A Wood Buyer’s Glossary

AIR DRIED-Wood dried without application of artificial heat.

BANDSAW MILL– A type of mill that uses a large bandsaw blade to cut the wood. See https://woodmizer.com for examples of bandsaw mills. We utilize the Woodmizer LT40

BOARD FOOT (BF)-A system of measurement. The standard board foot is 1 in. thick by 12 in. wide by 12 in. long, Board feet are rounded to the nearest foot and are based on the thickness of the wood before surfacing. Lumber less than I in. thick is counted as 1 in. To calculate the board footage of a slab or dimensional lumbar multiply (in inches) width x length x thickness and divide by 144 and you will arrive at the board feet.  

 BURL– is usually a rounded knotty growth on a tree, giving an attractive figure when polished and used especially for handcrafted objects and veneers.

CHAIN SAWMILL– A type of mill that uses a either a chainsaw or modified chainsaw bar  to mill wood. saw. See https://www.lucasmill.com for examples. We utilize a 6/18 Lucas mill with additional attachments. Other types of chainsaw mills are typically described as “Alaska Chainsaw mills” see: https://granberg.com for more info.   

CHECKING- A lengthwise opening on the face of the board resulting from uneven or rapid drying.

CIRCULAR SAWMILL– A type of mill that uses a circular saw blade to mill the wood.  See https://www.lucasmill.com for examples. We utilize a 6/18 Lucas mill that has a 6″ circular saw option with additional attachments.

DEHUMIDIFCATION KILN- (DH)  a relatively airtight structure with a specialized dehumidifier and industrial fans that uses relatively low temperatures (90 – 120 degree) to dry wood. By controlling the airflow, internal kiln temperature and humidity the wood can be dried over a period of time to 7-9% moisture content.

DIMENSIONAL LUMBER– wood that has been milled on all 4 sides leaving relatively square edge on each side. 

END SEALER– Wood dries faster from the end grain of a board or log then the center. This uneven drying creates tension  in the wood and results in checking or end cracks. End sealers are a way of sealing the ends of logs &/or boards to reduce the loss of moisture from end grain and slow the uneven drying process. One of the most commonly used end sealers is Anchor Seal Classic available from US Coatings or an authorized reseller.

FAS (First & Seconds)–  are long, clear cuttings  and of high quality boards that are used for furniture, interior joinery and solid wood mouldings. For our purposes a “FAS” board is a minimum 6’ long, 4” wide and has 85% of the surface free of cracks, knots, fungus, deterioration, bark or wane. Any dimensional lumbar that is below FAS grade are described as #1 or #2 commons. #1 commons may have knots, cracks in no more than 50% of the board face and #2 commons are of the poorest quality with defects in over 50% of the board.

HARDWOOD-Lumber from any tree with broad leaves usually shed in the fall (deciduous). Many hardwoods are not that hard. Poplar and willow, for example, are generally softer than pine.

HEARTWOOD-The darker section of wood extending from the pith, or center of a tree, to the sapwood. Unlimited amounts allowed in most wood grades.

KILN DRIED (KD) – Wood dried with artificial heat in a kiln. There are four different types of kiln drying processes. 1 – Conventional kilns which use high temperature steam to dry, 2 – Dehumidification (DH) kilns which use low temperature (90 – 120 degree) drying methods, 3 – vacuum kilns, and 4 – solar kilns.

LINEAR FOOT-A system of measurement in which only the length of the lumber is considered. This method is often used in home centers and similar outlets that mostly market pine, cedar or some common hardwoods.

LIVE EDGE (LE)– When one or both edges of a dimensional board or slab are remain as a natural “live edge”.  

LOG ARCH– Is an effective, ergonomic and useful tool for low impact forestry, arborist and portable sawmill applications. Log arches allow for low impact operations in sensitive areas, minimal ground disturbance and clean logs for portable sawmilling. 

MOISTURE CONTENT (MCV or MC%)-The amount of moisture trapped in the cells of the wood. Most hardwoods are between 40—45% moisture content in a green log.  Moisture levels for air-dried wood vary according to region. In Arizona, air-dried hardwood may reach 6 percent, in the Pacific NW about 12 to 15%. We dry our hardwoods to 7 to 9% MC%.

PITH– The small soft core at the structural center of the tree.

PLAIN SAWN- also commonly called flat sawn, is the most common lumber you will find. This is the most inexpensive way to manufacture logs into lumber. Plain sawn lumber is the most common type of cut. The annular rings are generally 30 degrees or less to the face of the board; this is often referred to as tangential grain. The resulting wood displays a cathedral pattern on the face of the board

QUARTER SAWN- Quarter sawn wood can be noted by looking at the end of the board. If the annular growth rings run perpendicular or intersect the face of the board at a 60 to 90 degrees angle it is “quarter sawn”. The straight grain pattern lends itself to design and stability. When cutting this lumber at the sawmill, each log is sawed at a radial angle into four quarters, hence the name. Dramatic flecking is also present in red oak and white oak.

RIFT SAWN- wood can be manufactured either as a compliment to quarter sawn lumber or logs can be cut specifically as rift sawn. In rift sawn lumber the annual rings are typically between 30-60 degrees, with 45 degrees being optimum. Manufactured by milling perpendicular to the log’s growth rings producing a linear grain pattern with no flecking. This method produces the most waste, increasing the cost of this lumber. Rift sawn lumber is very dimensionally stable and has a unique linear appearance and is often used for legs to tables because of its’ stability and consistent grain on all four sides.

SAPWOOD-The growth section near the outside of the log that is generally paler in color than the center. Unlimited amounts allowed in most wood grades.

SLAB– Our definition of a slab is any board or lumber wider then 15”. 

SOFTWOOD-Lumber from needle-leafed trees, usually evergreens that bear their seeds in cones (coniferous).

STICKERS (STICKERING)- Stickers are small strips of wood that separate the boards and permit proper airflow while the stack of wood is drying. Stickers are typically 3/4″- 1” thick and 1-1/4″ wide. It is best to use a hardwood for stickers but softwood can also be used. A 1″ thick sticker is a good choice for air drying. The width should be about 1/2″ wider than the thickness so that they are not accidentally placed on edge.

SURFACE PLANING- Typically after drying a slab will have some warp or wane in the surface. Surface planing is a method of flattening the surface for it’s ultimate use.

SURFACE 1 EDGE (S1E) or SURFACE 2 EDGE (S2E)-Rough or surfaced lumber dressed on one edge (SlE) or two edges (S2E). Nominal width can be 3/8 in. scant of specified width in lumber less than 8 in. wide, and 1/2 in. less than nominal width in lumber 8 in. or wider.

SURFACE 2 SIDE (S2S)-Surfaced both sides

THICKNESS-Hardwoods are usually measured according to 1/4in. units of thickness, referred to as quarters. A rough-sawn 4/4 (four quarter) equals 1 in., 6/4 equals 1 1/2 in., 8/4 equals 2 in., and so on. Most 4/4 is cut about 1 1/8 in. and planes down to 3/4 in. or 13/16.

WANE- Bark or the lack of wood caused by the round nature of the tree or log.