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Reclaimed Wood Glossary

The following list includes definitions to all the words used in the reclaimed wood / reclaimed timber business. If there's something you would like more clairification on, please email the Reclaimed Timber Exchange. For more wood knowledge, please check out the Reclaimed Wood How-To Videos.

A 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.

Allen Wrench

The trade name for a hex key.

Annual Ring

Annual increment of wood as it appears on a cross-section; same as growth ring.

Antique Timber

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.


Primarily a tool to help shape metal, the anvil is available in a variety of weights and shapes. The most common style is flat on top with a horn end protruding from one side. A small bench anvil can be useful in a woodworking shop for a number of add jobs such as straightening nails or as a weight on top of a board for a small glue job.

Articulated Ladder

Designed to suit a number of situations, this multipurpose ladder has self-locking hinges, which allow four sections to be positioned as a step or straight ladder, scaffolding, or in other arrangements for use in a stairwell.


This hole-boring tool, which is used to make large holes, consists of a shank with an eye or tang on one end and a bit with a cutting edge on the other. The handle is usually fitted to the eye or tang to form a T. There are dozens of types of augers available, from twist bits to reamer bits, for working in a variety of materials.

Aviation Snips

With their compound lever mechanism which provides more control with less effort aviation snips can easily cut sheet metal. All models can cut straight lines, but some can also cut left or right hand curves, or both.

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One of the oldest tools used by man, an ax, or axe, has two components a handle and a blade fitted in line with it. The sharp edge of the blade cuts the wood, and the wedge shape of the blade forces the wood to split. The thickness of the wedge depends on the type of work the ax is intended for, usually for chopping wood or felling trees. In the United States, an ax used with one hand is known as a hatchet; the term ax is used for tools used with two hands. In Britain, a hatchet is a specific type of ax that has a little taper behind the cutting edge.


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.

Bench Stone

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.

Blind Nailer

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.

Block Pallet

Block pallets are typically stronger than stringer pallets. Block pallets utilize both parallel and perpendicular stringers to facilitate more efficient handling because they are more stout. A block pallet can be known as a Manoj pallet or "four-way" pallet, since a pallet-jack may be used from any side to move it.

Board Foot (Bd/Ft)

The standard industry unit for wood volumes measuring 12x12x1 dimensions (three dimensional measurement).


Wood used in the stacking process which separates layers of wood to allow air flow, ease of access, and support for a bunk.

Box Wrench

A type of fixed wrench, it can fit only one size of nut or bolt because it has a completely enclosed head with a polygonal-shape opening. Standard and metric sizes are available. This type of wrench is stronger than an open-end wrench. Always use one of the correct sizes to avoid damaging the work.

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Branding Iron

Once it has been heated, the head of a branding iron which has writing, numbers, or pattern in relief is pressed against a wooden object to burn an image or mark into the wood. Originally, the head was attached to a long iron handle and heated over fire; modern branding irons are heated with electricity.

Cabinet Lumber

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.

Carpenter’s Tool Belt

A carpenter’s tool belt is not technically a tool, but it is a handy garment to wear when working in the workshop. The belt is fitted with loops and pockets for holding tools and other items, keeping them within easy reach.

Cat’s Paw

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.

Caulking Gun

A tool for holding tubes of caulk, adhesive, or similar material, this has a trigger handle that, when squeezed, forces a plunger to press against the tube, pushing out the material inside it. The tubes are interchangeable.


As its name implies, this portable power saw has a blade in the shape of a chain with cutting teeth. The chain rotates around a steel guide bar as it makes a cut. The saw may run on gas or electricity. This is a powerful tool and can be dangerous in the wrong hands. It should be used only by those confident of their skills and always with care.

Chalk Line

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.


The noise created by vibration when using a tool on a work piece. This is a sign that the tool, especially a large power tool such as a table saw, is being used incorrectly.

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Antique lumber/timber that is cleaned of all metal and debris (de-nailing).

Cold Chisel

Primarily a stone-cutting tool, a cold chisel has an integral handle and blade made of steel. The handle is struck by a hammer to cut a material (the user should always wear eye protection to prevent sparks flying into his or her eyes). You can use it to cut sheet metal, or to remove rivets, bolts, and nails or to cut away at ceramic tiles adhered to a surface.


In wood products, relates to wooden barrels, either liquid tight or slack.

Countersink (Noun)

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.

