Not all timber is alike, even though all those boards and sheets may look alike to you. This is why it's good to know a few terms you might see when you're at the lumberyard, so you know which type of timber will work for your project and which might not be the best investment. Note a few common terms and their meanings before you shop for timber.
This is a piece of timber that is free from any known defects. It can be the priciest type of timber but the best for furniture making or any project where the timber will be visible.
This is when timber bends or seems to cave in slightly. Usually a cup or cupping can be seen in the very center of timber. Beams with a cup may not be strong enough to hold up weight so they're not usually used for framing.
Timber that has been given a smooth surface by milling. Dressed all around or DAR timber means that all sides have been dressed. This timber is good for when it will remain visible, but dressed timber is not typically necessary for framing or other projects where the timber will be covered by another material.
Dressing timber will remove some of its surface and, in turn, reduce its overall size. The finished size of the timber refers to this size after it's been dressed.
These pieces of timber have been laid end to end and have been connected by a type of joint resembling a finger and usually with an adhesive or wood glue. This glue and finger joint increases the overall strength and durability of the timber piece.
When timber has been dressed to a certain size, it is referred to as gauged. Gauged timber can be needed for when the exact width of timber is important, such as for floorboards or furniture projects.
This timber is newly cut and has not yet been dried. It will have a lot of moisture. You may want green timber so you can dry it yourself and control how much drying is done versus how much moisture is left in the timber.
Hardwood and softwood
These terms are used to describe the variety of tree from which timber is taken; they do not refer to the actual density or softness of the timber itself. As an example, balsa wood is technically a hardwood even though the wood itself is somewhat soft and not typically recommended for framing.
For more information, contact a company like Australian Treated Pine.