Net measure vs. gross measure

      If you're not careful, gross measure may mean shrinking profits. February 12, 2001

by Keith D. Atherholt

Kiln dried hardwood lumber is sold by the board foot, and the method used to tally the board footage can make a significant difference in the true cost. Hardwood lumber can be measured two ways: "net" measure, or "gross" measure.

NET measure means that the lumber has been tallied, or counted, after it has completed the drying process.

GROSS, or green, measure means that the lumber has been tallied before it went to the kiln, or while it was still considered "green".

It's no secret that wood shrinks as it dries, and most kilns will produce lumber with a moisture content in the 6% - 8% range. This kiln drying process causes these hardwood boards to shrink between 5% to 9% along the tangential plane (generally the width of the board), with 7% being accepted as the industry standard.

In order to accurately compare price quotes, you must know which method of measure is being used.

Consider scenario #1: A salesperson quotes you a NET measure price of $1800 per thousand board feet ($1800/m), and you order a thousand board feet (bd/ft). Your bill for the lumber should be $1800, and the quantity delivered should measure 1000 bd/ft.

Now consider scenario #2: A salesperson quotes you a GROSS measure price of $1800 per thousand board feet ($1800/m), with a shrinkage factor of 7%. You order a thousand board feet (bd/ft). If your bill lists quantity at 1000 bd/ft and the cost is $1800, then the quantity delivered should measure 930 bd/ft (1000 bd/ft minus the shrinkage factor of 7%). If the quantity delivered measures 1000 bd/ft, then the bill should be $1935.48 (the $1800/m price is adjusted to compensate for the shrinkage factor).

So how does a woodworker compare gross measure quotes to net measure quotes? The simplest way is to have all suppliers use net measure for pricing. This eliminates the need to adjust for shrinkage factors. If this isn't possible, you'll need to convert the gross measure price to a net measure price.

Many buyers make this conversion by adding the shrinkage factor to the green measure price. Increasing the green measure price by the shrinkage factor will get you close to a comparative cost, but will not give you the true comparative cost. For example: You've just been quoted a price of $1800 per thousand board feet ($1800/m), with a shrinkage factor of 7%. Adding 7% to $1800 results in a revised cost of $1926/m.

To obtain the true comparative cost, you must divide the quoted gross measure price by the inverse of the shrinkage factor. Using the figures from the example above, divide $1800 by .93 (the inverse of the 7% shrinkage factor). The result is $1935.48/m.

After you have converted and compared the pricing, and placed your order, be sure to measure and verify the quantity when the lumber is delivered. That is the final step to insure you received what you expected, shrinkage or no shrinkage.

Keith D. Atherholt is President of Lewis Lumber Products

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber and Plywood

  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber & Plywood: Buying

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Air Drying Lumber

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Yield Formulas

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article