HOW TO MEASURE FIREWOOD – When is a Cord Not a Cord?

Firewood is typically sold by the cord.

Bundles and bags of firewood sold at gas stations, grocery and convenience stores come in various sizes (usually about a cubic foot), but the price for this bundle has little to do with the actual price of a standard cord.

You’re paying a premium price for the convenience of neatly wrapped bundles of kiln-dried, split wood.

Sometimes people who are not used to purchasing “unpackaged” firewood will complain that they have gotten bark, kindling pieces or wood chips mixed in with their firewood.

To them this “proves” that we somehow “cheated” them out of full cord of wood. This is not true. Cords are measured by STACKED VOLUME not WEIGHT.

By NC law * a Cord is defined as: 128 cubic feet of stacked wood (whole or split, with or without bark) containing wood and air space, with all bolts or sticks being of a similar length. The link to the law is at the bottom of the page.

NOTE: A bolt is normally a whole, round log section about 8 feet long. A stick is a piece of wood that has been cut to size and split.

So a cord would be however many bolts (8 foot log sections) it would take to make a stack 4 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Since this too big for most people to burn in their fireplaces or stoves, all of our logs (bolts) are cut and split into a 16 inch length “sticks”.

This means you can measure a full cord  in inches as 48 inches High x 48 inches Deep x 96 inches Long.

Or we invite you to use our Cord Calculator below to determine the storage space you have or true number of cords in your woodpile:


(Click the images above to see how our massive 6 Ton Rapido Loco Firewood Processor can turn an 8 foot long, 24 inch round log (bolt) into 8 cut and split 16-inch pieces. Our Rapido can process up to 5 cords an hour!)

While loose bark, kindling pieces and other organic debris should NOT included in the volume measurement of a cord, they are still natural parts of the log splitting process.

Think about when you buy a dozen roses … you are actually paying for the flower blooms but the stems and leaves, (as well as the thorns) are a natural part of the plant!

Our firewood (seasoned or kiln-dried) has bark on it and when we deliver it you some of that loose bark, wood chips and kindling pieces will come along for the ride.

Don’t worry. We will deliver a full Cord or half Cord that you ordered, all 128 Cubic Feet of it.

How Many Pieces (Sticks) of Firewood Are in a Cord?

Firewood is never cut perfectly square and it is not (and should not be) stacked or stored without any space in between the pieces. Stacked firewood needs to have airflow to remain dry and easy to burn.

So this is a rough estimate, but it may help give you a general idea.

A 1/2 of a cord may contain around 330 (plus/minus) pieces of split wood. A cord then would contain roughly around 660 pieces of wood. Again, this is a rough count and there are lots of factors that could cause your cord to have less or more, including the fact that a legal cord is measurement of VOLUME … not weight or piece count.

When is a Cord not a Cord?

People often are confused with terms like “face cord”, “truckload” or “stove cord”.

According to most industry experts:

“A ‘face cord’ is an inexact term that describes a neat stack of split firewood that is 4 feet high and 8 feet long, but can be just about any width.

A ‘truckload’ of loose firewood is highly variable in volume, depending on the size of the truck. The box of a small pick-up truck can hold about a quarter of a cord, but a bigger truck can hold several cords. [For example our dump truck can hold 2 cords.]

A ‘stove cord’ is the usual 4-foot high and 8-foot wide stack, but the pieces are only 12 inches wide, or a quarter of a cord.”

The only way to know for sure how much wood you’ve got when buying any of these non-standard cords is to stack it and measure it using the calculator above.


NC Statute Chapter 81A/GS_81A-9(8)

“Cord. – “Cord” when used in connection with purchases of wood is a quantity of wood consisting of any number of sticks, bolts or pieces laid parallel and together so as to form a rick or stack occupying a space four feet wide, four feet high and eight feet long, or such other dimensions that will when multiplied together equal 128 cubic feet by volume, construed as being seventy percent (70%) solid and thirty percent (30%) air space or 90 solid cubic feet.”


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