Misuse of the term "board feet"


drzaius
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I've been biting my tongue for ages on this, but in a covid pandemic induced fit of pedantry, I'm gonna vent here.

Way too often, people refer to how much they have used their planer or jointer by saying something like "I've run x number of board feet through it". That is a completely meaningless statement, unless you are stating the actual quantity of wood that has been turned into chips by said planer or jointer. Would it not be better to use "square feet" as a metric of how much work the machine has done?  

I'm not trying to offend any of the offenders, but it has become pervasive on many fora and YouTube videos and it must be stopped! Tell me folks, have I lost perspective? Does anyone agree with me? What are some of your favorite misused woodworking terms.

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Hum shots fired? Jokes, I just said this in another thread and completely agree with your assessment. Square feet is somewhat misleading as well because square feet measured running a 1" wide board through the center of the planer for 12000 feet is not the same as running a 12" wid board through the planer for 1000 feet.

I only use board feet because it's a number i can easily measure. I have reciepts for lumber purchased or i roughly know how much i start with. I know how much i use at the end of the year so that gives me a rough measurement. If each board foot takes 3 passes on the jointer and 2 through the planer that gives me a square footage for 4/4 thickness and it'd be a simple convertion to get other thicknesses. That's work though especially when i know in 2018 i bought 750 board feet and only have 50 BF left over.

Horsepower. It's a pointless number based off a conversion of torque and RPM. It tells you nothing IMO.

Measuring oil changes in miles.... or hours for that matter. It's assuming all miles or hours are equal.

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I guess bf is appropriate if the board is 4/4. But, do you refer to square foot, each time you run the board thru? And at what depth are you cutting? My brother is the worlds worst at asking me how many bf did I get out of a set of blades on the planer. I just tell him a s*#t pile of lumber as I have no earthly idea and don’t really care. He also asks how many hours I have in a project and I don’t own a stop watch. I guess if I depended on Woodworking for a living, it would matter but as a hobbyist, that would take the fun out of it. 

I like argumentative/debatable topics like this! :D

3 minutes ago, treeslayer said:

Lineal feet, BF, square feet-what I want is an hour meter on my planer because if it’s running I’m throwing boards at it. 

+1

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15 minutes ago, treeslayer said:

Lineal feet, BF, square feet-what I want is an hour meter on my planer because if it’s running I’m throwing boards at it. 

Darn,  you laid that to rest early if you are considering the wear on the machine. But if you are thinking about the blades you have to consider the width of the boards and where you place them before running each one of them thru. 

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15 minutes ago, Coop said:

Darn,  you laid that to rest early if you are considering the wear on the machine. But if you are thinking about the blades you have to consider the width of the boards and where you place them before running each one of them thru. 

Too much thinking hurts my head, when it stops cutting good I change the blades, but I would like to know how many hours I’ve run it

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9 hours ago, drzaius said:

"I've run x number of board feet through it".

It is square feet, clearly. Except when planning thicker material it is more work because of the weight to be handled. But still square feet is the answer.

But i never start with a board rough on 2 sides and never a complete board. I start by cutting the required pieces slightly bigger still in rough. Next I true one face on the jointer.  Now the wood is ready for the planer. It has a flat surface for the planer bed so when planed it is equal to the jointed side. The more perfect that I can dress the wood the easier it is to complete the project. To me, it is like building a foundation for a building. If the foundation is not true then the construction is more difficult to complete.

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My pet peeves are mostly in word usage:  a line is straight not strait, sandpaper is coarse not course.  For planing and jointing board feet would be an good measure if it referred to the volume of material removed, not the remainder, but who want's to do that math...machine hours are probably the most useful.

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