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Board Feet Calculator

ChuckN's picture

Hey, "All".


 


Earlier this year FWW had a printable chart "thingy" one could use to figure out how much wood he/she was going to need for a particular project.


Does anyone know what the heck I'm talking about and where I can find a link to this?


Chuck

 

 

ChuckN and I have nothing of value to add to this discussion.

pickdesign's picture

(post #84503, reply #1 of 28)

no, but all you really need is a calculator and do this


thickness * width * lenght /12= board feet


in other words a 2x4x12' is 8 board feet


Steve

mowog77's picture

(post #84503, reply #2 of 28)

just to put a finer point on what has already been said...


make sure that you use like parameters, meaning if you add all of your dimesnions and divide by 12...everything must be calculated in feet.


I use inches and divide by 144.


So a 2X4X12 is 1.5" * 3.5" * 144=756/144 = 5.25 feet


Edited 12/20/2006 9:35 am ET by mowog77

citrouille's picture

(post #84503, reply #5 of 28)

If you divide by 12 only the length should be in feet:
Thickness in inches x width in inches x length in feet divided by 12 = board feet.

C.

DavidCockey's picture

(post #84503, reply #6 of 28)

Just remember that lumber is priced based on rough dimensions, not the finished size. So 1" lumber which has been planed to 3/4" thick is priced as if it was 1" thick.


A cut list may show the finished sizes needed, not the rough size to start with.

ChuckN's picture

(post #84503, reply #8 of 28)

If you read the corresponding article that goes with the...list, chart or whatever you want to call it you'll see that it really is a handy thing to have.  There's no "cut and dried" rules on how to use it so you can adapt it to your own purposes really well.  It allows for both rough and finished sizes of each piece in any project and gives you a very good idea of how much wood you need BEFORE you go to the lumber store.

I spent a fortune on deodorant until I finally realized that people didn't like me anyway.

 

 

ChuckN and I have nothing of value to add to this discussion.

pickdesign's picture

(post #84503, reply #9 of 28)

I am sorry but you are mistaken, as the others have mentioned.  Lumber volume, as expressed in board feet is calculated in "Nominal" dimensions, ie even though a 2x4 is a "Net" 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 in actual dimensions, the industry still uses 2x4 for the calculation.  Hope this helps.


Steve

mowog77's picture

(post #84503, reply #10 of 28)

Don't be sorry, but you are mistaken and if others agreed with you, I'm sorry but they are wrong as well...


This was a simple question and has a simple answer and as usual it would probably be easier and less frustrating for the person asking the question to simply Google it than read through a debate here.


I've been to many lumber yards and all measure wood the same way.


None sell 2X4s and none round up a 1/2", I wouldn't buy 8/4 that measures 1.5".


Just because the lumberyard says it is 8/4, it may not be -- I ensure that their measurements match mine before I hand over the cash.


If a piece of wood measure 7" at the widest and tapers to 5"...some split the difference, some charge at the widest point of the board -- everything is negotiable.


4/4 = 1"
5/4 = 1.25"
6/4 = 1.5" and so on, and so forth.


If I have a board in my hands that measures 8 feet long, it is 96".
If the same board is 6" wide and 4/4 (1" thick) I can calculate board feet thusly:


1" * 6" * 96" = 576"/144 = 4 bd/ft


This works every day of the week. To prove it to yourself, call several sawmills/lumberyards and ask them to calculate the same piece of wood and record the results.

The title of this thread is "Board Feet Calculator" not a discussion on the nominal dimensions of structural wood vs. actual dimensions.


 

pickdesign's picture

(post #84503, reply #11 of 28)

Go to:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_foot


See the definition:


"Board-feet are used for rough lumber (before drying and planing) with no adjustments.


For planed lumber, board-feet refer to the nominal thickness and width of lumber, calculated in principle on its size before drying and planing. Actual length is used."


There is a caveat about "hardwood being more complicated", but I haven't run across that in my experience 30 years in the building and manufacturing industry.  


