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More Questions Asked And Answered

Multi-ethnic arms outstretched to ask questions.Sometimes we have questions that we either need the answer to or just are curious about it. The next 3 posts I will have some of these listed, as we have done in the past here. Here are the first of them:

Question: Exactly what is a board foot?

In a piece of wood, how do I determine the number of board feet?

Answer: In measuring lumber, a board foot is a common unit. A board foot is equal to the volume of a 1 foot long x 1 foot wide x 1 foot thick board or simply put 144 cubic inches. Therefore, if you wish to calculate board feet use the formula below:

One board foot= Thickness in Inches x Width in Inches x Length in Feet / 12

For instance, a piece of wood measuring 3” thick by 24” wide by 10’ long =

3 x 24 x 10 = 720

720/12 = 60 BF

Question: What is a good food-safe finish?

What type of finish should I use on children’s toys?

Answer: Shellac is very safe, offers a beautiful finish, and is very durable. Shellac is actually USDA approved for sealing vegetables, candy, medications, and fruits. However, in the US all finishes sold are safe only after they are dried and cured. The same applies to stains. Upon the evaporation of solvents, the cured film is safe for contact with food.

This however does not mean that the finish itself is actually safe to consume. It just means that additives such as plasticizers and heavy-metal driers have been encapsulated well enough when the finish has dried so that they never leach out. In case you wished for something that is food safe throughout the entire process then you can use shellac that you have dissolved in 190-proof alcohol from a liquor store.

The main thing is allowing for the necessary drying and curing times for the finish. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and if in doubt, ask for a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

Question: I commonly see wood sold as 6/4, 4/4, 5/4 etc. or hear to it being referred to as “eight quarter,” “four-quarter,” etc. What does this mean?

Answer: Wood is commonly listed like this as lumberyards and dealers measure the material’s thickness in fours or increments of a quarter of an inch. Thus, 6/4 is 1.5 inches thick, 4/4 or “four-quarter” is an inch thick, 8/4 is 2 inches thick, etc.

Watch for the next post on “Questions Asked And Answered.” More to come!

Updated: January 18, 2015 — 7:56 pm
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