How Many Ricks are in a Cord of Wood?

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If you do not know how many ricks in a cord of wood are, you won’t be able to heat your home for several months, or you can get scammed when purchasing firewood.

To save you hours of research, here is everything you need to know about ricks of wood that will save you from the cold season and from being duped. 

How Much is a Rick of Firewood?

A rick is a stack 4 feet high and 8 feet long. This is regardless of how long as your pieces of firewood. This means that ricks of wood has no universally accepted unit of measure. 

People use the term “rick” interchangeably with “face cord.” But depending on the size and how tightly they are stacked, face cords can contain anything between 550 to 650 individual logs.

Therefore, a rick may carry can vary between 275 and 325 logs of firewood at most.

stacks of firewood

The amount you get may still vary depending on stacks and vendors. The type of firewood delivered and firewood suppliers can still affect the final price.

When buying wood, you can use the following as a guide to measuring the quality you want to purchase for a fire pit:

How Much Ricks are in a Cord?

Each face cord of firewood measures 128 cubic feet in total volume and has dimensions of 4 feet in height, 4 feet in depth, and 8 feet in width.

A full cord cut into 16″ lengths, also considered a bush cord, has three rows. A rick makes up each of these rows.

The normal dimensions for a bush [1] or full cord are 4 by 4 by 8 feet, with 16 to 18 inches of logs in each of the four-foot sections, which can also be called ricks.

firewood

Three clusters of ricks work together to form a single cord — the face cords. For the most part, these are the dimensions used by the market.

A rick of wood is a heap of logs 4 feet high and 8 feet long. Whenever I visited the lumber yard, the length of the logs directly influenced how they used this term of measurement. So it’s something to keep an eye on depending on where you’re getting your wood.

Face cords range from 12–24 inches for the breadth numbers of a single rick. So a standard rick is 8 feet long, 4 feet in height, 4 feet in width, and another 4 feet in length.

With that being said, a full cord and rick are quite close in size. The amount of wood in a full cord contains numerous ricks. Yet, one thing I’ve learned is that there’s no set-in-stone rule or official measurement for how many ricks are in a full cord. It’s one of those things that vary, so always best to check locally or with the seller.

Splitting Firewood into Ricks and Cords: 6 Steps

Step #1: Measure and Mark the Wood

Use a marker or pen to make precise measurements of the wood before cutting. Make pencil markings on the wood’s surface at regular intervals of 16–18 inches.

chainsaw and stacks of firewood

Use the notches to determine where to make cuts for optimal stacking. Notching the wood with an axe doesn’t require precise measurements for skilled artisans.

Step #2: Cut the Logs into Pieces for Crosscutting

According to preferences regarding the length, you can now saw the wood into workable pieces. These small chunks make it easier to cut and separate.

In addition to increasing the surface area subjected to sunlight and wind, this helps them weather more quickly. If you want uniformly shaped pieces, crosscut them with a chainsaw and try to be as square as possible.

Step #3: Crosscut With a Chainsaw

After all the other pieces have been precisely cut to size, it’s time to crosscut. The most important aspect is the measurements. I learned early on not to rush this part.

cutting firewood with a chainsaw

Utilize a chainsaw and keep the slices as square as possible to maintain their similar shape.

Step #4: Split Into Logs

Cut the large 16–18-inch pieces into more manageable sections. Honestly, it took me a few attempts before I got the hang of how much wood I needed for this step. You must remember that 128 cubic feet of lumber are the target. 

If you’ve never visualized it, it would fill a pickup truck’s bed several times over. 

Step #5: Clear the Area for Stacking

Ensure the wood is not touching the ground before stacking and after it has been split. If you put it directly on the ground, pests will start eating it and dirt will get embedded in the wood. Uneven burning can be attributed to the dirt.

Step #6: Have Them Stacked in Cords

If you pile seasoned wood properly in a good space, you won’t have to worry about uneven burning or rocks and stuck dirt.

stacking firewood

The most important thing you should remember is that if the face is not stacked properly, you may have to spend a lot of money on wood in the cold seasons.

