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I am buying timber to use a curtain batten, between the rail and the wall. So I want the edges to be flat. I see wood sold as 'planed all round' and 'planed square edge'. What's the difference? Which do I want for curtain batten?

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Planed all round means all flat surfaces have been planed.

Planed square edge means you have one edge planed straight and can measure from there. It's one step up from rough sawn.

Timber finish terms for reference

  • PAR - Planed all round (both edges and sides)
  • PBS - Planed both sides
  • PSE - Planed single edge (gives you one straight edge to work from)
  • Rough Sawn - raw milled stock

Further designations used in wood grading:

  • S4S - Surfaced four sides
  • S3S - Surfaced three sides
  • S2S - Surfaced two sides
  • S1S - Surfaced one side
  • Rough

Note that PSE is not necessarily the same as S1S. The board edge (narrowest dimension) is planed straight and true with PSE. For Cedar trim, for example, you have a wide dimension planed smooth.

The Red Oak I used for window trim was S3S, made for nice top and sides, would have been pretty rustic for the rough side to show.

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Thanks so I want planed all round. –  Colonel Panic Jul 13 '13 at 16:00
    
Yes, for the average DIY job where getting finish trim done simply, PAR is what you're looking for. If you're working with square edge, you cut to size and finish plane what you want flat. Rough sawn, you're creating a complex project and need to take care of it all. –  Fiasco Labs Jul 13 '13 at 16:53
    
ironically, HomeDepot SEO responds to S2S1E on a google search. Never heard of S1S2E hardwoods before. –  mike Jul 13 '13 at 18:11
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