A –

Air drying (AD): Timber which as been air dried, as opposed to dried in a kiln. Lumber here is air dried for six months, and then kiln dried for three to six months to complete the drying process. (see kiln drying)

Annual Growth Rings: Annual growth rings refer to tree rings that indicate a lot about the age of the tree, how much water the tree got that year, disease epidemics, air pollution, and much more. Follow the link to a picture of a piece of wood where the annual growth rings are visible.

Arborist: An arborist, or (less commonly) arboriculturist, is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants. An arborist can be thought of as a tree surgeon, and can answer questions about tree maintenance and suggest treatments for the specimen. We do not offer arborist services but could direct you to one. Follow the link for a list of Alabama Sawyer's tree services.

B –

Biodiversity: Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant & animal lifeforms in a given area.

Black Cherry "Prunus serotina Ehrh": Black cherry trees belong to the rose family. Leaves, twigs, and bark produce hydrogen cyanide after removal from the stem or as an answer to the injury. Black cherries are popular in pies, liqueur, soda, and even whiskey.

Board Feet: The board-foot is a specialized unit of measure for the volume of lumber in the United States and Canada. It is the volume of a one-foot length of a board one foot wide and one inch thick. Can be abbreviated BF.

Boule and Flitch: Consider the log as a loaf of bread. It is cut longitudinally through its entire length. Each of these individual log-length pieces is called a flitch. A flitch of significant thickness may be considered a slab. They can be stacked in a way to reconstruct the log. The sliced and then re-built log is called a boule. Each flitch in the boule shares a common history with the others from the log. The entire boule carries the same color and character. Here at Alabama Sawyer the wood is placed in a boule to air dry for at least six months. Follow the link to learn more about Alabama Sawyer’s milling process.

C –

Carnuba wax: a northeastern Brazilian fan palm, the leaves of which exude a yellowish wax. Carnuba wax is used in Alabama Sawyer’s own penetrating finish to help preserve the wood.

Composting: Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. At the simplest level, the process of composting requires making a heap of wetted organic matter known as green waste (leaves, food waste) and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months. Follow the link to see Alabama Sawyer's composting bin.

Contractor: a person or company that undertakes a contract to provide materials or labor to perform a service or do a job.

Crotch: Crotch is a figure that develops when a tree knits a trunk to a branch or two branches together. It is often referred to as a plume or a feather. Almost all hardwood trees have crotches although not all crotches are created equal in splendor. Click here to see an example of a crotch in our wood intersection table.

D –

Design Elements: Design elements are the essential tools of creating art. Refers to six basic ideas: color, shape, texture, space, form, and line / direction.

Dovetail joint: a joint formed by one or more tapered projections (tenons) on one piece that interlock with corresponding notches or recesses (mortises) in another. Follow the link to see Alabama Sawyer's Miyake Bench, which has dovetail joinery.

E –

Elm "Ulmus americana": In the 19th and early 20th century, American Elm was a common street and park tree owing to its tolerance of urban conditions, rapid growth, and graceful form. This however led to an extreme over planting of the species, which ultimately produced an unhealthy monoculture of elms that had no resistance to disease and pests. Dutch elm disease is a fungal disease which has ravaged the American Elm. Elm can be used to treat digestive disorders. When healthy and under proper care, an American Elm can grow 3-6 feet each year.

F –

Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound with the formula CH₂O. It is the simplest of the aldehydes and is also known by its systematic name methanal. Formaldehyde is typically used in plywood products. We do not use formaldehyde in our products.

FSC certified wood: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international not for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world's forests. Its independent certification and labeling of forest products offers customers around the world the ability to choose products from socially and environmentally responsible forestry.

G –

Grading Wood (Prime, FSA, Common): Wood is graded according to quality, strength, and appearance. Prime grading is used when appearance is important. FAS (First and Seconds) refers to the highest grade of wood, and is best suited for mouldings and joinery projects. The common grades are suitable for the cabinet industry, most furniture parts, and flooring.

Grain: a texture seen in a cut surface of wood. Basically, it's the pattern resulting from the arrangement of wood fibers.  

