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Collective term for harvested wood, whether cut into logs, heavy timbers, or members used in light-frame construction. Lumber is classified as hardwood or softwood (seewood). The term often refers specifically to the products derived from logs in a sawmill. Conversion of logs to sawed lumber involves debarking, sawing into boards or slabs, resawing into thinner boards of varying sizes, edging, crosscutting to square the ends and remove defects, grading according to strength and appearance, and drying in the open air or in kilns. Drying below the fiber-saturation point results in shrinkage and generally greater strength, stiffness, and density and better prepares the wood for finishing. Preservatives are often applied to protect the wood from deterioration and decay.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on lumber, visit Britannica.com.