Market Forms Of Timber

Before proceeding further, it will be well to describe the different forms to which timber is converted for the market.

A Log is a trunk of a tree with the branches lopped off.

A Balk is obtained by roughly squaring the log.

Fir timber is imported in the forms and under the designations mentioned below.

Hand Masts are the longest, soundest, and straightest trees after being topped and barked.

The term is technically applied to those of a circumference between 24 and 72 inches. "They are measured by the hand of 4 inches, there being also a fixed proportion between the number of hands in the length of the mast and those contained in the circumference taken at 1/2 the length from the butt end."l

Spars or Poles have a circumference of less than 24 inches at the base.

Inch Masts are those having a circumference of more than 72 inches, and are generally dressed to a square or octagonal form.

Balk Timber consists of the trunk, hewn square, generally with the axe, (sometimes with the saw), and is also known as square timber.

Planks are parallel-sided pieces from 2 inches to 6 inches thick, 11 inches broad, and from 8 to 21 feet long.

Deals are similar pieces 9 in. broad and not exceeding 4 in. in thickness.

Whole Deals is the name sometimes given to deals 2 in. or more in thickness.

Cut Deals are less than 2 in. thick.

Battens are similar to deals, but only 7 in. broad.

Ends are pieces of plank, deal, or batten less than 8 feet long.

Scaffold and Ladder Poles are from young trees of larch or spruce. They average about 33 feet in length, and are classed according to the diameter of their butts.

Rickers are about 22 feet long, and under 21/2 in. diameter at the top end. The smaller sizes are called Spars.2

Oak is supplied as follows in her Majesty's dockyards.3

Rough Timber, consisting of the trunk and main branches roughly hewn to an octagonal section.

Sided Timber, being the trunk split down and roughly formed to a polygonal section.

Thick Stuff

Not less than 24 feet long, and of an average length of at least 28 feet, from 11 to 18 inches wide between the sap in the middle of its length, and from 44 inches to 81/2 inches thick.


Not less than 20 feet long, and of an average length of at least 28 feet, the thickness from 2 to 4 inches, and the width (clear of sap) required at the middle of the length varying according to the thickness, i.e. between 9 and 15 inches for 3, 31/2, and 4 inch planks, between 8 and 15 inches for 2 and 21/1 inch planks.

1 Laslett.

2 Seddon's Notes.

3 Laslett.

Wastey Timber is a term used for logs which are not perfectly square. The balk cut being too large for the size of the tree, the square corners of the balk are wanting, and their place is taken by flattened or rounded angles, often showing the bark, and called wanes.

Compass Timber consists of bent pieces, the height of the bend from a straight line joining the two ends being at least 5 inches in a length of 12 feet.