Board Feet of Cedar in a Cord

Sawmillers talk rough equivalents: board feet, cords, and truckloads. December 6, 2009

I'm setting up the purchase of a semi load of cedar logs but I need to know how many board feet are in a cord if the logs are 8'6" long and 10"-15" on the small end? All the loggers I talk to sell by the cord and I need to figure out the footage so I can determine my sawing cost. I have my own mill.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
As a rough rule, 500 BF per cord, but it depends on size, species, bark, straightness and so on.

From contributor S:
Has your supplier said how many cords are on a tractor trailer load? Before this depression hit, I used to buy tractor trailer loads of logs from up to 150 miles away, and we'd get anywhere from 3200 to 3800 bd/ft out of a load, depending on log diameter.

From the original questioner:
The driver says with cedar he has hauled as much as 20 cords if he heaps it high, but for the most part 16 is the average. If I used your board footage per load on 16 cords that would only be 200--237 bd ft per cord. That doesn't sound right.

From contributor T:
It depends on the quality of the saw logs. The volume recovery from eastern red cedar can fluctuate fairly dramatically. If your logs are better than average, you can get waste as little as 10-15%, but because of the tendency of that species to have bark inclusion, crook, drastic taper, and heart rot in larger logs, you can also see waste as high as 40% in really low quality logs. I don't mill logs with that much waste.

I am fortunate to have high grade logs in this area - as far as ERC is concerned. The best cedar comes from stands which grow amongst taller hardwoods, because the lower branches die off, the bark inclusion is generally less, they tend to grow straighter, and older logs lose the drastic taper eventually. I see sound logs of larger diameters than what seems to be prevalent in other parts of the country as well.

Good quality ERC saw logs in the 12" to 16" small end range with few if any defects can produce a good amount of lumber with little waste. But if you get scrawny logs with even one or two of the aforementioned defects prevalent in most of the logs, your waste factor skyrockets in this species.

From contributor S:
If you go with Dr. Gene's number of 500 bd/ft a cord and your supplier's estimate of 16 cords/load, you'd have 8,000 bd/ft of lumber to a trailer load of logs. All I can say to that is, I'll believe that when I see it for myself. How much does your supplier want for a trailer load of logs?

From contributor R:
A cord is around 5600-5700 lbs (my broker uses 6K). Are you talking tandem trailers? If not, that's about 90k lbs per load.

From the original questioner:
Took a trip up to the UP (Michigan) yesterday and talked to the loggers and a few sawmills. Most were willing to sell but their prices were high from what I have paid in the past. Prices where $235 - $375/cord for saw logs 10" on the small end and up. Most lengths were 8'6". Trucking from there to me is about 350 miles round trip so that adds up as well.

From contributor B:
Gene, could your estimate be used in reverse, to tell how many cords or ricks would be in a log? For example; say a log scaled at 125 BF - could that also be a rick of wood?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I am not sure, but if you did I would guess that the estimate would be very rough.