Time to cut one cord of wood

48rob Posted By 48rob, Apr 7, 2011 at 11:51 PM

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  1. 48rob

    Feeling the Heat

    Oct 11, 2010
    General question;

    How long does it take the average person to cut/buck one cord of wood?

    It seems obvious to me, after cutting several cords (5) that I'm really slow.
    The reason, I believe, is because the trees I'm turning into rounds are very small, most 12" and less.
    (when the branches get to less than 3" I stop cutting)

    If I had trees 24"-36" across, I could turn out a cord fairly fast.

    In the last two days, I spent 2 hours per day and cut about a half cord each day
    (total of 4 man hours in 2 days for 1 cord)

    So how does it work for you guys/gals who scrounge, cut in your woodlot, whatever?

  2. pen

    There are some who call me...mod.
    Staff Member

    Aug 2, 2007
    N.E. Penna
    There are many factors involved. From 5 till 8 tonight I cut 1/2 cord of wood and split a full cord. That includes a 15 minute drive and I didn't have to mess with tops much.

    Now the caveats:

    1. It was locust that split w/out too much difficulty.
    2. My stove can take decent size splits so I don't have to keep re-standing up pieces of wood to get them smaller and smaller.
    3. I made a big mound and didn't stack them.

    Now, I've had it take me the same amount of time to simply split a 1/2 cord of wood when it's something like a nasty twisted beech where I have to use a 10lb sledge and wedges (notice that's plural) the entire time.

    Just plain lots of factors involved.

    To me, it's not a race. I'm always about 1.5 to 2 years ahead on my wood so I'm not in a huge rush to get things drying to be safe for winter.

    I also learned a long time ago that the tortoise really does win many times. If you get hurt that is going to slow things down far more than taking your time and actually enjoying what you are working at. The quote in my signature line is a favorite of mine just for that reason. I consider splitting wood therapeutic.

  3. thewoodlands

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 25, 2009
    This is a guess but for the years 2009 & 2010 a good 14 cord, thats working in the winter until the first week of February.

  4. lukem

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 12, 2010
    I can usually cut, split,and stack a half cord in 2 hours...give or tkae 15 minutes. But I can;t maintain that pace all day...
  5. smokinj

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 11, 2008
    Anderson, Indiana
    MMAUL or I (one cutter) can buck up 4-7 cords in hour hours. Thats a 460 and 2-361's Ready to go! Now thats not moving it. This will keep 3 guys on there toes.
  6. Lumber-Jack

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 29, 2008
    Beautiful British Columbia
    Going by my standard routine getting my firewood: to fall and limb the trees and buck up one cord takes me on average 2-3 hours at a relaxed pace (Including snack break). That's lodgepole pine anywhere from 12"-20" in diameter. Add in driving and loading and unloading time and your up to about 5-6 hours.
    Usually do that 4-5 times a year.
    Couldn't tell you how long it would take to split since I rarely do it all by myself or all at once, and never do it on the same day.
    Yep, smaller stuff is gona take longer to cut up, but you'll save some time on the splitting.
  7. remkel

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 21, 2010
    Southwest NH
    We usually get a crew together to do my father's wood- usually two saws going, one person on the atv pulling the logs to a staging area, and two people on the 4 way splitter. We can do 5 cord on a good morning. We do not mess with the tops very much- anything less than 3-4" is left to play with later.
  8. remkel

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 21, 2010
    Southwest NH
    Now, If I am working by myself, it is usually a slower pace. i can drop, top and buck up 1/2 to 1 cord in a morning.
  9. mbcijim


    Mar 10, 2008
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    I've seen some incredible times on here. I had a log load delivered in November.

    I cut it into rounds at the rate of 1 cord per 3 hours.
    I split it (not stacked) at a rate of 1 cord per 3-4 hours, that's by hand, no splitter.

    That isn't cutting down the trees or anything like that. I did have some sh*tty wood that didn't split nice.
  10. lobsta1


    Sep 6, 2007
    Eastern Ma.
    Well, I am definitely much slower than every one else here. Of course the bulk of the wood dropped off for me is 3 > 4' diameter. Or bigger! The city workers take the prime stuff that they want & drop off the rest for me. These are city trees & there are a lot of crotches also. I also have a small NC13 stove so I cut & split probably a lot smaller than most of you. I was splitting a bunch of ash today & it was incredible how many old cut off branches were totally embedded inside the trunk with absolutely no outward sign. Some of these cut off interior stubs were up to 8" diameter. The splitter was definitely working today.
  11. nate379


    Hard to say cause the wood size all depends. Took me about a week of working 5-6hrs a day to clear a section out of my yard, about 1/4 acre. I got about 3 cords out of that. Biggest stuff was maybe 10" across and some was 20ft tall "trees" that were maybe 4" at the base.

