Half Cord Of Firewood
Half cord of firewood stacked click to enlargeA half cord of firewood is just what it sounds like half of a full cord. As a definition that certainly is not any good if you do not know what a full cord is. A half cord of firewood is 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 4 feet deep. Historically each piece of wood in the cord was cut to four-foot lengths and the user would then cut it down to fireplace size. This has changed over the years to a much more practical convention. Who wants to have to recut the wood you get delivered or have to haul and stack 4' lengths? Nobody!
Today a typical cord of wood is cut to 16" lengths of wood. So a half cord is made up of 3 rows of sixteen in pieces of wood to make it 4' deep. A half cord of wood 4' X 4' X 4' results in 64 cubic feet of wood by volume.
How the half cord is measured has a second factor. The wood is to be stacked with minimum voids in the stack. To be sure you have a half cord of wood, the wood should be stacked neatly in a line or row, with individual pieces touching and parallel to each other, making sure that the wood is compact and has the few gaps possible." This is to ensure the maximum number of sticks of split wood in the piled wood as possible. Because the wood is being sold by volume you should get the full measure of firewood when the finished stack of wood is made up the right dimensions and the pieces are all tight together.
In the State of Massachusetts, firewood is sold by cubic volume, not by weight.
The reason for this is simply the variation in moisture content can affect the weight so greatly. Selling a product this way would give large variations in the volume of wood you buy. This would make it hard to compare prices from different dealers. A face cord of kiln-dried firewood weights
What firewood weights and how we know it.
The weight of a half cord of kiln-dried firewood weights 1,800 pounds. This fact is one of many that makes our firewood burn bright and burn right because it has less water in the wood. Because it is kiln dried, the kiln drying produces a consistently dry firewood product. A regular half cord of wood that is not kiln dried weights 600 pounds more. So you can be getting up to 75 gallons of water in the wood. The weight of water has to be driven out of the wood as it burns so it can not burn as well. Boiling sap coming out of the pieces of wood is the best way to see for your self how much has to be boiled off.
A full cord of kiln-dried firewood weights 3,600 lbs if it is kiln dried and the average cord of green wood is 4,800 pounds. There are listing published per species what different wood species weight both green and kiln dried. Being a mixture of different hardwood it is a lot more accurate to go by what truckers use to establish what load they can carry legally so they do not get a very expensive ticket. These loads of wood that are being hauled are large volumes of select hardwood that is going to be kiln dried. If we sold our firewood by weight we would have to go to a certified truck scale and get a separate weight slip for each load we deliver.
Moisture Content in Firewood
We use the truck scale and tracking information because there are variations in water content of wood based on what species of wood it is. Fresh cut Willow can have more than double the dry weight of wood up to 120%. That is part of why willow is not a good firewood because of moisture content and the lack of density in the wood. Moisture content in a piece of wood greater than 100 percent means that that piece of wood has more water in it than there are actual dry wood fibers. It is measured by measuring samples of wood then heating in an oven then measuring the sample after drying. Here at BostonFirewood.com we sell kiln-dried wood and are very familiar with how much water can be in firewood and how it can reduce the quality of the wood for burning. It is one of the core principles of supplying the highest quality firewood. To put it in perspective, some species of wood like willow can have so much water in the wood fibers that the weight would be twice what it contains when dried. So if you bought firewood by weight you would get half the amount of wood, it would be terrible to light, hard to burn and create a lot of soot. On the other end of the spectrum, Oak is very dense so it is an example of wood that is heavier than most based on total wood fiber present. This density makes it take longer to dry so it can not be mixed in with other species of wood in the same batch in a kiln. Along with wood species, we feel the most important factor in firewood quality is moisture content. Specifically moisture content is the amount of water that is in the wood. High moisture content in firewood makes wood of any species makes poor firewood even if it is a high-quality hardwood that is good for burning. The point is, buying firewood by weight is the worst measure to base a purchase transaction on. If a firewood dealer offers this option be very cautious.
