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Woodworking can seem like a language all unto itself. With acronyms you can’t place and terms you’ve never heard, the vocabulary of wood drying and milling can be tricky. Here is a quick, concise, and very brief overview of some of the terms you might see or hear when you’re getting started:

Air-drying (AD) – Naturally dried wood that still retains around 18% moisture.  This is typically done by separating boards with narrow sticks and encouraging air movement.  This is not a replacement for seasoning or kiln drying.

Chatter Marks – A bumpy, lumpy, uneven lumber surface.  

Checks – A crack caused by improper drying of wood.

Conditioning in Kiln Drying – The process of ensuring the moisture content of the shell of the board is the same as the core of the board.

Defects – Abnormalities or imperfections in the board, such as knots, worm holes, bark pockets, wane, stain, pith, checks, unsound burls, shake, and splits.

End Check – Separation of wood fibers at the end of a board.

Equalizing in Kiln Drying – Creating an environment where all the boards have matching moisture content.

Green Lumber – Fresh and unseasoned wood.

Green Tally – The actual size of a board before kiln drying.

Kerf – The path that a saw makes while cutting.

Kiln-Drying – The method of drying lumber by removing moisture while forcing heated air to circulate around the lumber in an enclosed space.

Kiln-Dried (KD) – Wood that has been dried in a kiln.

Logging – The process of cutting trees and then moving the lumber to the sawmill.

Millwork – Manufactured lumber that has been processed through a variety of machines.

Moisture Content – Percentage of moisture present in wood.

Planed –Machine adjusted and processed to create a smooth and even surface.

Rough (RGH) – The board surface as it comes from the saw.

Seasoning – The process of moisture reduction in wood to reduce weight and increas stability.

Shrinkage – Decrease in the size or volume of wood as a direct result of the drying process.

Steamed – A special process in which the green lumber is steamed for the purpose of darkening sapwood.

Warp – Distortion in which board turns or twists out of shape.

It can seem daunting, but over time, you will begin to pick up on these common terms, and as you progress in your woodworking experience, you will learn more advanced terminology that will match your advancing abilities.