Watch Your Language >> Wood Words

Jan 2, 2024 | english hardwoods, furniture timber, Grown in Britain, kiln dried timber, wood knowledge

What we say isn’t what you say. Or what they say.

So how do we know we’re even talking about the same wood thing?

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These things up here for instance.

The juicy waney Elm in the photos… they’re waney edge boards. That’s what we call them, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does.

Many other words, and combinations of words, are utilised to mean these slyvan slices (no one calls them that by the way!). Slabs. Live edge. Planks. Natural edge. Strips. Through and Through (proper old school).

But we are sticking with waney edge boards. Or waneyedge. Either. Or both.


Hmmm. Well it definitely does what it says on the tin.

The alternatives just aren’t cutting it (#woodpun !) As popular as it is out there in the virtual world of wood ‘natural’ is a nice but slightly abstract adjective. For us it’s a given that wood is natural. And yes, the un-ripped board is more natural than the ripped one’s still just a bit too vague.

And sorry but ‘live edge’ ??? Well that just isn’t gonna fly in this woodgeeks woodyard ! (you know what puts the ‘live’ in live edge right? er…🪳🪳🪳)

So then we come to ‘boards’.

What are boards about? It could be just habit. Culture. Commonality. Sure, we could call them planks. We sometimes do, but only when we’re off duty 🙂 But between us 25 odd woodfolk here at the yard it’s boards all the way.

Words are a tribe thing.

Wood words are no different.

The one’s we use on a daily basis have have been around for 800 years or more, getting swapped back and forth between Old English, Dutch, German, French, Norse… so they have a place in history (something we love about wood culture) that was carved about by the wood workers and wood thinkers of their time. Boards are found in texts referring to wood in furniture, or wood for ships, carts and floors.

As for the ‘edge’ words it’s slightly different. Only waney has a history to speak of, with origins found in English and American English as far back as the 1700’s. The ‘live’ and ‘natural’ names being descriptive and Through and Through being a carpentry term we used ourselves until just a few years ago – perhaps a product of the industrial revolution? Mechanism and machines?

You don’t know what on earth we’re talking about do you?

Well that’s ok, we’re just getting a bit carried away with our woodculture.

The bit you might want to hold onto is how to talk about the wood you need, when you need to. If you’re ever unsure try a wordsearch in our Knowledge Base or do a search (at the top of the website). We’ll do our best to be clear about our wood, and to explain what we mean.

No more mysterious, unexplained wood references.




Search the Knowledge Base

See more words about wood in the Wood Blog

Browse some boards with waney edges

Or even some square edge boards 🙂

TDUK: a great resource for wood words and much much more

A really random but useful (& downloadable) wood glossary

Another gem from the website – a 1928 Forestry Commission document entitled Beetles Injurious to Timber