GLOSSARY OF TERMS
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ABRASION RESISTANCE - That property of a surface that resists being worn away by a rubbing or friction process. Abrasion resistance isn't necessarily related to hardness, as believed by some, but is more closely comparable to, or can be correlated with, toughness.
ACCLIMATION - The process of letting the flooring adjust to the environment in which it will be installed. This is crucial to prevent excessive expansion or contraction due to humidity in the air or other job conditions.
ACCENT STRIP - a strip of wood flooring used in contrasting color to the rest of flooring. Can be used around the edges of a room, around a fireplace, or other features in order to highlight a specific area.
ACID - Chemical substance rated below 7 on the PH scale.
AIR-DRIED - Dried by exposure to air in a yard or shed without artificial heat. (Not Kiln Dried).
ALKALINITY - A measurement of an alkaline rating about 7 on the PH scale.
ANNUAL GROWTH RING - The layer of wood growth formed on a tree during a single growing season.
ASPHALT SATURATED FELT PAPER - A #15 asphalt felt paper that meets ASTM Standard D-4869 or asphalt laminated paper that meets federal specification UU-B-790a Grade B, Type I, Style 1a, or asphalt saturated paper that meets federal specification UU-B-790a, Grade D, Type I, Style 2 Commonly used as a vapor retarder.
BASE SHOE - A molding designed to be attached to baseboard molding to cover expansion space. Similar to quarter round in profile.
BASTARD SAWN - Lumber, primarily hardwoods, in which the annual rings make angles of 30 Degrees to 60 Degrees with the surface of the piece. Also known as Rift Sawn.
BELT SANDER - almost the same machine as a drum sander. Differences are that instead of being directly driven by a belt and pulley with a slotted drum, it is driven by an overhead spindle and has no slotted drum. However, some machines have both. The main advantage of a belt sander is that it uses belts — continuous loops of sand paper — thus in theory leaving fewer chatter marks.
BEVELED EDGE - The chamfered or beveled edge of wood flooring, plank, block and parquest. Also, see Eased Edge
BIRD’S EYE - a character found in maples. Very appealing, but relatively rare and expensive.
BOARD- FOOT - A unit of measurement of lumber represented by a board 1 foot long, 12 inches wide, and 1 inch thick or its cubic equivalent. In practice, the board foot calculation for lumber 1 inch or more in thickness is based on its nominal thickness and width and the actual length. Lumber with a nominal thickness of less than 1 inch is calculated as I inch.
BORDER - a decorative inlay of different colored woods assembled in a pattern around the perimeter of a room or rooms. Flooring is used to fill in and around the border, commonly called the "field."
BOW - The distortion of lumber in which there is a deviation, in a direction perpendicular to the flat face, from a straight line from end to end of the piece.
BURL - A swirl or twist of the grain of the wood which usually occurs near a knot, but does not contain a knot, commonly found in the stump of a tree and where limbs branch out from the tree.
BUTT JOINT - where the ends of boards meet together in a wood floor.
CHATTER MARKS - Slight, closely spaced indentations causing a ripple effect on the surface of a wood floors.
CHECK - A lengthwise separation of the wood that usually extends across the rings of annual growth and commonly results from stress set up in wood during air drying or kiln-drying.
CHECKING (FINISH) - Similar to alligatoring, except that the finish is broken into smaller segments.Crowfoot checking is the name given to the defect when the breaks in the film form a definite three prong pattern with the breaks running outward from a central point of intersection. When the checks are generally arranged in parallel lines, the defect is known as line checking. Irregular checks without a definite pattern are known as irregular checking.
CHIPBOARD - A paperboard used for many purposes that may or may not have specifications for strength, color, or other characteristics. It is normally made from paper stock with a relatively low density in the thickness of 0.006 inch and up.
CLEAT - A barbed fastener commonly used as a mechanical device to fasten hardwood flooring.
COLOR CHANGE - Visual changes in the color of the wood species caused by exposure to light, deprivation of light and air, or some chemical reaction.
