Logging Terms

Remember when the loggers used to come in out of the woods in those beatup old trucks?† The first time I heard the truck called a crummy it sure seemed like the right term.† And you'd see them wearing the boots with spikes on the bottom and someone would say that they were corks.† As it turns out loggers have a language of their very own.† Here's a listing of some terms that I've gathered that describes what all of those terms mean.† If you can think of any more please write and I'll add them to the list.


Reference to a grade for an uphill haul.

Average Yarding Distance

Abbreviated as AYD, the total yarding distance for all turns for a particular logging setting or unit divided by the total number of turns. Usually expressed as slope distance, unless otherwise stated.


The last of the three cuts required to fall a tree. Located on the opposite side of the tree from the face and minimally 2" above the horizontal cut of the face. The 2" is referred to as stump shot and prevents the tree from kicking back over the stump toward the faller. The backcut must never be continued to a point at which no holding wood remains.

Back guy

Guy line on a spar away from the yarding direction.


A dragline system to move earth for cuts and fills

Barber chair

A tree which splits upward along the grain during the falling process.


A pole sold with the bark still on.

Base line

Starting line for a survey, usually township line.

Batter pile

Piling driven at an angle to give inward strength in trestle construction.

Bearing tree

A tree marked to reference a survey corner.


Sliding socket used to secure a choker around a log.


Set of piles in a trestle.

Beaver tailing

Burying the whole bar of a chainsaw into the log or tree while cutting.


Travelling unit used on a skyline to accommodate chokers (see Carriage).


Loop in a wire rope.


Chain or wire rope (sometimes a combination) to keep logs in place during transportation by log truck or rail car.


Axe mark on a tree to designate a boundary on survey.


A sheave rotating in a casing to carry wire rope - constructed like a pulley.


Trees or snags blown down by the wind.

Board foot

The equivalent of 144 cubic inches of wood.

Board up

The action of cutting successive notches in the base of a tree reach the correct height for a springboard.


Cat yarding without an arch or pan.


Yard where old and wornout equipment is stored until disposed of. Often a good place to go to cannibalize working parts to keep other equipment working.


An employee for a short time only.

Boom stick

Long log with chain holes drilled in both ends to contain encircle and contain loose logs in a log pond or river.


An indented impression made by an embossing hammer to identify ownership in logs.


Another name for a crosscut saw.


A horse used in logging.

Brow log

A large log at the landing site to keep logs off the track and up to near the loading height. Sometimes called a bumper log.

Brush ape

Name that a logger calls himself.


Act of cutting logs to length.

Buck skin

Tree with bark or skin falling off.

Buckle guy

A guy line to keep spar trees from bending near the middle.

Bull block

The mainline block near the top of a spar tree.

Bull bucker

Man who controls falling and bucking. Heís also the recordkeeper for bushelers.


Camp employee who cleans bunkhouses, builds fires, etc.


Traveling up and down the hillside to put in slope stakes for the grading crew.


A timber wider at one end than the other.

Bull of the Woods

Camp foreman or superintendent who is seen to be tougher than usual.

Bull puncher

Also "bullwhacker" - ox team driver.

Bull tram

Locking the tracks of a bulldozer with a wrap of wire rope to get positive traction.

Bunk log

Logs on the bottom outside of a load of logs.


A faller or bucker paid on a piece work basis.

Butt rigging

Swivel system attaching chokers to the mainline and haulback - (see Jewelry).

Butterfly hook

Type of choker hook that has a closing flange which locks into place.


Tapered nails fastened to shoe bottoms, normally screw threaded - later called "corks".

Cant hook

Short handled peavey without a pike end.


Large double-sheaved unit that rides on the skyline where the main and haulback lines control the chokers.

Cat skinner

Bulldozer operator, either earth moving or log yarding.


Early measuring unit of surveys - 66 feet in length - (80 chains = 1 mile).


Man who unhooks the chokers from the logs at a landing.

Cherry picker

A vehicle with a boom for picking up things with a wire rope drum.


Wire rope section with ferrules to attach logs to the yarding line.

Choker setter

Member of a crew who attached chokers around logs to the butt rigging.