Green Wood: Green wood is wood that has been recently cut and therefore has not had an opportunity to season (dry) by evaporation of the internal moisture. Green wood contains more moisture than seasoned wood, which has been dried through passage of time or by forced drying in kilns.

Green-washing: misrepresenting a product as environmentally friendly by overstating its qualities or overlooking the overall effect.

H –

Hackberry "Celtis occidentalis L.": Early records of Native Americans and colonists who encountered the tree make no mention of it. It is a member of the elm family, but doesn't look like one. Despite being relatively easy to work with, it is still one of the most ignored and neglected hardwoods, but for little explainable reason. There are four hackberry species in North America that all look very similar. The wood grows in very acrobatic directions but becomes stable once dry.

Heartwood: the dense inner part of a tree trunk, yielding the hardest timber.

Hickory "Carya glabra (Mill.) Sweet": This grade of hickory is very hard and strong. It can be used for smoking meats due to the specific aroma of the wood. Can also be used as tool handles, rough lumber, and railroad ties. Historically, hickory has been used in the spokes of wheels.

I –

Intersection Table: An intersection table refers to a table with a base where the legs intersect. Follow the link to see Alabama Sawyer's Intersection Coffee Table.

J –

Joinery: Joining together multiple pieces of timber to create something more complex. Can be done using fasteners, bindings, or adhesives. Follow the link to see Alabama Sawyer's cocktail storage cubes that use brass pins as joinery.

K –

Kiln-drying: The part of the woodworking process where timber is dried using a kiln. Wood at Alabama Sawyer is air dried for six months before it is kiln dried for three to six months.

L –

LEED: The USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) rating system stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. You may qualify for LEED materials credits. Ask your LEED AP.

Liquid Ambar "Liquidambar styraciflua L.": Used mainly for decorative purposes in the woodworking industry. The scientific and common names for this tree refer to sap that is exuded when the trunk is cut, and is also notable for its star shaped leaves.

Live Edge: Live edge or natural edge is a style of furniture where the carpenter incorporates the natural edge of the wood into the design of the piece. Follow the link to see a live edge Alabama Sawyer conference table.

M –

Magnolia "Magnolia gradiflora L.": Its name is derived from French botanist "Pierre Magnol" and is native to the southeastern US. There are about 200 species of magnolia. Some of the smaller species only grow to be 15 feet tall while larger species of magnolia can grow 80 feet tall.

Miter joint: a joint made between two pieces of wood or other material at an angle of 90°, such that the line of junction bisects this angle.

Moisture Content: The moisture content is the amount of water in lumber, and is measured as a percentage of the lumber's oven dry weight. Acceptable moisture levels in wood depend on the final use of the wood, the type and thickness of the wood, and the average relative humidity (RH) in the environment where the wood will be used.

Mortise and tenon': In its basic form it is both simple and strong. Although there are many joint variations, the basic mortise and tenon comprises two components: the mortise hole and the tenon. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place.

Municipal Composting Program: Some cities offer composting programs that will pick up your compost on a regular basis for a small monthly fee. This is especially useful if you don't have a backyard where you can keep a compost pile.

N –

O –

P –

Pecan "Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch.": The name “pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack. It is a species of hickory, native to Mexico and the Southern United States. Pecans are not actually considered a nut, but instead are a fruit surrounded by a husk with a stone pit in the center, which is the part you eat. The state tree of Texas, it can live to be anywhere between 300 - 1000 years old.

Penetrating finish: penetrating finishes like Tung Oil or Linseed Oil are drying oils that harden upon exposure to air. The resulting coating is transparent and plastic-like, but seeps into the grain of the wood to condition and protect.

Plain Sawn: Plain sawn lumber is the most common type of cut. The annular rings (see annual growth rings) are generally 30 degrees or less to the face of the board; this is often referred to as tangential grain. The resulting wood displays a cathedral pattern on the face of the board. Follow the link for an example of a plain sawn product.

Plywood: Plywood is a manufactured wood panel made from thin sheets of wood veneer. Plywood is often used instead of plain wood because of its resistance to warping and its general high degree of strength. It is more cost effective and kinder to scarce wood species than entirely solid wood construction.

