Chipman — In the wake of Measurement Canada’s recent recommendation that the cord be discontinued as a unit of measurement, private woodlot owner Richard Tozer has come forward to proclaim that wood merchants have been short-changing customers on their cords of firewood for generations.
Tozer said this scam is as old as the Acadian forest itself. It was taught to him by his father, who learned it from his father, and so forth. He believes the murky measurement was developed centuries ago for just this purpose, to confound customers and allow forest producers to pocket a little extra profit in a business known for its notoriously small margins.
“Why fix what’s not broken?” Tozer asked. “The system works. We have an understanding. The customer is confused and assumes they’re getting the short end of the stick, but pays anyway because the math seems too complex. We make a little extra, and no one gets hurt.”
Since the cord (4 feet high, by 4 feet wide, by 8 feet long) is largely misunderstood by a number-phobic public, Measurement Canada suggests the industry switch to a common merchantable metric measurement: the stacked cubic metre.
The federal measurement body believes the cord measurement has accumulated too much baggage, becoming a borderline illegal term. It is often misused by local woodsmen who stand in your yard talking about “face” cords versus “stove” cords in order to intentionally make you feel stupid.
“It’s cut, or be cut, as we say,” said Tozer. “Either I’m honest and I can’t make ends meet, or I pull a log out of the pile to help cover the hit I take every time I deliver logs to J.D.I., only to find out they’ve dropped what they’re paying again.”
To recap: 1 cord, or 128 cubic feet, is the same as 3.6 cubic metres of neatly stacked firewood, including wood, bark and airspace. Easy-peasy.
In order to assess Tozer’s claim of a symbiotic relationship between firewood buyer and seller, The Manatee asked some wood-burning city folk about their home-heating purchase habits. “Cord, cubic metre, whatever. I can’t be bothered figuring out what that all means,” said Fredericton resident James Curtain. “What am I supposed to do, tell the guy to wait while I get out my tape measure and calculator? Who’s got time for that?”