Defining "Slab" and "Flitch"

For the record, here's what the terms mean to a sawmiller. July 30, 2007

Dr. Wengert, is there a hard and fast rule on what constitutes a "slab"? I see so many people using that term for things I wouldn't remotely consider a slab.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor W:
I'm not the doc, but the dictionary says it's the outside piece with or without bark taken from the log in sawing lumber. That's what we call a slab. Flat on two sides with natural edges is a flitch. That's what I call them.

From contributor M:
I agree with the above definition. However, you will often see the term slab applied to wide, thick flitches. I generally think that "slab" used in this context is referring to a large flitch that could be used without ripping.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Indeed, the slab is the piece of wood that is rounded on one side or face and sawn on the other... the first piece sawn off the face of a log. However, you can appreciate that the word also has other meanings outside of the lumber industry and one meaning is a huge hunk, like a slab of concrete or a slab of meat. With this idea, it is easy to envision how someone that is new to the wood industry might see a flitch (or maybe even a cant) and call it a slab of wood.

From contributor K:
In veneer, a flitch is a stack of sheets of veneer all cut in sequence. If you lay them up side by side with the same side up on all of them, this is a flitch match. If you flip every other sheet of a flitch, it is book matching, but I don't think a single sheet of veneer is called a flitch. Since this is also a commonly used term for raw wood material, this leaves room for misinterpretation if you are calling a single board a flitch. I think of two sequence boards as book-match, and would have thought it would take three to make a flitch. Maybe I am wrong, though. I was into veneering before I was into sawmilling.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
A flitch in sawmilling is an unedged piece of lumber... in other words, the edges are rounded.