Why is calculating Board Foot important for woodworking and CNC projects?
The long story short in my opinion is that just like sharpening a plane or learning the right way to use measurements, knowing and understanding Board Foot is an essential part of woodworking. Since I do both woodworking and CNC projects I can say it goes double for the CNC. Ultimately understanding the concept of calculating Board Foot will save you time, money and heartache. Read On!
Their are several reasons for understanding how to calculate Board Foot, but here are the big ones.
- Pricing and Cost Estimation: Without understanding your material costs, making a project for a customer is near impossible. Quoting off the fly is how businesses go under (at every level of business).
- Inventory Management: This is very dependent on the size of your business, and it goes both ways. Often large businesses will end up storing excess wood materials, and even paying for that storage. Small businesses often get caught short of materials during a project or end up clogging up their small shop of garage.
- Project Planning: I would almost mark this up to convenience, but knowing what you need for a project just simplifies the process. You don’t have to run back and forth to the lumber yard over and over again.
- Waste Reduction: It really depends on how you view waste, I use almost every scrap in some way. Bottom line up front, in many businesses the waste gets thrown away and that is definitely not environmentally friendly or sustainable.
- Compliance with building codes: This doesn’t come up much in the small business realm, but it is a reality. If you are making cabinets or a feature in a house in some states, you will have to comply with building codes.
How to calculate Board Foot.
Board foot is a unit of measurement for lumber. It is defined as the volume of a piece of wood that is one inch thick, one foot wide, and one foot long. Board foot is used to calculate the price of lumber, as well as the amount of lumber needed for a project.
To calculate board foot, you will need to know the length, width, and thickness of the lumber. You can use the following formula.
Board foot = (length in inches) x (width in inches) x (thickness in inches) / 12
For example, if you have a piece of lumber that is 8 feet long, 12 inches wide, and 2 inches thick, the board foot would be calculated as follows:
Board foot = (8 x 12 x 2) / 12 = 16 board feet
If you have multiple pieces of lumber, you can calculate the total board foot by adding up the board foot of each piece. For example, if you have two pieces of lumber, each with 16 board feet, the total board foot would be 32 board feet.
How to calculate the price of lumber.
Once you have calculated board foot, you can use it to calculate the price of lumber or the amount of lumber needed for a project. For example, if you are buying lumber that is priced at $1 per board foot, and you need 32 board feet, the total cost of the lumber would be $32.
Here are some examples of how to use board foot to calculate the price of lumber or the amount of lumber needed for a project:
To calculate the price of lumber:
Price = (board foot) x (price per board foot)
How to calculate the amount of wood needed for a project.
Board foot = (length of project in inches) x (width of project in inches) x (thickness of project in inches) / 12
If you are using a type of wood that is sold by the lineal foot. You can multiply the lineal feet by the width and thickness of the lumber to get the board foot. For example, if you are using 2×4 lumber for your deck, you would multiply the lineal feet by 3.5 inches (the width of the lumber) and 1.5 inches (the thickness of the lumber) to get the board foot.
Once you have calculated the board foot, add 10% for the waste factor. This gives you a total board foot of 22 for the deck.
You can then use this information to purchase the lumber you need for your job.
Here are some additional tips for calculating the amount of wood needed for a job:
- If you are working with a complex project, it is a good idea to create a cut list. This will help you to track the amount of wood you need and to avoid waste.
- When cutting the wood, be sure to use a sharp saw and a straight edge to get accurate cuts.
- If you are making mistakes when cutting the wood, add more to the waste factor in your calculation.
- It is always better to have too much wood than not enough.
10 tips when calculating Board Foot!
- Convert all measurements to inches before calculating board foot. This is because the board foot unit of measurement is defined in inches.
- Use the actual thickness of the lumber when calculating board foot. This is especially important if you are using lumber that is not exactly one inch thick, such as plywood or dimensional lumber.
- Use the nominal dimensions of the lumber when calculating board foot for tongue and groove lumber. This is because tongue and groove lumber is typically sold by its nominal dimensions, which are the dimensions of the lumber before the tongue and groove are added.
- When calculating board foot for multiple pieces of lumber, add up the board foot of each piece to get the total board foot.
- When calculating board foot for lumber that is sold by the lineal foot, multiply the lineal feet by the width and thickness of the lumber to get the board foot.
- Use a board foot calculator to make calculating board foot easier. There are many free and paid board foot calculators available online.
- Round up the board foot when calculating the amount of lumber needed for a project. This will help to ensure that you have enough lumber to complete the project.
- Consider adding a safety margin to the board foot calculation to account for waste. This is especially important if you are new to woodworking or if you are working with a complex project.
- When buying lumber, ask the lumberyard to calculate the board foot for you. This will help to ensure that you are getting the correct amount of lumber and that you are paying the correct price.
- Keep track of the board foot you use for each project. This will help you to estimate the amount of lumber you will need for future projects.
My TOP tip for planning board foot usage.
Number 8 above, adding a safety margin, is really a significant point. The thing to remember here is that you are probably talking about rough lumber. This requires milling on a jointer and planer.
Dependent on your Planer and your skill level with that planer, you will likely have a SNIPE (a depressed or compressed area of wood) at the beginning and or end of your board. For my planer it’s almost 2 inches. The sniped areas are unusable and thus could throw of your planning numbers by 2 to 4 inches per board.
Wrapping it up, if you work with wood, you just have to learn Board Foot!
Everyone is obviously going to have their own wood supply based on location, but I have found and use Dakota Premium Hardwoods to be very fairly priced with wood at constant moisture content.
I will be making a video about this and will link out to it in the near future.
Have a great one!
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