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Author Topic: A Board Foot Conversation  (Read 9825 times)

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Offline Tom

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A Board Foot Conversation
« on: April 24, 2001, 06:54:58 PM »
I've been reading about BF conversions on some other sites and how these guys get at each others throats.  Seems to me they are complicating their lives by nit picking the way they do.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2001, 07:40:46 PM »
Tom, I see those B.F. conversations also. As far as I am concerned a board foot is 144 cubic inches. Period. If the piece of wood is 12" by 12" by 1 and 1/8 inch thick, it is not 1bf, it is 1.125 b.f.. They can call it what ever they want when they sell it.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2001, 08:09:57 PM »


I think some folks may get a little top heavy with their importance too.  We can all learn from the ignorant as well as the educated.  I learned BF from a high school junior who didn't even know he had taught me something.  I figured BF my way but couldn't really explain it to anybody till he was telling me about a woodworking class he had taken in his freshman year.  " I think you multiply everything together and divide it by something" he said.  I thought that made a lot of sense and use that terminology to explain my interpretation to folks now. I say "Height in inches times width in inches times length in feet times the number of pieces and divide the whole thing by 12.  If you remember how they sell a 2x4 in the store, 2x4x8, just remember to do that and divide by 12 and you will get 5.3 feet. That's easy to remember.....Huh?"

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Offline Jeff

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2001, 02:53:45 AM »
That's where things confuse people. "How they buy it in the store"  actually a 2 by 4 in the store is 1.5 by 3.5  When listing board ft. it is often a good idea to specify whether it is calculated nominal or actual.
So the actual footage "store bought" of a 2 by 4 would be 3.5 B.F.
Just call me the midget doctor.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2001, 07:11:54 AM »
your right if you figure based on the actual measurement. I think for the sake of remembering the BF formula it works OK. Maybe it would be worth while trying to explain why a 2x4 isn't a 2x4.  If the stores would call it a a 1.5x3.5 then everybody would be right. It's unreal how we complicate our lives, isn't it. A lot of the argument that took place in the thread I was talking about was because they were concerned about rounding and when to round and if you rounded up you only do it on every other board etc. Then when do you add thickness to the equation and do you really count thickness or not.  There are green 4/4 boards that are cut 1 1/16 and some are 1 1/8 and some are 1 3/16 and some are 5/4. Now is the 5/4 one a 4/4 board?

My life is so much simpler than the lives of these folks in "big" lumber business because all I have to do is satisfy the customer.  He says he wants something that will plane out a 3/4 board and that's what he gets.  If he wants to plane out a 4/4 board then I explain it will probably take a 5/4 board to do it and we agree on how it's to be charged. I guess that is why I don't like getting into those threads where there is so much nit picking.  If I were not communicating with my customers maybe I would have to be concerned too.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2001, 03:16:02 PM »
Our Board foot calculator rounds too. (http://www.timberbuyer.net/toolbox.htm) You almost have to, or you get numbers to the umteenth decimal. If you are going to round a number, then you must average the number. How could rounding every other board be averaging? You can't always round down, and you can't always round up.

So the way our calculator does it is how you would sensibly round any number. To the nearest 10. Be it a tenth, hundreth, thousanth or a whole number, You have to round somewhere.


Just call me the midget doctor.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2001, 06:35:11 PM »
well, perhaps the word to use is sensible.  I'm a little out-of-school at this point and only repeating.... but the concern was whether the rounding took place before the application of thickness or after.  Where do you round up? Maybe a board stretcher is needed.

I find myself generally rounding down on everything.
My customers expect everything to be cut on 2 inch centers although they will except 1 inch centers on the hardwoods or special cuts.  I am always shooting for an even inch of width or an even length in feet.  If I cut something "over" it's to provide them with the room to obtain the board they need.

That goes for thickness too. I only make a break on Quarters financially so it is a 4/4 board until I hit the 5/4 mark.  Even the dressed sizes that I cut are charged on the quarter scale.  

My customers acted real cagey at first when they asked for dressed size 2X4's, etc, until they found out that I didn't care.  They acted like They were pulling one over on me but I have always just smiled and cut what they wanted.  

A dressed size 2x4 is cut as a 6/4 x3.5 even though I cut the width "fat", closer to 3 3/4, most of the time. If I can talk them into 4" then I prefer it so that they have shrinkage room and dressing room which I know they will need.

The arguement was getting into the legalities and I don't know which leg I could stand on in a court of law.  But I do sleep good at night knowing that I provided what the customer wanted without making him pay for something he didn't get.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2001, 06:58:55 PM »
But back to the original thought, What constitutes a board foot of lumber? (Wenrich where are you??) In my book one board foot is 144 cubic inches.
Period. If it's in a little board, a big board, or still in the tree.