Cold deck

Logs piled up to be brought into a landing later on or pile of logs at sawmill awaiting processing.


A wire rope connection temporarily attached to the main line or haulback.


Fruiting bodies of fungus in rotting wood.

Coyote hole

Larger than normal hole for placing a powder charge.


Logs piled up at right angles to replace piling.


Logs rolled with a pull on a bight at right angles to the log - (also called parbuckle).

Crotch line

Method of loading logs with single tongs at each end of the log - (sometimes with spreader bar).


Individual who goes through a stand of timber to estimate volume from sampling standing trees.


Early term for a logger's bed roll and possessions. Most recently the vehicle that hauls the loggers to the work site.


Diameter at breast height of a tree - about 4 1/2 feet above ground level.

Deacon seat

Bench running the length of an old bunkhouse, usually in front of the bunks.


The amount of 'sag' in the cable from point 'a' to point 'b' in a skyline opeation. If you try to pull half a mile of heavy cable up 'straight' like a guitar string, it will likely break of its own weight before all the sag comes out. But with some sag in the line you have the capacity to lift and move logs.


Action of blocking any movement - also a pawl to hold a toothed wheel in place.


Multiple drum machine for yarding logs. The first ones were steam operated with wood fuel before combustion engines.


System of hauling in a bucket filled with earth or ballast with wire rope (see Bagley).

Drip torch

Devise to start slash fires by tilting applicator.

Dummy tree

A tree used to help raise a spar tree in place.


A block to change direction of haul.

Fall block

A block lowered in the bight of a line.

Feller Buncher

A machine thatís driven to a tree where a part of it holds the tree and another part saws or pinches the base off like huge pruning shears. Shears are used for smaller timber destine for pulp, while saw cuts are used for lumber footage.

Fire in the hole!

Powder monkey's cry of warning to clear the area before blasting.


An early dragline system using wheels.

Friction blocks

Hardwood blocks that work like an engaging clutch - a safety factor on hangups.


The number of chokers on any given turn, e.g., flying three chokers.

Gin pole

Single pole set at an angle with block used for loading logs or miscellaneous items.

Gopher hole

Hole blown under a log to allow a choker to pass through - also a small coyote hole for blasting.

Grease monkey

In the old days, the man who greased skids- later, the individual that comes to each piece of equipment to regularly oil, lubricate and repair equipment.

Ground lead

Yarding logs directly from the drum level.


The act of lining up a tree undercut to sight along its fall direction with an axe - also name for a woods transit.


A wire rope shackled to a spar tree and tail hold to keep the spar upright and in place.


A contract logger or truck driver.


Name given to a vertical spool (drum) used in the early days of ground lead.


Term to indicate an impediment to logs being yarded.


Return line to bring chokers back to the setters.


Light wire rope used to haul heavy lines or blocks in place (see Straw Line) - also a snafu operation.


Loading boom using two parallel poles -McLean type of loading boom used after the turn of the century.

"Heads!" or "Heads up!"

Calls made as a tree begins falling after sufficient backcut.

Head block

Same as bull block i.e., main line block.

Heel boom

Loading boom where pressure is used near the base to lift the heavier end of the log.

Heel tackle

Line and block system to tighten the skyline- normally used on a skidder.

High climber

Logger who limbs and tops a tree to be used as a spar for high lead or skyline.

High lead

Often spelled Hi-lead. Any system using a head spar but no tail spar.

Hook tender

Also called a "hooker" - a man in charge of the yarding crew and releasing chokers at the landing.

Hoot owl

Early shift to complete work before the humidity drops to the danger level.

Hot deck

Landing where logs are loaded soon after yarding - opposite of cold deck.

Jacob staff

Staff with swivel head and pointed ferrule base to support a compass - a "Jake" staff.

Jerk wire

Wire attached to a yarder for the whistle punk to signal instructions - used in the "old days" only.


Name given to the butt rigging.


Any pole or member used to jam against something to hold it in place - also a sort of shear to unload logs.

Jim Crow

A one-log load - usually bunked in place by two small logs.

John D

Coal oil or kerosene - also a term for a busheler's oil bottle fitted with a hook.

Jump-up skid

Logs placed next to loading area for parbuckling logs onto railroad cars.


