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Useful Terms A to Z…
4/4, 5/4, 6/4, Etc
Wood industry terms for the thickness of a piece of lumber (in inches). Therefore, a 1 inch thick piece lumber would be 4/4” (four quarter), a two inch thick piece of lumber would be 8/4” (eight quarter).
A sculptor’s tool for shaping large pieces of wood, the adze has a gouge-shaped blade held at a right angle to the handle. It has a long handle and looks similar to the ax.
American Hardwood Timber Grades
Traditional: A formal grade containing less than 10% defects and a mixed grain content. Heartwood and knot content varies.
Premium Select: The highest formal urban timber grade, cut from the trunk and base of the tree, ensuring maximum heartwood content and grain density. Knot content is minimal.
Annual increment of wood as it appears on a cross-section; same as growth ring.
Antique Timber or Reclaimed
Any and all timber and lumber that is reclaimed from old barns, industrial buildings, rural structures and any other heavily built structures built from old-growth wood.
Antique Timber (Reclaimed) Grades
Antique Grade – The true reclaimed wood. A mixture of Rustic, Nail and Select Grade woods. Knot, grain, heartwood and nail hole content varies.
Rustic Grade – This grade gets it all: nail holes, true aged patina, original saw marks and greater than 20% defects and blemishes. This grade is made from rustic “skins” of old lumber and beams. Knot, nail hole and heartwood contents vary.
Rustic Grade (Skimmed Barn Wood) – This grade gets it all: nail holes, true aged patina, original saw marks and greater than 20% defects and blemishes. This grade is milled from original barn wood siding that is lightly planed/skimmed on the rustic face. Knot, nail hole and heartwood contents vary.
The outermost cells on the stem, branches and twigs of trees; these leathery, corky cells have two layers, outer and inner, which are more or less distinct.
Barn Wood Siding
Wide, thin boards used to cover (protect) the interior of a barn and its contents (or inhabitants) from the elements. Barn siding usually tends to be 1 inch thickness or less and can vary greatly in widths and lengths. Barn siding carries the burden (and beauty) of years of earth, rain and sunshine to create a uniquely aged wood. Colors vary from yellow to red to green, with the majority of barn siding being red, white, or natural.
Sharpening stone mounted on a workbench for honing the blades of woodworking tools.
The angle created where two surfaces meet, but not at a right angle.
This tiny chisel cuts a sliver of wood to hide a nail head. The nail is hammered in place before the sliver is glued down, back in its original position.
Board Foot (Bd/Ft)
The standard industry unit for wood volumes measuring 12”x12”x1” dimensions (three dimensional measurement).
Rough sawn from beams and dimensional lumber, then kiln dried, cabinet lumber is used for cabinetry, doors, trim work or any other application where remilled lumber less than 2” thick is desired.
Markings made at set graduations to be used for measuring.
A tool for the home renovator, the cat’s paw is a pry bar, with one standard head. The second head, however, has a wafer-thin tip that’s perfect for precisely and delicately easing apart adjacent surfaces without damaging them.
This tool is basically a case filled with chalk and a reel of line between 50 feet (15m) and 100 feet (30m) long. As the line is pulled away from the case, it is covered with chalk. The line is held taut and then snapped against a surface, which leaves behind a chalked line. It is most often used on large surfaces for home renovation and building work. The chalk line often doubles as a plump bob.
The angle created when two surfaces on a board meet at a 45-degree angle.
Antique lumber/timber that is cleaned of all metal and debris (de-nailing).
This hand-powered tool is basically a handle attached to a bit, which-like the countersink bit used on a power drill, shapes a screw hole to fit the head of the screw so it will sit flush with the surface of the work.
To make a screw hole wider at the top to accept a screw head, so the screw sits flush or below the work surface.
Section of wood cut at right angles to the grain.
Warping of the face of a board so that it assumes a trough-like shape.
A decorative wood strip used for ornamentation or finishing along ceilings, floors or any general edge work on the interior or exterior of a structure.
A rectangular groove, into which other work is inserted to form a joint.
Density of Wood
The mass of wood per unit volume.
Any antique lumber reclaimed from old barns or structures that measures up to two inches in thickness.
A flared end, designed to fit into a similar shape recess, often used in a set to form a dovetail joint.
To assemble parts without glue or fasteners previous to installation, bringing to light any needed corrections before it is too late.
The ability of the wood to withstand wood-destroying fungi when exposed to conditions favorable to decay. A prime consideration in the use of wood in some situations.
A general term that refers to woodworking tools that have a sharpened edge or blade (without teeth) for cutting or shaping. Among this category are chisels and gouges, planes, spokeshaves, drawnknives, and adzes.
