How to Measure a Cord of Wood


A cord is the standard of measurement for buying and selling firewood. It is a legal term that specifically means 128 cubic feet of firewood that is tightly stacked. Some firewood vendors may use terms such as face cord, standing cord, long cord or rick that are not legally defined and shouldn't be confused with a real "cord.". The origin of the name "cord" came from the piece of rope that was used to measure firewood in previous centuries.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Make sure the wood is neatly stacked with all pieces laying parallel to each other. Restack firewood more neatly if necessary, forming vertical walls against fence posts, walls, trees or buildings. Check that all angles are square.

  • Check the width of the stack: it should measure 8 feet. Adjust the width if necessary.

  • Check the depth of the stack: it should measure 4 feet from front to back. Adjust the depth if necessary.

  • Check the height of the stack: it should measure 4 feet high. Adjust the height if necessary.

  • Add or subtract firewood from the stack if necessary, to obtain a cube of wood measuring 8-by-4-by-4-feet (128 cubic feet).

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are having the wood delivered, restack it neatly at your house before paying to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

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  • Photo Credit firewood image by Juliette Speers from
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