Place where logs are brought in from the woods.

Lang lay

Wire rope where the strands are twisted in the same direction to give more flexibility.

Lead Block

(old term) Block with wide sheave to allow butt rigging to pass through - (see Tommy Moore).


Wire rope with either wire or hemp center.

Line Horse

The animal used in the early days to pull the yarding line back out to the woods.

Live reel

Reel of hose for fighting fire kept under pressure.

Loading pot

Small donkey used for loading only.

Loggerís dream

Portable logging unit for fast yarding of small timber - uses direct drive.

Logging Chance

An operating area - same as logging "show."

Long Splice

Splice made in lines where it must withstand a heavy pull.


Set of blocks to give the maximum lift or pull.

Lumber Jack

A term used for loggers in movies and books but way too Hollywood to be heard in the woods.

Marlin Spike

Somewhat like a sailor's spike but longer taper - used in splicing line.


Short lengths of logs bundled together to form a base for a raised tree or as a base for heavy equipment.

Misery whip

Also called a misery "harp" i.e., old-style cross cut saw.

Molly Hogan

Single strand of wire rope woven into circular form for a temporary splice.


Guide used at the base of a pile driver to hold batter piles in place while driving.

Mop up

To put out hot spots in fire fighting.

Muck stick

A shovel, normally a Number 2.

Mud cap

Method of tamping in a powder charge using clay or mud.

Mulligan car

Car used to bring lunch out to logging sites in early days - later called a Crummy.


Preliminary survey line.

Pan skid

Metal pan with front end curved upward to keep logs from digging in - used in bulldozer yarding.


Old method of loading logs by rolling them onto railcars or trucks by pulling both ends of a bight -(see "Crosshaul").

Pass block

Small block hung near the top of a spar tree to haul up heavier blocks or tree jacks, etc.


Tool with sharp point and moveable cant hook to create leverage in moving logs.

Pecker pole

A small tree, often found in the understory of the old growth.


Large logs suitable for rotary cutting against an 8-foot blade - a log grade suitable for producing veneers.

Peeler Core

The center portion of log which is too small to continue processing into veneer.

Pike pole

Long pole tipped with a spike and small hook for log sorting in river driving or in a holding pond.

Pioneer road

Rough preliminary road or bulldozer trail to allow movement of construction equipment.

Pistol grip

Tree with a curved butt usually caused by an earlier sideswipe from another tree.

Pit man

Man working with a power shovel or bulldozer who uses a hand shovel, swamps out or hooks mats.

Pole road

A trough made by parallel poles to form a skid road.


Old time donkey, often a one spooler.

Powder monkey

Man who handles dynamite and places the charges.


Removal of small trees and/or windfalls before the primary logging of the main stand.


Heavy handled tool with oval eye used as a combination axe and hoe - (named after its originator).


Young logger, mostly used as a signal man e.g. whistlepunk.


Woods foreman or superintendent.

Quarter corner

Marker at half-mile intervals that divides a surveyed section of land into four parts.


Railroad car with bulkheads at either end used for loading wood products crosswise.


Timber or metal beam connecting a log truck with its trailer - also called a "stinger."

Rigging slinger

Head man on the rigging crew - rigs trees and changes the tail hold.

Rock powder

Dynamite with 60% purity for shooting rock.

Running line

Any wire rope that is moving during logging operation.

Safety strap

A strap linking the block and a guy line so that a break would run down the guy line.


One who measures log contents.


A log or tree that is forked - a stable log in river driving because it does not roll easily.


Logger who contested the I.W.W. - later, any non-union man.

Second loader

Man who placed the tongs on logs for loading.

Selective logging

Removal of certain trees or small sections to allow for reseeding.


A pair of fallers - originally a pair of buckers also.


The area to be logged to one spar tree - later the reach of a cat side.


A separation in a tree or log along the growth rings - common in spar trees as a result of yarding pressure.


Flanged wheel that runs freely in a block i.e. pulley.


The debris of limbs, trash trees, and other foliage that remains after the harvesting process.


Act of a log turn overrunning an animal team on a downhill pull.


Dead tree or stub left standing after logging.

Snatch block

Block which can be opened on one side to thread a line at any point.


