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Air dried lumber - Lumber that was dried, usually outside, to equilibrium moisture content with the air it was exposed to.


Annual growth rings - The layer of growth that a tree puts on in one year. The annual growth rings can be seen in the end grain of lumber.

Bead - A small rounded, raised profile, routed along the edge of a board.

Bevel cut - An angled cut through a board.

Bird’s eye figure – Is a figure on wood, usually maple and a few other species. The figure is composed of many small BB size rounded areas resembling a bird’s eye. The figuring is most common on plain and rotary sawn lumber.

Biscuit joint - A butt joint that is reinforced with a football shaped "biscuit". The biscuits are usually made from compressed pieces of wood, usually birch. When a biscuit comes into contact with glue in the joint it swells creating a tighter joint. It may also be called a Plate Joint.

Board foot - A form of wood measurement, where one board foot equals the volume of a board 1 inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches long.  Lumber is specified by its rough size. This is why a 1"x 4" board is actually 3/4" thick and a 2"x 4" board is actually 1-1/2" thick. Formula for figuring board feet = (Thickness x Width x Length) / 144 = Board Feet.

Board joint - A form of wood measurement, where one board foot equals the volume of a board 1 inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches long.

Bookmatch - A term in veneering, where successive pieces of veneer from a flitch are arranged side by side. A properly done bookmatch will resemble a mirror image of the opposite side.

Bow – Is a defective piece of lumber that has warped along its length.

Boxjoint - A corner joint made up of interlocking "fingers".

Burl - Bulges and irregular growths that form on the trunks and roots of trees. Burls are highly sought after for the incredible veneer they yield.


Burr - A raised ridge of metal used on a scraper to remove wood.

Butt joint – In woodworking, this is a joint where the edges of two boards are placed against each other.

Cabriole leg - A leg used on Queen Anne furniture. The cabriole leg is characterized by graceful curves and a shape that resembles an animal leg.

Cambium - The live, actively growing, layer of a tree. The cambium is one cell thick and resides between the sapwood and the phloem. It repeatedly divides itself to form new wood and causes the tree to grow and expand.

Chamfer - A beveled cut along the edge of a piece of furniture. (Usually 45 degrees)

Carcase - The body of a piece of furniture with a box like shape. (i.e. a kitchen cabinet)

Case hardening – Is a defect in the lumber caused by improper drying. Case Hardening is caused when a board is dried too fast. The outer layers in a case hardened board are compressed while the inner layers are in tension.

Check - A lumber defect caused by uneven shrinking of the wood during drying. A checked board has splits which develop lengthwise across the growth rings.

Clear - A board which is free of defects.

Common Grade Lumber - Lumber with obvious defects.

Compound Cut - An angled cut to both the edge and face of a board.

Compression wood – Is reaction wood that forms on the lower side of a leaning softwood tree.

Cope and stick joint - A method of construction raised panel doors where the tongues of the rails (horizontal) connect to the grooves of the stiles (vertical).

Cord - A unit of measure often used for firewood stacked 4’ long x 4’ high x 8’ long.

Crook - A lumber defect where there is an edgewise warp effecting the straightness of the board.

Crosscut (crosscutting) - A cut made perpendicular to the grain of a board.

Crotch - In lumber, this is a piece of wood taken from the fork of a tree. Crotch Veneer is highly valued for its figuring.

Cup - A defect in the lumber where the face of the board warps up like the letter U.

Dado - A rectangular channel cut partway into a board.

Deciduous - Trees that shed their foliage annually, commonly referred to as hardwoods.

Defect - An abnormality in a piece of lumber that lowers its strength and commercial value such as a check or knot.

Deflection - The amount of sag in a shelf, floor, joist, or counter caused by the weight it's supporting.

Dovetail joint - A method of joining wood at corners by the use of interlocking pins and tails.

Dowel - A cylindrical wooden pin that is used to reinforce a wood joint.

Dowel center - A cylindrical metal pin with a raised point that is inserted into a dowel hole and used to locate the exact center on a mating piece of wood.

Drawer Stop - A device installed in a cabinet to limit the drawer’s travel.

Dressing - Shaping the cutting edge of a chisel to correct the bevel.

Earlywood (Springwood) - The first part of the tree's rings to form after winter hibernation. Earlywood is often characterized by larger cells and a lower density. 

Edge joining – Is smoothing and squaring the edge of a board so that it can be glued up squarely to another piece.

Equilibrium moisture content - When the level of moisture in a board is equal to the moisture in the surrounding air.

Face frame - In cabinetmaking a face frame is a flat frame attached to the front of a carcase. The face frame is used to conceal the exposed edges of the plywood panels used to build the carcase.

Face veneer - High quality veneer that is used for the exposed surfaces on plywood.

Featherboard - A piece of wood with thin "fingers" that hold a board against a fence or down against the table of a power tool, usually a table saw or router.

Fiddleback - A decorative wood figure caused by wavy grain. Fiddleback veneer is prized for its character and often used for musical instruments. 

Flat sawn lumber - In softwoods, this is a method of sawing lumber where the log is cut tangential to the growth rings. It is also called plain-sawn.

Free water (free moisture) - Moisture found in the cell cavities of wood.

Glue joint - A special interlocking grooved pattern that is used to join two pieces, edge to edge, securely.

Grain - The size, alignment, and color of wood fibers in a piece of lumber.

Green Lumber - Freshly cut lumber that has not had time to dry.

Half-blind dovetail - A dovetail joint where the cut does not go all of the way through the board. The ends of a half-blind dovetail are concealed. (see-through dovetail joint)

Hardboard - A type of manufactured board similar to particle board but with a much smoother surface. A common brand of hardboard is Masonite.

