Calculating Board Feet

Ordering lumber by the board foot

The "board foot" is a unit of measurement used to calculate the volume of a given amount of stock. As shown in the illustration below, the standard board foot is equivalent to a piece that is 1 inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches long. To calculate the number of board feet in a piece of wood, multiply its three dimensions together. Then, divide the result by 144 if all the dimensions are in inches, or by 12 if just one dimension is in feet.

The formula for a standard board:

1" x 12" x 12" h- 144 = 1 (or 1" x 12" x 1' -f 12 = 1)

So, if you had a 6-foot-long plank that is 1 inch thick and 4 inches wide, you would calculate the board feet as follows: 1" x 4" x 6' h- 12 = 2 (or 2 board feet). Other examples are shown in the illustration. Remember that board feet are calculated on the basis of the nominal rather than actual dimensions of the stock; consequently, the board feet contained in a 2-by-4 that actually measures l!4-by-314 inches would be calculated using the larger dimensions,

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