Countersink (Verb)

To make a screw hole wider at the top to accept a screw head, so the screw sits flush or below the work surface.

Cross Section

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.

Custom Molding

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.

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Dimensional Lumber

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.

Dry Fitting

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.

Edge Tools

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.

End Cut

The squaring of the end of a board to remove unusable materials and reduce fitting and cutting times.

Extension Ladder

Basically two or three straight ladders linked together, the extension ladder can be extended as much as 40 feet (12m) for outdoor use. Some models have a pulley mechanism to help extend one ladder section above the other. Latches lock into place and support the raised sections.


The careful movement of the work piece toward a cutter or blade.


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.

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Flat Sawn

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.

Flooring Chisel

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.


A splitting tool with a wedge-shape blade about 6-12 inches (150-305mm), the froe has a round socket at the end of the blade, which fits around the handle. It is used to split wood lengthwise into shingles, a procedure that is often referred to as riving, cleaving, or rending. After the blade is struck into the wood, the handle is worked back and forth to make the split.

Grain of Wood

Arrangement and direction of wood elements when considered en masse.

Growth Ring

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.

Hacking Knife

The thick blade of this knife can withstand hammering to hack out broken glass in a window frame by removing the old putty that holds the glass in place.

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.


A type of lightweight ax, the hatchet is used for chopping wood. There are many models available, with different-style blades, and some of these have a hammer head on the opposite side of the blade.

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Dead inner core of a woody stem (or log) generally distinguishable from the outer portion (sapwood) by its darker color.

Heat gun

By directing a blast of hot air, a heat gun can soften paint so that it can be scraped off or can soften tile adhesive to remove vinyl floor tiles. Start with a low heat setting and increase it as you work.

Hex Key

A type of wrench, the hex key consists of an L-shaped rod with polygonal sides that fits into a recessed setscrew of the same shape. By inserting the short end into the setscrew and turning the key, you’ll provide the most torque (turning power). You can use the long end to work in a restricted space. Hex keys are available in several sizes and in sets.

Hole Saw

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.

Interlocked Grain

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.

Jack Knife

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.

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Line Rip

Sawing the edge of a board to create a glue line finish and clean edge (applicable to barn siding and dimensional lumber).

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).

Locking Pliers

To keep the jaws of these pliers locked in one place, a locking mechanism is triggered by squeezing the handles closed. Releasing a lever allows you to open the jaws of the pliers.


Metalworkers work to précis 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.

Mineral Stain

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.

Miter Trimmer

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.


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.

Moisture Content of Wood

The weight of the moisture in wood, expressed as a percentage of its oven-dry weight.

Monkey Wrench

Nuts and bolts can be turned with the smooth parallel jaws of this tool. It has an adjustable jaw, which is controlled by a worm gear.

Mortise Pocket

Some buildings were constructed using a technique called Mortise and Tennon Joinery to create the structural frame of the building. The Mortise Pockets are unique to each beam and an eclectic part of their appearance.

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A rectangular hole cut into a work piece to accept a matching tenon.

Nail Puller

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.

Notched Trowel

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.


A sharpening stone that uses oil as a lubricant.

Old Growth Urban Timber

Wood products manufactured from trees that are felled by either natural causes (tornadoes, ice storms, etc.) or removed from housing developments/landscaping and are reclaimed, milled and utilized for their value as opposed to ending up in a landfill.

Old Growth

Refers to a tree that reaches maturity before it is cut down. By selectively harvesting these older trees, there is room for the younger trees to have access to sunlight, water and nutrients. For more research, listen to Trees, by Rush.

Open-End Wrench

The three-sided head of this type of wrench fits around nuts and bolts to turn them. It is not as strong as a box-end wrench, but it is easier to fit around the nut or bolt. These wrenches are sometimes available in sets, with a head on each end of the tool. There may be an overlapping of the sizes to allow you to use one wrench to hold the bolt as you use a second wrench to turn the nut.

Original s4s

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.

Plumb Bob

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.

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Pneumatic Tools

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.

Porous Wood

Wood containing pores (vessels); same as hardwood, i.e., wood produced by broad-leaved trees.

Pruning Saw

A type of handsaw, the pruning saw is smaller than a panel saw but larger than a keyhole saw. Its teeth are specially shaped for cutting tree branches. On some models the blade can fold into the handle for safe storage.

Pry Bar

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.

