Terms of the Trade

Importing lumber, panel, and construction products can be a little confusing. Here are a few definitions of the terms used in the trade:

Actual Size: The finished size, as opposed to the nominal size, of a piece of lumber.

Air Dried: Seasoned by exposure to the atmosphere, in the open or under cover, without artificial heat.

Band Saw: A saw consisting of a continuous piece of flexible steel, with teeth on one or both sides, used to cut logs into cants and also to rip lumber.

Bank Draft: A type of check where the payment is guaranteed to be available by the issuing bank.

Bill of Lading: A document issued by a carrier, acknowledging receipt of the goods being shipped and serving as a contract for the shipment.

Blue Stain: A discoloration of wood caused by a fungus; usually occurring in the sapwood, usually troublesome during the warmer months.

Board: A piece of lumber less than two inches in nominal thickness and one inch or more in width or a generic term used to describe composite panels (such as Oriented Strand Board).

Bulk Cargo: Cargo that is not packaged or containerized when placed aboard a ship.

Cant: A large slab cut from a log at the head saw, usually having one or more rounded edges, and destined for further processing by other saws.

Cash Against Documents (CAD): Payment made for goods when an intermediary transfers title documents to the buyer on receipt of the cash.

Cash In Advance: Payment for goods in which the price is paid in full before shipment is made.

Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA): A water-soluble salt used in wood preserving.

Circular Saw: A round saw having cutting teeth on its perimeter. Originally common as a head saw in sawmills, it has been largely replaced by thinner band saws. Circular saws are widely used as trim and cutoff saws.

Commodity Grade: A product with standardized specifications that is sold into a market consisting of a number of buyers and sellers, none of whom can individually influence its price.

Container: A box in which goods are packed for shipment, permitting transfer from one shipping mode to another without repacking.

Contract: An agreement between two or more parties to do or not to do a certain thing. Specifically, an agreement between a buyer and seller in which both parties agree to certain terms of a transaction such as price, product specifications, delivery time, etc.

Cost & Freight (C&F): A basis for quotation that includes the price of the goods (cost) and the expense of shipment (freight) to a specific destination.

Cost, Insurance, & Freight (CIF): A term used in waterborne shipments to indicate the price quoted includes all the charges from the point of origin to the port of destination, including the original cost of the goods.

Creosote: A wood preservative consisting mainly of aromatic hydrocarbons obtained by distillation of coal tar, primarily used in wood products that come into contact with the ground.

Crook: Deviation edgewise from a straight line from end to end of a piece of lumber, measured at the point of the greatest distance from the straight line.

Cubic Meters (M3 or CBM): The metric standard measure for volume of a commodity, calculated by multiplying the length x width x height in meters.

Demurrage: A charge delaying the carrier's equipment beyond the allowed free time.

Detention: A penalty charge against shippers or receivers for delaying the carrier's equipment outside the port, terminal or depot beyond the allowed Free Time.

Dimension: Lumber that is from two inches up to, but not including, five inches thick, and that is two or more inches in width.

Dry Kiln: A chamber in which wood products are seasoned by applying heat and withdrawing moist air.

Elliottii Pine: Pinus elliottii. This pine is grown extensively on plantations in Brazil. In the U.S. it is known as Slash Pine, part of the Southern Yellow Pine group of species.

FAS: Free Alongside Ship, the price of goods with delivery at the side of the ship before the goods are placed on the named port of destination free of charges. The buyer's liability begins at this point.

FFA: Free Freight Alongside, the price of goods with delivery of goods placed on the named port of destination. The buyer's liability begins after the goods have been received by the destination port facility.

Flat Rack: A type of equipment used in containerized shipping that has a flat platform for loading cargo and bulkheads at each end in which other containerized equipment can be stacked on top of.

Flitch: A log sawn on two or more sides from which veneer is sliced.

FOB: Free on board, a reference to the point to which the seller will deliver goods without charge to the buyer. Usually refers to the point in which goods are "loaded on buyer's truck".

Formosan Subterranean Termite: A particularly destructive termite that is known for causing widespread damage to untreated wooden structures.

Freight Collect: Freight charges payable by the consignee or receiver at the shipment's destination.

Freight Prepaid: Freight payable by the shipper at the point of origin of the shipment.

Full Sawn: A grading term used to describe rough lumber that has been cut to full nominal size. Tolerances above the nominal size are allowed in full-sawn lumber, but there is no tolerance for pieces under-size at time of manufacture.

Grade Marked: Lumber or panels that have been graded for quality and/or specific use and marked with certain symbols attesting to that quality.

