|Unlike softwoods, which are sold in
standardized dimensions, hardwoods are sold in random widths and lengths. So to
tell how much wood hardwood boards contain, they are measured in board feet. "Board
Feet" is a volume measurement. One board foot equals 144 cubic inches.
Often, a board foot is illustrated as a board 1"-thick x 12"-wide x
12"-long, but you'll rarely find lumber in those dimensions. Any board containing
a total of 144 cubic inches of wood equals one board feet, regardless of its proportions.
To calculate the number of board feet in a piece of lumber, multiply the board's
thickness by its width, then its length, all in inches. Then divide by 144:
(thickness x width x length)/144
For example, a 1" x 9" x 96"-long board equals six board feet (1x9x96=864/144=6).
If this board were 1-1/2"-thick, it would contain 9 board feet (1.5x9x96=1296/144=9).
For these purposes, a 3/4"-thick board is considered to be a full inch thick.
Thinner stock is not typically described in board feet. Also, hardwood thickness
is expressed differently than softwood -- in quarters of an inch. A 4/4 (say "four-quarter")
board is 1"-thick. A 1-1/2"-thick board is expressed as 6/4. This often
reflects the rough-sawn thickness. Surfaced lumber will be slightly thinner.
Go to Tip #5