The squaring of the end of a board to remove unusable materials and reduce fitting and cutting times.
An adjustable guide used in conjunction with a tool to control the movement of the work piece.
Generally, any design or distinctive markings on the longitudinal surfaces of wood; specifically, any designs in wood that are prized in use of the wood.
Said of wood sawed so that the tangential face is exposed on the surfaces of boards; plain sawn.
A building tool, the float has a rectangular steel or plastic flexible blade to evenly spread fluid materials such as concrete. A wooden float can be used for most applications, but a magnesium float is best for air-entrained concrete with tiny bubbles.
An all-steel chisel with a wide spade-shape blade, this tool is designed to cut along the grain of floorboards, then pry them up. The blade is thin enough to reach and cut the tongue of tongue and groove boards.
Grain of Wood
Arrangement and direction of wood elements when considered en masse.
Ring of wood on a cross-section resulting from periodic growth; if only one growth ring is formed during a year it is called an annual ring.
Hand Hewn (Hand Adzed)
Any beam that was squared and shaped using a broad adzing axe. Hand Hewn beam surfaces retain chipping characteristics and produce a very unique and nostalgic look.
Wood produced by broad-leaved trees such as oak, elm, and ash; same as porous wood.
Dead inner core of a woody stem (or log) generally distinguishable from the outer portion (sapwood) by its darker color.
This power drill accessory has a cylindrical, cup-shape saw blade with teeth, which is attached to a drill with an arbor. A bit in the arbor centers the saw before the teeth begin to make the cut.
The process of sharpening the blade of a chisel, plane, or other cutter by using an abrasive stone.
Grain in which the direction of the fiber alignment alternates at intervals, resulting in ribbon figured when wood is quarter-sawn. Makes wood very difficult to split.
Basically a large pocket knife, the jack knife has a blade that folds into its handle. It is often useful in a woodworker’s shop for a variety of small jobs such as marking wood.
Either a homemade or manufactured device to hold a tool in the same position for repetitive operations or to cut numerous work pieces to the same size.
The cut made by a saw. Because saw teeth are set at an angle, the kerf will be wider than the blade.
The violent motion that occurs when the blade or cutter on a power tool throws the work backward, toward the woodworker, or when a jammed blade or cutter causes the tool to jump backward.
Linear Foot (L/Ft)
The standard unit if measurement for any product measuring 12” in length (one dimensional measurement). Thickness and widths of any products charged by the linear foot are standardized (see charges per linear foot for hand hewn beams or custom moldings).
Sawing the edge of a board to create a glue line finish and clean edge (applicable to barn siding and dimensional lumber).
Good woodworkers work to precise dimensions, and they use a high-precision micrometer to measure outside dimensions on items up to 1 inch (25mm) wide. The micrometer can measure in thousandths of an inch (hundredths of a millimeter). This tool is sometimes also used by woodworkers.
Olive and greenish-black streaks believed to designate areas of abnormal concentration of mineral matter; common in hard maple, hickory and basswood. Also called mineral streak.
The joint created when the ends of the two work pieces are cut at the same beveled angle, often – but not always – at 45 degrees.
The lever action of a long handle operates the blade of this tool, which is designed to cut baseboard and other molding at a mitered angle.
Moisture Content of Wood
The weight of the moisture in wood, expressed as a percentage of its oven-dry weight.
A rectangular hole cut into a work piece to accept a matching tenon.
An embedded nail is difficult to remove with a normal claw hammer. The nail puller has a V-notch, which slips under the nail head and a long handle to provide extra leverage to pull up the nail.
The blade of this rectangular trowel, which is used to apply ceramic tile adhesive, has square notches. They leave better griping surface for the tiles.
Antique Boards, beams and dimensional lumber that were originally surfaced smooth on four sides (s4s). This original smooth surface allows for a rustic patina, without saw marks and a more refined rustic look.
Said of wood so sawn that the tangential face of the wood is exposed on the surface of boards; same as flat-sawn.
Basically a string with a weight at the end, the plumb bob is used to check that an item is straight vertically. (A weighted line will always be vertical.) A chalk line is often also used as a plumb bob.
Some tools use pneumatic, or air, pressure to operate, including the pneumatic drill and nailer. These are often used in the construction industry, which generally requires heavy-duty use of tool.
Wood containing pores (vessels); same as hardwood, i.e., wood produced by broad-leaved trees.
Often used by renovators, the pry bar has a curved blade to fit behind molding or between two sections of an object that are to be separated, while the long handle provides leverage to pry the sections apart.
