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Calculating Board Feet

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From: Ron Lindsey
Rockford, IL
How do you measure board foot to calculate approx. price and what is the difference for veneer, what does that mean? We cut down a tree and recently learned it is a black walnut. Now what do we do? Someone offered to haul it way for firewood, bad idea, eh? 24" dia.. x 12 ft. and one still standing- a little larger. Lead us in the right direction. Thanks!

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Dear Ron:

In Illinois, we commonly use the Doyle log and tree scale to determine board feet. Board feet for logs is a function of diameter inside bark (DIB) at the smallest end of the log and log length. In your example, the estimated board feet would be approximately 243 board feet.


Diameter of log = 24 inches

Approx. DIB = 22 inches

Log length (L) = 12 feet

Board Feet (Doyle) = ((DIB-4)^2 * L) / 16

Board Feet = ((22-4)^2*12) / 16

Board Feet = 243

So, how much is this black walnut log worth? Good's worth whatever someone is willing to pay you! HOWEVER, the going stumpage rate for quality black walnut right now is around $0.80 - $2.00/bd ft for sawlogs (used to make lumber) and $3.00 - 10.00/bd ft for veneer logs (used to make fine face veneer for furniture, architectural paneling, etc.).

Several questions your log good quality or poor quality? Is this a yard tree that may or may not have metal or lots of defect in it? Is it worth trying to sell to a custom sawmill operator or logger? On the other hand, is it worth more as firewood? These are the kind of questions that usually require the onsite visit of a forester or someone whom you trust to provide you with an unbiased opinion.

Therefore, as I have stated in several other "Ask a Forester" questions, here are your options:

(1) Contact a custom/portable sawmill owner

(2) Contact your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) District Forester and have him/her recommend a local timber buyer or portable sawmill operator.

(3) Contact a local professional consulting forester who may be able to assist you in finding a buyer for your walnut tree and log.

(4) Contact a timber buyer directly from the Department of Natural Resources Licensed Timber Buyers List

(5) Place an advertisement in your local newspaper to see if you can solicit interest in your black walnut log.

Good luck!

From: stuart jones jones
hawkinsville, GA
consider calling a local portable saw mill owner, often they can saw it to usable sizes and yuo will be ahead of the game and have some beautiful wood to use yourself or sell to a furniture maker locally.

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