Categories: General

by Tom


Categories: General

by Tom


Half-cord tree How much Firewood per tree

Old timers had rules of thumb, that is, experienced-based guides, about how many cords of firewood a tree would yield. One of those is that a tree that is 18 inches in diameter at the base and four times the height of a man will yield a half-cord of firewood.

Different varieties of trees, and even trees of the same species, that meet the 18 inch base diameter and roughly 24 feet tall criteria will actually yield somewhat different quantities of split firewood. Nevertheless, this How Much Firewood per Tree guideline has been a useful piece of folk-knowledge that has withstood the test of time.

Over the years, people, especially landowners who wanted to grow their own firewood or grow firewood for sale, wanted more precise ways to calculate the How Much Firewood Per Tree in Cords information. Thus the rule of thumb was replaced by the following table from which one can determine with some accuracy how much firewood per tree, as measured in cords, is available.

How Much Firewood per Tree Chart as Measured in Cords

To use the table, you will need two measurements per tree: height and diameter at chest-height, that is, 4.5 feet up from ground level. Note that this diameter measurement is different from the diameter at base of the tree that is used in the rule of thumb.

Cords of Firewood That Can be Cut from Standing Trees


The purple squares indicate less than a half cord of firewood.

The yellow squares indicate a yield of from half a cord up to just less than one cord.

The blue squares yield equal to or greater than one full cord, but less than 1.5 cords.

The green squares indicate a yield of from 1.5 cords up to just less than 2 cords of firewood.

The orange squares indicate 2 cords or more of firewood yield.

Two Ways to Measure the Height of a Tree

To use the How Much Firewood per Tree chart above, you have to have the height of the tree or at least a good estimate. To measure the height of a tree, we offer two techniques. One is the time-honored “guesstimate” that requires no special equipment. The other is the modern version, using your smartphone or tablet.

How to Measure the Height of a Tree using Folk Knowledge:

1.  Select a tree to measure for height.
2.  Close one eye. Point your opposite hand at the tree, keeping your elbow rigid. Now make a fist and point your thumb upward and your little finger toward the ground. Spread your thumb and little finger as far apart as possible.
3.  Line up your open eye with the top of your extended arm.
4.  Holding this arm and eye in this position, walk either toward the tree or away from the tree until the top of your thumb lines up with the top of the tree and the bottom of your little finger lines up with the base of the tree. Mark the spot you are standing.
5.  Measure from the spot you were standing to the base of the tree. (If you know the length of your stride, you can count your steps to the tree. Then just multiply the number of steps times the length of your stride to get the distance to the tree.)
6.  Divide the measured distance by 3 for a good estimate of the tree’s height.

Measure height of tree using folk-knowledge

Why it works: The span from your thumb to your little finger is 1/3 of the length of your arm.

How to Measure the Height of a Tree using a Smartphone:

We like the free EasyMeasure app.  It is available for Android or IOS. EasyMeasure uses the camera feature of your smartphone or tablet to measure height of a tree using the height of the camera from the ground and the tilt of the phone. Before using, you have to set the app so it knows the height from the ground at which you typically hold the smartphone when taking photos (generally, eye-level is your height minus 4 inches.) Read more about the EasyMeasure app.

Storing Those Cords of Firewood

If you store 24 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall, you will need the following space to store your cords of firewood:

Storing cords of firewood - how much firewood per tree


So, to determine how many trees of what size you will need, first know how much firewood you will need. Then you will want to know how to stack it correctly.


Resource for How Much Firewood per Tree As Measured in Cords Chart:

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  1. discounts August 7, 2017 at 4:07 AM - Reply

    Interesting.When I was in school,our head coach used to tell us some very handy tips like this one.measuring the tree form hands and many other tips.Also trees are very useful and have multiple advantages.Thanks for sharing it.

  2. William Driscoll September 3, 2020 at 9:22 PM - Reply

    Your cord measurements for storing are completely wrong. Cords are 8x4x4 feet. At 16 inch lengths, one cord would be 24 feet long at 4 feet high, and so on.

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 6:48 PM - Reply

      So right you are, William. A typo in the original post lead to this error. It used to (incorrectly!) read, “If you store 14 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…” Now it correctly reads, “If you store 24 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…”

  3. Mike September 7, 2020 at 11:42 PM - Reply

    Tom your math is off with regards to your wood stack cover calculation.
    At four feet tall that 16 foot rack would be 2/3 of a cord if cut to 16″. The 8 foot rack would a third of a cord and the 4 foot rack would be 1/6th. Again all based on 16″ wood length.

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 6:45 PM - Reply

      Mike, it was our typing (and proofreading) that were off. The post used to say, “If you store 14 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…” It has been corrected to now read, “If you store 24 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…”

  4. Randy January 8, 2021 at 7:01 PM - Reply

    Sorry all. Just found this site while looking for an answer to a few questions. RE: LAKE WATER DRIFT WOOD. I have access to a substantial amount of drift wood ,from wind blowdown coniferous trees, around a large lake. These are not small pieces as much of it it 12” dia. Typ 20’ plus length. It’s all beached on dry land covering approximately 100,000 soft of area. I would hazard a guess of 200-250 sticks. Would this be of any value as cut and split firewood?

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 6:56 PM - Reply

      Driftwood, even from a fresh water lake, and even if completely dried out, can contain possibly toxic chemicals (spilled oil, gasoline, antifreeze and such). Also, coniferous trees are often high in pine tar which can build up in your chimney. Certainly skip even well dried out driftwood from saltwater sources, as saltwater saturated driftwood can release harmful chemicals when burned.

  5. Chris english January 2, 2022 at 3:42 AM - Reply

    Your part at the end about how much space to store a cord is wrong. A full cord should be cut into 16 inch not 14 inch. And your storage rack would need to be 24 feet long. Not 16. When cut in 16 inch it takes 3 rows. With each row being 8feet long and 4 feet tall. A cord is 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide and 8 feet long.

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 6:42 PM - Reply

      Chris, you are so right! Thanks for catching our typo in the post. It has now been corrected and says, “If you store 24 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…” instead of, “If you store 14 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…”

  6. Bob barker February 17, 2022 at 11:57 PM - Reply

    Your measurements for a cord of wood are wrong. 128 cubic feet is the magic number.

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 6:41 PM - Reply

      Right you are, Bob! The typo in the original post has been corrected. It now says “If you store 24 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…” instead of, “If you store 14 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…”

  7. Eric Sellner November 7, 2022 at 11:51 AM - Reply

    I am from Minnesota growing up around firewood cutting my whole life. My comment is to your dimensions for a “cord”. A full cord should be 4x4x8 feet or 128 cubic feet. A “face cord” would 1/3rd of the full cord (16″x4’x8′) only 43 cubic feet. Please check your information posted in the May 24,2017 article.

    • Tom January 4, 2023 at 6:39 PM - Reply

      You are correct, Eric. There was a typo in the original post. It should have read, “If you store 24 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…” instead of, “If you store 14 inch long pieces of firewood on a log rack 4 feet tall…”

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