What exactly is a board foot, and how do you determine how many board feet in a tree?
A board foot is the unit of measurement used for the volume of lumber in the US as well as Canada. It’s used in all sorts of construction projects, from furniture building to structural design, as well as for calculating how much a tree is worth from a material standpoint.
But, before you can figure this amount, you need to know which system you’ll use.
Try this log Board Foot Calculator right now to see how man board feet in a tree…any tree.
What is a Board Foot Calculator?
A board foot calculator used a specific method, such as the Doyle Log Scale, to determine how much salable wood is in a tree.
One board foot is equal to the volume of a 305mm length of board that is 1 foot wide and 25.4mm (1 inch) thick.
One thousand board feet is referred to as MBF.
The following are equal to 1 board foot:
 1 foot x 1 foot x 1 inch
 12 inch x 12 inch x 1 inch
 144 in3
 1/12 ft3
 ≈ 2,360 cubic cm
 ≈ 2.36 liters
 ≈ 0.00236 cubic meters/steres
 1/1980 Petrograd Standard
A board foot is instrumental in measuring rough lumber, before the lumber is dry and before planing is done. Planed and surfaced lumber is also measured using the board foot.
Related Reading: How Many Trees Cut Down Each Year or in 2022? The Deforestation Crisis Explained
Tree Dimensions
Tree dimensions are established through tree volume estimation, and measuring tree diameter as well as measuring merchantable height.
Estimating tree volume is done by immersing cut logs or entire trees in a large tank filled with water, and then measuring the displaced volume of water.
Naturally, this process takes a lot of time and effort, which is why woodworkers and foresters use different, indirect methods to estimate tree volumes. These methods include using diameter at breast height (DBH) and height, as well as a volume table with a volume equation.
A great tool, called a Biltmore stick, is often used to measure tree diameters.
How Much Lumber in a Tree?
When determining how much lumber in a tree, the following Biltmore rule graduations must be considered:
Diameter Graduations on a stick  Distance in Inches From the End of Stick to Diameter Graduations  DiameterGraduations on Stick  Distance in Inches From End of Stick to Diameter Graduations 
5  4.6  18  13.7 
6  5.4  19  14.3 
7  6.2  20  14.9 
8  7.0  21  15.5 
9  7.7  22  16.0 
10  8.0  23  16.6 
11  9.2  24  17.1 
12  9.8  25  17.7 
13  10.5  26  18.2 
14  11.2  27  18.7 
15  11.8  28  19.2 
16  12.5  29  19.7 
17  13.1  30  20.2 
The tree diameter should be measured as follows:
 The Biltmore stick should be held at eye level, 25 inches away, in a horizontal position.
 The beveled edge of the stick should be held against the tree trunk at breast height.
 The zero ends of the stick must be lined up with the left side of the tree.
 The line of sight should be moved to the right side of the tree, without moving the head, and the diameter that comes into the line of sight should be read.
The diameter of a tree can also be measured by wrapping a tape measure around the circumference of the tree. The tape measure should be at 4.5 feet above the base of the tree and the circumference should be divided by 3.14 π, to calculate the tree’s diameter.
When measuring the height of a tree, units of 16foot logs or fractions are used. When a tree is straight and slim, the measurement stretches to a point on the upper trunk where the diameter measures eight inches inside the bark.
Older trees should be measured between the height of the stump and the remaining usable height of the tree, minus excess branches.
The Merritt rule for measuring tree heights can be inscribed on the Biltmore stick by marking graduations of 6.1 inches from the zero sides of the stick.
Every graduation represents a 16foot log (in length). The halflog marks should be inscribed halfway in between the 16footlong marks, and the following method should be used for measuring.
 Stand at least 66 feet away from the tree base, and raise the stick vertically 25 inches from eye level.
 The stick’s zero ends should be in the line of sight with the maximum limit of usable height.
 The line of sight should be shifted to stump height at the tree base, which is generally between twelve and sixteen inches above ground level. The scale should be used to read the number of logs, or fractions, related to the tree.
Determining Tree Volume
Determining tree volume follows the measuring of the height and diameter of the trees. The board foot content for each relevant tree is read from a volume table and board foot volume can be calculated in different ways.
