What is dressed timber? And how is it done?

 In Timber Education Blog

What do we mean when we say “dressed” timber…

Dressed timber can be defined as “machine finished”. In simple terms, timber starts the process in it’s rough sawn state, then is passed through a machine to achieve a smooth and consistent finish. This timber is also customisable, as it can be machined to exact specifications, within millimeters. Dressed timber is usually used in applications where looks matter.

How is timber is dressed?

The timber begins with the pine trees being harvested, in our case the Radiata Pine MLC Group uses is harvested from sustainable NZ plantations. Logs are sent to a sawmill and cut into “rough sawn” boards. Timber is typically dried before it is dressed – or “machined” as it’s also referred to. Timber is feed into a planer, a machine with 4 heads that utilises blades (commonly referred to as “knives”) that spin at high speed cutting the face of the timber. The high speed and sharp knives make the surface of the timber smooth. Each of the 4 heads machines a face of the timber at the same time, dressing the 4 sides simultaneously – producing “D4S” or “Dressed 4 sides” product.

In what sizes can you get dressed timber?

Fortunately, with dressed timber it can be machined to almost precise specifications. This means dressed timber can be cut into a variety of custom sizes. Although many manufacturers stock dressed timber in standard sizes, most should be able to meet custom specifications.


Dressed vs rough sawn timber

If timber isn’t dressed, then it can only be rough sawn timber. This is basically timber in it’s “raw” state. This timber is cut from logs into various sizes and is not machined any further before being sent to market. Rough sawn timber is used in applications where a dressed surface isn’t necessary, such as boxing for concrete, packaging or where it isn’t seen – for example subfloor framing for decks etc. Not needing to go through the dressing process makes this sort of timber a bit cheaper to produce.

We hope this can help with choosing the right timber for different projects!

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