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Encyclopedia > Timber
Timber in storage for later processing at a sawmill
Timber in storage for later processing at a sawmill

Timber is a term used to describe wood, either standing or that has been processed for use—from the time trees are felled, to its end product as a material suitable for industrial use—as structural material for construction or wood pulp for paper production. In the U.K. and Australia, "timber" is a term also used for sawn wood products (that is, boards), whereas generally in the United States and Canada, the product of timber cut into boards is referred to as lumber. In the United States and Canada sawn wood products of five inches diameter or greater (4½″ nominal size) are sometimes called "timbers". Image File history File links This is a photo I took myself using an Olympus C8080W digital camera. ... Image File history File links This is a photo I took myself using an Olympus C8080W digital camera. ... Trunks A tree trunk as found at the Veluwe, The Netherlands Wood is derived from woody plants, notably trees but also shrubs. ... Look up material in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Cranes are essential in large construction projects, such as this skyscraper In project architecture and civil engineering, construction is the building or assembly of any infrastructure on a site. ... International Paper Company Wood pulp is the most common material used to make paper. ... Piece of A4 paper Paper is a thin material produced by the amalgamation of plant fibres, which are subsequently held together without extra binder, largely by hydrogen bonds and to a large degree by fiber entanglement. ... Motto:   (the Royal motto3) (French for God and my right) Anthem: God Save the Queen 4 Capital London Most populous conurbation Greater London Urban Area English (de facto5) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen HM Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister The Rt Hon Tony Blair MP (Labour) Formation    - Union of the Crowns...

Mountain ash logs at a sawmill in Australia
Mountain ash logs at a sawmill in Australia
Wood cut from Victorian Mountain Ash
Wood cut from Victorian Mountain Ash

Lumber is supplied either rough or finished. Rough lumber is the raw material for furniture making and other items requiring additional cutting and shaping. It is available in many species, usually hardwoods. Finished lumber is supplied in standard sizes, mostly for the construction industry, and is primarily one of a few coniferous (needle-bearing) species such as pine, cedar, hemlock, fir or spruce. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1600x1067, 634 KB) Mountain ash logs at a woodmill File links The following pages link to this file: Lumber Eucalyptus regnans Sawmill ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1600x1067, 634 KB) Mountain ash logs at a woodmill File links The following pages link to this file: Lumber Eucalyptus regnans Sawmill ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1600x1067, 375 KB) Wood from victorian mountain ash File links The following pages link to this file: Lumber Eucalyptus regnans Sawmill ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1600x1067, 375 KB) Wood from victorian mountain ash File links The following pages link to this file: Lumber Eucalyptus regnans Sawmill ... A Shaker rocker, or rocking chair. ... Beech is a typical temperate zone hardwood The term hardwood designates wood from angiosperm trees. ... Orders & Families Cordaitales † Pinales   Pinaceae - Pine family   Araucariaceae - Araucaria family   Podocarpaceae - Yellow-wood family   Sciadopityaceae - Umbrella-pine family   Cupressaceae - Cypress family   Cephalotaxaceae - Plum-yew family   Taxaceae - Yew family Vojnovskyales † Voltziales † The conifers, division Pinophyta, are one of 13 or 14 division level taxa within the Kingdom Plantae. ... Species About 115. ... Species Cedrus deodara Cedrus libani    var. ... Species Eastern Hemlock Carolina Hemlock Taiwan Hemlock Northern Japanese Hemlock Himalayan Hemlock Forrests Hemlock Western Hemlock Mountain Hemlock Southern Japanese Hemlock Tsuga is a genus of conifers in the family Pinaceae. ... FIR may stand for: finite impulse response (a property of some digital filters) far infrared, i. ... Species About 35; see text. ...


History and geography

Lumber was one of the first industries in the United States. Maine and New York were early leading producers; however, later expansion led to Michigan and later Oregon, Washington, and California assuming the lead in domestic lumber production. Logging, the felling and preparation of trees for lumber was a related frontier industry; various tales of lumberjacks were a substantial portion of a certain chapter in North American folklore. Official language(s) None (English de facto) Capital Augusta Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 39th  - Total 33,414 sq mi (86,542 km²)  - Width 210 miles (338 km)  - Length 320 miles (515 km)  - % water 13. ... Official language(s) English de facto Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  Ranked 27th  - Total 54,520 sq mi (141,205 km²)  - Width 285 miles (455 km)  - Length 330 miles (530 km)  - % water 13. ... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ... Official language(s) None Capital Salem Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 9th  - Total 98,466 sq mi (255,026 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) None Capital Olympia Largest city Seattle Area  Ranked 18th  - Total 71,342 sq mi (184,824 km²)  - Width 240 miles (385 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 6. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Loggers on break, c. ... Lumberjacks in Oregon, c. ...


