How do I measure lumber?

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Forum topic by bamajoey posted 06-11-2014 09:28 AM 1623 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 2317 days

06-11-2014 09:28 AM

I have several hundred BF of mahogany that I am going to sell but I’m not sure how to measure it. It is planed and sanded to a little over 3/4 inch. Would a board 10 ft long, 1 ft wide, be 10 board feet, or 7 1/2 board feet?

-- Joey

16 replies so far

View Bill7255's profile


427 posts in 2282 days

#1 posted 06-11-2014 09:39 AM

It would be considered 10bf if it is surfaced 2 sides.

-- Bill R

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7233 posts in 3352 days

#2 posted 06-11-2014 09:48 AM

I work board feet on rough sawn… so 10 bf….

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

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Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3435 days

#3 posted 06-11-2014 10:29 AM

And remember that a good lumber yard will calculate ‘usable board feet’. A 1 ft wide piece that tapers to 11” or has bark on one edge would be considered less than a foot wide, or maybe it has a crack in the last foot. I hate it when you go to a place and they don’t factor that in when you’re paying $4 a bd/ft.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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1742 posts in 2473 days

#4 posted 06-11-2014 11:53 AM

Yes, 10 BF.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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#5 posted 06-11-2014 12:22 PM

7.5 the thickness is multiplied by surface measure. American hardwood export council.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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9455 posts in 1483 days

#6 posted 06-11-2014 12:25 PM

7.5 the thickness is multiplied by surface measure. American hardwood export council.
This could just be for the export I guess.

Edit: it’s calculated when the lumber is rough sawn and rounded up when planed.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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9455 posts in 1483 days

#7 posted 06-11-2014 12:37 PM

10 bdft before and after planing. I’m going back to my corner now.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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18164 posts in 1853 days

#8 posted 06-11-2014 12:43 PM

Good answer fridge. It stands to reason that even though you are buying a board that is s4s, you should still have to pay for what was wasted during planing. BF is BF, but the price per BF should be different depending in whether you have to surface it or not.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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5710 posts in 3229 days

#9 posted 06-11-2014 12:45 PM

Board foot = 1” thick x 1’ wide x 1’ long. .75” thickness at same width and length would be .75 bd/ft therefore what you are saying is 7.5 board feet.

Mind you, a reputable lumber yard will charge for “usable” board feet, so like was measured above, unwanted bark inclusions, tapers, cracks etc… get counted out.

You can charge an upcharge for the S4S sure, but not for material you have planed away…

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View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2110 days

#10 posted 06-11-2014 03:21 PM

Are you saying that if you buy hardwood lumber from a dealer and spec S4S at say 13/16” you don’t have to to pay for the wood chips & SLR droppings? In this case- you buy the lumber as full 4/4 you pay for SLR & surfacing the 4/4 to your specs. So you can get 95 actual BD/FT from a order that is billed at 100 feet – depending on how good the SLR operater is.

Or are you saying if you go to Home Depot and buy S4S you don’t have to pay for the milling waste? In this case – the higher price includes these charges. That’s why the price is so high from dimensional hardwoods. Mills arn’t going to eat the droppings & waste.

The situation depends on where the actual transfer of ownership happens. Are you buying rough and paying a mill for their additional services, or are you buying the lumber dimensional?

If you buy lumber in S1S, S2S, S3S, or Dimensional you are going to pay for the the full 4/4 one way or the other – I guess its all how you look at it.

Any good lumber yard, hardwood dealer, or sawmill should be reasonable with defects, it a give and take relationship with your seller on dealing with defects. Remember that the number of “defects” depends on the grade, which also has in impact on price. So if your buying #2C don’t expect to get veneer, and don’t expect to get the wood free.

If you dealing with a private party or small sawmill there is usually much more flexibility.

I would list this as 4/4 mahogany S2S @ 3/4”
Your example board would be billed at 10 BD/FT

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3168 posts in 3228 days

#11 posted 06-11-2014 04:17 PM

At the lumber yard, there is a sign that states the price of S2S1E (surfaced 2 sides, one edge) is $.60 cents more per board ft than the price of 4/4 rough stock. I think now it is more like an additional $.80/bft. So you pay for the original 4/4 stock plus a milling charge.

Each time that I have purchased the S2S1E boards, the salesman inspects each board and measures the useable portion.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#12 posted 06-11-2014 04:41 PM

This is why most finished products are sold by the square feet.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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7887 posts in 2147 days

#13 posted 06-11-2014 04:56 PM

As was said, go by the rough dimensions. So, if it’s 3/4” after planing, it’s 4/4 stock. If it’s 3/4 rough, then it’s 3/4.

If there is a crack or anything in it, take it out of the measurement. Discount for bows/twists/knots as well.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1518 days

#14 posted 06-11-2014 06:36 PM

Re : “And remember that a good lumber yard will calculate ‘usable board feet’.”—Craftsman on the lake

I had to laugh when I read that. My lumber yard not only measures at the wide end, ignores all defects and tries to sneak in a short board from time to time, they then add an additional 18% for “shrinkage”, “straight-lining” and “surfacing”, whether any of that has been done or not (when you ask them for a price over the phone they always give you the “gross” price, rather than what they will charge you after you’ve driven there and loaded up your truck → even though that’s illegal in my state and every other in the Union) .. and most people pay it without even knowing. If I should be so crass as to point it out, they will politely tell me if I don’t like it, don’t let the door hit me in the @$$ on the way out. Of course, I can also always count on them to mis-tally the lunber .. always in their favor .. using their “magic stick”.

I guess it’s clear dealing with lumber yards is an issue that sticks in my craw. I’d much rather patronize local sawyers who are generally honest.

View bamajoey's profile


12 posts in 2317 days

#15 posted 06-11-2014 10:30 PM

I really appreciate all the responses. I bought the lumber several years ago already surfaced 2 sides and 1 edge. I have several hundred BF that I don’t need, but didn’t know how to measure it. Now I do. Thanks again.

-- Joey

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