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Firewood Questions & Answers

Q: What is a Cord of wood, and how many Face Cords are in a cord? And what the heck's a Rick? Every wood seller I call says something different.
John Simpson

Cord of Wood Diagram

Sweepy A cord of wood is defined as a tightly stacked rectangle measuring 4' tall x 4' wide x 8' long, or 128 cubic feet (4 x 4 x 8 = 128). The usual configuration is three rows of 16" lengths, each row measuring 4' tall x 8' long. Two rows of 24" lengths would also constitute a cord, as would four rows of 12" lengths, or one row of 48" lengths. In states that regulate firewood sales, the cord, or fractions thereof, is the only measurement allowed to be used for the sale of firewood.

In unregulated states, wood is often sold by the face cord. A face cord is one row of wood, measuring 4' x 8' x the length of the pieces. It is impossible to determine how much wood is in a face cord unless you know how long the pieces are:

Face Cord of Wood Diagram 1   Face Cord of Wood Diagram 2   Face Cord of Wood Diagram 3   Face Cord of Wood Diagram 4

A face cord of 12" lengths would
be 1/4 of a cord, or 32 cubic feet.

 

A face cord of 16" lengths would
be 1/3 of a cord, or 42.7 cubic feet.

 

A face cord of 24" lengths would
be 1/2 of a cord, or 64 cubic feet.

 

Hey, a face cord of 48" lengths
is the same thing as a cord!

Nobody seems to know who Rick was, or how the name got attached to a quantity of firewood. Webster simply defines a rick as a pile. We've seen the term rick used interchangeably with face cord, but some woodsellers refer to a rick as one pickup load. Since the amount of wood a pickup will hold depends upon the size of the pickup bed, and whether the load is tightly stacked or just thrown in, the rick is a highly subjective form of measurement. If you see firewood for sale by the rick, proceed with caution.

The bottom line: pin your woodseller down to how many cords (or fractions of a cord) you're getting, and withhold payment until you can stack and measure it.

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 I'm from Oregon, and around here a rick is 1/3 of a cord.  Been selling it that way for 45 years, 3 ricks to a cord

Lee Purrier

Sweepy So, in your neck of the woods a rick is a face cord of 16" lengths!

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Thanks for your great explanation of cords, face cords, and ricks. Just thought you'd be interested to know that here in rural Missouri, many people call a rick, a "rank".  Not sure if it's because of the Missouri twang accent, ignorance, or a combo of both being passed down from generation to generation.

Caryl Cates

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