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Lumber and Wood Terminology


Hardwoods and Softwoods

These terms are misleading.  The term "hardwood" has no bearing on the actual hardness of the wood.  Hardwoods come from deciduous flowering broadleaved trees.  Softwoods come from coniferous trees with needlelike leaves--most are evergreen, but a few are deciduous such as larch.  Some "hardwoods," aspen and balsa for example, are much softer than some hard "softwoods" such as yew and larch.


Lumber Measurement

The thickness of lumber is read in quarters of inches.
four-quarters 4/4
five-quarters 5/4
six-quarters 6/4
eight-quarters 8/4

In rough lumber (also called nominal thickness or size) that has not been surfaced (planed smooth).

           4/4 rough  =   1"      board thickness
           5/4 rough  =   1"   board thickness
           6/4 rough  =   1"   board thickness
           8/4 rough  =    2"     board thickness

But surfaced lumber that has been planed smooth may vary slightly in thickness.

           4/4 surfaced  =  "    to   13/16"
           5/4 surfaced  =  1"     to    1 1/8"
           6/4 surfaced  =  1"  to    1 3/8"
           8/4 surfaced  =  1"    etc.


Green and Net Lumber

If you were to buy 1000 feet of lumber on a "Green Measure," you would actually get 930 feet of lumber, but if you were to buy 1000 feet of lumber using a "Net Measure," you would get 1000 feet of lumber.


A Board Foot

One  Board Foot is a unit of measurement that is

            1 foot square by 1 inch thick
                   144 cubic inches

Either multiply the length in feet times the thickness in inches times the width in inches and then divide by 12

            length'  x  thickness"  x  width"  / 12  =  1 bf


Multiply the length in inches times the thickness in inches times the width in inches and then divide by 144

           length"  x  thickness"  x  width"  / 144  =  1 bf


Click here to use Hobbywoods' Board Foot Calculator



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