by Brandt Ainsworth
Whether you drive a span of mules, a yoke of oxen, or a team of
horses in the woods you'll soon learn there's more to logging than wearing
flannel shirts and suspendersyou have to talk the talk. Here's a quick
brush-up on the lingo used by loggers, with fair warning that terminology
differs from one region to another.
backcutThe flat cut made behind the notch when felling a
barber chairA tree that spins like a barber's
chair and becomes out of the cutter's control while being felled.
swelling at the base of a tree, also called butress.
dots in the end of a log that reduce its value.
dots throughout the grain (usually of hard maple), potentially increasing the
board footAn increment used to measure
lumber, logs, and timber; one board foot equals 1"x12"x12".
buckingCutting a felled tree into logs.
the woodsThe man in charge of a logging operation.
ox teamster in an old-time logging camp.
with sharp spikes added to improve traction.
tool lacking a point that is used to roll logs.
or cable going around a log to be skidded.
measure and estimate the amount of board feet in standing trees.
in lumber that appears to be wavy.
DBHDiameter at breast
height; more specifically the diameter of a tree at a height of 4 1/2' from the
double bit axAn ax sharpened for use on both
drive grabAn iron hook, usually one of a pair
fastened together with a chain, that is pounded into a log to skid from.
escape pathPredetermined route, preferably at a 45 degree angle
away from a falling tree, a cutter uses to get away from the falling tree.
fellingThe act of dropping a tree.
made of plastic or light aluminum (formerly made of wood) used to drive into a
backcut when felling a tree.
go devilA splitting maul in
some areas, in others a sled used to lift the front end of a log.
grab skipperHammer that's pointed on one end and used to pound
drive grabs into a log and knock them out.
metal debris inside a tree or log that, as all loggers know, has a magnetic
field that draws sawchains into it.
haul roadThe main
road going to and from a logging operation.
left uncut between a backcut and notch that, for safety reasons, should be 10%
of the tree's diameter.
hitchThe amount of logs being
skidded; also called turn.
hot sawWhat happens when you
forget to put mix oil in a saw's gas.
who cuts over the property line.
jig cartA wheeled
vehicle logs are skidded behind; also called a jigger cart, log cart, or
landingCentral location where logs are
placed until delivered to the sawmill.
lodged treeTree that got stuck in another tree; also called hung
log lizzardTool made from a crotched tree on which
the front of a log is loaded for easier skidding.
of leaving a small amount of hinge connecting a log to the tree top, usually
used on hills to prevent the log from sliding to the bottom.
tongsDevice with scissors action for hooking to logs.
truckPeculiar machine that carries trees on its back and has a habit
of getting stuck on landings.
losing a treeLosing
control of a falling tree.
maulWhat a logger does to the
person who forgot to add mix oil to the gas.
hill steeper than a wheelchair ramp.
muleyA log or piece
of stove wood that's hard to work with.
camp bunks so close together they must be entered from the end.
wedge cut out of a tree, 1/5 to 1/3 of the tree's diameter, to control the
on the landingLog buyer's term in
pricing logs, meaning the sawmill pays the trucking expense.
the stumpTerm used to describe timber before it is cut.
pointed-end log roller invented by Joseph Peavy.
used to split wood; also called a go devil.
filled with gunpowder used to split logs too large for a sawmill to handle.
rideThe position in which a log skids the easiest.
scale stickTool used to determine how many board feet are in a
scaling endThe smaller end of a log.
cutLoose term describing a woods being managed by cutting only certain
trees; also called crown thinning.
shakyDescription of a
tree with a too-soft center.
single bit axAx with only
one sharp side, the other side being used to drive felling wedges.
skid roadTrail used to skid logs to the landing.
knock grabs out of a log with a grab skipper.
snatch blockPulley used to gain leverage
when skidding logs.
splitting wedgeIron wedge driven
into a piece of firewood to split it.
used in old-time logging to get above a tree's butress.
breakupTime of year when the frost leaves the ground and the weather
is no longer conducive to logging; also call mud season.
poleA small tree or limb that is bent over and has a lot of pressure
hinge left on the bottom end of a tree's butt log.
helper in a logging operation.
trailerLogs hooked in
veneerLumber sliced with the grain and used as laminate.
widow makerDead limb in a tree top waiting to fall.
treeBig, ugly old tree, usually hollow.
A kid with a splitting maul.
Brandt Ainsworth of New York hosts the DVD
with Horses, Oxen and Mules and is a frequent contributor to
Rural Heritage. This article appeared in the
Evener 2003 issue.