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Nicholas Woodcarving
Carving Wood & Materials

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  #1  
Old 02-07-2005, 11:16 PM
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Default Board feet vs Linear feet

I used to think I was a pretty smart guy, but the more I try to figure out the difference between board feet and linear feet the worse my head hurts.

I called a local sawmill earlier today and the gentleman I spoke to assured me that he sells everything by board foot because it is much cheaper than by linear foot. The way I understand what I can find on the 'net about it that only holds true at very small pieces. If start buying larger peices or in bulk the number seems to rise almost exponentionally! At least that the way it seems in my confused head.

Can someone please explain it to me? I want to get some basswood but I don't want to let this guy schuyster me if I can avoid it.

Thanks much.

GWhite
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:49 PM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Board feet = Thickness (in inches) x width (in inches) x Length (in feet) / 12

Linear feet is the amount of lumber in the total length of a piece of lumber. For example, a 2"x4''x8' stud contains 8 linear feet but only 5.33 board feet.

How a board is sold does not make it cheaper or more expensive.

A board foot contains 144 cubic inches, so this factor may be used to compare board feet to linear feet.

Example:
A 3'' x 7'' x 6' board
In board feet is 10.5 board feet
In linear feet is only 6 linear feet

If it were smaller than a foot long, take length in inches x width in inches x thickness in inches and divide by 144

Example: 3" x 7" x 9" / 144 = 1.3125 board feet

Right or not, that is how I figure it; but then I never was much good at ciphering.

Here is a cheat sheet if it helps:
http://www.villagewoodsmith.com/page20.html

Last edited by rick-in-seattle; 02-08-2005 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 02-08-2005, 06:09 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Thanks Rick, that is a question that I have had for ever. I never know know the answer and I am too embarrased to ask so I just buy it from the wood shows in blocks although my local lumber yard has some beautiful pieces. Now I can go and see my lumber dealer and know exactly what he is talking about. I am sure there are many of us here who had the same problem, great question.
Colin
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:08 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Rick,

Thank you for the explanation. If I am figuring it correctly then a 4" x 8" x 16" piece would be 3.5 board feet. The sawmill I spoke to yesterday said that he sells green Basswood for $1 per board foot or seasoned Basswood for $1.50 per board foot. That's only $4.50 for the block! A block that same size in a local carving suppliers catalog was $26.63. That's a major difference.

Thanks a lot. I think I will be calling that sawmill back.

GWhite
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:33 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Rick, once again, has given you good information! There is one caveat to add, well not really a caveat, just a fact. If you buy lumber at a retail outlet, you most likely will pay for a "nominal board foot". A 2x4 is actually only 1 3/4x 3 3/4, but you will pay for the board foot as a 2"x4"x whatever.
some mills will sell by actual size...a 2x4 will actually be a 2x4 or maybe even what is called 9/4, or rough cut 2 1/4" thick. Usually a better buy at the mill, if you can get it.

Larger stock usually sells for higher prices due to several factors, first of which is the difficulty in finding big timber these days, and second, when wholesaling out lumber, they can get more smaller stuff from any piece and the price per unit may be smaller, but the overall profit from a log is higher, the more pieces they can get out of it.

Finishing mills just add to the cost, so if what you want is rough cut carving stock, you should be able to save considerably buying direct from a mill.

Al
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Old 02-08-2005, 08:36 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Last time I bought basswood, I got a 4x8x12 piece for $20 bucks. Lets see if I can figure this out by Rick's formula...that works out to $1.60 a board foot...

Bob
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Old 02-08-2005, 09:28 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Quote:
Originally Posted by GWhite
Rick,

The sawmill I spoke to yesterday said that he sells green Basswood for $1 per board foot or seasoned Basswood for $1.50 per board foot.

Thanks a lot. I think I will be calling that sawmill back.

GWhite
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Buy the seasoned wood.
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Old 02-08-2005, 09:49 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobD
Last time I bought basswood, I got a 4x8x12 piece for $20 bucks. Lets see if I can figure this out by Rick's formula...that works out to $1.60 a board foot...


Bob
Bob,

See, here's where I get confused. Assuming that 4x8x12 is all in inches I come out with 2.67 board feet. Wouldn't that be something like $7.50 a board foot?

It probably won't change much in the long run, but I just want to make sure I understand the calc's.

GWhite
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Old 02-08-2005, 10:04 AM
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Post Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

G,

That's what I thought but then I figured it out as 4 inches X 8 inches X12 feet--and it works out to be $1.60/ bf

Bob
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Old 02-08-2005, 10:15 AM
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Default Re: Board feet vs Linear feet

Right on. Thanks for the redirect. I had calculated it by 12 feet as well to get the board feet but didn't divide it to double check the price. A good reminder to slow it down a bit sometimes.


Thanks LifeRescue
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