Wood Delivered - advice wanted about cord measurement

RhondaLee_CTOctober 31, 2006


I had some wood delivered yesterday, and was told it was a cord and a half of wood. It did not look anything like that amount of wood to me, but I paid for that amount, as I was owed 3 cords total. Today I stacked the wood, most of which is 18" or shorter, plus about a quarter of the wood that was 20-24" (it was all supposed to be 18" or under), and came up with 81 cu ft of wood - 63% of a cord of wood.

I have wood pallets that are 3' deep that I am stacking the wood on. I stacked the wood on both ends 18" by 18", putting down one layer front to back, and the next side to side, so that I have 4' tall columns at either end of the 7' wide space, so the wood will stay where it is stacked. In between the columns I am stacking the wood in two rows (each 18" deep), from front to back. I ended up with 2 columns of wood 1.5' x 3' x 4'. I had 1.5' x 4' x 4' of wood between the columns (only 1 row). Plus I have a pile with 2' x 3' x 3.5', of the longer wood that I will have to cut in half. The total came out to 81 cu. ft.

Today the guy came back with another load of wood, that he was going to pass off as 2 cords of wood (he was supposedly giving me some extra). I figure I received about 1 cord of wood today if I'm lucky, and that I now have 1 1/2 cords of wood.

This guy expected me to pay him for 3 cords of wood today, and I point back refused to give him more than the money for 1 1/2 cords of wood until I have today's load stacked, and can verify how much wood is there. So he told me that I stacked the wood wrong, and that my piles were higher than 4' (they aren't, and I pulled out my tape measure to prove it). Now his boss is coming by tomorrow to look at the wood.

So here is the question. Did I somehow stack the wood wrong (I was told to stack it this way last year by someone else I bought wood from), or are these guys trying to rip me off?? Please let me know what you experienced people think!


Rhonda in CT

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I can't remember the weight measure but the volume measure is 4'x'4 x 8'. I buy a cord of wood at the time and it is delivered in a dump truck and the guy always says "you sure you want a full cord? That'a a LOT of wood". Of course a full cord costs me $150 delivered and stacked. I burn a lot of wood and a cord will last me most if not all of a winter (in the south).

A lot of people try to pass a pick-up truck load off as a cord, the more honest (but less than completely honest) will call it half a cord, while the reality is that a pick up truck will hold at most one-third of a cord over stacked.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 7:31PM
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I haven't bought any wood yet, we have been lucky with scrounging last year and this year. But over at hearth.com in the forums, the story of getting less than a cord when you are paying for a cord is sadly common. If you stack it and can show it isn't as much as they are telling you, they would feel obligated to bring you more wood I hope. They probably rely on people not calculating that closely. Also supposedly as the other person says above, you can't get that much wood in a pickup truck, so if that is how they are delivering it you know they are lying for sure.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 2:58AM
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A cord should contain 128 cubic feet by volume. This is often a standard in state regulations and I'm aware of a few prosecutions in Maine over short cords. You do need to make sure when ordering, however, what the dealer considers a cord. A face cord - 4 by 8 feet by whatever length the wood has been cut to - is common and will obviously not contain 128 cubic feet. Many dealers also use their trucks as the guage. If the truck has a volume of 128 feet and is filled to capacity, you will not wind up with 128 feet when it is neatly stacked. Yet a third method is to measure the volume of wood when it is roughly cut to 8 or 4 foot lengths before sizing and splitting. You'll wind up with less than 128 feet of finished cordwood by this method as well.
In defense of dealers, I would say after 25 years of buying wood that most are honest. Their jobs are dirty, noisy, dangerous and physically more demanding than most of us can imagine. Wood is cut in the freezing cold or amidst clouds of mosquitoes and black flies. Each piece we burn has been handled many times before it is delivered. The best thing to do when ordering wood is to determine beforehand exactly what you'll be getting. A cord has always been and will always be a somewhat flexible term.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 6:06AM
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When I get firewood from my dealer he has it stacked in his truck. He asks me to measure the size of the load before he dumps it. His truck is 8 feet wide by six feet long. He has the wood stacked 3 feet high in every load. So I KNOW what I'm getting before he even dumps the wood.

Stick to your guns! Don't pay for anything you didn't receive. But if the stack is 3'8" high instead of 4 ft I wouldn't bother with complaining. But if you only got 81 cu ft instead of 128 then don't pay! If push comes to shove, tell him to take the wood back! He will probably agree to you paying for what you got and telling you to find another dealer.

Like another poster said, firewood sales is backbreaking work! My dealer sold 60 cords this year and he works all by himself. He physically worked harder than 90% of the posters here for a crummy $9,600!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 8:04AM
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4x4x8 is a cord. 4 ft x 16inches x 8 ft. is a face cord. It is 1/3 of a cord. You can not stack the wood anyway u want to. I cut firewood for myself, my father and a Friend, I also sell Firewood. I burn 5 cord a year and my dad burns 8 or more. This is the only heat in the house. You CAN get a cord on a pickup truck. The truck had better have air bags under the frame and some good shocks and struts and springs. You have to stack it really well till it gets about 1 to 2 foot over the top of the cab. but it will work. If you did not get a cord do not pay, but acording to the legal discription it all has to be stacked horozonaly, laying the same direction.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 5:02PM
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It's been a long time since I bought firewood. But we used to go to the guy's house and he'd measure out the cord from the quantity he had stacked. Some of the stacks were cut and slit, others were "raw" (4' lenghts). All the stacks were 4' wide and 4' high and ran for a long way. "Split stacks began and ended with "towers" of split wood. And he would put the tape on them.

When it was delivered (effectively "dumped") we patiently stacked it and checked the measurement. We never quibbled over inches. And none of the guys we dealt with ever "shorted" us. 4'x4'x8'=a cord.

I've nver seen anyone stack it in a truck, but given the current "climate" and general laziness of customers with respect to stacking it themselves I'm not surprised. Probably a lot easier than haggling with no-nothins on the telephone!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 10:44AM
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Don't be cheated! I don't think I've ever heard anyone evoke the "legal definition" of a cord of wood, but a cord of wood is simply 128 cubic feet of wood, regardless of how you stack it. To test this voluminous theory, one need only take a known cord of wood re-stack it into any of thousands of clever shapes, from a Volkswagen bus to an intergalactic starship. It's still 128 cubic feet of wood... and still a cord. QED

To find what you should pay for any delivered wood, simply stack it (tightly) into any convenient stack and multiply length x height x width (in feet). Divide that result by 128 and multiply your answer by the price-per-cord that your supplier wants.

For example, if your stack is 3.5 x 5.5 x 6 feet, you will find you have 115.5 cubic feet (Not quite one cord, right?). Dividing 115.5 by 128, you get 0.90. Multiplying 0.90 by the advertised price of, say, $200 per cord means you owe your supplier $180.47. Don't quibble, but don't be cheated.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 3:53PM
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i think their ripping you off i sell wood also and a full cord of wood is 4'x4'x8' and a face cord is 16"x4'x8'

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 8:47PM
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All agreed - a cord is 128. However, it is just as important to know the species and seasoning of the wood that you are purchasing. I recently ordered a cord of wood that consisted of 40% Maple, 20% Red Oak, 40% Ash. Ash has been a welcomed firewood in my area the last several years, but it"s demise is soon. The seasoning was excellent (8 months in May). I measured the actual volume and it resulted in 117. I decided to keep my mouth shut, as I will surely buy another "cord" from him.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 10:53PM
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nothing to add ; thank you great info

first time wood stove user.

Here is a link that might be useful: saint croix boat

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 2:29PM
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