
On another note, if a delivery driver shows up in a pickup truck that contains a “full cord of wood,” stack it yourself because that driver is either a magician or a liar. Our money’s on the latter.
How to Store the Firewood You Buy
If you want to know how to store firewood you purchase, you may stack it in a convenient place, but your storage location of choice must be dry enough to maintain the dryness of your firewood.
Also, if you’ve settled for fresh or green wood, you’ll have to season it yourself. After splitting your fresh logs, you must leave them out to dry in a place that enjoys a lot of airflow and exposure to the sun. Summer is the ideal time to season wood in preparation for winter.
In general, a good way to season fresh wood doubles as a good way to store kiln-dried firewood. In both cases, you should leave a lot of space among the logs to prioritize airflow. Firewood is also likely to hang onto its dryness if you leave it outside, but remember to leave it under an awning or loose tarp to shelter it from the elements.
If you can help it, keep the driest firewood on top of the stack for easiest access to the good stuff. Always use the oldest firewood to avoid rotting, as well.
Plenty of firewood racks are available for housing firewood indoors, but seasoned firewood can bring in unwanted pests, dirt, mold and debris.
You shouldn’t have more than two days’ worth of seasoned firewood in your home at any given time. Of course, this is all the more reason to buy kiln-dried firewood, which can be present in any amount without inviting unwanted guests!
Looking for Firewood in Northern Illinois?
Now that you know what a cord of firewood is, the next step is to order the right amount of wood for you! But, of course, it doesn’t matter how much you get if the wood is low quality.
At Lumberjacks, we sell high-quality kiln-dried firewood to take your fires to the next level. The wood comes with a moisture content of below 20%, making it incredibly easy to ignite for brighter, longer and cleaner burns. It is also 100% free of insects and mold!
If you’re interested, please give us a call at 815-337-1451 or stop by our farm in Woodstock, IL, to view our inventory. You can also view our complete guide to kiln-dried firewood to learn more.
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in July 2021 and updated in May 2023.