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Measuring Firewood

Firewood Cord - Just What Is It?


There has been fire almost as long as there have been people, in fact, life is almost impossible without it. Fire supplies us with heat for cooking, heat for warmth and even light during the night. However, just as people have evolved and become more and more complicated, so too, has fire (or rather the keeping of it).

Most people enjoy having a fireplace in their home for occasional use, while some still use a stove fueled with fire as a sole heating source. While these two uses of fire are as different as night and day, they do require much the same knowledge to ensure that the firewood is burned safely. One of the things that is required no matter what your use, is good quality dry wood to burn.

The standard measure for firewood is known as a firewood cord. A cord is 4 foot high x 4 foot wide x 8 foot long and is a total of 128 cubic foot in volume. This unit of measure is important to the homeowner for several reasons. Storage and knowing how much wood to cut or purchase are two of the most important.

Storing firewood for future use is crucial to anyone who builds a fire, even if only on an occasional basis. Firewood bins and storage rooms are built for this reason. They are built to hold wood in multiples of firewood cords, generally a firewood room will hold one cord, however, for more frequent use, a room can be built to accommodate several cords of firewood.

Some people to store their firewood cord in a room that is attached directly to the house, while others prefer to build more of a shed that is detached but still close by. Either choice is fine as long as the wood is protected from the elements and is kept dry. Even wood that has been split and stacked into a cord can absorb moisture and must be re-dried before being burned.

The other reason to be familiar with the exact size of a firewood cord is to help with usage estimates. For the occasional fire builder, wood can be purchased as needed. Buying firewood this way is more expensive, but when fires are seldom built, it often doesn't make sense to cut, stack and store more wood than is needed.

However, if you happen to be one of the millions of people who use firewood as a major source of heat, then it would be reasonable for you to store at least on firewood cord per year. The exact amount of firewood that you will need will, of course, depend upon the climate where you live, the amount of space that you are heating, your storage capacity and how warm you prefer your house to be.

If you happen to be a novice at burning wood for fuel, it will be helpful to seek the advice of neighbors or your local agricultural extension office as to the number of firewood cords you will need.

Firewood Measuring
A "cord" of firewood is equal to 128 square feet. A "rick" of firewood is equal to 64 square feet.
Firewood must be stacked in a rectangular pile with each side being as straight and even as possible. The straighter and more even the sides, the more accurate the measurement will be. When stacking, gaps should be kept as small as possible.
Once stacked measure the height, width and length with a tape measure. Take those three numbers and multiply them together. If the product of those measurements is equal to 128, then you have one cord of wood!
If your number is greater than 128, you'll need to reduce the size of the pile. Generally it is easiest to remove wood from the top of the pile (instead of the sides) to get down to 128.
The most common stack is 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long, but a cord can also be a single log high (say 6"), a single log wide (12") and 256 feet long.