All About A Cord of Wood

What is a “cord” of wood?

There are “standard cords”, “full cords”, “logger cords”, “pulp cords”, “loose thrown cord”, “face cords” and many others. Be sure of what you are buying when you order wood.

Standard cord

Standard, full, logger and pulp cords generally refer to a pile of 8’ lengths that measures 4’ high by 4’ wide. This is a volume of 128 cu. ft.

Face cord

A face cord refers to a stack of cut and split firewood 4’ high by 8’ long by the length of the firewood, usually 16”, 20” or 24”. In theory, a standard cord should yield three 16” face cords or a volume of 128 cu. ft. when cut, split and stacked. In practice this does not hold true. The yield is going to be approximately 2.5 face cords. A standard cord of 8’ lengths when processed loses some volume due to sawdust and loose bark falling off but the biggest loss is in air space between the pieces of wood. Cut and split wood can be stacked in a much tighter space. This loss in volume or air space normally runs from 15-17%.

Loose-thrown cord

A loose-thrown cord refers to a standard 8’ cord of wood that has been processed into cut and split firewood and thrown into a bin. Example: A standard cord that has been cut and split 16” when thrown into a truck will measure approximately 150 cu. ft. When stacked a 150 cu. ft. loose cord will be approximately 2.5 face cords of 16” firewood. (3 face cords equals 178 cu. ft.) This method cuts down on the handling of the wood by the producer helping to keep the cost of the wood down. Peterson Tree Service sells firewood using the loose thrown cord measurement.

How should I order my wood?

Always order your wood 2-4” in length less than the inside of your firebox. This will allow for easier loading of your stove and more efficient burning. Try to keep with the standard lengths of 16”, 20” or 24”. Order the species that best suits your needs. Firewood can be split smaller or larger than normal depending on your needs.

When should I order my wood?

Ordering dry wood as you need it is expensive and many times when you need dry wood the most, the supplier may be out of dry wood. The extra cost for dry wood is due to the fact that extra handling is involved; money that is tied up in the firewood and storing it, and the fact that wood shrinks up to 10% as it dries so extra firewood must be thrown in to make up a loose-thrown cord.

Always be at least 1 year ahead with your wood supply. Green wood purchased one year ahead is the best bargain. When your wood is delivered be sure to stack and cover it to keep the snow and rain off the wood. When the woodburning season begins is when you should be ordering wood for the following season.

Firewood hints

  • Be sure your wood heating unit is UL approved and has been properly installed
  • PLAN AHEAD! Firewood requires at least 6-12 months to dry properly after it has been cut, split and stacked properly.
  • You will get more heat from wood which has been warmed to room temperature than from wood that has been brought in from outside. If possible, stack a 2-3 week supply of seasoned wood inside. This will allow the wood to dry out more as well as bring it to room temperature.
  • Inspect your chimney for creosote buildup every month.
  • Know what to do if you have a chimney fire.

Kent Peterson
Peterson Tree Service
Minocqua, Wisconsin

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