How to calculate cords of wood in a tree

Firewood Calculator - How Much Firewood Is In A Tree?


Calculate How Much Firewood Is in A Tree?

Before you start cutting down trees, it would be nice to know how much firewood you would get. It’s surprising how little firewood can be harvested from seemingly large trees, especially if you are looking at a tree in full leaf during the summer. Without its leaf canopy, all that remains is typically a main trunk and a few useable branches (most branches are too small for firewood but may be used for kindling used to start fires in the fireplace).

Small trees produce the least firewood. A 5-inch round (max diameter without splitting) 50-foot-tall tree would produce just 32 pcs of firewood and a couple of wheelbarrows of kindling (cut branches in 15-inch lengths). A large tree however with a trunk diameter of 24 inches and a height of 120 feet would produce at least 600 pcs; a half bush cord or 3 face cords of firewood, so tree size before you cut is an important consideration before you fire up the chainsaw.

Firewood Calculator

Firewood Calculator

Bush Cords And Face Cords

Firewood is sold by a truckload as a bush cord, full cord, half cord or face cord (sometimes called a rack). You can also find pre-packaged carry bundles of plastic wrapped firewood at supermarkets, convivence stores and gas stations in season, which are exorbitantly priced when you consider how much would you are actually getting. It takes approximately 72 of these $3 bundles to make up a face cord of firewood, which you can buy for about $50 delivered – much better than paying $216.

A full bush cord averages 8 feet long x 8 feet wide x 4 feet tall and contains approximately 1,200 pcs of split firewood. Unsplit or rounds average between 3 and 5 inches and can be included in the stack. A cord (half a bush cord) is 8 feet long x 4 feet wide x 4 feet tall and contains about 600 pcs of firewood. A face cord measured 15 inches wide (the length of each individual piece of firewood) x 8 feet long and 4 feet tall comprising 200 pcs of firewood. A store-bought bundle has between 4 and 7 pcs of firewood and is the most expensive.

Big Split Firewood

Big split firewood is used for curing and smoking meat. Wood pieces range from 20 to 40 inches long depending on whether they burn in a pit or are cradled inside a cooker. The longest of big split firewood is used to make maple syrup. Hickory, maple and any fruitwood are best for curing meat. Alder, cedar and big leaf maple are perfect for those living out west on or near the coast.

Hardwoods vs Softwoods

Hardwoods burn hotter and longer than softwoods. This is due to the tighter grain and higher wood density of a hardwood. How much heat a particular type of tree throws can be determined by a British Thermal Unit Chart (BTU), which ranks each high to low. One of the highest-ranking hardwoods, Apple, can last in the fireplace for 24 hours or more, even longer in an efficient wood burner like a Quebec heater.

Softwood will burn on average three times as fast as hardwood. It also expels more soot that coats chimney and flue linings with creosote, which would require frequent sweeping and cleaning. Softwood also throws quite a bit of spark so screening an open fireplace is recommended.

A nice touch over the holidays is to throw a few pinecones on the fire – they tend to burn colorfully and create a nice festive spirit.

Wood Splitter

For those that need to handle medium to large volumes of log splitting, several mechanical wood splitters are available including electrical and gas powered wood splitters.

Electrical log splitters are ideal for home use and quite capable of providing a face cord or two of firewood. An electrical motor is typically mounted under a feeder rail, which holds the log in place for the hydraulic plunger that splits the log into firewood. They are lightweight compared to their gas cousins and many have wheels so they can easily be moved around the yard.

Gas powered log splitters are designed to split large volumes of logs. A gas powered wood splitter is typically outfitted with a rotary ball assembly so it can be towed by an ATV or truck on or off the road. Operators have the option of selecting from a wide range of ram tonnage to split logs. Ram tonnage, or pressure needed to effectively split wood) depends on the species of tree log. To split a straight grained ash log for example, requires much less force (about 20 ton ram force) than is required to split an elm log (about 80 pounds of ram force).

Another Way To Use That Tree You Don’t Cut For Firewood

There’s another way to use living trees that you don’t cut up for firewood; donate the value of that tree. Tree Plantation has created an Environmental Tree Credit program that uses trees wherever they grow on private land to combat climate change and help us plant more trees. We have partnered with, a 501c3 nonprofit, that will issue you a tax-deductible donation for your tree. You can donate $10, $20 or $30 or if you have more than 1 tree growing on an acre or more you can use the donation calculator below to increase your tax credit by donating a little more.