Rough lumber comes from the sawmill without further cutting or shaping. It is usually sold in random lengths and widths and measured in the USA and Canada in board feet, a unit of 1 foot × 1 inch × 1 foot. It is available air-dried or kiln-dried. Air-dried lumber is carefully stacked and allowed to dry for several months, depending on thickness. It is used for some outdoor purposes, such as building sheds and fences. Kiln-dried wood is stacked and dried in moisture- and temperature-controlled kilns built for the purpose. It is then ready to be used for furniture-making or other woodworking uses. The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... The board foot is a specialized unit of volume for measuring lumber in the United States. ... Charcoal Kilns, California Gold Kiln, Victoria, Australia Hop kiln. ...

Finished lumber is usually kiln-dried, then planed and cut to predetermined sizes, primarily for use by the construction industry. When using Imperial or U.S. customary measurements, the widths given are from before planing, whereas the piece actually sold is smaller; a 2×4, for example, is actually only 1½ by 3½ inches after planing. Other stock is sized similarly. The lengths are actual sizes and are usually multiples of 2 feet. Sizes from 8 to 16 feet (8, 10, 12, 14, 16) are commonly available, and smaller sizes (4, 6, 7) are sometimes available. Larger sizes (18, 20, 22, 24) are sometimes available. When using metric measurements, lumber is measured in actual sizes. The Imperial units or the Imperial system is a collection of English units, first defined in the Weights and Measures Act of 1824, later refined (until 1959) and reduced. ... U.S. customary units, commonly known in the United States as English units or standard units, are units of measurement that are currently used in the U.S., in some cases alongside units from SI (the International System of Units—the modern metric system). ... Mid-19th century tool for converting between different standards of the inch An inch is an Imperial and U.S. customary unit of length. ... This article is about a foot as a unit of length. ... Cover of brochure The International System of Units. ...

In the United States, timber is cut in the forest in 24 foot lengths. At the mill it is again cut into three 8 foot lengths, an 8 foot and a 16 foot length, a 10 foot and a 14 foot length or two 12 foot lengths.

Lumber is also used to refer to plywood and other composite wood products.
Model constructed from plywood. ...

Dimensional Lumber

Dimensional lumber is a term used in North America for lumber that is finished/planed and cut to standardized width and depth specified in inches.
World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ... Lumber is the name used, generally in North America, for wood that has been cut into boards or other shapes for the purpose of woodworking or construction. ... Mid-19th century tool for converting between different standards of the inch An inch is an Imperial and U.S. customary unit of length. ...


Softwood Dimensional Lumber Sizes
Nominal Actual Nominal Actual
1 × 2 ¾″ × 1½″ (19×38 mm) 2 × 2 1½″ × 1½″ (38×38 mm)
1 × 3 ¾″ × 2½″ (19×64 mm) 2 × 3 1½″ × 2½″ (38×64 mm)
1 × 4 ¾″ × 3½″ (19×89 mm) 2 × 4 1½″ × 3½″ (38×89 mm)
1 × 6 ¾″ × 5½″ (19×140 mm) 2 × 6 1½″ × 5½″ (38×140 mm)
1 × 8 ¾″ × 7¼″ (19×184 mm) 2 × 8 1½″ × 7¼″ (38×184 mm)
1 × 10 ¾″ × 9¼″ (19×235 mm) 2 × 10 1½″ × 9¼″ (38×235 mm)
1 × 12 ¾″ × 11¼″ (19×286 mm) 2 × 12 1½″ × 11¼″ (38×286 mm)
3 × 4 2½″ × 3½″ (64×89 mm) 2 × 14 1½″ × 13¼″ (38×337 mm)
4 × 4 3½″ × 3½″ (89×89 mm) 6 × 6 5½″ × 5½″ (140×140 mm)
4 × 6 3½″ × 5½″ (89×140 mm) 8 × 8 7¼″ × 7¼″ (184×184 mm)

Examples of common sizes are 2×4 (also two-by-four and other variants), 2×6, and 4×4. The length of a board is usually specified separately from the width and depth. It is thus possible to find 2×4s that are four, eight, or twelve feet in length. In the United States the standard lengths of lumber are 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 feet.

