Linear Foot Vs Board Foot

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This is Linear Foot vs Board Foot. In this post, I’ll quickly show you the difference between the two terms, and why you need to know them as a woodworker. Enjoy.

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Linear Foot vs Board Foot

Linear-Foot-Vs-Board-FootIn woodworking, there is a lot of terminology that you have to learn as a beginner. It’s the same as with other hobbies, however woodworking also reaches into the mathematical realm for a lot of the terminology.

This means that on top of learning a bunch of terms that are specific to woodworking, you also get to learn some terms that are part of mathematics. Aren’t you lucky? Even though you’ll have a lot to learn, it’s a fun process if you just take your time and learn it.

That being said, in this post I’m going to talk about the difference between linear feet and board feet. There is a big difference between a linear foot and a board foot, and any and knowing the difference between the two is very important.

See Also: A Beginners Guide to Woodworking

What is a Linear Foot

A linear foot is simply 1 foot in distance that travels along a straight line. There is nothing more to it than that, and it’s not any fancier even when you call it a linear foot. A linear foot is just a regular foot of measurement that has a prettier name.

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The way you would measure the linear foot is by taking a ruler or tape measure and measuring from the one fixed point to another fixed point that is 1 foot away. It’s important that the distance is in a straight line, but that’s about it. It’s a measurement of length. 

You can also have measurements in linear feet, which is just more than one. For example, a 33 foot long board can be measured as 33 linear feet. That’s the basics of it, just remember you’re measuring distance by the foot in a straight line.

See Also: Countersink Vs Counterbore

What is a Board Foot

A board foot is a lot different than a linear foot. A board foot is a measurement of a piece of wood that is 1 foot wide, 1 foot long, and 1 inch thick. It’s a unit of measure for volume, not an actual piece of wood.

You can think of a board foot as one unit. When you have natural wood for sale, you never really know how wide or long it’s going to be. For that reason, the board foot was invented to create an easy way to measure randomly sized planks.

While the linear foot is good at measuring distance and nothing else, the board foot is better for giving you volume. When you want to know how much wood is there, that’s the time to measure by the board foot.

See Also: Woodworking Tips and Quick Learning

When to Use Linear Feet

Linear feet is typically used when the size of the material doesn’t really matter. If the length is really the only factor, then you buy something by the linear foot. For example, door trim will be sold by the linear foot, because it’s the only dimension that changes.

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Since all the pieces of a particular style will be the same size other than their length, you don’t really need to measure any of the other dimensions. You simply go by the linear foot, and you’re all set.

When to Use Board Feet

If you’re trying to determine the volume of a piece of wood, then you need to measure by the board foot. This is a technique where you figure out the volume in cubic inches, and then you divide them by 144 to converted into board feet.

When you buy a piece of wood from the woodworking store, it will be sold by the board foot. This is because there may be pieces that are an inch wide in the same bin that there are pieces that are 12 inches wide.

If the wood was sold by the linear foot, you would be a fool not to grab the widest pieces you possibly could, because you’ll be getting so much extra wood. That’s why it’s not sold that way, because linear feet doesn’t take into account the other dimensions.

See Also: 15 Great Places to Get Woodworking Wood

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know the difference between linear feet and board feet, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. Now, you don’t need to go out there and start measuring things, but at least have a good understanding of the difference between his two methods of measurement.

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

Remember, a linear foot is simply a measurement of length. It takes absolutely no interest or account for the volume of what you’re measuring. A board foot in contrast is more concerned with the volume regardless of the length.

If you have any questions about linear foot or board foot and how to tell the difference between the two and when to use them, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
Buy My Books on Amazon

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

 

You Can Find My Books on Amazon!

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