Timber’s Term of the Week: Biltmore Stick

Biltmore Stick


  1. A ruler that is held at prescribed distances from the body. The stick’s four faces are scribed with lines and numbers. These lines and numbers are used to estimate tree diameter and tree height, and ultimately tree volume.

Synonyms: none known to the author.

Using a Biltmore stick to measure a tree's diameter

Biltmore Sticks date back to the mid-18th century and use geometric principles to estimate a tree’s height and diameter. The face used to measure tree height has two scales: one for estimating height from one chain’s distance (66 feet) and the other (for taller trees) requiring a distance from the tree of one-and-a-half chains (about 100 feet).

Using a Biltmore stick to measure a tree's height

Steve Nix at Forestry.About.com has a good explanation of how a Biltmore Stick works at About.com.

You can make your own tree measuring device. Here’s a Perdue University PDF on making one.

Post to Twitter

Draft #2-Timberati on the Graveyard Shift

Lee Lofland over at the Graveyard Shift has asked if I’d like to do a guest column. Lee’s a retired detective who’s “solved cases in areas including narcotics, homicide, rape, murder-for-hire, robbery, and ritualistic and occult crimes. He worked as an undercover officer for several jurisdictions, and he even spent a few years as a narcotics K-9 handler.” He’s written a first-rate book on Police Procedure and Investigation, that I turn to when I want to make sure I’m in the ballpark with my descriptions of law enforcement procedures.

Below is the second draft. I can use all the comments, suggestions, grammar corrections, etc., that I can get. Continue reading

Post to Twitter