Steve

TittleK's picture

(post #84503, reply #12 of 28)

I like to think I have a firm understanding of board feet. However one thing I don't understand is how I'm charged for it and a post in this discussion made me think I got taken on my most recent purchase.

I recently bought some hard maple and I was charged for an 8/4 price. However the boards were s2s and planed down to 1 3/4". I would have bought rough 8/4 however the s2s was all the lumberyard had in maple stock this thick. Does this mean I was charged for 1/4 of stock that was removed? Is this standard practice for lumberyards? Or is this the sort of thing that varies from place to place? Would it have been worth pointing this out to the salesmen to see if he would have lowered my price?

pickdesign's picture

(post #84503, reply #13 of 28)

I think the post you are refering to was from mowog77.  His idea of what he is buying may apply to him, but in my experience the price of the lumber is basically the price of the lumber that the seller sets.  While it may be negotiable in some instances it may not be in others.  Just depends on the seller, in my experience.   Like you I have bought lumber that has been milled on one face (so that grain can be seen), and it is less thatn say 8/4 rough (1 7/8" thick).  As far as I have seen, you still end up paying the price of that piece based on the nominal thickness 8/4.  Hope this helps.


Steve

Elcoholic's picture

(post #84503, reply #15 of 28)

In my experience there's 3 pricing systems - hardwood, dimensional construction lumber, and Home Cheapo.  Hardwood is priced by the rough thickness 4/4, 5/4, etc. whether it's milled or not.  Dimensional construction lumber is sold by the lineal foot for a given size 2x4, 4x6, ...  Home Cheapo sells precut 2x4 studs by the stick. 


That said, to estimate hardwood always use one size over your finished thickness so for 1  1/8" net use 6/4.  For length and width use inches.  I round up to the full inch.  multiply it all and divide by 144 to get board feet.  I add at least 10 % for waste to each stick on my cut list.


John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking


The more things change ...


We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.


Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking

The more things change ...

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

jazzdogg's picture

(post #84503, reply #20 of 28)

Hi Mowog77,


Are you talking about rough-sawn hardwood, surfaced hardwood, or dimensional softwood? In my experience, they're all handled differently.


 


-Jazzdogg-


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

-Jazzdogg-

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

81treehouse's picture

(post #84503, reply #22 of 28)

At the risk of hijacking this thread.  Several people have voiced some opinions with errors!  Board feet is board feet but....


Not all hardwood sellers sell the same way!  If you don't know the differences, you may well be overpaying.  One measurement many (and maybe most) woodworkers (professional and otherwise) have no knowledge of is the difference between "Gross Tally" and "Net Tally" method of determining your board feet and cost.  If you wish to learn, read and ask.  I learned from Hogan Hardwoods.


Gross Tally: 4/4 (Green) x 10" x 12' Red Oak = 10 board feet


10 board feet @ $2.00 per = $20.00 for this board


Net Tally:  4/4 (kiln dried) x 9.3" x 12' Red Oak = 9 board feet (See note following)


9 board feet @ $2.20 per = $19.80 for this board


Note:  The NHLA requires all fractions are dropped below 1/2 foot.  Surface measure must be a whole number.  Therefore, the surface measure is 9 board feet.


The end results are:  The $2.20 price is actually cheaper than the $2.00 price due to the Tally method used!


If I have offended anyone, I'm sorry but these are the facts - not opinion.  If I buy a board, $.20 does not mean much, but if I am buying 1000 board feet, it adds up to another much needed tool! <grin>


 


 


A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working -- yes, I'm retired!


Edited 12/22/2006 8:33 pm by 81treehouse

A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working -- yes, I'm retired!
citrouille's picture

(post #84503, reply #23 of 28)

If you are talking about NHLA rules where do you get a width of 9.3" ?
If the board is actually 9.3" wide by the above rules it should be tallied at 9" !

C.

