All the Timber Terms You Need to Know (And the Meaning Behind Them)

Unless you’re a timber industry veteran, the lingo in the wood products industry can veer into “confusing” territory. What is the difference between the terms “bolt” and “bole?” What is a “debarker,” and what do you use it for? And what, exactly, is “plywood?”

At Timber Products Company, we want to make sure you understand the terms we use when we’re talking about our wood products—and, most importantly, exactly what they mean.


Let’s look at all the timber terms you need to know (and the meaning behind them):

Bole: The main stem of a tree, it’s typically covered in bark and used commercially for lumber.

Bolt: A short section of the bole (typically between 4 and 8 feet).

Bondability: A specific type of wood’s ability to be joined with an adhesive product.

Composite: A timber product created by combining two or more materials.

Cross-grain: A piece of wood where the direction of the fibers on the length of the log is not parallel to the center axis.

Debarker: A mechanical device that removes the bark from logs.

Durability: A wood product’s ability to withstand deterioration from external elements (such as weather or moisture).

Filler: A substance (such as ground corn or pecan shell flour) added to plywood adhesive milk to create additional bulk.

Finish: A liquid added to a completed wood product to change and/or enhance the appearance and/or durability of the product.

Grade: A rating assigned to wood products based on quality; Softwood Lumber Grades are assigned based on expected stiffness and strength while Hardwood Lumber Grades are assigned based on minimum yield, board size, and cutting size.

Grain: The direction of fibers on the length of the log.

Hardwood: Wood from a broad-leaved tree, such as oak, beech, or ash.

Hardwood Plywood: A piece of wood constructed from a species of layered hardwood atop a core.

Joint: The point where two pieces of wood connect.

Log: A portion of a tree that has been cut down into a piece at least 8 feet long.

Log Truck: A vehicle that transports logs from wherever the wood is harvested to the processing center.

Lumber: Wood that has been cut from a tree and processed (for example, into beams or boards); a synonym for timber. Find the right cut.

MDF: Medium Density Fiberboard an engineered wood product that is both affordable and durable. 

Particle Board: Material made from various compressed wood chips and resin.  

Plywood: A composite product created from cross-laminated veneer sheets that are arranged in layers and secured with an adhesive.

Preservative: A pesticide applied to wood to increase durability and increase resistance to deterioration from external factors.

Softwood: Wood from a coniferous tree, such as pine, cedar, or juniper.

Softwood Plywood: A piece of wood constructed from a species of layered softwood atop a core.

Timber: Wood that has been cut from a tree and processed (for example, into beams or boards); a synonym for lumber.

These terms and more can be found all throughout our blog. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for monthly emails covering everything in the wood products industry!

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