Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from joanna, a parent:

How many yards are in a cord?

We have two responses for you


I assume you are using the word "yards" in the way builders do, that is a "yard" means a cubic yard.

A cord is 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet. If you want the volume in cubic yards I would first convert the measurements from feet to yards. There are 3 feet in a yard so a cord is 8/3 yards by 4/3 yards by 4/3 yards. Thus the volume is

8/3 × 4/3 × 4/3 = 128/27 = 4.74 cubic yards.




A cord (of firewood, pulpwood, etc)is a measure of volume (4ft x 4ft x 8ft = 128 ft^3 , and, as I learned it, "stacked loose enough a squirrel can run through and tight enough the cat can't follow it". This by the way is in Nova Scotia, where the local squirrels are small; if the larger squirrels found (eg) in Ontario can run through your woodpile I would say the seller owes you a refund.

A yard is a measure of length, but builders and landscapers at least also say "yard" for "cubic yard", that is 3ft x 3ft x 3ft = 27ft^3.

So the answer is 4 20/27, or almost exactly 4 3/4 cubic yards in a cord. For practical purposes 5 is probably close enough; accepted variation in gap size means that plus or minus 10% is probably the highest accuracy that makes sense here. 4 3/4 is good enough for any purpose.


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