Doyle Scale- from the old mud forester

Joseph Zorzin redoak at
Thu Dec 4 06:22:16 EST 1997

TREEFARMER at wrote:
> In Illinois almost all the buyers use the Doyle Scale. Can any of you
> "mudforesters" or otherwise tell me why it is used, other than
> tradition, instead of International?

And now for the "inside scoop" on tree scales, my little grasshoppers.

It doesn't really make a big difference which scale you use if the
forester has been selling timber for a long time and the timber buyers
really know the forester.

It all has to do with the difference between accuracy and consistancy.
Trees are almost impossibly difficult to measure accurately, especially
hardwood trees; they're crooked, have many kinds of defects, and
depending on the quality of the tree, the final product may be something
other than real boards that can be measure- such as veneer products.

What really counts is consistancy. I've been marking and selling timber
for over 20 years. If I'm consistant in how I do it; then the timber
buyers who I've sold to in the past, who keep accurate records on all
their dealings with foresters, have a very good idea what they'll really
end up with. It may be that I'm a bit low on certain sizes of certain
species and have a big overrun on certain sizes of other species. There
is no way any forester can ever know how accurate he/she really is
unless you saw up the trees yourself. I wouldn't take as the God's
Honest Truth any information that any sawmill gives me about their

Many foresters pride themselves on having their measurements being very
accurate. But if you do so, then there will be many times you are a
little low on the estimate. And of course the contract will say it is
only an estimate, so too bad for the timber buyer. But this is a bad
attitude and gives the forester a bad reputation amongst the
loggers/sawmills. I actually make an effort to have a CONSISTENT overrun
of 10-15%. Now, you may say that this will short change the landowner.
Not at all!

Because I've been doing this so long, the buyers (almost always the same
8-10 firms) know that they will get that overrun, so they factor it into
their bids. Then, if on a certain job, I didn't do so well on my
estimates in trying to get that overrun, actually getting it right on
the true figure, who's going to complain? In over 20 years I've never
had a timber buyer complain of a shortage; so I have a very, very good
reputation amongst timber buyers as somebody who never runs short.

If a forester's estimate runs short by 1%, his reputation is severely
tarnished, even if the buyer paid a low price and made a good profit!

Another related issue is - that I put more effort into being accurate on
the more valuable trees. If I'm measuring a veneer quality red oak, I
may actually get out my clinometer (height measuring tool) and I
carefully use a diameter tape and spend a lot of time walking around
that tree trying to figure out the defects if any.

On junk trees I do the estimate in a few seconds- if I'm off by 25% in
the board foot value, this is far less important than if I'm off by 2%
on that veneer oak. The result of this effort is that I may be further
off on the board foot volume than I am on the true value of the trees as

Like in romance, reputation for a mud forester is everything!

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edge- no pun intended"

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