Wood Measurements

Lumber is a general term for all kinds of sawn wood. Logs may be sawn into timber, that is, beams and joists, into planks, which are 2" to 4" thick, or into boards which are from ¼" to 1¾" thick. These may be resawn into special sizes.

Lumber is measured by the superficial foot, which is a board 1" thick, 12" wide, and 12" long, so that a board 1" thick, (or ⅞" dressed) 6" wide and 12' 0" long, measures 6' B. M. (board measure). Boards 1" or more thick are sold by the "board foot" which is equivalent to 12" square and 1" thick. Boards less than 1" thick are sold by the square foot, face measure. Dressed lumber comes in sizes ⅛" less than sawn lumber. Regular sizes are:

  " dressed to ½"
  ¾ " dressed to ⅝"
1   " dressed to ⅞"
1 ¼ " dressed to 1⅛"
1 ½ " dressed to 1⅜"
2   " dressed to 1⅞"

Any of these may be dressed down to thinner boards, or resawn on a special band-saw.

In ordering it is common to give the dimensions wanted, in the order of thickness, width, and length, because that is the order in which dimensions are gotten out. E. g.:

6 pcs. quar. oak, ⅞" × 6" × 3'0"

2 pcs. quar. oak, ¾" × 7½" × 15"

If a piece wanted is short the way the grain goes, the order would be the same, thus: ¾" × 11" (wide) × 6" (long). That is, "long" means the way the grain runs. It is always safe to specify in such a case. It is common when small pieces are ordered to add one-quarter to the cost for waste.

In large lots lumber is ordered thus: 800' (B. M.) whitewood, dressed 2 sides to ⅞", 10" and up. This means that the width of any piece must not be less than 10". Prices are usually given per "M," i. e., per 1000 ft.: e. g.: basswood may be quoted at $40.00 per M.

When thin boards are desired it is often economical to buy inch stuff and have it resawn.

Some lumber is also ordered by the "running" or lineal foot, especially moldings, etc., or by the piece, if there is a standard size as in fence-posts, studs, etc. Laths and shingles are ordered by the bundle to cover a certain area. 1000 4" shingles (= 4 bundles) cover 110 sq. ft. with 4" weather exposure. 100 laths (1 bundle) each ¼" × 1½" × 4'0" cover about 150 sq. ft.

There are several methods of measuring lumber. The general rule is to multiply the length in feet by the width and thickness in inches and divide by 12, thus: 1" × 6" × 15' ÷ 12 = 7½ feet. The use of the Essex board-measure and the Lumberman's board-measure are described in another article.

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