81treehouse's picture

(post #84503, reply #24 of 28)

The 9.3" vs. the 10" is kiln dried vs. green.


Net tally vs. gross tally.


Or stated another way:  9.3 is kiln dried and net tally.  10 is green and gross tally.


 


A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working -- yes, I'm retired!
A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working -- yes, I'm retired!
PADDYDAHAT's picture

(post #84503, reply #27 of 28)

TH, net vs gross, ha ha. I guess they never came across a 70 or 80 year old sawyer in the hills of east Tn or NC. where he looks a the big sticks that you marked an says that's 240 board foot---by eyeball- it's now up to YOU to start talkin about the 9" check on the big board or the bark inclusion on another that makes you not really want THAT stick? Sooner rather than later there is a meeting of the minds and ya settle on 190 and start discussin ft price . This isn't the supermarket, there is no USDA  stamp of approval and you should not go there without a friend who has bought alot of wood there. Pat

81treehouse's picture

(post #84503, reply #28 of 28)

Paddy,


I would agree with you as far as my experiences have been.  It is sorta like buying a car.  Chose what you want and then start the negotiations.  Rebates, holdbacks, dealer incentives, etc.  Buying wood is very similar however, there is a big difference when buying green versus kiln dried.  I buy kiln dried.  The last time I bought 800 board feet, I checked their calculations against my calculations.  Guess what.  I pretty much agreed with them.  The price was supposedly fixed at $ per board feet.  A little negotiating and I was able to reduce the total bill.  Also, I did refuse to accept several boards and had them replaced.


But, I knew (or thought I knew) that I was being fairly treated on the board beet measurement.  If I had been purchasing green lumber, I would have definitely expected a different price per board foot!  The overall point being, make sure you know what you are buying in terms of board feet and compare pricing with other dealers.  Make sure you compare "apples with apples".  Then negotiate!


It sounds like you know your way around a stack of wood.  I've met several "seniors" who could be in a group of 10 experienced sawyers, salesmen, etc, and all would pretty much be able to eyeball the board feet all within a reasonable margin of error.  This is one major area where experience counts!


Congratulation on the pending move closer to God's country.  You will love that area of the good ol' US of A!


PS:  And by the way, I probably paid way too much on my cars, trucks, and wood since I'm lousy at negotiating. <grin>  But I can still get the senior discount at all places.  No negotiating there.  Just show them my white hair!  LOL


 


A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working -- yes, I'm retired!
A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working -- yes, I'm retired!
MBerger's picture

(post #84503, reply #3 of 28)

Hi Chuck,


We published a printable cutlist to go along with an article in issue #176. That might be what you're thinking of.


And for future reference. We maintain a page on our site with links to most of the online extras featured in past issues (these are Web features that are tied to magazine articles). Some videos are no longer listed. An easy link is www.finewoodworking.com/extras.


Matt Berger
Fine Woodworking


 


 

ChuckN's picture

(post #84503, reply #4 of 28)

Thanks, Matt!


That's exactly what I was talkin' about.  Some where along the line I lost the copy I had made before and have really gotten dependant on it.  Saves a great deal of time and money.


Chuck

 

 

ChuckN and I have nothing of value to add to this discussion.

loucarabasi's picture

(post #84503, reply #25 of 28)

Matt, can you take a look at my question in the general section under ''crown molding problem'' Please!!!!! Let me know what you think.


Much appreciated, Lou C (someone resized the pic for me, so it easier to see now.)


       

As the twig bends- So grows the tree!!
jazzdogg's picture

(post #84503, reply #7 of 28)

In addition to what others have offered, I'll add that stock that is less than one inch in thickness is typically considered 1" thick when calculating board-feet; the value of 1/2" stock, for example, is reflected in the cost per board-foot, not by reducing the board-footage by one-half.


 


-Jazzdogg-


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

-Jazzdogg-

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

Elcoholic's picture

(post #84503, reply #14 of 28)

I've seen 1/2" finished hdwd priced higher per bd/ft than 25/32" (finished 4/4 thickness).  They said it was to cover the extra milling expense.