Grade Stamp: A rubber stamp, issued by a grading agency or association to a client mill and used to indicate the grade of a particular piece of lumber or panel. A typical grade stamp will include teh species, the grade, the producing mill by name and/or agency number, the grading agency, and a designation (for lumber) of whether the stock was dry or green when surfaced.

Grading Agency: An organization that provides grading rules, grade stamps, and supervisory services to member producers.

Grain: A general term referring to the arrangement, appearance, and direction of wood fibers. Among the many types of grain are fine, coarse, straight, curly, open, flat, vertical, and spiral.

Heat Treatment: The process of subjecting wood to a specified temperature for a specified duration to kill any pests, fungi, etc.

Imperial System: System of units first defined by the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824. By the late 20th century, most nations that used the imperial system had officially adopted the metric system as their main system of measurement. Today, the United States systems of measurement closely resembles the formerly defined British imperial units.

Kiln Dried (KD): Lumber that has been seasoned in a kiln to a predetermined moisture content.

Kiln Dried After Treatment (KDAT): Treated lumber that has been season in a kiln to a predetermined moisture content following the treatment process.

Knot Quality: In addition to size, knots are classified according to quality. Classifications include: 1. Unsound: A knot that contains any degree of decay. 2. Encased: A knot whose rings of annual growth are not intergrown with those in the surrounding wood. 3. Intergrown: A knot partially or completely intergrown on one or two faces with the growth rings of the surrounding wood. 4. Loose: A knot not held tightly in place by growth or position, one that cannot be relied on to remain in place. 5. Fixed: A knot that will hold its place in a dry piece under ordinary conditions; one that can be moved under pressure but not easily pushed out of the surrounding wood. 6. Pith: A sound knot containing a pith hole not over 1/4-inch in diameter. 7. Sound: A knot that is solid across the face, as hard as the surrounding wood, and shows no signs of decay. 8. Tight: A knot fixed by growth or position so as to retain in its place. 9. Firm: A knot that is solid across its face but contains incipient decay. 10. Watertight: A knot whose annual rings of growth are completely intergrown with those of the surrounding wood on one surface of the piece, and which is sound on the surface.

Landing Charges: Fees levied by a port on imports passing through the port.

Letter of Credit: A letter issued by a bank on behalf of a buyer of merchandise that entitles the seller to draw funds from the bank up to a stipulated amount. Sometimes requested by export shippers for forest products as a form of financial protection.

Linear Foot: A measurement of length, equal to one foot or 12 inches. For example, a piece of lumber 16 feet long containers 16 linear feet. The width and thickness of the piece are not considered in this type of measurement.

Loblolly Pine: Pinus taeda. One of the Southern Yellow Pines, this species takes its name from the fact that it often grows in moist depressions called loblollies. It is the fastest-growing and most-plentiful of the southern pines. The species if sound in a range from Texas to Delaware.

Log: The stem of a tree after it has been felled. The raw material from which lumber, plywood, and other wood products are processed.

Longleaf Pine: Pinus palustris. This species is native to the Southeast and Gulf Coast. Commercially, it is grouped with other species as "Sothern Yellow Pine" and closely resembles Slash Pine.

Manifest: List of goods or passengers on a vessel.

Marine Insurance: Insurance against loss or damage that may occur while forest products are stowed in an ocean-going vessel.

Market Value: The price of a property or goods under existing market conditions. In commodity products, like lumber, the value of goods fluctuate based upon the laws of supply and demand.

MBF: The standard abbreviation for 1,000 board feet of lumber. MBF is a measurement in volume, which includes the multiplication of the height, width, length, and total number of pieces.

Methyl Bromide: A fumigant used to kill fungi and insects in wood.

Metric Ton: A unit of weight equal to 1,000 kilograms, or approximately 2,205 pounds.

Metric System: The modern form of the metric system is the International System of Units (SI). The seven SI base units are kelvin, second, metre, kilogram, candela, mole, and ampere. This system has been adopted nearly globally. Only Burma, Liberia, and the United States have not adopted SI units as their official system of weights and measures.

MSF: The standard abbreviation for 1,000 square feet, surface measure, of plywood or other panel products.

Nominal Size: The size designation for most lumber, plywood, and other panel products, used for convenience. In lumber, the nominal size usually is greater that the actual dimension; thus a kiln dried 2x4 ordinarily is surfaced to 1-1/2x3-1/2 inches. When calculating board footages, nominal sizes are used.

Port of Discharge (POD): The port where a vessel is off-loaded and the cargo discharged.

