When shopping for firewood, you'll probably come across the term "cord." While some people and businesses sell firewood by the stack or truckload, these aren't accurate forms of measurement. A stack from one seller may consist of just 12 pieces of firewood, whereas a stack from another seller may consist of 24 pieces of firewood. And different trucks have different sized pickup beds, some of which can more firewood than others. A cord, on the other hand, is a more accurate and precise way to measure firewood, providing insight into exactly how much firewood is being purchased.
Cord of Wood Defined
A cord of wood refers to a stack of wood -- arranged with the logs aligned and touching each other -- that's 4 feet tall, 8 feet wide and 4 feet deep. In Canada, it's one of three metrics used to measure firewood, with the other two being stacked cubic meter and cubic foot. In the United States, it's often the preferred method for measuring firewood because of it's simple and accurate nature.
It's unknown who invented the cord measurement. However, historians believe that it likely relates to the use of a cord of yarn or string to measure firewood. Rather than using a tape measure, many people and businesses in the past have measured their stacks of firewood using yarn or a string. They would stretch the yarn or string across the dimensions of the firewood stack to see how big it was. Even today, firewood cords are often measured using this rudimentary but effective method.
How a Cord of Wood Is Stacked
There are different ways to stack a cord of wood. Assuming the logs are 4 feet long, they can be arranged in horizontal rows until it creates a stack that's 4 feet tall and 8 feet wide. But most firewood is cut shorter than 4 feet so that it burns more easily in fires. If the logs are long, you may struggle to light them. Therefore, it's not uncommon for sellers to arrange multiple stacks of shorter firewood when creating a cord. Regardless of how it's stacked, the most important thing to remember is that a cord of wood is 4 feet tall, 8 feet wide and 4 feet deep.
What Is a Full Cord of Wood?
A full cord is just another name for a cord of wood. Some sellers refer to their stacks of wood as cords, while others refer to them as face cords. Either way, the definition is the same.
What Is a Face Cord of Wood?
A face cord has a different meaning than a full cord. It refers to a stack of wood that's 4 feet tall and 8 feet wide. There's no specified depth for a face cord. Rather, the depth varies depending on the length of the logs. Face cords consist of multiple horizontal rows of wood, but they don't are only a single log deep. Considering that most firewood is about 12 to 16 inches, this means face cords are usually around 4 feet tall, 8 feet wide and 12 to 16 inches deep.
From afar, a face cord of wood may appear to have a similar size as a full cord. With full cords having a uniform depth of 4 feet, however, they typically hold significantly more wood than face cords. A face cord, for example, may hold about one-third the amount of wood as a full cord.
What Is a Half Face Cord of Wood?
As you may have guessed, a half face cord of wood is about half the size of its face cord counterpart. Half face cords measure 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide, whereas a standard face cord measures 4 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Like face cords, half face cords don't have a specific depth.
How Much Does a Cord of Weigh Wood?
To say a cord of wood is heavy would be an understatement. The exact weight of a cord varies depending on the type wood, how it was stacked and its moisture content. With that said, a full cord of well-seasoned, dry oak wood may weight up 2 or more tons.
The Bottom Line on Cords of Wood
A cord is just one way to measure firewood. It's perfectly fine to buy wood measured in other metrics, such as stacks or racks. In fact, some people prefer these alternative units of measurement because they involve smaller volumes of wood. For the average person, a full cord of wood is A LOT of wood to burn, so buying stacks or racks is a smarter financial investment.
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