Solid dimensional lumber typically is only available up to lengths of 24', yet since builders have a need for lengths beyond that for roof construction (rafters), builders use "finger-jointed" lumber that can be up to 36' long in 2x6 size (see Engineered Lumber below). Finger-jointed lumber is also widely used for smaller lengths like studs, the vertical members of a framed wall. Pre-cut studs save a framer a lot of time as they are pre-cut by the manufacturer to be used in 8', 9' & 10' ceiling applications, which means they have removed a few inches of the piece to allow for the sill plate and the double top plate with no additional sizing necessary by the framer.

In The Americas, two-bys (2×4s, 2×6s, 2×8s, 2x10s, and 2×12s) are common lumber sizes used in modern construction. They are the basic building block for such common structures as balloon-frame or platform-frame housing. Dimensional lumber made from softwood is typically used for construction, while hardwood boards are more commonly used for making cabinets or furniture. World map showing the Americas The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere historically considered to consist of the continents of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions. ... Balloon framing is method of wood construction used primarily in Scandinavia and the United States. ... Platform framing is a light-frame construction system and the most common method of constructing the frame for houses and small apartment buildings as well as some small commercial buildings in Canada and the United States. ... Despite being fairly hard, cedar is a softwood Softwood is the wood from conifers. ... Beech is a typical temperate zone hardwood The term hardwood designates wood from angiosperm trees. ... A Shaker rocker, or rocking chair. ...

The nominal size of a board varies from the actual size of the board. This is due to planing and shrinkage as the board is dried. This results in the final lumber being slightly smaller than the nominal size. Also, if the wood is surfaced when it is green, the initial dimensions are slightly larger (e.g. 1/16″ bigger for up to 4″ nominal lumber, ⅛″ for 5″ and 6″ nominal lumber, ¼″ bigger for larger sizes). As the wood dries, it shrinks and reaches the specified actual dimensions. A Japanese plane in use A plane is a tool for shaping wood. ...

The timber industry states that finishing and drying the lumber results in the nominal size differing from the actual size, however, you will find that many houses built more than roughly 50 years ago usually have timber where the actual size and nominal size are the same. This has allowed new construction to become less expensive without having to modify municipal, state, and national building codes.

Non-North American sizes

Examples of Dimensional Lumber Sizes (Softwood and Hardwood)
Inch name Sawed Swedish Australian
2 × 4 50 x 100 mm 45 × 95 mm 45 x 90 mm
1 × 3 25 × 75 mm 22 × 70 mm 19 x 70 mm
3 × 3 75 × 75 mm 70 × 70 mm 70 x 70 mm
2 × 7 50 × 175 mm 45 × 170 mm Not used
2 × 3 50 × 75 mm 45 × 70 mm 45 x 70 mm
1 × 4 25 × 100 mm 22 × 95 mm 19 x 90 mm
1 × 5 25 × 125 mm 22 × 120 mm 19 x 120 mm
2 × 5 50 × 125 mm 45 × 120 mm 45 x 120 mm

Outside North America sizes of timber vary slightly. Sizes are, in some cases, based on the imperial measurement and referred to as such; in other cases the sizes are too far removed from the imperial size to be referred to by imperial measurement. Lengths are sold every 300 mm (a metric approximation of 1'). Common sizes are similar to the North American equivalent; 2.4, 2.7, 3.0, 3.6, 4.2, 4.8, 5.4, 6.0.


Hardwood Dimensional Lumber Sizes
Nominal Surfaced 1 Side (S1S) Surfaced 2 sides (S2S)
⅜″ ¼″ 3/16″
½″ ⅜″ 5/16″
⅝″ ½″ 7/16″
¾″ ⅝″ 9/16″
1″ or 4/4 ⅞″ 13/16″
1¼″ or 5/4 1⅛″ 1-1/16″
1½″ or 6/4 1⅜″ 1-5/16″
2″ or 8/4 1-13/16″ 1¾″
3″ or 12/4 2-13/16″ 2¾″
4″ or 16/4 3-13/16″ 3¾″

In North America sizes for dimensional lumber made from hardwoods varies from the sizes for softwoods. Boards are usually supplied in random widths and lengths of a specified thickness, and sold by the board-foot (144 cubic inches). This does not apply in all countries, for example in Australia many boards are sold to timber yards in packs with a common profile (dimensions) but not necessarily of consisting of the same length boards. The board-foot is a specialized unit of volume for measuring lumber in the United States and Canada. ...