Step #7: Cover The Stacks

After you’ve stacked your wood into ricks, I recommend using a protective covering. From my experience, a plastic tarp works best to channel rainwater away from the wood. But before you go and cover everything up, ensure there’s a bit of space between your stacks. It helps prevent mildew and mold from setting in.

When winter comes, you’ll be able to keep warm around your fireplaces and use wood without the hassle. 

During this season, dry wood is essential for fire or heating purposes. If something goes wrong when processing them, you could be left without heat throughout the colder months.

Key Indications of a Well-Weathed Firewood

Light Wood

A plank becomes buoyant and much lighter when all the water has evaporated from it. After being felled, wood may contain more or less 25 percent water. 

woods on a truck

Once the water has been removed from the log, the pieces should be quite light, and you must be able to transport several at once.

Loose and Falling Bark

The log’s bark must peel off. There may be some missing components, but you should ensure they are easily replaced. When the bark is no longer held in place by water and sap, you can peel it away from the tree.

Ends are Cracked or Split

There should be cracks or splits in the ends of the wood you’re about to burn. The splitting indicates that the wood has exhausted its moisture and been emptied of any sap or surplus.

Hollow Sound

Wooden objects that you knock on will make a hollow sound. Listen to a hollow sound by banging together a few logs.

Gray

Dried wood no longer has the yellow hue of fresh tree sap and flesh. Once the wood has turned gray, it is dry enough to burn. You can’t miss the grayish or whiteish hue; it depends on the sort of wood being burned.

burning firewood

No Distinct Smell

When you’re trying to determine if your firewood ricks are ready to burn, here’s a little trick I’ve picked up: dry wood loses that natural, fresh-cut aroma. The wood will lose its scent after the sap has dried. You should pick up a few pieces, sniff them, and throw them into the wood stove.

Why Buy Seasoned Wood?

Firewood ricks should be dried to 20% moisture content or less for optimal burning and to minimize pollution. Seasoned and kiln-dried firewood are two popular types of wood dried to 20% moisture content.

After a tree has been cut down, its wood can be harvested. The tree remains quite green and has a lot of water. It’s not a good idea to use green wood in any fire-making device, including the fireplace, bonfire, wood-burning stove, or heater.

Seasoned ones are best used as fuel because the wood burns cleanly, unlike others.

Additional Units of Measurements for Wood to Know

When buying firewood, you may encounter additional phrases besides “cord” and “rick” when searching for information.

stacking and storing firewood

You may also encounter other units of measurements, such as a “half,” “bush,” “face,” or “standard” cord as well as a “rack” and a “truckload.”

If you’re shopping for woods like oak or hickory, here’s a tip: always keep in mind that each full cord of firewood is 128 cubic feet in volume and should measure up to 4 feet in height, 4 feet in depth, and 8 feet in width.

And here’s something I learned that might save you some confusion: when you have a full cord of wood cut into 16″ lengths, it’s often called a bush cord. This is because it’s essentially three stacks or rows. Each of these rows? That’s a rick. And if you ever hear someone talking about half a face cord, picture 64 cubic feet of wood, roughly the amount you’d fit neatly on a full-size pickup truck.

FAQ

Is it recommended to stack my firewood in ricks?

It is not recommended to stack firewood in ricks, but you can if you want to know how much you have. The best approach to pile them is in a circular position, which promotes even drying of the wood.

What is the origin of "ricks"?

The origin of “ricks” dates back to the construction of a haystack from a series of hayricks. Taken from the ancient English word “hrēac.” The definition of this word is “a mound or stack.” In its earliest form, it was applied to things with agricultural significance, such as stacked hay.

Over time, the word evolved into “ricks” and became commonly associated with stacked firewood.

Conclusion

After diving into this guide, figuring out the number of ricks in a cord of wood should be a breeze for you. You can now evaluate how much you need and the quality you are buying by comparing it to your stockpile. 

Just a word to the wise from someone who’s been there: mastering the art of splitting wood using a chainsaw or any power tool and separating it into ricks, takes a good bit of elbow grease and practice. 

 

(Confused with some technical terms? Read this glossary of woodworking terms to further improve your knowledge about this field.)

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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