A boardfoot is a measure of volume. Is the volume of a gallon of milk bigger or smaller when it's in the cow? Is it less if it's in a waxed carton or a plastic jug?? Probably not a good analogy, because of expansion and contraction by temp, but then again, wood expands and contracts too.

To me it's as simple as that.
Just call me the midget doctor.
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Commercial circle sawmill sawyer in a past life.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2001, 07:20:45 PM »
I think it is pretty simple too and in my mind it is 144 cubic inches.  All the rounding up/down and averaging is for somebody's benefit to make the formula fit some application.  

A gallon milk jug will hold more than a gallon of milk.  If they put more than a gallon of milk in it the customer isn't charged more.

If they put less than a gallon of milk in it and "call it a gallon" then they are in non-compliance with a law.  That is to protect the consumer.  A gallon of milk is still a gallon though.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2001, 07:41:55 PM »
The point I was trying to make in my post 2 back was that it is the rounding that gets everybody in a tither, so why do it unless it is to make the product fit the sale.  In which case, round down so that the formula is applied to the advertised product.  That is when a 2x4 is sold as a real 2x4 and not a 2.5x4.

If 1.5x3.5 is a 2x4 at the time of sale and the customer understands, then he is buying a 2x4 and the formula should be applied to that and not the deminished dressed size.

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Offline Jeff

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2001, 07:46:26 PM »
yes,exactly. It all boils down to understanding between the buyer and seller.
Just call me the midget doctor.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2001, 07:54:52 PM »
Now that I feel good about that........

Is there a grader around who can explain the grading rules that lead to this confusion?
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2001, 07:16:20 AM »
   All the first-graders are out to lunch (along with the rest of us), but I will see if we can get someone from kindergarten to come over- they will do a better job of explaining it anyway. :D :D :D
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2001, 07:46:38 AM »
That's what we need...... a "little" edjookashun.
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Offline timberbeast

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2001, 09:21:30 PM »
Yeah,  you guys got it,  and I don't care what some will say.  A piece of wood 1 inch thick bt 12 inches wide,  by twelve inches long is a board foot.  Now,  I don't end trim,  so my 8 foot boards are 100 inches,  other than that they are exactly what I state them as being.  A 2x4 is 2 inches by 4 inches,  as it comes off the mill,  rough and green.  I haven't had any complaints or arguments from buyers.  Actually,  I've had compliments.  Maybe it's regional.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2001, 04:42:44 AM »
Tom:

I'm not sure what you want from the lumber grader.  Hardwood lumber is supposed to be planed down to 13/16 after drying.  Thickness specs are put out by the NHLA, but, buyers may have different specs.

I am selling 8/4 ash with the spec of 2 1/4" thickness.  With this market, I make sure it meets their criteria.  Good year around buyer.

I have another market that specifies rough cut 2 1/2 x 2 1/2.  Their specs are so tight that they should be using finished lumber.  Ignorant buyers.

Softwood is a totally different grading procedure from hardwoods.  Defect is more in the number and size of knots, not the amount of clear wood.  But, us hardwood guys still put out nominal dimension stock.  2x4 means 2" by 4".  And that is why some people go to mills instead of building supply companies.
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Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2001, 08:48:11 PM »
Thanks Ron,

I understand everything you said and agree with customer required specs.

The original topic that started this was a statement on another forum that intimated that a lumber yard owner, who had apparently been an NHLA grader, was incorrect in the way he figured board footage and was cheating customers by doing so.  

I got super confused by the conversation but didn't get envolved because of the heat between two very authoritative figures. I carried the thought here with the hopes of clearing it up in my mind.

It was actually initiated by my feeling that members here were more low key, reasonable, and communicative than I had experienced on other sites.  The board foot problem was an example that turned into a forum topic hoping for interjection.  

It's an interesting subject with many of us figuring Board Footage with little concern to rounding up and just trying to get a figure by which to charge "piece work" sawing services.

On the other hand are those who quote grading rules and dictate proper rounding of width, thickness and length.  Also they reason that there is a proper order for these things to occur in the formula.

Statements by authoritive figures containing the words "legal", "improper" and "cheating" cause me, apparently a naive sawyer, to be concerned about the manner in which I do business.

I've not been after an argument but rather a consensus, and find that amongst those of us who produce lumber in the field, outside of the politics of "big business", there are agreements.

We tend to simplify everything for the sake of fairness and understanding. I suppose because we have different customers.

Still the questions of who's right are there.  Is it right because an organization that is excepted as an authority says it is?  Is there more than one of these organizations?  Do their rules agree one with another? If we do something different does that make us wrong?

I felt the disagreement was based on rounding of numbers rather than the measure of the end product.

IE) If the end product is to be a 2x4 then it is immaterial if the beginning product is 2x4 or 4x8.  The stick should still be charged, monetarily, as a 2x4.

