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What is a Board Foot?

What is a Board Foot?

A board foot is a wood measurement for a piece of lumber 12" wide by 1' long by 1" thick for estimating purposes. Board foot, or board feet, is commonly abbreviated as FBM, BDFT, or BF. Learn how to figure board feet in your next stack of lumber below.


How to Calculate Board Feet

Sawmillers and most suppliers use board feet as a unit of wood measurement. It's important for you to know and understand how to calculate board feet and board feet pricing for your sawmill business.

The basic calculation for board feet is:

Thickness X Width X Length / 12 = BDFT
1" T X 12" W X 1' L / 12 = 1 BDFT

A 2 X 4 - 10' has 6.667 board feet:

2 X 4 X 10 / 12 = 6.667 BDFT

A 2 X 10 -16' has 26.67 board feet:

2 X 10 X 16 / 12 = 26.667 BDFT


To calculate the board footage for a number of pieces at one time:

PCS X T X W X L / 12 = BDFT


To calculate the board footage in an 84 piece unit of 2 X * - 12:

84 X 2 X 8 X 12 / 12 = 1,344 BDFT


It's important to remember that 5/4 stack-like deck plank, is considered thicker than 1" stock. This means when calculating board footage for 5/4" stock you must use 1.25 as the thickness instead of 1.


For example, to calculate the board footage of a 5/4 X 6-14' piece of material:

1.25 X 6 X 14 / 12 = 8.75 BDFT


Compare this to the board foot calculation for a standard 14' board:

1 X 6 X 14 / 12 = 7 BDFT


Another way to quickly calculate board feet is to memorize the board feet in each lineal foot of standard dimensional material. For example, there is .667 board feet in 1 lineal foot of 2 X 4. To calculate the board footage by the length:

.667 X 10 = 6.67 BDFT


The table below lists the board feet in a 1' piece of lumber for each dimension:


Lumber Dimension  Board Foot Measurement
 1x4  .334
 2x4 .667
1x6 .5
2x6 1
1x8 .667
2x8 1.334
1x10 .834
2x10 1.667
1x12 1
2x12 2
5/4x4 .416
5/4x6 .625


When calculating the board feet in a random width product, such as oak boards, you use the actual width in inches, not the nominal width. Since you use the actual width in inches in the calculation you also enter the length in inches as well, then divide by 144, instead of 12  because there are 144 square inches in a square per board foot.

Let's say you have a piece of random width oak with an actual size of 7/8" thick by 7 3/4" wide by 63" long. The board foot calculation for this piece would be:

1 X 7.75 X 63 / 144 = 3.39 BDFT


Now you know how to calculate board foot in a piece of lumber. Learn how to charge per board foot in the How to Charge for Sawing Services article. 

Start your learning with a comprehensive list of popular sawmilling terminology.

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