Definition: Board Foot

How Is Wood Measured?

Wood comes in so many sizes and shapes, it is difficult to find a standard way to measure it. So, there are more than one type of measurement systems.

Board Foot is a system to measure lumber by volume after it has been cut into boards, but before it is smoothed with planing. Before planing, the lumber is called rough or rough cut. This means that it uses the measurement of a board prior to planing or the application of a straight-line rip.

What is Planing?

Planing can mean several things. For example, a woodworker may use a hand plane to make a board smooth to reduce the amount of sanding it needs. In this case, planing is done by a motorized machine that makes the lumber smooth and ready for sanding, depending on how it will be used.

What is a Straight-line Rip?

Planing is usual done to the top and bottom of a plank. A straight-line rip is done to the sides. This process makes the sides straight so that a woodworker can line it up with their table saw fence.

How to Calculate Board Footage

Thickness (in inches) X Width (in inches) X Length (in feet)
Then divide the product by 12

Example: 1″ X 6″ X 10’ divided by 12 = 5 BF

Example: 3″ X 4″ X 16’ divided by 12 = 16 BF

Board footage can also be calculated for smaller pieces, such as turning blanks, as follows:

Example: 2″ X 18″ X 18″ divided by 144 = 0.5 BF

How to Calculate Board Footage on Live Edge Wood

Most of our Live Edge Pieces are sold by the Board Foot. Because of the irregular shape, board foot is an approximation.

To calculate board footage for irregularly shaped pieces we measure an average of the width, the overall length, and the thickness.  We then apply the above formula.

Related Term: see Linear Foot / Lineal Foot.