Also in North America hardwood lumber is commonly sold in a “quarter” system when referring to thickness. 4/4 (four quarters) refers to a one-inch thick board, 8/4 (eight quarters) is a two-inch thick board, etc. This system is not usually used for softwood lumber, although softwood decking is sometimes sold as 5/4 (actually one inch thick).

Engineered Lumber

Engineered lumber is lumber created by a manufacturer and designed for a certain structural purpose. The main categories of engineered lumber are:[1]

  1. Laminated Veneer Lumber – Generally called "LVL", they come in 1-3/4" thicknesses with depths such as 9", 11-7/8", 14", 16", 18", 24", and are typically doubled or tripled up. They function as beams to provide support over large spans such as removed support walls and garage door openings, places where dimensional lumber isn't structurally sound to use, and also in areas where a heavy load is bearing from a floor, wall or roof above on a somewhat short span where dimensional lumber isn't practical. This type of lumber cannot be altered by holes or notches anywhere within the span or at the ends as it compromises the integrity of the beam, but nails can be driven into it wherever necessary to anchor the beam or to add hangers for I-joists or dimensional lumber joists which terminate at an LVL.
  2. Wood I-joists – Sometimes called "TJI" or "Trus Joists", which are both brands of wood I-joists, they are used for floor joists on upper floors and also in 1st floor conventional foundation construction on piers as opposed to slab floor construction. They are engineered for long spans and are doubled up in places where a wall will be placed over them, and sometimes tripled where heavy roof-loaded support walls are placed above them. They consist of a top and bottom chord/flange made from LVL with a webbing in-between made from OSB (oriented strand board). The webbing can be removed up to certain sizes/shapes according to the manufacturers (and engineers) specifications, but for small holes, wood I-joists come with "knockouts", which are perforated, pre-cut areas where holes can be made easily typically without engineering approval. When large holes are needed, they can typically be made in the webbing only (the top & bottom chords cannot be cut) and only in the center third of the span. Sizes & shapes of the hole, and typically the placing of a hole itself, must be approved by an engineer prior to the cutting of the hole and in many areas, a sheet showing the calculations made by the engineer must be provided to the building inspection authorities before the hole will be approved. Some I-joists are made with W-style webbing like a truss to eliminate cutting and allow ductwork to pass through.
  3. Finger-Jointed Lumber – Solid dimensional lumber lengths typically max out at lengths of 22' to 24', but is made longer by the technique of "finger-jointing" lumber by using small solid pieces, usually 18" to 24" long, and joining them together using finger-joints and glue to produce lengths that can be up to 36' long in 2x6 size. Finger-jointing also is predominate in pre-cut wall studs.
  4. Glu-lam Beams – Created by taking 2x4 or 2x6 stock and glueing the faces together to create beams such as 4x12 or 6x16. LVL beams have taken their place in most home construction.
  5. Maunfactured Trusses – Trusses are used in home construction as bracing to support the roof rafters in the attic space. It is seen as an easier installation and a better solution for supporting roofs as opposed to the use of dimensional lumber's struts & purlins as bracing. In the southern USA and other parts, stick-framing with dimensional lumber roof support is still predominate. The main drawback of trusses is that less attic space is usable.
  6. Oriented Strand Board – OSB is made by adhering strands of wood in a certain direction and apply glue to make the piece strong for structural purposes. OSB has replaced plywood for use as exterior wall sheathing & roof decking (both in 7/16" thickness minimum) and in 2nd story flooring in 3/4" thickness in a tongue-and-groove interlocking pattern, which is nailed and glued to the I-joists. OSB used in wall sheathing & roof decking will swell up if exposed to the elements for even a brief period of time and must be replaced, therefore it is covered by a weatherproof membrane such as felt to protect it, secured with plastic cap nails. House wrapping is used on areas which will be sheathed with vinyl siding. 3/4" T&G OSB flooring has a coating on it to protect it from the elements for a short period of time until the home is "dried-in" with a roof.


