Firewood doesn't have the place in American life it once did, when it was the source for much home heating, especially in rural areas. The farmer or rancher who still cuts his own wood doesn't worry much about measurements; he cuts wood to fit his fireplace. But urban dwellers and others who buy need to know how much wood they get for their money. There are some standards.
Cord is Standard
The basic standard for firewood is the cord. That is defined as 128 cubic feet, figured as a stack 8 feet wide by 4 feet deep by 4 feet high. Most fireplace wood is cut at 24 inches but the cord definition still works for shorter pieces, 12 to 16 inches, cut for smaller fireplaces or woodburning grills. Ideally, a cord should be stacked neatly and not with a lot of extra space between logs.
Rick is Less than a Cord
Another common definition in measuring firewood quantities is the rick. Webster's dictionary defines a rick of wood as 8 feet long by 4 feet high by the length of a stick. Most common usage, however, considers a rick to be about half of a cord -- a formal half-cord would be 64 cubic feet, a stack 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet. Another common definition of a rick is a pickup truck bed filled to the tops of the bed sides.
A Cord is not Always a Cord
Even a full cord may not be a full cord. That is because of the stacking, which leaves spaces between logs. Split wood may be stacked tightly, with the edges against abutting sticks, or loosely, with lots of air space between logs. Round logs also can affect stacking space, as can the size of the split logs. Some experts say the actual amount of wood in a stacked cord is 70 to 90 cubic feet. A wise consumer will observe the stacking.
What is a Rack?
Some people refer to a "rack" of firewood. This generally is applied to firewood stacked in metal racks in firewood supply outlets. Theoretically, a rack should hold a full cord but rack sizes can vary. A "face cord" is a stack of 16-inch logs stacked 4 feet by 8 feet, actually about 1/3 of a full cord.