The below table indicates the board foot values when trees are personally felled and the logs transported to the mill (international rule applies):^{1}
Diameter 4 ½ feet above the ground (inches)  Number of 16foot logs


1  2  3  4  
Volume in board feet  
Diameter: 10  35  60  
Diameter: 11  45  Volume: 75  
Diameter: 12  Volume: 55  Volume: 90  Volume: 120  
Diameter: 13  Volume: 65  Volume: 110  Volume: 145  
Diameter: 14  Volume: 80  Volume: 130  Volume: 175  
Diameter: 15  Volume: 90  Volume: 155  Volume: 200  
Diameter: 16  Volume: 180  Volume: 240  Volume: 285  
Diameter: 17  Volume: 205  Volume: 280  Volume: 330  
Diameter: 18  Volume: 235  Volume: 315  Volume: 375  
Diameter: 19  Volume: 265  Volume: 360  Volume: 425  
Diameter: 20  Volume: 295  Volume: 400  Volume: 480  
Diameter: 21  Volume: 330  Volume: 450  Volume: 540  
Diameter: 22  Volume: 370  Volume: 500  Volume: 605  
Diameter: 23  Volume: 405  Volume: 550  Volume: 665  
Diameter: 24  Volume: 440  Volume: 605  Volume: 725  
Diameter: 25  Volume: 485  Volume: 665  Volume: 800  
Diameter: 26  Volume: 725  Volume: 880  
Diameter: 27  Volume: 790  Volume: 950  
Diameter: 28  Volume: 850  Volume: 1,030  
Diameter: 29  Volume: 920  Volume: 1,110  
Diameter: 30  Volume: 990  Volume: 1,070 
The next table is applicable to selling standing trees in the Lower Peninsula (Doyle rule applies):
Diameter 4 ½ feet above the ground (inches)  Number of 16foot logs


1  2  3  4  
Volume in board feet  
Diameter: 10  Volume: 15  Volume:20  
Diameter: 11  Volume:20  Volume:30  
Diameter: 12  Volume:30  Volume:45  Volume:50  
Diameter: 13  Volume:40  Volume:60  Volume:70  
Diameter: 14  Volume:50  Volume:75  Volume:95  
Diameter: 15  Volume:60  Volume:95  Volume:120  
Diameter: 16  Volume:115  Volume:150  Volume:170  
Diameter: 17  Volume:140  Volume:180  Volume:210  
Diameter: 18  Volume:165  Volume:215  Volume:250  
Diameter: 19  Volume:195  Volume:255  Volume:300  
Diameter: 20  Volume:225  Volume:295  Volume:350  
Diameter: 21  Volume:260  Volume:345  Volume:400  
Diameter: 22  Volume:295  Volume:390  Volume:460  
Diameter: 23  Volume:330  Volume:445  Volume:520  
Diameter: 24  Volume:370  Volume:495  Volume:580  
Diameter: 25  Volume:415  Volume:560  Volume:660  
Diameter: 26  Volume:620  Volume:740  
Diameter: 27  Volume:685  Volume:815  
Diameter: 28  Volume:750  Volume:890  
Diameter: 29  Volume:825  Volume:980  
Diameter: 30  Volume:900  Volume:1,070 
The next table applies to trees that are in the Upper Peninsula (Scribner Decimal C rule):
Diameter 4 ½ feet above ground (inches)  Number of 16foot logs


1  2  3  4  
Volume in board feet  
Diameter: 10  Volume: 3  Volume: 4  
Diameter: 11  Volume: 4  Volume: 6  
Diameter: 12  Volume: 5  Volume: 8  Volume: 10  
Diameter: 13  Volume: 6  Volume: 9  Volume: 12  
Diameter: 14  Volume: 7  Volume: 11  Volume: 15  
Diameter: 15  Volume: 8  Volume: 14  Volume: 18  
Diameter: 16  Volume: 16  Volume: 21  Volume: 25  
Diameter: 17  Volume: 18  Volume: 25  Volume: 29  
Diameter: 18  Volume: 21  Volume: 28  Volume: 33  
Diameter: 19  Volume: 24  Volume: 32  Volume: 38  
Diameter: 20  Volume: 27  Volume: 36  Volume: 43  
Diameter: 21  Volume: 30  Volume: 41  Volume: 49  
Diameter: 22  Volume: 34  Volume: 46  Volume: 55  
Diameter: 23  Volume: 37  Volume: 51  Volume: 61  
Diameter: 24  Volume: 41  Volume: 56  Volume: 66  
Diameter: 25  Volume: 45  Volume: 62  Volume: 74  
Diameter: 26  Volume: 68  Volume: 81  
Diameter: 27  Volume: 74  Volume: 89  
Diameter: 28  Volume: 80  Volume: 96  
Diameter: 29  Volume: 86  Volume: 104  
Diameter: 30  Volume: 93  Volume: 112 
It must be noted that when these volume tables are used, the volume figures must be increased by 10% when the following tree types are measured:
 Balsam Fir Tree
 Ash Tree
 Spruce Tree
 Beech Tree
 White Oak Tree
 Black Cherry Tree
 Yellow Poplar Tree
Related Reading: How Many Trees Are in the World? By Country, Type, Year (Updated 2022)
Doyle Scale
The Doyle scale refers to the standard adhered to when hardwood lumber is traded (bought and sold) The Doyle scale is highly effective in estimating large and medium logs almost to the exact number, but it does underestimate smaller logs.^{2}
Doyle Log Scale
The Doyle log scale as well as the Doyle Log Rule was created in 1825, as a math formula used to determine board feet in any given tree.