Donation Calculator

Put Your Trees To Work

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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.


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.

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


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:

Last updated by Tom at .

About Tom

Tom has been writing for the blog since 2011 and has loved sitting in front of the fireplace since he was an itty-bitty boy.

How to cut down a tree: a step by step process | Articles

June 03, 2019

Among arborists, tree removal is considered a specialty. The dismantling technique requires special experience, in-depth knowledge, the ability to work in a team of two people and the use of the right equipment. To better understand this profession, colleagues from Petzl went to a job site in the south of France.

There they met Laurent Pierron, an arborist, who showed the process step by step.

Attention! This article is not intended to be a comprehensive tree removal guide. It only describes in general terms the process of dismantling trees and is not a training material.

When should a tree be cut in pieces?

Sometimes it is not possible to simply cut down a tree because of the location in which it is located. For example, in a city where a tree fall poses too much risk. This also applies to our current task, on the territory of the city of Valence (France). The only solution is to carefully disassemble the tree, cutting it into pieces from top to bottom.

Job site preparation

Any job site where tree work is planned (whether pruning or any other type of work) has a work plan in advance. This includes risk assessment, tree condition assessment, understanding environmental constraints, determining how to handle waste, preparing a list of equipment, determining the number of workers required, preparing signage for the security perimeter.

Choosing the right weather window

Tree work requires ideal weather conditions. A tree is a living thing that moves, and an arborist climbing a tree must work in a moving environment. Strong winds or rain can turn any job into a daunting task. If, for example, a thunderstorm warning comes in, the job site is immediately closed.

The main steps in the process of dismantling a tree

  • Access to the top of the tree in the traditional way: passing the cord, setting the rope, then climbing.
  • Set up a station at the top of a tree. The arborist, at his workstation, sets up a system of pulleys to control the speed and direction of the descent of the tree sections all the way to the ground. At this stage, the person at the base of the tree also prepares the necessary equipment: prepares traction and guiding ropes, a chainsaw, etc.
  • All tree branches are cut from the base to the top. Once the necessary systems are in place on the tree and on the ground, work can begin to dismantle the tree. The lower branches are always cut first. Then the arborist moves higher to the next branches. This method allows all branches to reach the ground without any obstruction.
  • The trunk can be sawn in pieces. Once all the branches are cut, the trunk is sawn in parts, starting from the top. The length of each part is calculated taking into account the diameter and weight.

Worker safety

  • The arborist uses a work positioning system with a heavy-duty adjustable lanyard. The Petzl MICROFLIP, designed for tree work, consists of a rope with a metal core and a clamp. Use an additional choke to keep the sling snug against the tree trunk. Such a system will stop the fall in the event of a fall.
  • A second system is installed below the positioning lanyard using a ZIGZAG mechanical prusik. This gear serves both as a backup belay system and as a tree descent line.
  • Additional stability is provided by special spikes (gaffs). Please note that spikes are only used when removing trees.

Carrying a chainsaw

A chainsaw often weighs more than 8 kg. This must be taken into account when assessing physical activity when dismantling a tree. It is much more comfortable when the load is partially distributed on the shoulders, and not just on the belt. The shoulder straps for the SEQUOIA SRT do an excellent job of redistributing the load.

Pulley system: the most dangerous moment

Power pulleys must be used for the controlled lowering of tree trunk parts. The rope is attached to the center of the part of the trunk that needs to be lowered. This rope passes through a roller attached to an anchor point in a tree or troll. At the base of the tree, a special descender (Portawrap) is installed, with which the descent of parts of the tree is controlled. An important part of the preparation is determining the number of turns to wrap around the device. This is the most difficult stage. To determine the required number of turns, depending on the size of the descent section, you need a lot of experience in such work. Part of the trunk must be stopped before it hits the ground, but not too abruptly so that the tug does not throw the arborist out of the tree. When carrying out these works, the arborist and his assistant on the ground must coordinate their actions well. A person who works with a descender below cannot always see what is happening above and cannot estimate the loads himself. Therefore, accurate provision of information from above is important. Given the constant noise from chainsaws and shredders, it's easier to use walkie-talkies than to yell from treetop to the ground.

