Mark B Page Chartered Forester
Timber Measurement  -  United Kingdom

Why measure timber?

In the UK context, poor timber prices over the last couple of decades have meant that most sawmills and timber harvesting companies have been content to sell parcels of timber by weight.

The only advantage to selling timber by weight is - it's simple!

Even the products where weight is prima facie the best way to sell a particular parcel of timber, there are pitfalls, which leave the buyer or the sellers sometimes shrugging their shoulders and saying 'You win some, you lose some'

How much timber is here?

How much timber is here?
How much is it worth?

For example 25 tonnes of pulpwood or chipwood driven a long distance from the forest to the processor may gain weight on wet day or snowy day. The seller wins.

Conversely timber left at roadside may lose so much water by evaporation and transpiration that the weight may reduce by 7% in about 3 weeks. Much more can be lost if there has been much bark stripping by harvesting machinery, or if the timber has been left in very desiccating winds during the spring for example. In excess of 20% is not unusual. In this case the buyer wins, and the seller may lose all profit on the job, profit margins in forestry generally being slim.

However timber has one constant: volume.

Volume remains virtually the same regardless of how the round wood is treated. Sawmills sell their products by volume.

Nowadays with timber prices rising there is more need to undertake volume assessments of parcels of timber for sale.

The new sawmill at Dalbeattie, now purchases timber based on volume.

In other industries, buyers and sellers know what the deal is about, a known quantity.

For example: A housewife will buy 1kg of sugar, a builder 20 KG of cement are a couple of simple examples. We know what we want or need to buy and we specify it and receive it in exchange for the agreed sum. Another example could be that we specify the make and model of a vehicle. If on the day of delivery it is the wrong make or model or colour we can return it (or not accept it).

Local authorities employ trading standard officers who check the weights and measures of retailers in order to be sure that a purchaser is protected.

Should the forestry industry be any different?

In light of the value of UK timber there is pressure on buyers to be sure of the volume of the timber they intend purchase. Caveat emptor may be an ancient statement, but it is still true.

Sellers who wish to deal honourably with prospective purchasers, and build a good reputation will also benefit from pre sale measurement, placing on the market a measured quantity of timber.

Measuring Scots Pine

Measuring Scots Pine,
Scottish Borders.

Timber Measurement by Tape

Tools, including Masser electronic
calipers, make data
collection efficient.

Using the Laserace

Using the Laserace.

I offer the service to measure timber in the UK, using well established and recognised methods of gathering the information, approved by the Forestry Commission.

These are:

  1. Sample plots
  2. Abbreviated tariff
  3. Full tariff

After more than a decade in self employment, I have undertaken the lay out and measurement of over 5000 sample plots, and tariffed over 500 000 m3.

The tools of the trade are commonly used by foresters: clinometer, tapes and callipers and yield models. However I have made a considerable investment in Hi Tech digital equipment to offer the most accurate methods of timber measurement.

At present I own Racal and Masser timber measuring callipers, Haglof electronic clinometers and a Haglof Vertex ultrasound timber measuring system.

Sometimes there may be no yield model for a certain timber species. In these cases I use remote sensing to assess the volume of the standing trees. This is the Laserace hypsometer, which can measure standing trees which fit no known models.

Timber measurement is undertaken by myself. I hold 500 000 professional Indemnity insurance and individual jobs of higher value can be insured to higher values.

TEL / FAX : 01361 810390    EMAIL :