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American/English terms for various sizes of lumber

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Forum topic by antmjr posted 07-01-2011 09:12 PM 1454 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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antmjr

262 posts in 2650 days


07-01-2011 09:12 PM

Hi all. I’d like to know the American/English terms for the various sizes of lumber. For instance, a plank is a flat piece of wood. According to wikipedia, usually from sawn timber, more than 38 mm thick, and generally wider than 63 mm. If the width is less than 63 mm and the thickness less than 38 mm is called board.

But how do you name a 2’‘x2’’ piece of wood? may I refer to a 2’‘x2’’ piece of wood as a 2’‘x2’’ plank? or a plank must be rectangular?

And what about a batten? What is the range of size of a batten?
—-
I have tried to find a list of such terms on the web, but strangely I didn’t succeed.

-- Antonio


7 replies so far

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SCOTSMAN

5839 posts in 3051 days


#1 posted 07-01-2011 09:17 PM

a plank is usually flat and long but as long as you have the right sizes no body would look twice if you also referred to a 2 by2 inch as aplank of post or batten they all go ok.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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antmjr

262 posts in 2650 days


#2 posted 07-01-2011 09:38 PM

thank you Alistar. So for now I know:
plank
board
post (btw, may a post be round?)
batten
—-
anyway, I think I cannot say a 10’‘x10’’ batten, I mean, I think it’s a 10×10 beam or something similar. So what may the larger dimensions of a batten be?

-- Antonio

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DaddyZ

2475 posts in 2506 days


#3 posted 07-01-2011 10:38 PM

The larger dimensions of a batten – A Tree !!!!! LOL ;)

sorry couldn’t resist

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

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antmjr

262 posts in 2650 days


#4 posted 07-01-2011 11:52 PM

funny, funny, thank you
—-
A batten is “a narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards”. In fact I have found the “Board & Batten Style Shutters” here

I guess a batten is about 2’‘x2’’ in size at most, but I have found this case too: maybe it’s a mistake, they seem match-boards to me, not battens.

a post seems to be greater then a batten: compare posts with battens, and in any case a post is “a long piece of wood or other material set upright into the ground to serve as a marker or support”, so it seems to me that this term refers mainly to the function, and only secondly to the size.

-- Antonio

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shipwright

7174 posts in 2264 days


#5 posted 07-02-2011 03:43 AM

Non c’e tanto facile Antonio.

Often in English the function will determine the name used for a piece. As you have found, a post is defined more by it’s purpose than by it’s size or shape. Likewise a batten is more likely to describe a function than a size.

To make it more confusing, in North America we call a piece a timber if it’s quite large dimension and here “timber construction” means heavy post and beam style. In other English speaking countries timber just means wood or what we call “lumber” and “timber construction” simply means made of wood.

Per essere giusto, l’Italiano non e neanche tanto facile per noi.

Ciao

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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antmjr

262 posts in 2650 days


#6 posted 07-02-2011 10:11 AM

thank you Paul. Yes, in Italian there are many different terms, but this is probably due to the many different regional dialects we have. For instance, we have the term ‘morale’ (nothing to do with moral :-)) which means a 5×5 (up to 8×8) cm plank. But we have also the ‘mezzo morale’, mezzo means half, meaning a 3×6 (up to 6×12) cm plank (a ‘morale’ is square, a ‘mezzo morale’ rectangular).
BTW, I have also found in a boatbuilding book that ‘timber’ means (or meant?) the ribs of a hull; there was the floor-timber too, wasn’t it?

-- Antonio

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shipwright

7174 posts in 2264 days


#7 posted 07-02-2011 03:46 PM

Antonio,
These are some of the things that I think you would have to live here (or I there) to really understand very well. We use all kinds of terms interchangeably for the same things. For instance we might refer to the same thing as:
1) A stack of wood
2) A stack of boards
3) A stack of planks
4) A stack of lumber / timber

We are really vague about sizes. Board or plank can mean any reasonably sized piece, although the term small board would be more likely than small plank. Small pieces are simply pieces although we may refer to them as blocks, sticks or slabs in certain shapes.

General softwood construction lumber here is referred to by it’s dimension. In fact we refer to it as dimension lumber . We refer for example to a 2 by 6 or a 2 by 4 (2×6, 2×4) as just that. We don’t say “a 2 by 6 board” (or plank), we just say “a 2 by 6”. Of course that too is misleading as a 2×6, after milling and planing arrives at the lumber store at about 1 1/2” by 5 1/2”.

And then there are the trade related terms as you have noted. It is true that a ship’s timbers generally refers to her ribs, but she also has floor timbers (join the ribs at the bottom across the keel) and may have stern timbers, stem timbers and others. Again, timbers is used to denote heavy pieces.

Ciao

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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