The Doyle Log Rule permits a 5/16” saw kerb allowance and allotment of 4” for slabcutting purposes.
The Scribner Log Rule was created in 1846 and refers to the rule of diagrams, the process of which involves drawing simple crosssections of oneinch boards inside circles that indicate the view from the end of any given log.
A gap of a quarter inch is left in the middle of the boards. This is for saw kerf purposes (the cut that accumulates pulp from the tree as it saws).
The Scribner Decimal C rule differs from the Scribner rule, in that it rounds off the volumes to the closest 10 board feet.
The international quarterinch log rule was the latest addition to the mix, created in 1906.
The rule includes a quarter of an inch when it comes to saw kerf (which is the size of the most common blades), as well as a predetermined tapering allotment of half an inch for every 4 ft.^{3}
Doyle Log Calculator
The Doyle log scale in board feet is as follows:^{4}
Log Length (Feet)  
Diameter (Small end in inches)  8 inches  10 inches  12 inches  14 inches  16 inches  18 inches  20 inches 
8 inches  8  10  12  14  16  18  20 
10 inches  18  23  27  32  36  41  45 
12 inches  32  40  48  56  64  72  80 
14 inches  50  63  75  88  100  113  125 
16 inches  72  90  108  126  144  162  180 
18 inches  98  123  147  172  196  221  245 
20 inches  128  160  192  224  256  288  320 
22 inches  162  203  243  284  324  365  405 
24 inches  200  250  300  350  400  450  500 
26 inches  242  303  363  424  484  545  605 
28 inches  288  360  432  504  576  648  720 
30 inches  338  423  507  592  676  761  845 
32 inches  392  490  588  686  784  882  980 
34 inches  450  563  675  788  900  1013  1125 
36 inches  512  640  768  896  1024  1152  1280 
Diameter refers to the distance across the small cut end of the log and is measured over the shortest distance inside the bark. 
A Doyle log calculator provides a simple estimate for board feet.
The inputs required are as follows:
 Length of log (feet)
 Diameter of log (measure via small end in inches (inside bark)
This will then calculate the number of board feet.^{5}
Board Feet in a Log Calculator
A board feet in a log calculator, also referred to as a board foot log rule calculator, estimates the board foot yield of any given log with the Scribner or Doyle log scale rules or the International log rule.
This calculator is also used to estimate the boardfoot yield of standing trees.
How To Calculate Board Feet in a Log
How to calculate board feet in a log, depends on the following calculations:
 Diameter inside bark (breast height in inches)
 Length of log (standing equals tree height (ft)
 Log rule or standing tree rule:
 Doyle
 Scribner
 International ¼” Kerf
 International ⅛” Kerf
 Doyle Standing Tree
 Scribner Standing Tree
 International ¼” Standing Tree
The output of these calculations is the estimated number of board feet.
Log Board Feet Calculation
Log board feet calculation can also be done using different methods such as weight log volume estimates or electronic log volume measurements.
However, log scaling methods remain the most popular, and traditional way to calculate board feet.
Log Board Foot Calculator
The log board foot calculator log rules are as follows:^{6}
 Doyle Rule
BF=(d−4)2(16)
L
 Scribner Rule
BF=(.79D2−2D−4)
 ¼” Kerf Log Rule
BF=0.055000LD2 + 0.006875L2D
−0.205000LD + 0.00028645833L3
−0.201281250L2 + 0.04666667L
 ⅛” Kerf Log Rule
BF=0.04976191LD2 + 0.006220239L2D
−0.1854762LD + 0.000259176L3
−0.01159226L2 + 0.04222222L
How To Calculate MBF of Timber
How to calculate MBF of timber requires the following steps:
 Define the base volume for a board foot. (volume is defined as 12x12x1 which equals 144 cubic inches)
 Convert cubic inches to cubic meters: (0.0254) ^3 = 0.0000164 cubic meters in a cubic inch.
 Convert base volume for BF into cubic meters: 255 x 0.0000164 equals 0.00236 cubic meters in a board foot.
 Use the board foot as a unit of measure for lumber that remains not planed, and not dried.