Principles of Design: Principles of design that architects use when designing pieces: balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, scale, rhythm, variety, unity, and hierarchy.

Q –

Quartersawn: In quarter sawn wood, only the center board of the quarter-log is cut with the growth rings truly perpendicular to the surface of the board. The smaller boards cut from either side have grain increasingly skewed.

R –

Reclaimed / Recycled Wood: Lumber that had a previous use or job, besides growing in a forest or farm. Usually, reclaimed wood was part of another structure and is used to make floors, furniture, and much more.

Red Oak "Quercus falcata Michx.": The shape of the leaves on a red oak can vary from tree to tree and even from branch to branch. Red oak is easily distinguishable from other types of oak because its leaves are pointed on the end, and each leaf typically has 7 to 11 lobes, depending on length. Historically, it was used in certain kinds of medicine.

Rift Cut: Rift sawn lumber is usually used with oak to avoid the flecks that are common in the species. The annular rings (see annual growth rings) or a rift sawn board are about 30-60 degrees to the face of the board, but 45 degrees is the most optimum. Similar to quarter sawn lumber, rift sawn lumber is also referred to as radial grain.

S –

Salvaged Wood: Lumber that comes from a number of non-farmed environments that would conventionally be sent to a landfill or incinerator.

Sap Wood: the soft outer layers of recently formed wood between the heartwood and the bark, containing the functioning vascular tissue.

Shaker Furniture: A style developed by a religious sect (commonly referred to as Shakers) that were guided by principles of utility, simplicity, and honesty. Their furniture style reflects an emphasis on function and minimalism. Many of the furniture pieces here at Alabama Sawyer belong to that style.

Slab: Generally refers to a thick slice of a log, including both sides as live edges

Stickers / Stacking and Stickering: The small pieces of wood used as spacers in the drying of green wood.

Surface Finish: a type of wood sealer that creates a hard, protective film. Surface finishes can add a variety of sheens and/or color.

Surface Measurement: Surface measure is the surface area of a board in square feet. It refers to width, in inches and fractions, times the standard length in feet with no fractions or rounding, divided by 12 with the answer rounded to the closest whole number. Used in determining the grade of the wood.

Surfacing: the process of making wood boards flat and smooth

T –

The Lacey Act: The Lacey Act is a 1900 United States law that bans trafficking in illegal wildlife. In 2008, the Act was amended to include plants and plant products such as timber and paper. This landmark legislation is the world's first ban on trade in illegally sourced wood products.

U –

Urban Forest: An urban forest is a forest or a collection of trees that grow within a city, town or a suburb. Urban forestry is the careful care and management of tree populations in urban settings for the purpose of improving the urban environment.

USGC: U.S. Green Building Council (USGC) was founded in 1995. It developed the first LEED rating system in 1998.

V –

Veneer: a thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material.

VOC: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary, room-temperature conditions. VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Most scents or odors are of harmless VOCs., but some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment.

W –

Walnut "Juglans nigra L.": In Greek walnut means "karyon", which means "head" since the walnut shell looks like a skull and protects the kernel. Usually attains a height of 75-100 feet, and is used in furniture, cabinet work,  veneers, and of course, nuts.

White Oak "Quercus alba L.": White oak trees usually grow 60-80 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 2-4 feet. Leaves will have 7-9 round lobes, and the bark can be white or greyish in color. In colonial times, white oak was used in shipbuilding.

Windfall: Refers to a tree that has been uprooted by wind.

Wood Staining: The process of staining wood to give it a specific color. There are different types of stains that can be used, and each type of stain produces a different effect. Keep in mind that stains only provide color. Follow the link to see Alabama Sawyer's blue stained sputnik table.

X –

Y –

Yellow Poplar "Liriodendron tulipifera": Yellow poplar is both lightweight and strong, which is why it was formerly used in the construction of battle shields. It's an important tree in the industry of snowboards and musical instruments. Sometimes, yellow poplar is even used for panel paintings like the Mona Lisa.

Z –