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Some Terms to Learn Before You Shop for Any Piece of Timber

Buying your own timber can seem intimidating; while all those boards and planks can look alike at the lumberyard, you may easily start to get confused by all the terms and phrases you see, and by the price variances as well. While a certain species of timber may be pricier because it's more rare or is not native to your area and needs to be flown or trucked in, the overall quality of each timber piece can also affect that price. Learning a few terms before you shop for lumber can help you better understand those price variances and also help you choose the best piece for your home project.


The face of a timber piece would be the one side by which the piece is graded or judged; this is important to understand because one side of a piece of timber may be free of defects and cracks, whereas another side may not. If you're choosing timber for a project where all sides of the piece will show, such as for furniture, you should look past the face and note the other sides and their appearance, if there are cracks and defects, and the like. However, for pieces where only the face will show, such as a cupboard or cabinet, you can typically choose more affordable pieces with a face free of defects and other sides that may not have the same quality.


While all boards and pieces are technically sawn or cut, the term sawn means that the timber has only been cut and not planed or smoothed in any way. Rough sawn means that there has been no other treatment to the piece so the surface may be somewhat rough and natural. Quarter sawn refers to a cut at the right angle of the grain and this type of timber is very strong and durable. This is often used for framing and other rough carpentry work where the appearance is not as important as the durability of the timber.

Stress grade

Some timber that is at the lumberyard has been tested for its overall strength, and this strength will get a stress grade. The better the grade, the more durable and strong the timber itself. If you're choosing timber for any type of framing or for projects like a subfloor or to provide support for concrete walls, you want to note the stress grade of the piece and not just the species or the method of sawing.

For more information about purchasing timber, contact a company like Australian Treated Pine.