Said of wood so sawn that the radial face of the wood is exposed on the surface of boards.
A step-shape recess along the edge of the work piece.
The blade on this power saw moves in a rapid piston like motion to make rough cuts in wood, plaster, plastic, metal, and other materials. Several types of blades are available to use with the saw; the best one to use will depend on the work. The saw may operate at a single speed, with two speeds, or with variable speed.
To bring into or return to a suitable condition for use, as cultivation or habitation: reclaim marshlands; reclaim strip-mined land.
To procure (usable substances) from refuse or waste products.
To bring back, as from error, to a right or proper course; reform.
Reclaimed Timber/Lumber – Any and all timber/lumber that has been reclaimed for reuse. This includes all old building materials as well as any wooden materials that would otherwise not be utilized or reused.
To put or pass through a cycle again, as for further treatment.
To start a different cycle in.
To extract useful materials from (garbage or waste).
To use again, especially to reprocess: recycle aluminum cans; recycle old jokes.
To recondition and adapt to a new use or function: recycling old warehouse as condominiums.
Re-Sawn – The process of sawing previously milled antique timbers for modern reuse.
Porous wood in which the pores formed at the beginning of the growing season (in the springwood) are much larger than those farther out in the ring, particularly if the transition from one to the other type is more or less abrupt; see diffuse-porous wood.
Wood that has been sawn with a larger blade wither originally (antique rough sawn) or by Elmwood (rough sawn cabinet lumber, for example). Rough sawn wood retains a rough, saw mark surface.
Rough Sawn Beam
Any beam containing the original rough sawn marks from the larger milling machine(s), then aged through time.
Surfaced smooth on one side (broadest face).
Surfaced smooth on two sides (two broadest faces).
Surfaced smooth on three sides (three broadest faces).
Surfaced smooth on four sides (all faces).
Sap Stains (Blue Stain)
Stains in the sapwood caused by wood staining fungi or by the oxidation of compounds present in the living cells, usually blue or black in color.
Used to support a large work piece, the sawhorse consists of a horizontal beam supported by a pair of splayed legs on each end. The sawhorse may be made of wood, have wooden components supported by metal brackets, or may be made completely of metal. Some metal versions have fold-away legs. By placing a large sheet of plywood across a pair of two sawhorses, you can create a temporary work surface.
Layer of wood laid down during a given year; see annual growth.
A completely cylindrical screw without a flare head; it sits below the surface of the work.
A lip-like pattern on the edge of a board so that each board may overlap and interlock with the next. A very common edge pattern found on barn and home siding.
Wood produced by coniferous trees; same as non-porous wood.
A line ripped and squared edge of a board that has no interlocking pattern. A very traditional look for a colonial reproduction wide plank floor.
Square Foot (Sq/Ft)
The standard unit of measurement of any product that covers a surface area measuring 12”x12” (two dimensional measurement). Thickness of any product charged by the square foot is either standardized (such as ¾” for flooring) or irrelevant (such as the varying thickness of barn siding).
Grain in which the direction of the fiber alignment is straight or nearly so; grain in which fiber alignment is vertical or nearly so in the standing tree.
Antique lumber/timber that is rinsed with a high pressure power washer to remove dirt, oils and loose debris. Power washing is the safest and most effective way to clean antique wood without damaging or removing original surface.
A projecting rectangular tongue, which often fits into a matching mortise to form a joint.
Texture of Wood
Expression that refers to the size and the proportional amounts of woody elements; in the hardwoods, the tangential diameters and numbers of vessels and rays. Expressed as coarse, fine, medium or perhaps grainy.
The scissor-like tin snips are designed for cutting lightweight sheet metal. The shape of the head determines the type of cut. A standard head makes straight cuts, a duckbill makes curves, and a bullnose makes notches in heavy stock.
Tongue & Groove
The traditional flooring mold so that each plan can fit and interlock together in a rigid, flush and uniform pattern.
The blade on this masonry tool comes in a variety of shapes for specialized tasks. In general, the tool is used for spreading mortar or similar material.
Warping in which one corner of a piece of wood twists out of the plane of the other tree.
Often referred to as a mat knife or Stanley knife, this knife uses disposable blades for general-purpose jobs. Replacement blades are often stored inside the handle.
Any distortion in a piece of wood from its true plane that may occur in seasoning.
A wire brush shaped similarly to a dustpan is ideal for scraping away caked-on oil and other debris on machinery parts, cleaning bolt and screw threads, and removing paint and rust from metal surfaces. The best ones have at least three rows of bristles and an offset handle.