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Did I say jargon-free? Well, almost.

If you are not familiar with the processes, you may find this very brief glossary useful.

It seems that the customers of all trades and professions have to suffer a certain amount of jargon. Some might refer to it less politely than this.

The timber trade does have its own lingo, but we try to keep it to a minimum for those who are not very familiar with the terms. 

We work in metric or imperial measurements, imperial still having the upper hand for many of us and our customers!

Oak log

The butt, log and stem are all ways of referring to the round wood before it is milled. There are many other terms. Lying on the ground, the butt is the first length of timber from a tree from the ground up, before the first significant branches. A log may be how we refer to any piece to go onto the mill. A stem might be how we refer to the first length of the tree while it is still standing.

Slab-wood or off-cuts: everything from the bigger ‘D’ shaped pieces sawn off the outside of the log to the veneer-thick bit taken off the piece because the miller has forgotten where he was in the sequence of sawing….

Waney edge



Waney edge: Where the bark and or sapwood is left on a board or beam. This is sometimes necessary if the logs are not quite big enough diameter for the purpose, and hairy corners on a beam are acceptable, or where a more rustic appearance is preferred for the finished article.






hoppus footHoppus foot.
The Hoppus foot (Hft.) is a volume measurement of timber ‘in the round’ describing the approximate volume of useful timber in the log after it has been squared up on the sawmill.

So this is a guesstimate of what you’ll get out of the log once four D-shaped bits of slabwood have been removed.

It is best to measure this from the thinner end of the log, as this will give you the smaller and more realistic figure.

Anyone can make this measurement: simply square up the end of the log in your mind’s eye and multiply this by the length and you will arrive at a rough estimate of the useful volume in the log.’

A more accurate figure can be obtained by averaging  the square at the big end with the square at the small end of the log.

The cubic foot (cuft.) measurement is the actual volume of the log or, more commonly it is used to measure the volume in a board or a stack of sawn timber. There are about 35 of them in a cubic metre, and I think are much easier to imagine than a cubic metre or any fraction of one! For example, a board 12 feet long, 12 inches wide and an inch thick measures one cubic foot. A similar board of one cubic metre would be about 420 feet long…

The cubic metre measurement, like the cuft. is also the cylindrical measure. A rough reckoner is that a cubic metre weighs about a ton, depending on species and moisture content.

Green, air-dried and kilned timber
Green timber is timber freshly cut from the log. It is wet. Even if the log has been lying for some years, its moisture content will still be quite high. Air-dried is the term we give to timber which has been properly stacked to dry and, in this part of the world, will eventually make it down to about 19% moisture content.

Wood in a centrally heated house may well be at about 10 or 12% moisture content. If a piece of furniture, panelling or joinery was to be fitted to such a house at much over 12%, the resulting shrinkage and movement in the timber would spoil the job, so wood used for such purposes needs to be dried  gently to this lower moisture content in some form of kiln (there are almost as many different ways of kilning wood as there are types of wood to kiln).



Black Dog Timber, The Cottage, Forteviot, Perth, PH2 9BT
Telephone: 01764 684008         Mobile: 07796 301920       Email:

Royal Scottish Forestry Society kogo

Royal Scottish Forestry Society

Confederation of Forest Industries
The Association of Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers

The Association of Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers


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