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?
On Sun, 12 Oct 2003 23:48:51 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
"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
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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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