    My brother cuts wood to help his wife's uncle and the 2 of them will cut 9-10 cords on a Saturday without much trouble. Dozer to skid the logs and Stihl 440 and 660 saws.
  12. CountryBoy19

    Minister of Fire

    Jul 29, 2010
    Southern IN
    I'm slow because most of what I can score within a couple miles of home is all tree tops left from logging. It's harder to cut tops, you have to calculate how each limb is going to fall when you cut it. It's like falling a bunch of little trees in a way. Bar pinches happen occasionally etc and those things slow you down too.

    I've cut a full cord in less than 2 hours before, but I've also had a full cord take me 6 hours before. I would say around 3-4 hours is my average time to buck a full cord, load it in the truck, and haul it home.
  13. woodchip

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 6, 2010
    Broadstone England
    I have never cut or split anything like a cord in one go. I usually just bring back a few branches at a time and cut, split, and stack them.

    Yesterday I carried home a couple of cubic feet of wood, cut and split in less than 20 minutes, but I know some out there with big fireboxes who would call that a decent sized split!!!!!!!!!

    I enjoy what I'm doing, and like to spend my time out there. Now it's pleasantly mild outside during the daytime, I enjoy strolling along trails collecting small branches.
  14. quads

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 19, 2005
    Central Sands, Wisconsin
    On average, most of the dead oak trees I cut are 12" diameter and produce about 1/6th of a cord of firewood. Each tree takes approximately 10 minutes to cut down and cut up into rounds. So, one hour is what it takes me to cut up a half dozen trees that size.

    But that's not the way I do it. I cut, split, haul, and stack one tree at a time, then move on to the next. About 45 minutes+ per tree/sixth of a cord.
  15. zzr7ky

    Minister of Fire

    Jun 12, 2006
    Hi -

    I find that the trees make a big difference.

    Trees in a yard, field, fencerow are bushy, lots of slash, Lots of decisions. Lots of small stuff to load. Very slow. 3 or more hours per cord. It's gotten to where I'm passing on these for now.

    Trees in a woods. One tree drops and leaves a place to fell another into. Long, straight, largely branch free trunks. A big saw will really make your day here. 1 - 1 1/2 hours per cord here.

  16. Thistle

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 16, 2010
    Central IA
    For me it can vary quite a bit - 3 to 6hrs per cord.I do about 95% of the work myself now.If the stuff is deadfall,that goes quicker,if its standing & needs dropped, then skidded to flat areas next to wood shed -especially on the steep hills at parent's acreage - that takes a lot longer.If its a gentle slope that I can back up to within 10 ft & toss the chunks in,that really speeds up production.Also size of trees or logs makes a big difference too of course.

    When dropping any trees,I only do 1 at a time,buck it,split it if it needs to be lighter/ easier to carry & cleanup as I go before dropping next one.I try not to leave any bucked pieces scattered on the ground because I dont know when I'll get back to the woods next.
  17. Shari

    Minister of Fire

    Oct 31, 2008
    Way too many variables for this scrounger to give any specific amount of time or quantity.


    1. I don't have to cut a lot of wood; some yes, most no.

    2. I live on a residential lot so I don't pile splits; I stack everything I split with the hydraulic splitter in a day during that same day.

    3. Size of rounds makes a big difference in accumulating a cord faster; I deal with a lot of 'large' rounds.

    4. Your request is for a 'day of work'; Hey! We are retired! Sometimes our 'day' is only 2 hours (depends how our body joints are working that day!). :)

    5. We don't worry about 'how much' we get done in a day we only count the 'progress' we made to that day. It's not a race around here.

    Cutting/splitting/stacking wood is kind of like raising children: Each day counts a little to the finished product. :)
  18. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck
    Minister of Fire

    Feb 26, 2009
    Central PA
    I agree it varies a lot. Some of the factors are:

    - Size and shape of the tree. Straight trunks the right size for the saw go a lot faster than small trees, branches, or really big trees
    - length of the logs. when I cut the last couple of rounds from a log it always takes extra time to secure the wood. Therefore cutting rounds from long logs is more efficient than cutting rounds from short logs. This assumes i don't have to move the logs, in which case long ones are harder.
    - felling versus only bucking. Felling takes me a long time.
    - Location and position of the trees. Cutting a load of logs that are firmly stacked off the ground on the level, dry lawn next to my wood pile goes a lot faster than wood laying on the ground on a hill in the woods
    - Hauling or moving the wood. Maybe the original question assumed moving the wood isn't included, but I always seem to have to move the wood, which takes longer than cutting
    - Stacking or tossing into a pile. I alternate cutting and stacking, which slows me down a lot.
    - Hassles with equipment. Sharpening chains, adding gas and oil, finding my lost file, trailer hitch is jammed, flat tire, etc. I can't separate this crap from the actual cutting, so I have no idea how long cutting would take if the operation went smoothly.
    - It always gets dark before I finish.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage
    Minister of Fire

    Feb 14, 2007
    Nice post Mike.