That always leads to another argument.  The finished product in lumber yard is dressed to 1.5x3.5 but is still called a 2x4.  Well, that is because it was created and sold initially as a 2x4 and someone took it upon themselves to dress it to a size that the industry has agreed is a "dressed" 2x4.  It is still a 2x4 and, in my mind should be figured as such in the formula and charged for appropriatly.  The argument that a dressed 2x4x8 is 3.5 board feet is invalid when you go to the cash register. (I figure a rough cut, dressed size 2x4 as 6/4 because 1.it's rough and 2. I feel better)

I cut hardwoods on other than 2"centers because I try to get the most out of my customers logs. When I figure the footage though, I round down to the nearest inch. I do it because I think it is fair, not because I think it is right. Yes, I cut over the inch most every time but will cut to the inch on occasion.

My customers understand, we agree, but where would I stand in a court of law?  

Ok, its been a dissertation and the subject has been argued back and forth so many times that I don't know what is right.

My original statement/topic still stands though. "I feel that this forum is composed of low key, friendly folks who don't appear to enjoy getting into each other's faces."  That is what makes me come back.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2001, 12:47:24 PM »
I agree with what you say.  I always give a little cushion in what I cut.  That way the customer will always get what he has paid for, and not have to throw out those thin pieces.  Customers who resaw will get a little overrun.

Some would say that I'm not getting the yield I should be, but, I have customers in long standing, buying even when markets are thin.  The tie buyer doesn't even hardly check the ties, since I have the quality of tie he is looking for.

In the long run, that extra 1/16" attracts more customers then it turns away.  Kind of like good PR.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Tom

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2001, 06:23:13 PM »
Well, they're at it again on that "other" wood site on the web.  Some poor newcomer asked what a board foot was and all the guhrus and the Dr.'s are warping his head.

These are the kinds of people that our Government must have hired to design income tax rules. :D
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Offline Don P

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2001, 08:45:57 PM »
Guess I was out when this thread started. I've always found it best to promise short and deliver long, things just go better that way.
When I worked in the "big smoke" (I like that term) we had one supplier that was constantly getting us by about 10%. When cornered he stated that this was allowed as "shrinkage". When my boss came back later with a NHLA book it did not read that way. Just seemed like a poor way to do work.

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Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #20 on: December 24, 2001, 05:17:59 PM »
Amen, Tom.  Ifelt the sasme way, and got rubbed that way too.  I have been in this sort of business all of my life (57 years, fasther and grandfather also)  and only have a Masters Degree in: Hard Knocks, Education and Socially and Educationaly Disadvantaged. With 20 years in the cattle industry, and more recently 12 years in the Samill Industry.   All of this without even a PhD.  And all this time, two disgrunted customers , oh well. :D 8) 8) 8) 8)
Frank Pender

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #21 on: December 25, 2001, 11:46:10 AM »
   Frank, if you have been in the cattle business, give yourself credit for a BS, MS and PhD... Bulls..t, more s..t, piled high and deep. I first heard that from the head of our nursing school, who had just completed her PhD, and so could personally testify to the shoveling aspect of it..you can also say with Stallone- 'Take this job and shovel it..' :D  I speak as one who knows- addicted to cattle for 11 out of the last 17 years. I took a 6-year break from 89-95, but couldn't stay away. I have to have a herd going.. :)  lw
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline Jeff_Green

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2001, 04:33:58 AM »
 :)I enjoy reading all of the contributors here!! I agree with Tom when he says that the main thing that brings customers back is when they feel they are getting what they are paying for, and on occasion, a little more.  How many of us would rather buy wood from Tom than from that Dr. _______? (although I doubt he has ever rolled a log on a mill before!) ...... I think it is far better to live by the spirit of the law than the letter of the law ....... Tom may feel a little unsure about his standing in a court of law - but I doubt he will ever need one because of the way he does business ....... Jeff Green :) :)

Offline Corley5

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Re: A Board Foot Conversation
« Reply #23 on: December 26, 2001, 04:29:29 PM »
Cattle.  We sold our herd in 1990.  It took some adjusting at first but now both Dad and I agree that it was the best thing we ever did.  No more being tied to the farm.  We can pack up and leave without worrying about someone else watching them, keeping fences in order, and shoveling or forking s#*!t etc.  A friend who has registered Angus animals almost had me convinced a couple years ago to get back into it.  Then at his place one day I happened to be there when a calf needed to be pulled.  I assisted with the operation, the calf was lost, the cow went for hamburger later, and after the reminder of what I was missing don't want cattle again.  Now we raise hay for sale to the growing number of horse people and raise 10 or twelve acres of corn as part of a rotation to kill weeds and quack grass in the hay fields.  My Grandpa had cattle his whole life, sold them when he was 72 and wished he'd done it sooner after he'd finally did it.
Burnt Gunpowder is the Smell Of Freedom


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