What is the Symbol of Feet and Inches in Woodworking

feet and inches symbol

Today we’ll learn about the symbol for feet and inches. If you’re used to the metric system, this will be a good article to help you understand the U.S system of measurement and how to convert between the two systems. 

Feet are represented in two popular ways. First, there is the letter abbreviation “ft.” Second, you can use a single apostrophe (‘) – for instance, 4’ would be read “four feet.” Inches are represented in letter form “in” or “ins” for inches. Or as a double apostrophe (”). For example, 5″ would be read as “five inches” 

Understanding how to read measurements is essential in woodworking or any home improvement project. If you fail to understand the units and abbreviations used to measure feet and inches, you could make huge errors in your project. 

However, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about the symbol for feet and inches. We will also explain how these symbols are used practically and how feet and inches convert to the metric system. 

Alright, let’s jump right in! 

What is the Symbol for Feet? 

Let’s start with feet. When you’re working with lumber, pipe, or shingles, there tends to be a primary emphasis on measuring in feet. First, I’ll give a brief explanation; then, I’ll share some examples. 

Feet is either abbreviated in letters, “ft.” or marked with an apostrophe (‘). We use a single apostrophe for feet and a double apostrophe for inches (”). 

Let’s look at a few examples. 

At the lumber yard, and you’ll see a two-by-four listed as follows: 

2 in. X 4 in. X 8 ft.  This abbreviation indicates that the boards are two inches thick, four inches wide, and eight feet long. 

Note: The abbreviation “ft.” is both plural and singular. This means that the words “foot” and “feet” are both abbreviated “ft.” As you’ll see later on, this is slightly different with inches. 

Are Lumber Board Lengths in Feet Accurate? 

If you’ve just begun building projects or working with wood, you may have heard that lumber does not match its listed dimensions. This happens to be true when discussing width and length.

For example, a 2 x 6 is actually 1 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in. 

So, the thickness and width do not match their listed dimensions. Does this mean the length in feet is off too? Usually not.

Typically, the length is true to the listed dimensions. So, if you buy a board that says it is 8 feet long, this is probably correct. 

However, it’s always a good idea to measure the boards before assuming they are true to size. 

How Many Centimeters Make One Foot?

Many people worldwide are used to measuring everything using the metric system (centimeters and meters, etc.). The metric system is simple to use. Each measurement is in units of ten, so it makes it easy to compare different sizes. 

However, things become trickier when we need to convert something into feet, which is not part of the metric system. This is often not easy to do off the top of your head. 

To get to centimeters from feet, we first need to break feet into inches. Twelve inches is equal to one foot. 

One inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters. So, to get feet to inches, we just need to multiply 2.54 by 12. Your answer? – 30.48. So, one foot is equal to about 30 centimeters. 

One meter is equal to 3.28 feet. As you can see, a meter and a yard are similar measurements. 

How do You Convert Feet to Centimeters? 

We showed an example in the last section on how to convert feet to centimeters. To convert feet to centimeters, first convert feet to inches. Then, multiply the inches by 2.54.

Here’s an example: 

Convert 8 feet to centimeters. 

Step one, convert 8 feet to inches. To do this, we multiply the number of feet by 12. So eight times 12 equals 96 inches.

Then, we multiply the inches by 2.54 to get centimeters— 96 x 2.54 = 243.8

So, 8 feet is equal to 243.8 centimeters. 

What is the Symbol for Inches? 

Now, it’s time to discuss inches. As you may know, twelve inches make one foot. Feet and inches have a similar symbol. 

For feet, a single apostrophe is used (‘). For inches, a double apostrophe is used (”). Here’s an example. 

5′ 6″. This abbreviation would indicate that something is five feet and six inches long. 

Alright, now that we’ve discussed the symbol for inches, let’s have a look at the abbreviation. 

What is the Abbreviation for Inches? 

Inches have a specific abbreviation. This abbreviation makes the marking and measuring of inches simple to work with. 

The abbreviation “in.” indicates inches. Sometimes, you may see someone add an “s” onto the end of the abbreviation: “ins.” 

Here’s an example of how this style of abbreviation works. 

Let’s imagine you’re at a lumberyard. You’re trying to find something with specific dimensions. You see a sign that reads 5 ft. 6 in.  What does this mean? 

It means that the board is five feet and six inches long. 

How Many Centimeters Make an Inch? 

The metric system is very popular around the world. In fact, many people believe that the United States should start using the metric system instead of their current standard system of measurement. 

Debates aside, there are times when you will need to convert something from inches to centimeters or from centimeters to inches. This can be especially important when working on a project.


Well, let’s imagine you are installing a new sink. Suppose the sink has all measurements listed in centimeters, and the countertop has all measurements listed in inches. In this case, you’ll need to bring the two systems together to install the sink accurately. 

Also, if you’re working with a builder who uses the metric system, it’s very helpful to know how to convert inches into centimeters. This skill will keep you both on track. Thankfully, converting inches to centimeters isn’t hard! 

One inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters. So, to convert something from inches into centimeters, all you need to do is multiply the amount in inches by 2.54. 

Here’s an example. 

If you have a 15-inch piece of pipe, but you’d like to convert to centimeters, just multiply 15 by 2.54. The answer: 38.10. So, 15 inches is equivalent to 38.10 centimeters. 

Below, we will discuss some frequently asked questions regarding inches, feet, and measuring lumber. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Inches and Feet 

In this section, we’ll answer some commonly asked questions about measurement. Precision is very important when building something, so you must clearly understand measurement before starting a project. 

Here are some questions we will cover: 

  1. Is the listed lumber width in inches accurate? 
  2. How to read dimensions of lumber? 
  3. Can I buy lumber with exact measurements? 

Alright, let’s explore these in more depth.

Is Lumber Width in Inches Accurate? 

When it comes to buying and measuring lumber, not everything is always as it seems. As a general rule, there are three ways a piece of lumber is categorized: length, width, and height. 

On any given piece of lumber, the lengths are typically accurate to the listed dimension. However, the height (or thickness) and the width are usually different from the listed dimensions. 

For instance, a two by six is usually closer to one and a half-inch by five and a half inches. 

Why is this? 

Well, the dimensions were more accurate before the lumber was milled and finished. The process of sawing the boards down makes them slightly smaller than their listed size. 

How to Read Lumber Dimensions 

Typically, the dimensions of a board are listed in a specific order. Often, the order starts with thickness, then width, then length. 

For instance, you might see a label as follows: 2 in. x 4 in. x 84 in. These numbers indicate that the board is 2 inches thick, 4 inches wide, and 84 inches long. 

If you’re at a lumber yard, it’s a good idea to take along your tape measure. Sometimes, lumber is not true to its original size – so it’s good to double-check. 

Also, sometimes, as people are digging through a pile of lumber, they will mix up the lumber between piles. This mixing could cause you to purchase the wrong sized board by accident. 

Can I Buy Lumber with Exact measurements? 

Maybe you’re thinking, boy, all these measurements are confusing! Is there any way to buy lumber with exact measurements? 

Well, if you’re just buying standard two-by-fours and two-by-sixes, then it isn’t easy to find boards that match their listed measurements. 

You’re more likely to find a board that matches exact measurements in the specialty wood sections at a hardware store. This wood is more expensive, but it’s also more likely to be true to size. 

Generally, if you need wood to be an exact size, you’ll need to cut it down yourself or have the hardware store cut it for you. 


Understanding the symbols used to measure feet and inches will help you build a more precise project. Knowing how to convert inches to centimeters will help you communicate with others and prevent you from making measurement mistakes.