    It definitely depends upon the size of the tree, they type of wood, tree in open vs. tree in woods or even tree on edge of woods vs. center of woods.

    One good example is that pin oak I just cut up. I cut an ash of that size in probably half the amount of time but the ash did not have much for limbs and was easy cutting. No so on a pin oak! Lots and lots of trimming.

    Then there is the wood factor. Your saw will go through popple a lot faster than it will an oak.

    Two other big factors are the saw and the worker. It takes me probably 4 times longer to do the job now vs how long it took me 30 years ago. It probably takes me six times longer than it does other guys on this forum.
  20. billb3

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 14, 2007
    SE Mass
    A cord in an afternoon sounds pretty good to me.

    I have a young woodlot that I'm slowly "weeding" and I'll spend a lot of frustrating time just trying to get a tree on the ground, they're growing that close together.
    I've spent an afternoon and only gotten a 1/5 of a cord.

    Small stuff, much only needs to be split in half at most.
  21. PapaDave

    Minister of Fire

    Feb 23, 2008
    Northern MI - in the mitten
    Mostly log loads here, so that means no limbing or trudging through the woods (although I recently did 3 Spruce in the woods). I've been out the last few days getting 12-13 wood finished, and I'm only able to buck up about 2/3 cord/day. That takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
    I figure it takes me about 2.5-3 hours to buck, split, stack a cord. I don't usually do that much in a day.
    After bucking, the wood gets split and thrown into the trailer instead of on the ground. That eliminates a step (a backbreaking step, at that). The trailer holds 1/3 cord, which is then taken to my stacking area.
    Sometimes, I'll buck a 1/3, then split and stack. Sometimes buck and split only, then come back and stack that one, then buck up another 1/3. Varies quite a bit.
    Seems like I get about 1/3 cord per tank of fuel/oil in about 95-98% oak.
    Pretty long winded post to tell you it takes me almost 3 hours to buck a cord. :cheese:
  22. muncybob

    Minister of Fire

    Apr 8, 2008
    Near Williamsport, PA
    I don't set any speed records that's for sure! Slow & steady...lots of breaks to enjoy the surroundings since I'm normally in the woods somewhere. I guess I cut & buck around 3/4 cord in about 2 to 3 hours on average...this includes getting the rounds out of the woods and into the truck. I think my truck holds about 3/4 cord with the side rails installed and the rounds well stacked.
    Now, splitting and stacking by myself is much more time consuming for me.....but at least I get to enjoy an enhanced beverage or two when doing this.
  23. orionrogue

    New Member

    Dec 20, 2010
    Plymouth County, MA
    I have no idea, but with where I'm pulling from right now, its a snail's pace (southern MA wetland). Unless it hasn't rained for weeks I feel like I'm in an episode of "Swamp Loggers", without all the heavy equipment to actually make it easy.

    If I had wood delivered by the truckload as whole logs, I could probably b/s/s a cord in an afternoon. With that said, I think I'd rather buck it all in a day, then split and stack as I go. I'll let you know how it goes if I do this this year.
  24. 48rob

    Feeling the Heat

    Oct 11, 2010
    Thanks for all the responses!

    I'm not in a race, or trying to set any records.
    I was just talking out loud trying to better understand the reality of making a profit, or just breaking even selling firewood.

    The further I get into this, the easier it becomes to understand why so many firewood sellers sell green wood, cut split and delivered the same day.
    There is so little money to be made, it seems that many decide they must shave costs, and in that business, labor is the easiest thing to reduce.

    While cutting, splitting, transporting and stacking, and then drying for a year or more is the best way to deliver a product I can be proud of, it sure drains the profit right out of the bowl.

    Larger trees to start with, the ability to cut split and deliver green wood all in the sale day, and large scale operations in general seem to be the answer.

    Granted, I'm still learning, but with 6 cords put up in racks drying, I have enough value in the wood, if sold at the local going rate of $225 a cord to pay the wages it took to get to this point and maybe just a little extra.
    Delivery, when the wood is dry, is going to put me even or just slightly in the hole.
    Breaking even in the long run is the goal, this project/experiment is intended to help pay wages for a man during the slow time of winter.
    Making a profit would be nice, but just covering wages would be great.
    The two areas I see for improvement are hiring much cheaper labor, say $10 an hour instead of $15, though that only saves a hundred or so dollars, and the other is selling it green, to save the labor required to stack the wood, but then the selling price would be lower too...

  25. woodsmaster

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 25, 2010
    N.W. Ohio
    I'll guess about 8 to 10 hr. to cut, load, unload, split, and stack a full cord. At $120 a cord around here I won't be selling any firewood. It would be like getting paid $12/hr for time
    and giving the wood away. I enjoy doing it to an extent so I'll keep cutting my own.
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