Cedar and Log Scale Accuracy

      Advice on estimating the amount of recoverable lumber in some Eastern Red Cedar logs. March 26, 2009

Which log volume scale do you guys with sawmills find to be more accurate? I'm having some eastern red cedar and some yellow popular sawn on a band saw mill. I just want to know if I have cut enough logs.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor F:
For the most part the sawyer should get as much as 10 percent more on a band mill than either of the three scales. Of course the quality of the logs and the skill level of the sawyer are the key determinants.

When I charge by the board foot, I measure by the board footage of the lumber sawn. On another note, depending on where the red cedar has grown you will probably need to cut more than you initially planned. If the trees are old, there will be rot in the center of the stump cut. If they are field grown there will be a severe taper which substantially reduces board footage. Remember to measure the diameter from the log's small end. Pardon me if I told you something you already know.

From contributor L:
International will probably come about the closest.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The most accurate is likely the International 1/4 inch. But since you may be working on a thinner band saw, try the International 1/8 inch.

From contributor C:
Where ERC normally grows the cedar scale is used. The best wood in cedar is the heart wood, the opposite of hardwood logs. The cedar scale will have some overrun when using a band mill, somewhere between 10 and 30 percent. There are a couple of reasons for the variation.

1. Log ends are somewhat irregular in shape and can be measured to give different diameters.

2. A log that measures exactly 7" has 14 board feet according to the scale and a log that is just under 8" (19' on the scale) still measures at 14 feet. One log will saw out a lot more footage than the other.

Cedar scale for 8' long logs
4" 4'
5" 7'
6" 11'
7" 14 or 15' depending on the area of country
8" 19'
9" 24'
10" 30'
11" 36'
12" 43'
13" 50'
14" 58'
15" 67'
16" 76'
After 16" cedar in our area is normally measured on Doyle scale.

From contributor S:
If you are sawing a lot of small logs, say 11" and smaller, and sawing all 4/4, then you won't make scale on international. International log scale has higher footage than Doyle or Scribner for logs below 24" or so. Sawing "heavy" meaning 1/8" over nominal, will add up on big logs if you saw all boards and no cants. So the over-run you are going to get depends somewhat on what you are sawing (thickness) and the diameter of the log. If you use Doyle scale, you'll have more lumber than you need for your project. Itís always good to account for a waste factor as well.

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