Knowledge Center

How Lumber Prices are Calculated

Lumber calculations can be confusing, even for veteran woodworkers.  Starting with our Roughsawn Pricelist (on ‘Lumber’ page) you’ll see prices from $3-8/Boardfoot (Bf).  These prices apply for 4/4 (1″) thickness, 8″ widths and 6′ lengths or less.  As you get up in all 3 dimensions prices will increase incrementally.  For 8/4 (2″) thick boards the widths increase up to 20″+ or even 30″+, lengths may be from 4′ to 14′.  For the species with a base price of $3/bf (Ash, Elm, Maple, Poplar, Pine) most of the 8/4 or thicker stock will be $6-12/bf.  The Quantity of lumber (Bf-age) is the main factor, but  Qualities also effect the end price.  IE- for defects (cupping, twist or checks (cracks)) price will be reduced; but for special figuring (quilt, birdseye, spalt) or uniqueness of species/size prices will increase.

What is a ‘Boardfoot’?

The Quantity of lumber is a volume measurement – One square foot, one inch thick.  IE- 1 Bf = 12″ x 12″ x 1″.  For roughsawn, and especially ‘live-edge’ lumber the measurement is an approximation – we will average a width which varies by drawing a line inside of the useable surface.  Similarly thicknesses in roughsawn will typically vary by 1/8″ – volume is measured by averaging down to the nearest 1/4″.

We do not cut our lumber down to stock sizes.  We may cut 4/4, 5/4, 8/4, 10/4,12/4 thicknesses but the widths are usually limited only by the size of the tree and of our milling capacity.  Our Bandmill will produce 32″ wide boards – we can mill up to 48″ wide with our chainsaw mill.

Board feet are calculated by multiplying the surface area of the lumber (measured in square feet) by the thickness of the lumber (measured in inches).


A board that’s 1” thick, 12” wide and 24” long is:
(1 foot wide) x (2 feet long) x (1 inch thick) = 2 board feet of lumber.

A board that’s 2” thick, 12” wide and 24” long is:
(1 foot wide) x (2 feet long) x (2 inches thick) = 4 board feet of lumber.

Calculating Project Costs:

Determine the finished boardfeet you will need.  This can be as simple as ‘square feet’ x thickness of a single board (counter, bartop, tabletop, mantle, shelf…) or it can come from a ‘cut list’ for more involved projects.  Even if you are working with surfaced lumber you will have a waste factor as you clean up and cut to size.  You can expect to have a 10-20% waste factor, depending on how close the boards match your requirements.  If you are starting with roughsawn the factor can easily go up over 30%.  For narrow, 4/4 material you can get a pretty close estimate just by checking the roughsawn pricelist and adding $1/bf for surfacing.  For wider and thicker material it becomes more critical to choose the exact boards that match the requirements of your project.  This means either you coming out to our yard and picking thru boards, or sending us an email with your requirements and giving us a few days to look thru stock and give you a quote.