Get out your tape measures and calculators because we’re talking about the board foot!  If you’re not familiar with the lumber or wood packaging industries, you may be asking yourself, “What is a board foot?”  Well, we’re here to lay that question to rest.

Board foot is the unit of measurement used by sawmills and lumber/lumber product suppliers to accurately calculate the amount of wood that can be taken from a log or plank.  One board foot is the approximate size of a piece of lumber that is 12 inches long, 12 inches wide, and one inch thick.

The abbreviations “BF”, “bf”, or “board ft.”” are all common ways to reference board foot.

For industry professionals, calculating board foot is a helpful way of quickly calculating the volume of wood they have on hand.

It’s important to understand that volume takes into consideration the height or thickness of the board, not just the length and width.  If you end up looking at just the length and width of a piece of wood, you end up looking at the surface area of the wood, rather than the volume.  Who said you’d never use algebra again?

Calculating Board Foot

The formulas below are commonly used to calculate board foot.

calculating board foot

In this formula, “T” stands for thickness, “W” stands for width, and “L” stands for length.  Depending on whether or not the length is measured in feet or inches, the denominator of the formula (the number underneath) will either be 144 or 12.

Why Calculate Board Foot?

Now that you’ve calculated this seemingly arbitrary measurement, what use does it have?  Well, because mills and suppliers use this measurement, they also price their products using this measurement.  Understanding the board foot measurement and how it’s calculated helps you figure out the price for your project.

Keep in mind though, board foot is a somewhat misleading measurement because it’s based on volume rather than linear measurement.  Just because you have 1000 bf on hand, doesn’t mean that you have 1000 linear board foot of lumber to use.  Because of this, it’s common for wood buyers to order slightly more than they think they will need in board foot to make sure that they’ll have enough supply for their project.

Boarding it All Up (We know, corny)

Understanding what a board foot is, how to calculate it, and how to use it is essential knowledge in the industrial wood industry, as well as a lot of other industries.  Although there are many options when choosing suppliers for wholesale lumber, it’s important to make sure your supplier can handle the quantities you need.

Here at Conner, we process over 1,000,000 bf of wood fiber every day.  As the largest purchaser of industrial grade lumber in the United States, we know lumber.  Whether you’re looking for plant direct, wholesales pallet parts, banding groove, or any other type of industrial wood product, you can trust us to have the board foot of industrial grade lumber you need, when you need it.