Heartwood - The dead inner core of a tree. It is usually much harder and darker than the newer wood. Also see sapwood.

Herringbone pattern - In veneering, a hearing bone pattern is formed when successive layers of veneers are glued up so they form a mirror image. Usually this pattern slants upwards and outwards, like a herringbone.

Hygroscopic - The tendency of wood to absorb and expel moisture as humidity levels change.

Jig - A device used to make special cuts, guide a tool, or aid in woodworking operations.

Kerf - The groove left in a board when cut by a saw blade.

Kiln - In lumber drying, a kiln is a room or building where temperature, moisture, and the amount of air circulating are controlled to dry wood.

Kiln dried - Lumber that has been dried in a Kiln.

Knockdown - A design feature that allows a piece of furniture to be easily disassembled by the use of special hardware or joinery. 

Knot - A part of the tree where a branch has been overgrown by the tree and incorporated into its trunk.

Laminate - A thin plastic materiel used to cover a board. The most common use of laminate is for counter and table tops. It is often referred to by the brand name Formica®.

Latewood (Summer Wood) - The portion of a tree’s rings that forms after the earlywood and is often characterized by smaller cells and a higher density.

Linear Foot – Is a measurement of the length of a board.

Lumber - Logs which have been sawn, planed, and cut to length.

Lumber-core plywood – Is plywood where thin sheets of veneer are glued to a core of narrow boards. Lumber-core plywood differs from regular plywood in that regular plywood is made up of successive layers of alternating grain veneer.

Medium density fiberboard (MDF) – Is a special type of tempered hardboard characterized by a very fine, smooth finish. MDF is used in cabinet making.

Miter and spline joint - A joint with two mitered surfaces connected by a spline. (See spline)

Moisture content – Is a measure of the amount of water in a piece of lumber.

Mortise - A rectangular hole cut into a piece of wood to accept a tenon. (See tenon)

Mortise and Tenon joint - A joinery technique where the tenon from one board fits into the mortise of another.

Nominal size – Is the rough-sawn size of a piece of lumber. When purchasing planed lumber it is sold by its nominal, rough-sawn, size. For example a 2"x4" is the nominal size for a board whose actual dimension is 1.4" x 3.25".

Ogee - A decorative molding profile with an S shape.

Old Growth (Virgin Timber) – Is old, naturally established trees often characterized by dense straight grain and a lack of knots and defects.

Oven-dried weight - The weight of a piece of lumber that has been dried, under high temperatures, in an oven until it is devoid of all water.

Particleboard - A type of manufactured plywood that is made from ground up and glued scrap wood. Particle board is very dense, heavy, and flat.

Particleboard Core Plywood - Plywood that is made by gluing a thin layer of veneer to a piece of particleboard.

Phloem - The inner part of a tree's bark that delivers water and other nutrients.

Pitch pocket - A pocket of resinous sap confined within the grain of many conifers.

Pith - The soft core in the center of a tree trunk.

Plain sawn lumber – Is a method of sawing lumber where the log is cut tangential to the growth rings. It is also called flat-sawn when referring to softwoods.

Plate joint - A butt joint that is reinforced with a football shaped "biscuit". The biscuits are usually made from compressed pieces of wood, usually birch. When a biscuit comes into contact with glue in the joint it swells creating a tighter joint. It is also called a Biscuit Joint.

Porous wood – Is wood with larger than normal pores and vessels.

Pot Life – Is the amount of time after mixing that a glue or paint remains usable. Often used when referring to two-part epoxy and polyester glues.

Pulp trees - Small trees and saplings that will be ground to produce paper. Lumber farmers often over-plant their acreage and remove smaller trees for pulp as the crop matures.

Quarter sawn – Is a method of cutting lumber where the annual rings are relatively perpendicular to the face of the board. Quarter-sawn lumber tends to be more dimensionally stable than other forms of lumber, such as plain-sawn.

Queen Anne - A style of furniture that was first made popular in England during the rule of Queen Ann. It was used almost exclusively by early colonial cabinetmakers. The Cabriole Leg is one of the primary characteristics of the Queen Ann style.

Rabbet - A cut partway through the edge of a board that is used as a part of a joint.

Radial shrinkage - Shrinkage in a piece of lumber that occurs across the growth rings as it begins to dry.

Rail - (1) A horizontal board that runs along the underside of a table or (2) the horizontal part of a raised panel door.

Raised Panel – Is a piece of wood that is the center of a frame and panel assembly.

Ray - A ribbon like figure caused by the strands of cells which extend across the grain in quarter sawn lumber.

Reaction wood - Abnormal wood formed in a leaning tree, often characterized by a dense hard brittle grain and propensity to react irregularly to seasonal moisture changes. In hardwood trees, it forms on the upper side of the lean and is called tension wood. In softwood trees it forms on the lower side of the lean and is called compression wood.

Ripcut - A cut made parallel to the grain of a board.

Rotary cut veneer - Veneer which was cut from a log in one long sheet. Rotary cut veneer is cut from a log like a roll of paper towels.

Rule joint - A joinery method used in drop leaf tables where the tabletop has a convex profile and the leaf has a concave cut. The two pieces are joined by a hinge.

Underlayment - A layer of plywood or other manufactured board used as a base material under finished flooring. Underlayment is often used as a substrate to increase the strength and/or smoothness of the flooring.

Veneer - A thin sheet of wood cut from a log.

Veneer-core plywood - Plywood made from three or more pieces of veneer glued up in alternating grain patterns.

Warp - A defect in lumber characterized by a bending in one or more directions.

Wash coat - Typically uses as the first coat of a finish. The wash coat is used to change the appearance or porosity of a surface. 

Working Life – See “Pot life”.

Wormholes - Holes and channels cut in wood by insects.

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