Fire is used for heating, cooking, lighting, and more. It is important you know the basic terminology. Keep in mind, characters who have never dealt with fire before might not know the terms or what they mean. This could be a learning experience for your character too.

11) Making the end / Stacking the end
Make the end refers to a way to stack wood so that other firewood can be stored between two ends. When you make the end, you take two or three pieces of wood that are roughly the same size and place them together, facing the same way. Then you take two or three more roughly equal sizes and place them crossways on top of the ones you just laid down. The next layer of wood will be opposite, and then the next opposite of it until you have the desired height you wish to stack your wood.

This is not hard to do, but it will likely need to be redone a few times when learning how to do this. It is easy to make it crooked about halfway through, as one log might be slightly bigger than the last. The more this happens, the worse it will lean as the stack gets higher.

Once two stacks have been made, you can stack the wood between these two ends to store the wood. As wood is used in the fire, it will be removed in the opposite order it was placed on.

12) Rick of wood

A rick of wood describes a single stack of firewood and its size. A rick of wood is eight feet long and four feet height. In the area of the world I live, wood is sold by the rick. The amount of wood used in the winter is also measured by how many ricks are used to warm the home.

I have cut wood by hand and with a chainsaw. I have learned that it could take four days for me to cut a full rick of wood with only hand saws. However, cutting up a rick of wood with a chainsaw only takes a single day. People who are stronger and more experienced than me can cut double the amount I can, while people who have never done this before will barely make it 20 minutes at a time using hand saws and can take double the amount of time with a chainsaw. How much a person can do will depend on their strength, experience, and working conditions. It takes longer when it is hot outside or when it gets colder.

Another thing is that people need to move the wood from the place they cut it to their home, or wherever they are selling it, or to the person they sold it to. Most full-sized pickup trucks can hold about two ricks in the pickup bed. I have seen people load three or four ricks on. This risks the back window if the wood shifts, and the load is hard on the truck’s tires. I have seen tires pop like this.

13) Cord of wood

A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet, or eight feet long, four feet tall, and four feet wide. Most firewood is cut roughly two feet long, so a cord is basically two ricks of wood stacked together. A cord should fit into the bed of a full-size pickup.

According to Google, this measurement is used in the United States and Canada. I’ll be honest; I only know about it from my Canadian friends.

14) Tight pack

A tight pack refers to how much space is found between firewood when stacked. Tight packing is affectionately referred to as wood tetris in these parts. This means someone has carefully stacked each piece of wood to be as close to the next piece as possible, filling in small spaces with smaller logs and using the split pieces to fill in some smaller cracks or level out the larger logs. A tight-packed rick can hold up to 1/4 more of a rick than a loose-packed rick. Everyone who buys firewood hopes to find a rick of tight-packed wood.

15) Loose pack

Loose pack means that when a person stacks the wood, they are not carefully filling the cracks. This is something people who sell wood sometimes use to rip off people buying wood. It can be a serious contention between people buying and selling if they know what to look for. Most city dwellers do not know what to look for and are easy targets for those wanting to rip off customers. Many times I have seen people who buy or sell wood walk up in the middle of one of these sales and tell the customer they are getting ripped off. Yes, I have seen this come to physical fistfights before, because most people can’t stomach watching others get ripped off.

That said, no one expects a newbie to know as they are learning, and no one expects kids to get it right off the bat, either. If they are new at this, people will tell them they could fit more wood in there, then ask if they would like to see how. And who doesn’t want to know how to do it better?

What could possibly go wrong?

Likely to go wrong: Your character gets tricked into buying a loose-packed rick or cord of wood.

Likely to go wrong: Your character doesn’t know how much a rick or a cord is, and the person selling it does not give them the full amount. This happens more than people realize.

Likely to go wrong: When stacking the end, your character makes it lopsided, and it either falls, or they have to redo the end to level it out. This is very common, and even experienced people might have to redo a layer or two to fix a mistake.

Possible to go wrong: Your character is hauling a cord of wood in the back of their pickup truck, and they stop too fast or turn too sharply, and the wood breaks their back glass. This happens enough that everyone worries about it and takes as many precautions as possible.

Possible to go wrong: If your character is new to tight-packing wood, they might take a very long time trying to get it just right. Some people learn about it and act like the police will be coming by to check. Honestly, I never met a cop who cared unless it was his or her own wood.

Possible to go wrong: Your character is learning to use, or is new at using a chainsaw, and hurts themself with it. This is a real danger, and while not super common, it does happen more often than people think.

Unlikely to go wrong: The end stack falls over, and the wood spills everywhere. If it was stacked wrong, this is a possibility. If something with some strength pushed it over, the same thing could happen.

Improbable but technically still in the realm of possibilities: Your character packs the pickup truck full of so many ricks, or cords, that the weight of the wood pops the tires. While I have seen this happen, most people will not heap their trucks that high. I have also seen trucks drive down miles of dirt road when the tires looked flat under the weight and did not pop. That is why I place this in the improbable category. Most people worry about breaking something long before it gets to the point of popping.

Helpful links to learn more:

How to stack wood:

My personal favorite tutorial for stacking wood: