How to Measure a Cord of Wood

How to Measure a Cord of Wood – Learn the Basics

Wood is purchased by the cord. However, if you have not tried buying wood before, you may be wondering what this means. Also, since wood is sold rarely by a full cord, there are specific considerations that you may want to keep in mind, especially if you want to get only the best value for your money.

Learning the right way to measure wood can become a daunting process if you have not yet tried doing it. As a matter of fact, even professional DIYers who have spent a considerable amount of time practicing with wood can still get confused with the different types of measurements. In order to arrive at the best value, and to avoid disappointment, it is helpful to know how wood is measured properly. If you want to know how to measure a cord of wood, this guide will show you the basics.

What You Need

  • Calculator
  • Tape Measure/Yardstick
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Notebook

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Understanding terminology

This is particularly applicable if you consider yourself a beginner. There are some terms that need to be understood in order to get things right.

Full Cord

The measurement of a full cord is 4 feet (width), 4 feet (height), 8 feet (length). The total volume is 128 cubic feet. Note that most firewood cords are about 85 cubic feet made of solid wood. The rest is air.

Face Cord

This refers to a wood stack that has a measurement of 4 feet (height), 8 feet (length). Every wooden piece in the stack is 4 feet (length) or less. The length of the wood pieces in a face cord is not strictly regulated. The depth is usually at 1/3 of a full cord.

Green Cord

This cord is a wood stack that has not been completely cured or dried. As such, the wood will shrink initially up to about 6 to 8%. When getting the price of this cord, note the percent of wood that is lost in order to secure a discount.

Thrown Cord

This means the volume of wood that is not stacked in clean piles. They are the ones that are usually piled up at the back of the truck. They consume about 40$ more space compared to the stacked cord. This will amount to about 128 cubic feet of total wood stacked than the 180 cubic feet piled volume at the back of a truck.

Step 2 – Get the Dimensions of the Pile

This means getting the height, length, and depth of the pile. For both full cords and face cords, the height needs to be at 4 feet, and the length at 8 feet. Thrown cords, on the other hand, may have a varied height and length, though you still would want to have a measurement of the stack, checking if they match the ones given by the dealer.

Measuring the pile depth is completed by getting the average length of the firewood pieces. It should be at an estimate of 4 feet (length). Thrown woods will bring the total stack volume (180 cubic feet) which is achieved after multiplying the pile height and length.

Step 3 – Calculate the Cord Volume

Now, you would want to achieve the cord value using a calculator. Identifying how to get the right measurement of wood is very important because you would not want to spend money on something of low value. Calculating cord volume after getting the measurement is not that difficult to complete.

As a reminder, familiarize the terms in order to achieve the best results. Also, make sure that you check the woodpiles to avoid being scammed.

If you are getting a face cord, you can divide the full cord depth with a piece length of wood in the face cord. This quotient will then be multiplied by the price/value of the face cord in order to come up with the cost/price of the full cord. Keep these considerations in mind:

  • Take note that a full cord has a depth of 4 feet (48 inches, or 1.2 meters, or 122 cm).
  • Example: If a face cord is sold at 16 inches (40.6 cm) average piece length at $90, then the actual value will be calculated in this way:
  • 48 inches/16 inches or 122 cm/40.6 cm = 3
  • $90 x 3 = $270 (full cord value)

Step 4 – Check for options

If you already have an idea of the average rate in the market for a full accord, you can now make a comparison of the full cord value to the face cord that you have measured. On the other hand, if you do not have an idea of the average cost, you may want to shop around and check for options in order to figure out an average.

  • It is still recommended to get the average length of piece for the face cord that you are planning to buy after making a decision. You simply need to make sure that the requirements of your dealer will also match your own.
  • You may be able to save some time by calling the dealers first and asking for the price of their face cord, as well as the measurement for the piece length, instead of physically going to every option to take measurements.


While taking into consideration the information on how to measure a cord of wood, note that there are also other factors that may ultimately affect the cost of wood. Therefore, understanding the bigger picture will help you get the most accurate information. Did you find this tutorial helpful? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Share this article and help spread the love for woodworking and other DIY stuff.