Surface Measure Tally is the Standard

The last 35 years have seen a number of advancements in handheld computers and scanning equipment. So much so that the methods in which we can generate tallies seems endless.

A change made in the 2015 Rules Book, recognized an End Tally as a legitimate method for tallying lumber. It also states that if there is a difference between a Surface Measure tally and the End Tally, the Surface Measure Tally wins. The End Tally is a good method to develop, what used to be termed, an Export Tally. Why does Surface Measure win if there is a disagreement? It wins because the randomness of widths that do not fall on the inch at a frequent enough interval to be accurately measured creates a problem. Rounding to the nearest inch creates large variances on certain lengths and widths and thus a problem with correct tally.

As stated in the 2015 NHLA Rules Book on page 7, paragraph 18: “Random width lumber of standard grades and thicknesses shall be tallied surface measure and this tally shall be the number of feet, board measure, of 1″ lumber.”

A Surface Measure tally is how the NHLA National Inspectors tally lumber; unless otherwise specified on the Purchase Order/Contract.

An issue to be aware of that can cause serious problems, is lumber that is shipped using a length/width tally, but the Surface Measure total was calculated using surface measure on each of the boards. With today’s new scanning technology, it is possible to create a tally that shows all of the widths in a pack of lumber, rounded to the nearest inch, along with the lengths of the boards. This tally can then show the total Surface Measure based on the actual widths, not rounded to the nearest inch. The issue that arises is that the buyer simply takes the widths x lengths /12 represented on the tally and calculates a Surface Measure based on the numbers provided, arriving at a different total. My recommendation is to make sure that you are representing the tally in a way that most accurately portrays the actual footage in the pack/load.

I hope this article has helped and remember; the standard is to tally by Surface Measure. If you tally using length/width, it must be written on the purchase order.