Essential Wood Terminology for the First-Time Lumber Buyer

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Lumberyards are great places to get the hardware and lumber you need for any project. But if you’re a first-time lumber buyer, you may be a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of terms and options. Part of navigating a lumberyard is learning some of the lingo. Here are five commonly used lumber-related terms you should know.

  • Board Feet

Board feet may sound like the length of a piece of wood. However, it’s actually a measurement of lumber volume. To calculate board feet, multiply the board’s width in inches, the length in feet, and the thickness in inches. Divide this product by 12 and you’ll get the amount of board feet.

  • Cutting

A cutting is a piece of wood that is obtained by cross cutting a tree. Cross cutting is simply cutting wood perpendicular to its grain. Most lumber is cut in this way; diagonal cutting is very uncommon because it is wasteful.

  • Joist

Joists are beams of lumber used to support part of a building or structure. Boards are lined up parallel to each other, and then attached at the top and the bottom. Joists are used to support a wide variety of structures, including walls, floors, ceilings, and even roofing.

  • Ledger Board

Ledger boards are pieces of wood that are used to connect two structures. When building a deck or home addition that attaches directly to the side of another structure, use a ledger board in between. This gives your deck joists a secure, strong connection.

  • Surface Measure

Surface measure is another important measurement to be familiar with. It is the width of the board in inches, times the length in feet, divided by 12.

For more tips on shopping for lumber, talk to the experts at Southern Lumber. We specialize in all types of specialty woods and lumber for your woodworking projects! Call (408) 297-9663 today.


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