The reclaimed hardwood industry has a lingo all its own. For the average homeowner that is unfamiliar with these terms but is interested in reclaimed hardwood flooring, learning about things like “kerf marks” or “cerusing” might seem like a daunting task at first. Fortunately, we’re here to help! Here are some of the reclaimed hardwood terms that you’ll need to know to choose the right wood for your project.

  • Kerf Marks: Kerf marks are the marks made by the original millers of the wood. These marks typically show up as curving marks (made by the miller’s saw blades) across the grain of the wood.
  • Cerusing: Cerusing is the process that reclamation experts use to give reclaimed wood even more character. During the cerusing process, the wood is first stained, then wire brushed and sanded before another application of stain. This helps to bring out the wood’s patterns even more.
  • Hit-Skip Milling: Hit-skip milling is a process that smooths reclaimed wood somewhat. While the finished product is smoother than unfinished reclaimed wood, some of the original markings remain to give the wood added texture and character.
  • End Matching: Not all reclaimed hardwood starts off as flooring. The end matching process gives the wood’s edges tongues and grooves so that they’ll fit together perfectly when your reclaimed hardwood floor is installed.
  • Crowning and Cupping: Crowing and cupping refers to the concave or convex appearance of some reclaimed boards. A board that shows crowning is one in which the edges are higher than the center of the board, while cupping is the reverse — the edges are lower than the center of the board.
  • Hand Scraping: This is a technique used to roughen the surface of reclaimed wood, giving it a rustic, hand-planed look.
  • Checking: Checking is cracks that appear as wood dries out. Checking on the surface only affects the look of the wood, while deep checking can compromise the wood’s structural integrity.
  • Oxide Staining: Oxide stains are caused by rusting or oxidizing metals such as nails or other fasteners. Depending on the look you want, this may or may not be a desirable trait.
  • Insect Bore Holes and Tracks: Depending on what the wood was used for in its previous life, there may be some minor evidence of insect damage like holes or tracks where the insects have burrowed. This damage may be decades old, and in most cases, it leaves the wood with an appealing, rustic look.
  • Shakes: Shakes are cracks that appear in between the growth rings of natural lumber. In many boards, these will appear as lengthwise cracks at the ends of planks. Shakes usually need to be cut off prior to installation.

Reclaimed hardwood terminology can be confusing at times, so feel free to refer to this guide whenever you have questions about an unfamiliar term. And, if you have even more questions, you can always reach out to the experts at Reclaimed American Hardwood!

Mike Hall