Buying Or Selling Firewood?

Are you buying or selling firewood? If so, read on!

Although we enjoy living forests and prefer to make things with wood, burning it is a recognized form of heating, especially here in Canada. It is seen as an alternative, and cheaper, source of fuel with extra savings coming from one’s own labour in the cutting and splitting.

If you do not cut your own firewood to heat your home you likely have to purchase it and you purchase it ‘by the cord’. Unfortunately, with a lot of things there are some unscrupulous dealers around that prey on those that are not aware of what a “cord of wood” actually is or know that it is indeed a legal measurement. Likewise, for those of you that cut firewood for sale it’s a good thing to know what is legal and what is not.

Here’s some info from Measurements Canada that sheds light on this:

How Is It Sold?
In Canada, most firewood is sold by the cord. A cord is a legal unit of measurement defined by the Weights and Measures Regulations as “128 cubic feet of stacked roundwood (whole or split, with or without bark) containing wood and airspace with all bolts of similar length piled in a regular manner with their longitudinal axes approximately parallel.”

How Is It Measured?
Follow these steps to ensure that you have received the correct quantity:

  • Stack the wood neatly in a line or row, ensuring that individual pieces are touching and parallel to each other with as few gaps as possible.
  • Measure the length, width and height of the stack in feet (for example, 4 feet x 8 feet x 4 feet).
  • Multiply these measurements to calculate the volume in cubic feet.

  • If your result is equal to 128 cubic feet, you have a cord.

    Which Units Of Measurement Are Legal?
    Some firewood dealers have been known to use various units of measurement to sell firewood. Some of these units of measurement are legal in Canada and some are not. Beware of terms that are not recognized as legal units of measurement, as they will often mean less than a cord.

    Common legal units of measurement used in the sale of firewood:

  • cord
  • fractions of a cord
  • cubic feet
  • stacked cubic metre
  • fractions of a stacked cubic metre

  • Beware of terms that are not recognized as legal units of measurement, as they will often mean less than a cord.

    Terms that are not recognized (illegal) for the sale of firewood in Canada include:

  • apartment cord
  • furnace cord
  • rack of wood
  • short cord
  • bush cord
  • pile of wood
  • tossed cord
  • single cord
  • face cord
  • processed cord
  • truckload of wood
  • stove cord

  • How To Protect Yourself
    Adhering to the following precautions when purchasing firewood will help ensure that you get what you pay for.

    When ordering firewood:

  • Ask for it to be delivered stacked in the truck so that you can measure it before it is unloaded.
  • If this is not possible, immediately following delivery:
    – stack the firewood;
    – measure the length, width and height of the stack; and
    – calculate the quantity that you received.

  • When receiving the firewood:

  • Be present at the time of delivery. Do not rely on a neighbour to accept delivery on your behalf.
  • Ask for a receipt and verify that it indicates:
    – the quantity and type of firewood purchased;
    – the seller’s name, address and telephone number; and
    – the price paid.

  • Write down the licence plate number of the delivery vehicle.

  • Before using any firewood:

  • Verify that the quantity received is the same as the quantity paid for. If there is a discrepancy, contact the seller before using any of the firewood.

  • Do You Think You’ve Been Shortchanged?
    If you received less firewood than you paid for, and after contacting the seller you are not completely satisfied, contact the nearest Measurement Canada office before using any of the firewood. We are listed in the blue pages of your telephone directory.


  • A cord is equal to 128 cubic feet of firewood.
  • Legal units of measurement for firewood are: a cord, fractions of a cord, cubic feet, a stacked cubic metre, and fractions of a stacked cubic metre.
  • Beware of units of measurement that are not recognized in Canada (illegal). You are likely to receive less firewood for your money.
  • Verify that the quantity of firewood received is the same as the quantity paid for.
  • If you have any questions or complaints regarding the quantity of firewood received, contact the nearest Measurement Canada office.

  • The above info was copied from the Measurements Canada website located here. There is also a downloadable brochure located here.

    Please note that the above is for Canada only. Please check with your local government for size and legal requirements in your area as it may differ. For example, in the United States, the cord is defined by statute in most states. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 130, section,[4] defines a cord and provides uniform regulations for the sale of fireplace and stove wood.

    We mentioned at the beginning that we prefer making things with wood instead of burning it. However, we also believe that there’s nothing like sitting by the fireplace getting toasty and whittling. Not only does this bring us closer to the nature of wood but also closer to the flame… making it a lot easier to hide those pieces that just don’t make it. 😉

    Back to the shop…

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