Port of Loading (POL): The port where the cargo is loading on a vessel.

Preservative: Any substance applied to wood that helps it resist decay, rotting, or harmful insects.

Preservative Retention Level: A measure of the amount of preservative retained in the wood after the completion of the treating process.

Pressure Treating: A process of impregnating lumber or other wood products with various chemicals, such as preservatives and fire retardants, by forcing the chemicals into the wood using high pressure.

Prime: An appearance grade of Southern Pine dressed lumber, having "practically no wane" and limits on other defects. There are two grades, No. 1 Prime and No. 2 Prime; they are based on the No. 1 Common and No. 2 common dimension grades and carry the same design values.

Random Lengths (RL): Lumber of various lengths, usually in even two-foot increments.

Random Width (RW): Wood products of various widths.

Reforestation: The process of rebuilding a forest after it has been logged, or after a fire or other natural processes such as disease kill the timber.

Reinspection: A process in which a wood product received by a buyer and thought by him to be of a lesser grade than that specified is re-examined by a grading agency authorized to make reinspections. Generally, the reinspected material is considered to be of the proper grade if 95% it meets the requirements of the stated grade.

Resaw: To saw a piece of lumber along its horizontal axis.

Rip: To saw a piece of lumber along its longitudinal axis.

Rough Lumber: Lumber which has not been dressed or surfaced but has been sawn, edged, and trimmed.

Scant: Less than standard or required size.

Shipper: The person who tenders the goods for the carriage, not to be confused with the party issuing the bill of lading or the vessel's operator who is the carrier.

Shortleaf Pine: Pinus echinata. This species, one of the Southern Yellow Pine group, is found in a broad range from Texas to as far north as Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Slash Pine: Pinus elliottii. One of several pine species grouped under the designation of Southern Yellow Pine. Slash Pine is native to the southeastern and Gulf Coast states. It is fast growing and matures early. Slot: The space on board a vessel occupied by a container.

Its wood closely resembles that of the Longleaf Pine, another specie of the SYP group.

Southern Yellow Pine (SYP): A species group, composed primarily of Loblolly, Longleaf, Shortleaf, and Slash Pines. Various sub-species also are included in the group. The SYP region refers to the southeastern United States, from Texas to Virginia.

Split: A lengthwise separation of a piece of lumber extending from one surface through the piece to the opposite or adjoining surface.

Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF): Canadian wood of similar characteristics that have been grouped for production and marketing. The SPF species have moderate strength, are worked easily, take paint readily, and hold nails well. The largest volume comes from Eastern Canada, where the principle species in the group are: Red Spruce, Black Spruce, Jack Pine, and Balsam Fir. The principle species of the group originating from Western Canada are White Spruce, Engelmann Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, and Alpine Fir. Some lumber production in the New England states also are marketed as SPF.

Stain: Discoloration on or in lumber, or other wood products, other than its natural color. Stain may be caused by fungal growth, weathering, or the oxidation of metallic substances in a log.

Tally: A numerical breakdown of the various lengths and/or widths in a load of lumber.

Terminal Handling Charge (THC): A charge for handling container(s) at the ocean terminals. These charges can be billed at Origin (OTHC) and/or Destination (DTHC).

Termites: Insects that destroy wood by eating the wood fiber. Termites can enter wood through the ground or above the ground, although the subterranean type is the most common in the U.S.

Ton: A unit of weight equal to 2,240 pounds (long ton) or 2,000 pounds (short ton).

Twenty-Foot Equivalent (TEU): A measurement unit used in calculating the volume of ship containers of various dimensions. A TEU is 20' x 8' x 8'. Thus a 40-foot container would equal two TEUs.

Veneer: Wood peeled, sawn, or sliced into sheets of a given constant thickness and combined with glue to produce plywood or laminated-veneer lumber.

Wane: Bark, or the lack of wood from any cause, on the edge or corner of a piece of lumber.

Warp: Any variation from a true or plane surface, including bow, crook, cup, or any combination of these.

Waybill (WB): A bill of lading that acts as receipt for the goods and evidence of the contract of carriage. A waybill is a bill of lading that is not a document and is thus a non-negotiable document. Under a waybill delivery will be effected to a nominated consignee upon proof of identity. As a title it presents a personal contract between the shipper and the carrier only. There is no mandatory law or convention and the parties have absolute freedom of contract.

Wharf: A structure built along or at an angle from the shore of navigable waters, so that ships may tie alongside to receive or discharge cargo or passengers.

Wharfage: A charge for use of the port surface over which cargo moves.