 Convert the board foot measure to the actual volume of planned lumber. This is done by reducing each linear dimension of lumber by onequarterinch for 2 inches and less, onehalfinch for 8 inches and less, and threequarterinch for 8 inches and more. The resulting measures should be multiplied to calculate the volume of planned lumber.^{7}
Board Feet Calculator for Standing Trees
The board feet calculator for standing trees requires the following inputs:
 Description
 Taper Factor
 Diameter at breast height
 Height in feet^{8}
How Many Board Feet in a Tree?
When determining how many board feet in a tree, the average board feet per tree should be noted.
What’s the Average Board Feet Per Tree?
The average board feet per mature tree is between 250 and 500.
How Many Board Feet in a Tree?
How many board feet in a tree calculations also include the question, how many 2×4 are in a tree?
How Many 2×4 in a Tree?
So, how many 2×4 in a tree?
There are approximately 19.2 2x4s in every tree. But, this number is drastically impacted by the size of the tree and the species.
Carbon Footprint of Building Materials
The carbon footprint of common building materials is as follows:
 Rammed earth – 48 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3.
 Softwood timber – 110 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3
 Crosslaminated timber – 219 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3
 Stone – 237 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3
 Clay brick – 345 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3
 Reinforced concrete – 635 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3
 Glass – 3600 kg of embodied CO_{2} per M3
 Steel – 12090 kg of embodied carbon per M3
 Aluminum – 18009 kg of embodied carbon per M3
How Many Trees Does It Take To Build a House?
In the US, the average board feet of lumber to build a 2,600 squarefoot home in 2013, was 16,380. This equals around 22 mature fir trees. However, the count does not end there, as another estimated 24 trees will be required for finishes such as roofing, flooring, and cabinetry.
All in all, it requires more than 20 mature Douglas Fir trees to construct 1,000 square feet of a house.
When determining how many trees does it take to build a house, and how many board feet in a tree, it is important to remember the impact of this type of construction on the environment, and that tree planting carbon offsets, like Climate Plus Program Green Construction can be used to erase those emissions, and replace the building materials used.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Many Board Feet in a Tree
How Many Board Feet in a Tree?
The average board feet per tree is between 250 and 500.
How Do You Measure the Board Feet in a Log?
Estimating the board feet in a log, requires the measuring of the average diameter of the smaller part of the log (inches), and measuring the length of the log (feet). The log scale should be moved to the point where these two measurements meet, which will provide the board foot output.
What Info Does a Log Board Feet Calculator Include?
A log board feet calculator requires the following inputs:
 Diameter in inches or fractions
 Length in feet and inches
 Number of logs
 Log scale (Doyle, Scribner, International)
How Does a Board Foot Calculator Log Work?
Board foot calculator log calculations are estimated using several inputs based on Doyle, Scribner, or International log rules.
What’s the Ikea Tiny House?
The Ikea Tiny House follows the ‘tiny home’ trend, but in a sustainable fashion, as it is ecofriendly.
What’s the Carbon Footprint of Timber?
One kilogram of timber produces up to 1.80 kg of CO_{2} emissions.
References
^{1}Peterson, G. (2015, November 16). How Much Lumber in that Tree? How Much Lumber in that Tree? (E2915). Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/how_much_lumber_in_that_tree_e2915>
^{2}Alabama Sawyer. (2022). How Much Wood Will My Log Yield  Doyle Scale Calculator. Alabama Sawyer. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://alasaw.com/pages/howmuchwoodwillmylogyielddoylescalecalculator>
^{3}Global Timber. (2022). Doyle Scale. Global Timber. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://www.globaltimberinc.com/doylescale.html>
^{4}Horigan Urban Forest Products. (2022). Doyle Log Scale in Board Feet. Horigan Urban Forest Products. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://horiganufp.com/wpcontent/uploads/2022/03/doylelogscale2022.pdf>
^{5}Spike’s Calculators. (2022). Doyle Log Rule Calculator. Spike’s Calculators. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://www.spikevm.com/calculators/logging/doylelogscale.php>
^{6}DQYDJ. (2022). Log Rule Board Feet Calculator. DQYDJ. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://dqydj.com/logruleboardfeetcalculator/>
^{7}Robinson, A. (2022). How to Calculate MBF of Lumber. Hunker. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <https://www.hunker.com/13401549/howtocalculatembfoflumber>
^{8}RD Concepts. (2022). Online Board Feet Calculator for Standing Trees. RD Concepts. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from <http://www.rdconcepts.net/StandingTree.aspx>
^{9}Tree log Photo by Ibrahim Rifath. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/pPftEflZHU>
^{10}a building under construction with scaffolding around it Photo by Sandy Millar. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/u1KG_wZTnkg>
^{11}Firewood on river photo by Ales Krivec. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/KnVmJDGWzU>