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Some people heat their homes with firewood.  Firewood is sold by a measurement called a "cord".

A cord is 128 cubic feet of firewood.  To be sure you have a cord; you can stack and measure the wood. For example, a cord of firewood, when stacked, could be a pile that is either:

  • 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long (4 X 4 X 8 = 128); or
  • 2 feet wide, 4 feet high and 16 feet long (2 X 4 X 16 = 128).

You can stack the wood in other ways, too.  If the width times the height times the length (all in feet) equals 128 cubic feet, you have a cord of firewood.

A seller may not use terms such as "truckload," "face cord," "rack" or "pile."


  • When you buy firewood, ask the seller to stack the wood (you may have to pay extra for this service) or stack the wood yourself.
  • Get a receipt which shows the seller's name, address, and phone number, and the price, amount, and kind of wood purchased.  Write down the license number of the delivery vehicle.
  • Measure the wood before using any.
  • Take a picture of the stack if you think there is less than the amount purchased.  Put rulers and or measuring tapes in the photo.
  • If you feel you have a problem, contact the seller before you burn any of the wood.
  • If the problem cannot be resolved, contact your weights and measures office as soon as possible.
  • If you have not made purchases from this business in the past, BE THERE FOR THE DELIVERY.
  • Get up on the vehicle and look at the wood before the individual drops it on your property.  Is it the quality you requested (hard wood, length, aged, clean etc.)?
  • You can measure the dump portion of the truck to get a rough idea on how much it holds.

Signs of a possible "Rip-Off"

If the dealer does not have any permanent address but only lists a PO Box or cell phone number, you might want to be cautious.  Someone who doesn't want you to know where they are located may be someone who is trying to pull a scam.  If you have a tough time getting through to place an order, imagine how difficult it might be if you have a problem.  You may want to avoid dealing with that supplier.  If a supplier will not commit to a set delivery time, there may a reason they don't want you to be there when they drop off the product. You may want to be careful dealing with that supplier.  If the price is so low, it seems like a may be the one who was stolen from.

You should also be aware that it is unlikely that anyone can haul a cord of wood in a standard pickup truck.  A cord is four by four by eight feet (128 cu. ft.) and is a lot of wood.  In order to compensate for the wheel wells, a pickup would need to be loaded over four feet high with wood.  Most standard pickups can't safely carry the weight of a full cord. In addition, the wood is generally not "ranked and well stowed" when loaded on the truck.  It will typically lose another 15-20% when properly stacked.  This applies equally to dump trucks.  Random stacking significantly increases the size of air spaces between pieces and is one of the primary ways that firewood customers are cheated.

This information was brought to you by The National Conference on Weights and Measures and The New York State Bureau of Weights and Measures.

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