The wood measure terminology problem
Know the terms and what it implies. In the industry there a lot of terms used to describe the measure of wood to be sold. Often it is based on how a firewood supplier operates. For some dealers that sell small quantities of wood and dump it in the driveway, they will refer to a pickup load of wood. That is fine but what does it mean and can you compare it to what someone else is offering. Is the pick up a short bed compact pick up or a long bed diesel heavy-duty truck and how tightly is it loaded. As we noted above the weight of a half cord of kiln-dried wood is 1,800 pounds. One of the most popular trucks is a Ford F150 is between 1,621 to 2,329 lbs based on its specs. So with some 150's green or partially seasoned wood would overload the truck and require sideboards on it to get a full half cord. Be aware when buying firewood be specific in your questions regarding how much wood do I get. If a supplier is using terms like a truckload of wood, furnace cord, thrown cord, fireplace cords, stove cord, pick up full, bushels, thrown cord, loose cord or rack of wood. Be clear in your understanding of how much wood by stacked volume you expect to get from who you are buying from. These terms are not "Legal" terms for quantities of wood so you need to know how to convert the terms to a standard measure to make a fair comparison. It has to be a fair deal for both the buyer and the seller with clear communication.
The state of Massachusetts has one specific legal definition for purchasing firewood. It is a full cord of wood. We know people in and around the city want to buy what they need and can store conveniently. Our business is based on selling less than full cords. We want to be clear in what we mean when referring to a half cord of firewood. It is three rows of firewood that is 4 feet wide not the 8 foot wide a full cord would be. Our customers are mostly people who want the ambiance of a great fire in the fireplace and good wood that burns well, not whole house heating. The amounts we sell revolves around how often our customers burn wood, available storage space for the wood and how often they are home not traveling or working and able to relax by the fire. We sell insect free dry firewood stacked were you want it so burning wood is convenient. We deliver and stack wood in pantries or small storage areas that just cannot handle larger volumes of wood. Especially when stacking wood on balconies and decks you know the weight of the wood from the information above and it is as light as possible for the carrying capacity of the deck.
Watch the lengths
Keep in mind cutting firewood pieces short can add up to a substantial change in what actual amount of wood you get. Here is an example. If at the cutting table the wood is in fact cut to 15" for the entire half cord you would get a lot less but maybe not see the difference. Using our firewood calculator when you put in the dimensions of 4' X 4' X 45" deep you get a change from 64 cubic feet of wood to 60.00 cubic feet or firewood or 0.46 of a cord that is not half. This quantity difference for a wood supplier that does a high volume of wood this can add up to a lot of wood paid for but not delivered. In a notoriously low margin high labor industry this can be a big factor in the seller's favor.
A Half cord is a half of a cord of wood when purchased from us at Boston Firewood.com. Each log is measured and cut to 16" lengths on the cutting table at the mill before being split to keep the length at a consistent verifiable measure of wood you are buying. Picture a cord of wood stacked with three rows of wood being blocky and it forms a stable cube that will not easily topple over if it was stacked outside.
Buying a half cord of wood
Knowing how to buy and the correct terms are important to both buyer and seller. At Bostonfirewood.com we sell kiln dried firewood delivered and stacked for customers in the Boston Metropolitan area. Our wood is stored indoors in a heated garage prior to delivery. We are pretty sure no one else in our area does that. This way we keep rain or moisture from spoiling the wood. Every step of the way from cutting on through the kiln to the customer the wood is kept out of the dirt. We do not want to track a dirty messy product into your home. We are different from others in that we only sell kiln dried firewood that has an optimized moisture content to burn well but not too fast. Our customers want convenient fires that burn right and burn brightly without having to be Paul Bunyan to handle the wood and an Eagle Boy Scout to keep the fire burning. We sell, deliver and stack for you our firewood were you want it. First-floor delivery is included. All year round we have cords of wood available. The minimum amount of wood we deliver is a face cord which is a third of a cord. For those who want less, we do offer to pick up service in our yard in Dedham Massachusetts of any amount of bundles you want. Our bundles are larger than what most people offer. They are 1.5 cubic feet so that you can handle more wood with fewer trips than buying the gas station bundles that are typically .75 cubic feet of firewood.