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Woodworking Basics: Converting Board Feet to Square Feet


Are you often puzzled by the process of converting board feet to square feet in your projects? You’re not alone. This conversion is a fundamental skill in woodworking that can seem a bit tricky at first. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! 

In this quick and detailed guide, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of how to make this conversion with ease.

What are Board Feet?

Before we jump into the conversion, let’s quickly review what board feet are. A board foot is a unit of measure for the volume of lumber. It represents a piece of wood that is 12 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. 

Board feet measure volume, while square feet measure area.

Why Convert Board Feet to Square Feet?

Converting board feet to square feet becomes essential when you’re planning a project and need to know how much surface area you can cover with a given amount of lumber.

This knowledge helps in budgeting, purchasing the correct amount of material, and minimizing waste. Especially if you’re a small woodworking shop with limited layout space, staying organized and planning your projects appropriately can help you operate efficiently and protect your profit margins.

Step-by-Step Guide: Converting Board Feet to Square Feet

When you need to convert board feet to square feet, you can follow a few simple formulas to calculate the number you need. Don’t hesitate to use a pen and paper or calculator to help you make the conversation. 

A. Measure the Lumber. Start by measuring the length, width, and thickness of your lumber in inches. Consider double-checking the measurements before moving on.

B. Calculate the Board Feet. Once you have the measurements, use this formula to get the board feet:

Board Feet = Length (in inches) x Width (in inches) x Thickness (in inches) / 144 

C. Convert to Square Feet. Since one board foot is equal to one square foot of wood one inch thick, to convert board feet to square feet for boards of different thicknesses, divide the number of board feet by the thickness of the board in inches. Here is the formula:

Square Feet = Thickness (in inches) / Board Feet

Example Board Feet to Square Feet Calculation

Say you have a piece of wood that is 24 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 2 inches thick.

First, calculate the board feet: 24 x 6 x 2 / 144 = 2 board feet. Since the wood is 2 inches thick, divide 2 board feet by 2, which gives you 1 square foot.

Tips for Accurate Conversion

Calculating the right numbers for your project is absolutely crucial for a fast, efficient job well done. In order to minimize the time spent backtracking or redoing work due to inaccurate numbers, here are some tips to ensure your board feet to square feet conversions come out right every time.

  • Always measure each dimension of your lumber accurately. Make a habit of double-checking each measurement. As they say, “Measure twice and cut once.”
  • If dealing with irregularly-shaped pieces, break them into smaller rectangles for easier calculation.
  • Even if you’re strong with math, it doesn’t hurt to double-check your calculations – especially in large, multi-faceted projects with many pieces to measure. For more complex projects, use a calculator or a conversion app.

Your Woodworking Partner, Ready to Help

Mastering the conversion of board feet to square feet is a valuable skill in woodworking that can greatly enhance your project planning and execution. If you’re used to winging it, give this method a try – you may find a lot of benefit to going in with a concrete plan!

Here at Dakota Premium Hardwoods, we’re here to support your business in any way we can. From helping you navigate the world of woodworking auctions to providing the materials and supplies you need to operate, we’re your partner for long-term success.

We supply our locations with an extensive selection of high-quality hardwood lumber and plywood, ready for immediate pickup. No need to make an appointment – just stop by and pick out what you need! Our experienced staff are standing by and ready to help. Contact us today. 


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