Ratchet Wrench

Usually with a boxed, or enclosed end, this wrench has a special mechanism that allows the user to move the handle back and forth without having to completely rotate the tool. It is a faster tool to use, saves on manual labor, and is ideal in tight spaces.


The process of sawing previously milled antique timbers for modern reuse.


A tool used for enlarging or smoothing a previously bored hole in any of a number of materials, the reamer has a cone-shaped body. A pipe reamer, used by plumbers, has a T-bar handle. Reamer bits are available to use in a power drill.

Reciprocating Saw

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.

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Reclaimed Lumber

Is wood taken for re-use. Most reclaimed lumber comes from timbers and decking rescued from old barns, factories and warehouses although some companies use wood from less traditional structures such as boxcars, coal mines and wine barrels. Reclaimed or antique lumber is used primarily for decoration and home building and is often used for siding, architectural details, cabinetry, furniture and flooring.

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.

Ring-Porous Wood

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.

Roller Stand

When working with large machinery, such as the table saw, the roller stand is essential for handling large boards or panels. It consists of a large stand (a pole supported by a base) with a roller above it in a horizontal position. The roller supports the work as it is moved toward the machinery.

Rough Sawn Beam

Any beam containing the original rough sawn marks from the larger milling machine(s), then aged through time.

Rough Sawn

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.

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.

Seasonal Increment

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.

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Sharpening Stones

These blocks of natural or artificial stones have been dressed, or smoothed. They are used with an oil or water lubricant to sharpen the blades of woodworking tools such as chisels and planes. The majority are rectangular in shape, but other shapes, such as the slip stone (see slip stone), are available. The stones come in many grades, from coarse to fine. There may be one grit on one side and a different grit on the other side.

Shave Hook

Removing old paint or varnish from molding or awkwardly shaped objects is made easier with a shave hook. This tool has three components the handle, the shank, and the blade, which may be one of several shapes, including triangular, teardrop, and combination (for concave and convex surfaces). On some models, the blades are fixed to the handle, and you’ll need to buy a set to have all the blades; on other models, the blades are interchangeable.

Ship Lap

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.

Socket Wrench

Like the box wrench, the socket wrench has a polygonal opening in its head to fit over nuts and bolts to turn them; however, the head is much deeper, hence it is referred to as a socket. The sockets are available in different sizes, and sometimes interchangeable heads can be used in the same handle. Some if these wrenches are ratchet driven they have a mechanism that allows them to be turned back and forth instead of in one continuous direction.


Wood produced by coniferous trees; same as non-porous wood.


A thin metal tool consisting of a shaft with a small blade, which can be one of several shapes. The blade is used for wax modeling, but spatulas are tremendously useful for woodworkers when it comes to delicate gluing and filling problems.

Square Foot

The standard unit of measurement of any product that covers a surface area measuring 12x12 (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).

Squared Edge

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.

Straight Grain

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.

Strap Wrench

A claw at the end of the handle of this traditional plumbing tool holds a canvas webbing, or strap, which can be wrapped around cylindrical shapes, such as pipes, to turn them without damaging the work surface. To use this wrench, loop the strap around the work and back into the claw; with the claw pointing down, turn the wrench in the direction of the loose end of the strap.

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Stringer Pallet

Stringer pallets use a frame of three or more parallel pieces of timber (called stringers). The top deckboards are then attached to the stringers to create the pallet. Stringer pallets can also have a notch cut into them allowing four-way entry from a front loader, fork truck, or pallet jack.

Surface Washed

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 distance between the jaw, head, or blade of a tool and its frame.

Tin Snips

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.

Toggle Clamp

A mounting base allows this clamp to be attached to a bench or board to act as a quick-release hold-down. It comes in a vertical, horizontal, and straight line design and is used in conjunction with other toggle clamps for repetitive template positioning, production gluing operations, and holding stock on jigs.

Tongue and Groove

The traditional flooring mold so that each plan can fit and interlock together in a rigid, flush and uniform pattern.


A turning or twisting force.


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.

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Basically a pair of blades joined at one end, tweezers come in a variety of shapes and are ideal in the woodworker’s shop for holding small parts and removing wood splinters.


Warping in which one corner of a piece of wood twists out of the plane of the other tree.

Utility Knife

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.

Wire Brush

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.

Wood Burning Iron

This is used to create designs of wood. An electrical element heats the tip of this tool, which darkens the color of the wood. The tool has interchangeable tips; some models have a rheostat to adjust the temperature of the tool.


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).

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