Rounding the leading edge of a log to keep it from digging in during yarding operations.


Device for slowing down a moving turn -also a line used around a turn, donkey, etc. to slow it by friction.


Heavy woolen blanket used by early loggers.

Spar tree

Tree large and tall enough to be used for yarding logs - sometimes raised in place by a block system.

Spark chaser

A handyman at a landing to put out small fires caused by the donkey.


To fall a tree over a stump or rock, causing it to shatter.


Short length of plank that fallers fit into the base of a tree to stand on.

Square lead

A yarding line directly out from the donkey drum.


Refers to a tree with a dead top.

Staggered settings

Logging areas separated by standing trees.

Stranded line

Wire rope starting to separate from its hemp or wire core.

Sheer skid

Log or stump to guide logs around a corner - in the early days spools notched in stumps were used.


Construction road around a gully to move equipment - used extensively with trestle construction.

Short splice

A splice in wire rope that needs only modest strength, normally less than a foot long.

Shotgun System

A double drum logging system that uses a carriage running down the skyline lead and a tail stump at the distant end.


Any logging operation.


Refers to the crew on a logging operation.

Side rod

Foreman for one side - also assistant camp foreman.

Siwash tree

Tree left to deflect a running line.

Skagit Tower

A 1970s creation that was a truck mounted steel spar tree that telescoped upwards to around 100 feet where it was secured with guy wires and replaced the living tree of old.


In early logging the cross member used for roading logs - later, a reference to the act of yarding logs.


Usually refers to a skyline system - can also be a yarder used on a hi-lead setting.

Skid road

Ground lead system using animals or donkey pot - old logging method utilizing greased skids.


Ox, horse or mule driver, later applied to cat driver.


Yarding system where a tight line is run from a head spar to a back or tail spar, keeping the turn well up.


Yarding system using a large drum to raise and lower a skyline (normally two inches in diameter).

Slack puller

One who pulls slack by hand - later adapted to power pulling by straw drum, etc.

Straw drum

Auxiliary drum for the haywire or straw line.

Straw line

Small diameter wire rope - same as haywire line.


Logger who lives at home and commutes to the job.


One who clears out brush, etc. - in the early days it was the one that maintained and greased the skid roads.

Swede level

Level marker at grade foreman's eye height above the ground to determine when a cut is down to grade.


Degree of curve in a log - also used in timbers.

Swing donkey

Yarder used to bring logs from a collection point to a landing - use of donkey to "swing" from a deck.


Refers to the rigging blocks and swivels, etc.

Tail tree

See "Back spar" - used for the tail block.

Tommy Moore

A wide main block to allow the "jewelry" including splices and shackles in the cable to pass through - used on a combination yarder and loader.

Top guy

One of the guy lines used at the top of a spar tree.

Tote road

A preliminary road on one designed only for hauling machinery and supplies.

Tower skidder

A skidder built with a steel tower mounted on a railroad car or large truck - commonly called a steel spar.

Trailing road

Old time skid road where a small locomotive is used for skidding logs down between the tracks.

Transfer line

Line to pull skidder lines to the side for a new yarding direction.

Tree jack

Triangular unit with three rollers to anchor the tail tree or tail hold of a sky-line.

Triple drum

Three drum system mounted on the rear of a cat to act as a yarder.


Logs brought in by chokers at one time.

Two speed

Yarding donkey with low speed for heavy hauling - derided by loggers as "slow and slower."


Cutting a notch in a tree to determine the direction of fall - also cutting a log from the underside.

Whistle punk

Starting job for loggers - one who signals the donkey engineer to go ahead, go ahead slow, etc.


Any temporary shelter to get out of the weather - sometimes used by animal drivers or a survey crew.

Widow maker

Any dangerous tree that could do in a faller - usually a loose limb or a leaning tree.


Tree downed by the wind which is usually bucked and sometimes removed before falling the standing trees.

Wire axe

Old double-bitted axe driven into a stump so that a line can be cut on the exposed edge.

Wolf tree

A very limby tree that has grown out in the open.


A small portable sawmill.


Chain or combination with wire rope to bind down a load of logs.


Bringing in logs by any method.

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