5 tips for using wood screws

Wood screws produced today by fastener manufacturers are hardware specially designed to work with wood materials of various densities. Their special design ensures easy screwing and secure fixation. However, the use of such self-tapping screws requires the master to know some of the nuances that ensure high quality work and save time and effort.

Tip 1 Pilot holes

Wood screws are designed to be driven directly into the material without prior preparation. Most often, this fastener is used in this way, using only a screwdriver or a screwdriver when performing work. However, there are times when the use of self-tapping screws puts the workpiece at risk. When fastening thin wooden parts or elements made of strong but brittle woods, there is always a risk of splitting the material. To avoid damage to the product, before screwing in the self-tapping screw, it is necessary to prepare a pilot hole. This work is carried out using a drill and a drill for wood, the diameter of which is selected depending on the characteristics of the material. If the screw will be screwed into a piece of soft rock, the diameter of the drill should be 2 times smaller than the diameter of the self-tapping screw. When working with oak and tree species similar in density, a drill is used that fully corresponds to the size of the fastener.

Tip 2. Choosing the right length

When choosing self-tapping screws by length, many are guided by the opinion that the longer the hardware, the more reliable the fastening will be. In the event that this is possible, they even use screws that pass through the parts to be joined. This approach is wrong - materials scientists know that maximum fixation strength is achieved only if the screw is 5-6 mm shorter than the total thickness of the parts to be joined.

Tip 3: How to choose the screw diameter

When deciding on the diameter of a woodworking screw, many make the same mistake. It lies in the fact that to connect individual parts they try to use fasteners with the largest possible thickness. It is believed that a screw with a large diameter makes the connection as reliable as possible. This is not entirely true - a long and thin self-tapping screw will do the job much more efficiently than a thick and short one. In addition, it is more convenient to work with thin products - the chance of splitting the workpiece in this case is significantly reduced.

Tip 4. Wax the self-tapping screws

It is not easy to screw a self-tapping screw into some types of wood, especially if the work is done manually. To make your job easier, lubricate the screws with beeswax or regular laundry soap. These substances, when twisted, will work as a lubricant, greatly facilitating the passage of the hardware into the thickness of the material.

Tip 5. Unscrew the old screw

All the advice we provided related to screwing in self-tapping screws. But it happens that the screw needs to be removed from the material to replace or completely disassemble the structure. Unlike metal and plastic products, wood can seriously change its original properties over time, which sometimes complicates dismantling. You also need to remember that wooden structures are often used outdoors, where they and, accordingly, their screw connections, are affected by moisture and other adverse factors. Corrosion and various deformations can greatly complicate the removal of screws using conventional methods, but there are techniques that help overcome even the most serious dismantling difficulties.

  • Heat up and twist

As we have already said, wood is a material that is quite vulnerable to external influences, and this feature can be used for your own purposes. To unscrew a stubborn self-tapping screw from a wooden part, you can use a regular household hair dryer and a screwdriver. The section of the material where the screw is located is heated with a stream of air, and then, until the wood has cooled down, an attempt is made to remove the fastener. This method is based on the characteristics of natural material to expand when heated and it is quite effective.

  • Use extractor

In particularly difficult cases, when the screw cannot be removed even after heating, a device such as an extractor is used. This device is a special equipment for an electric drill and is sold as a set of several nozzles of different diameters. When using this tool, it is important to correctly determine the diameter of the problematic hardware and choose a tool that is suitable for its extraction. Before removing the screw, a pilot hole is drilled in its head, into which an extractor of a suitable diameter is inserted. After that, turning on the drill or screwdriver, the fasteners are carefully unscrewed.
We recommend how to choose an extractor.

  • Increasing torque

If the screw slots are not damaged, and the hardware still cannot be removed, it is worth trying to increase the torque when unscrewing. There are several ways to do this, but these two are the most effective:

  1. A screwdriver or a bit from a screwdriver is installed in the slots of the screw, and then the tool is clamped with pliers, pliers or a gas wrench and they try to turn it.
  2. Take a small flat screwdriver and rest its tip in the slot, closer to the edge of the cap. After that, precise and strong blows are applied to the handle of the tool with a hammer in order to “break” the screw from its place. If this succeeds, it will not be difficult to unscrew the fastener with a conventional screwdriver.

Both of these methods have a serious disadvantage - when using them, it is easy to damage the screw head and deform the slots.

Learn more