Main article: timber treatment

Timber or lumber may be treated with a preservative that protects it from being destroyed by insects, fungus or exposure to moisture. Generally this is applied through combined vacuum and pressure treatment. The preservatives used to pressure-treat lumber are classified as pesticides; due to potential hazards to humans and the environment, some are being phased out. Treating lumber provides long-term resistance to organisms that cause deterioration. If it is applied correctly, it extends the productive life of lumber by five to ten times. If left untreated, wood that is exposed to moisture or soil for sustained periods of time will become weakened by various types of fungi, bacteria or insects. Timber treatment or lumber treatment in forestry describes the intensive treatment of timber with chemical agents to increase its durability and ability to be used in an otherwise inappropriate situation like inground use. ... A preservative is a natural or synthetic chemical that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, paints, biological samples, etc. ... Orders See taxonomy Insects are invertebrates that are taxonomically referred to as the class Insecta. ... Divisions Chytridiomycota Zygomycota Glomeromycota Ascomycota Basidiomycota Deuteromycota The fungi (singular fungus) are a kingdom of eukaryotic organisms. ... Look up Vacuum in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The use of water pressure - the Captain Cook Memorial Jet in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra. ... A cropduster spreading pesticide. ... Phyla/Divisions Actinobacteria Aquificae Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi Chlamydiae/Verrucomicrobia Chloroflexi Chrysiogenetes Cyanobacteria Deferribacteres Deinococcus-Thermus Dictyoglomi Fibrobacteres/Acidobacteria Firmicutes Fusobacteria Gemmatimonadetes Nitrospirae Omnibacteria Planctomycetes Proteobacteria Spirochaetes Thermodesulfobacteria Thermomicrobia Thermotogae Bacteria (singular, bacterium) are a major group of living organisms. ...

Timber framing

Main article: timber framing

Timber framing is a style of construction which uses heavier framing elements than modern stick framing, which uses dimensional lumber. The timbers originally were tree boles squared with a broadaxe or adze and joined together with joinery without nails. A modern imitation with sawn timbers is growing in popularity in the United States. Braubach (Germany) Timber framing is the modern term for the traditional half-timbered construction in which timber provides a visible skeletal frame that supports the whole building. ...


  • The term TIMBER! is used as a warning call to alert others working in the area that a tree is being felled and that they should take care to be out of the way. People may also use the term in this way to refer to other objects that are about to fall.
  • In Alaska, "TIMBER" is also the [shout out] from someone as they "TIMBER" [purchase a drink for every person in] the bar.

The coniferous Coast Redwood, the tallest tree species on earth. ...

See also

British Timber Trade During the Middle Ages and Stuart period, Great Britain had large domestic supplies of timber, especially valuable were the famous British oaks. ... A decidous beech forest in Slovenia. ... Illegal logging is the harvest, transportation, purchase or sale of timber in violation of national laws. ... There are over 150 species of timber which are produced in India. ... This is a list of woods, in particular those commonly used in the timber and lumber trade. ... Loggers on break, c. ... Non-timber forest products or NTFPs comprise all goods derived from forests of both plant and animal origin other than timber. ... Look up Plank in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Sodium silicate, also known as water glass, is a compound used in cements and textile processing. ... This article is about the year. ... Walt Disney Pictures is an American movie studio, with off-shoot studios in Japan and other sites in the United States. ... Short subject is an American film industry term that historically has referred to any film in the format of two reels, or approximately 20 minutes running time, or less. ... Timber Decking can be used in a number of ways, including as part of garden landscaping, to extend living areas of houses, and as an alternative to stone based features such as patios. ... Timber treatment or lumber treatment in forestry describes the intensive treatment of timber with chemical agents to increase its durability and ability to be used in an otherwise inappropriate situation like inground use. ... The United States-Canada softwood lumber dispute is one of the most significant and enduring trade disputes in modern history. ... Trunks A tree trunk as found at the Veluwe, The Netherlands Wood is derived from woody plants, notably trees but also shrubs. ... Artists can use woodworking to create delicate sculptures. ... Hardwood (deciduous trees) timber production is the process of managing hardwood stands for the purpose of maximizing woody output. ...


2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 10 is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years). ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
How to do it page (decking) (899 words)
Timbers which will be difficult to replace after being built in damp environments such as sills or foundation posts.
Treat the surface of all timber with an external water-repellent finish to protect the wood and minimise splitting.
It is possible to lay timber decking in any pattern you wish but you need to design the layout of the joists to support your design and remember that the thinner the floorboards the larger the number of supporting joists that are needed, for example here is hexagonal design.
  More results at FactBites »



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