Sawing Logs
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Sawmilling and Forestry Glossary

From board foot and cants to veneer and windfall, learn the sawyer lingo with this list of common sawmilling and forestry terms:


All-aged Forest
A forest stand where trees of all ages and usually all sizes are growing. Seldom found in nature.


Annual Ring (or Growth Ring)
The growth layer of one year as seen on the cross section of a stem, branch, or root. It is composed of early and late wood.



Board Foot
A unit for measuring wood volume. A piece of wood 1'x1'x1", or a piece measuring 1’x3"x4" both contain 1 board foot of wood.

The main trunk of a tree.


A short log, or a squared timber cut from a log.


To saw felled trees into shorter lengths.



A portion of a log sawed on all four sides.


Cant Sawing
A sawing method to cut a log much like grade sawing on all four sides until the center of the log is squared into a cant. The cant is either sent to another machine for further processing or sold as is.


Cant Hook
This traditional logger's tool is used to roll, lift, move, and pivot logs using the handle as a pivot lever. Two cant hooks are recommended for basic log handling capabilities.


A well-defined healing or healed wound, usually near the base of a tree bole.


A lengthwise separation of the wood. It often goes across the rings of annual growth. Checking is usually due to mechanical stresses during drying and is not considered to be cull unless found in large amounts.


Usually evergreen or cone-bearing with needles or scale-like leaves. Pines, spruces, firs, and cedars are conifers. 


(1) A standard cord is a stack of cut wood 4' high, 4' wide, and 8' long.
(2) A face cord is 4' by 8', but the stack is made of sticks under 4' long. These are usually 12”, 18”, or 24" long.


The leaves and branches of a tree.


(1) A tree or log of marketable size but having no market value.
(2) A tree or log which cannot be used for the intended product and is not measured. Cull includes such things as rot, crookedness, cavities, and too many branches.



A tree which loses all of its leaves at some time during the year. May include some conifers, such as larch.


Diameter Breast Height (DBH)
Tree diameter measured at 4 ½’ above ground level. This is the standard place to measure tree diameter.


Dimensional Lumber
A term used for lumber that is finished or planed and cut to standardized width and depth specified in inches. Examples of common lumber sizes are 2x4, 2x6, and 4x4.




Even-aged Forest
A forest in which all of the trees are within 20 years of the same age. This is in contrast to an all-aged or uneven-aged forest.




A portion of a sawn log which is insufficient for finished lumber (due to bark or defects on one or more sides). Usually intended for remanufacturing into lumber or veneer.




Grade Sawing
A sawing method when the log is sawn, turned to a new face, sawn and turned again up to five times.


Evaluating and sorting trees, logs, or lumber according to quality and value.




A term used to describe broadleaf (usually deciduous) trees. Oaks, maples, ashes, and elms are hardwoods. 


The inner core of the tree. It is usually darker in color than the outer sapwood.







The width of a cut made by a saw in a piece of wood.


The part of a branch which has become part of the body of a tree stem.




Live Sawing
A sawing method to cut sections of a log halfway down, the log is flipped 180 degrees, and more sections are sawn from top to bottom until the log is finished. Also known as slab sawing or through and through sawing.


Log Rule
A table which has log volume based on log diameter and length.




Equal to one thousand board feet.


Moisture Content (MC) 
The amount of water in lumber measured as a percentage of the lumber's oven-dry weight. In a living tree, wood has a moisture content of 75% or higher.








Wood cut to be converted into wood pulp to make paper, fiberboard, or other wood-fiber products.


Cutting of live or dead branches from standing trees. With forest trees, pruning is doen along the trunk to remove the side branches which can cause knots in the wood. Pruning produces a high-quality, knot-free wood.



Quarter Sawing
A sawing method generally defined as lumber sawn with growth rings at angles of 60 to 90 degrees to the widest face.





Small trees, often less than 20’ to 30’ tall.


The outer part of a tree. Its main purpose is to carry water and store food.


Scale Stick
 A flat stick, similar to a yardstick. It is marked so log volumes can be read from it when the stick is placed on the small end of a log of known length.


The process of drying lumber or other forms of wood by natural (air-dried) or artificial (kiln-dried) processes.


What is left on the ground after logging, pruning, or other forest operations including tree tops, branches, and bark.


A group of trees in an area that are enough alike in composition, age, and condition to be set apart from the surrounding forest. A forest stand is said to be pure if 80% or more of the trees are of the same species. If less than 80% of all trees are of the same species, the stand is said to be mixed.


Made of dry species of wood, stickers are wooden spacers placed between layers of lumber during drying.


Several layers of stickered lumber. Also known as a pile.





Urban Forestry
A field developed in the 1970s that deals with the management of urban trees, parks, and green spaces for a better environment. Also known as urban wood.



A thin sheet of wood cut on a veneer machine. Veneer is often used for plywood facing and requires big, high-quality logs.



A tree uprooted or broken off by wind.





Woods to Woodshop
Get the complete guide to producing your own lumber.


Edge on Sawing
Set of 6 Educational DVDs on sawing your own lumber.