Board Foot Uselessness

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A buddy and I were talking the other day about the price of 4/4 oak vs 8/4 oak and the thought occurred to us. The whole concept of board foot was developed to equalize pricing over different sizes of wood. The very fact that thicker wood costs more per board foot in the current lumber market, completely ignores this fact.
I think it is intellectually dishonest. If you are going to charge more for thicker wood, why the hell just not list it in price per linear foot?
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On Sun, 12 Oct 2003 23:48:51 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (Bruce) wrote:

A thicker, or wider, or longer board is more valuable than one that is less thick, less wide, less long.
In this it is no different than any other model of availability versus cost (cf supply and demand).
Board foot pricing is done in preference to linear foot pricing because boards that are in the rough do not fit into standards of width and the net volume of the wood is described by the gross width times the gross thickness times the gross length.
Regards, Tom Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania http://users.snip.net/~tjwatson
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(Bruce) wrote:

"Current lumber market" has nothing to do with it. Thicker wood will always cost more. First off, the thicker you slice a log, the greater the amount of waste, so there is a lower yield of usable wood per log. Also, thicker wood is more difficult to dry properly, and losses due to defects induced during drying are greater, which lowers yield further. Hence the higher price.

Because that does not take into account the width of the board.
Board-foot pricing accounts for length, width, and thickness. If the dealer does not price by board foot, he must price by square foot, with separate per-square-foot prices for each thickness. This is indistinguishable from board-foot pricing.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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On Mon, 13 Oct 2003 00:16:05 GMT, spam snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Wouldn't thinner cuts waste more wood as saw kerfs?
Barry
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*removethis* snipped-for-privacy@snet.net wrote:

Draw a circle to represent the cross-section of a log. Say it's 24" in diameter. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that the bark is removed, the log is a perfectly smooth and straight cylinder ten feet long, and the saw removes a 1/8" kerf.
Now cut it into 16/4 boards. If my math is right, this log will yield one board 23-5/8 wide, two boards 20-3/4, and two boards 13-1/4 (to the nearest eighth inch). That's 305 board feet, roughly. About 76 square feet at 3-7/8" thick makes 24.5 cubic feet.
Cut the same log into 8/4 boards. It yields one board 23-7/8 wide, two boards 23-1/4, two 21-3/4, two 19-1/2, two 15-7/8, and two 9-1/2 (again, to the nearest eighth inch). That's 340 board feet. About 170 square feet at 1-7/8" thick makes 26.5 cubic feet.
Cut it into 4/4 boards. Yield is one board just under 24 wide, two boards 23-3/4, two 23-1/2, two 23, two 22-1/4, two 21-1/4, two 20-1/8, two 18-3/4, two 17, two 14-5/8, two 11-5/8, and two 6-7/8. That's 358 board feet, at 7/8" thick, or 26.1 cubic feet.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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Within that "circle" are also many grades of lumber. If the sawyer doesn't rotate it at the proper time, regardless of the width of the next board, or the average width, he can lose more money than the difference between a band and circular kerf.
He could also, given the market, end up with a bunch of thick stock and no place to sell it.

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On Mon, 13 Oct 2003 11:52:16 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .

Doesn't matter. Your main thickness loss is in the boards cupping during drying, then you lose timber when you machine them flat afterwards. If you have the time and the log is big enough, then a thicker board can be dried and resawn afterwards, which means you're only losing curvature off two surfaces, not four.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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The whole system would make such sweet music if they didn't keep pinch- ing off the width of boards; as in the old fascia you're trying to match up with new lumber that's nominally the same but actually a quarter inch narrower, etc.
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And how wide would that board being sold by the linear foot be? That question basically answers your question of why bf.
Thicker lumber is more valuable for a number of reason, not the least of which is that it is increasingly harder to come by and correspondingly expensive to produce.
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I've always assumed the extra time required to kiln-dry the thicker lumber is the main reason for the cost difference.
Bruce wrote:

--
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That seem to make more sense...Tom >From: Steve Turner snipped-for-privacy@H2OlooWoodworks.com


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In rec.woodworking

I guess I should have made it clear that I understand why thicker and wider wood costs more. What I'm suggesting is that the purpose of the board foot was for the same reason we sell steak by the pound and not each steak. It was a fair way to assess value to different sizes of wood since wood comes in so many different sizes. I'm just saying it isn't being used that way, at least not 100%. It is equivelant to saying sirloin steaks are $5.00 a pound but if you want them thickly sliced, it is $6.00 a pound.
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wrote:

Your reasoning why wood is sold by the board foot is wrong. By the board foot is simply a way to charge for 144 cubic inches of wood. Regardless of the type of wood, a board foot is a specific measurement and quantity of wood. Different cuts of wood from a specific tree will sell for different prices. As for your steak comparison, why does a pound of steak cost $5.00 and a pound of Tender Loin cost $10? They both come from the same cow don't they.
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LOL .... Damn, I just love your logic! ;>)
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It works just that way. Honest. the stores get more per pound for thin sliced boneless pork chops.
I usually buy meat at BJ's as the price is good, but today Stop & Shop had whole loins on sale for $1.79 a pound. They took that same piece of meat and were selling it cut into roasts for $4.49 and boneless cops for $3.39. Amazing. It all starts out as the same thing. Yes, I've seen thicker cut steaks at higher prices also. I save a bundle buying primal cuts and doing it myself though.
You may also notice that wider boards also command a higher price than narrow ones. There is a premium as there is far less of them available. I think it works the same way with thicker also, but as pointed out, longer kiln times would make a difference also. My supplier has a gauge that he puts on the wood to read out the board feet of the random width boards that I buy. Only takes a second and it is accurate.
If you want to buy and pay by the linear foot, you can do so at Home Depot. They price hardwoods that way and all are uniform width. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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I'm guessing maybe you're pointing to something that annoys me. How a 1 x 6 is actually 3/4" x 5'3/4".
I know I'm not the only one to dork up a project due to forgetting that wood is not the size it's actually sold as. Wood is expensive enough, is it too much to ask for that extra 1/4", rather than forcing me to buy the next size up and end up with alot of waste from milling it down?
wrote:

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If you choose to pay for surfaced wood, you have to pay for the waste also. If you were to buy rough cut wood, you would be charged for only the wood that you leave with.
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For most projects, you'd surface the wood before use. So, isn't that the same as paying for the waste anyway?
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What is your point? You pay for all waste associated with the board you buy including the waste that every tool creates when used on the board. Sawing, sanding, planing, jointing, drilling, they all create waste.

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Leon,
I can't believe you got suckered into this useless argument... ;-)
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Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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