Defining the Term "Board"

Boards, flitches, and cants - here's how to keep 'em straight. February 26, 2005

(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor
From time to time, we have postings about "boards." Just to keep things correct, a board is a piece of lumber that is less than 2 inches thick. This thickness is the nominal thickness; this is the "selling" thickness and not the actual thickness. (A softwood 2x6 is actually 1.5" thick, but it is not a board; the nominal thickness is 2" thick.) All thicknesses (1/2" to 5") can be called a "piece of lumber." So, generally, we should use the term "lumber" and not "board", unless our comments refer specifically and only to pieces of lumber under 2" thick.

Another vocabulary item: If the piece of wood is unedged, then it would not be accurately called "lumber", but would be a "flitch." If the unedged piece is fairly thick, then it would be more commonly called a "cant."

End of training session for today...go back to sawing flitches, cants, and lumber.

In the retail/wholesale lumber industry, we generally "speak wood," as Gene states. A conversation might go something like, "board prices are soft, dimension is strong." Meaning 1x stock has not changed in price, while 2x prices are escalating.

So Gene, since we call 1/2" to 5" stock "a piece of lumber," do we refer to thicker surfaced stock as timbers?

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I did not include the point that 2" thick nominal softwood lumber is often called dimension. There are other special names for products.

5" and thicker is usually called a timber, but other names are used, too.