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking


The more things change ...


We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.


Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking

The more things change ...

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

jazzdogg's picture

(post #84503, reply #19 of 28)

"I've seen 1/2" finished hdwd priced higher per bd/ft than 25/32" (finished 4/4 thickness).  They said it was to cover the extra milling expense."


Hi John,


I completely understand the upcharge for thin stock, especially if it is "finished" (squared, sanded, ripped) before it is sold.


I operate a sawmill for the Urban Forestry program at school, where we typically saw about 15,000 - 20,000 board-feet during each 15-week each semester. In my experience, milling thin stock is definitely more costly than milling thicker stuff.


Thin stock requires more cuts, which translates into more wear and tear on the Woodmizer and its blades, far more labor, more run-time, more maintenance, more fuel, more frequent blade changes, more blade resharpening and replacement,  greater kerf losses, and produces more sawdust; in short, the thinner the boards, the higher the cost-per-board-foot.


Additionally, Thins take longer to sticker, requires more stickers, and are more likely to warp than thicker stuff, and because of the space consumed by additional air spaces and stickers, thin stock yields fewer board-feet per kiln load, although it can often be dried more quickly.


 



-Jazzdogg-


"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie


Edited 12/23/2006 12:29 pm by jazzdogg

-Jazzdogg-

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

tinkerer2's picture

(post #84503, reply #26 of 28)

And beyond what you've mentioned, I have boughten one inch lumber that was planed down to make one half inch lumber.  The rest becomes sawdust.


Edited 12/23/2006 9:31 pm ET by tinkerer2

rjones69's picture

(post #84503, reply #16 of 28)

Chuck,


I have uploaded an excel file based off of the cutlist mentioned earlier in this post.  It's not perfect and unfortunatly I have had much time to be sure it works without flaws but it may just help.  Please feel free to play with it and let me know how it goes I can revise it based on your feedback.   You will need Excel 2000 in order to run it and a some basic excel knowledge will help get you around.  I have shaded all the input cells green so as not to wipe out cells with formulas.  Enjoy


Thanks,


Ron

PreviewAttachmentSize
Cutlist.xls20 KB
GENERATION FURNITURE's picture

(post #84503, reply #17 of 28)

I still use the steel square for approximate board feet calculation.  All Stanley steel squares have a booklet with them and will give you a fine description of how to use the steel square for finding out how many board feet are in a board.  Many fine woodworkers use this tool for most of their calculations.


Many have answered your question and they are correct.  I simply use the steel square for most of my calculations.  If you know the rough dimensions of your project, the steel square will give you the answer.

pins's picture

(post #84503, reply #18 of 28)

Here's a little Excel spreadsheet for calculating board feet, if it will reproduce the formulas here. If not, email me and I'll send it to you as an attachment. NOTE: You will have to copy this to a blank Excel spreadsheet.

John

PS: I just tried to copy this to a SS and it didn't work so if you can't figure out the formulas the above stands.

LUMBER CALC WORKSHEET

Thick Wide Length Inches Bd. Feet

1 12 144 1728 12
1 5 144 720 5
1 5 144 720 5
1 4 144 576 4
1 5 105 525 3.645833333
1 4 126 504 3.5
1 4 144 576 4
1 4 80 320 2.222222222
1 5 69 345 2.395833333
2 4 115 920 6.388888889
1.5 3 159 715.5 4.96875
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
7649.5 53.12152778 Total Bd Ft

Sorry, in the preview the columns were aligned.


Edited 12/21/2006 4:37 pm ET by pins

pins's picture

(post #84503, reply #21 of 28)

Ron Jones post which attached an Excel spread sheet inspired me to try again.

Lumber Calc Spreadsheet:

I proofed it and it works.

John

PreviewAttachmentSize
Lumber_Calculator.xls18 KB