COMPRESSION SET - Caused when wood strips or parquet slats absorb excess moisture and expand so much that the cells along the edges of adjoining pieces in the floor are crushed. This causes them to loose resiliency and creates cracks when the floor returns to its normal moisture content.
CROOK - The distortion of a board in which there is a deviation, in a direction perpendicular to the edge, from a straight line from end to end of the piece.
CROSS-PULL - A condition occurring at an end-joint with the ends of flooring strips pulled in opposite directions.
CROWNING - A "convex" or "crowned" condition or appearance of individual strips, with the center of the strip higher than the edges. (Opposite of cupping.)
CUPPING - the uplifting of the edges of flooring due to excessive moisture. (Opposite of crowing).
CURE - To change the properties of an adhesive by chemical reaction (which may be condensation, polymerization, or vulcanization) and thereby develop maximum strength. Generally accomplished by the action of heat or a catalyst, with or without pressure.
CURLING - the end result of what happens to flooring when it was sanded when the moisture was still too high in the wood. When the flooring dries out, the edges curl downward, causing crowning in the center of the boards.
DELAMINATION - The separation of layers in a laminate, through failure within the adhesive, or at the bond between adhesive and laminate.
DIFFUSE - POROUS WOODS - Certain Hardwoods in which the pores tend to be uniform in size and distribution throughout each annual ring or to decrease in size slightly and gradually toward the outer border of the annual growth ring. (EXAMPLE: Hard Maple)
DIGS - a term used by floor refinishers for edger gouges.
DIMENSIONAL STABILITY - The ability to maintain the original intended dimensions when influenced by a foreign substance. Wood is hygroscopic, and is not dimensional stable with changes in moisture content below the fiber saturation point.
DISTRESSED - A heavy artificial texture in which the floor has been scraped, scratched, or gouged to give it a timeworn antique look.
DOOR JAMB SAW - a specialty tool for undercutting door jambs, cabinets, etc. Makes for a professional look.
DRUM SANDER - a walk-behind sander used for sanding large areas. Many run on 220V power. Uses cut sheets of sandpaper on a cylindrical, slotted drum.
DURABILITY - The ability of the wood species or finish to withstand the conditions or destructive agents with which it comes in contact in actual usage, without an appreciable change in appearance or other important properties.
EASED EDGE - The chamfered, or beveled edge, of strip flooring, plank, block, and parquet at approximately 45 degree angle. Eased edge is considered to be less of a indentation than beveled edge flooring.
EDGER - small but powerful disk sander used for sanding areas that a drum sander can't reach. Difficult to master.
END-JOINT - The place where two pieces of flooring are joined together end to end.
END LIFTING - A swelling of the top layer of engineered wood flooring, occurring at an end joint.
END MATCHED - In strip and plank flooring the ends of individual pieces have a tongue milled on one end and a groove milled on the opposite end, so that when the individual strips or planks are butted together, the tongue of one piece engages the groove of the next piece.
ENGINEERED FLOORING - An assembly made by bonding layers of veneer or lumber with an adhesive so that most adjacent layers have their grains going in perpendicular directions to increase dimensional stability.
EXPANSION - wood floors expand and contract with different humidity levels, so it is paramount that at least 1/2 inch be left by the edges of walls to allow for this movement.
EQUILIBRIUM MOISTURE CONTENT - The moisture content at which wood neither gains nor loses moisture when surrounded by air at a given relative humidity and temperature.
FADING - The loss of color due to exposure to light, heat or other destructive agents.
FEATURE STRIP - A molding accessory for parquet floors utilized to separate squares into patterns larger than the individual parquet units. It is available in widths from 5/16" to 2", the same thickness as the parquet, and is available in various lengths. The strip is flat and may have grooves on both sides to match the tongues of adjacent plank or parquet.
FIBERBOARD - A broad generic term inclusive of sheet materials of wisely varying densities manufactured of refined or partially refined wood (or other vegetable) fibers. Bonding agents and other materials may be added to increase strength, resistance to moisture, fire, or decay, or to improve some other property.
FIBER SATURATION POINT - The stage in drying or wetting wood at which the cell walls are saturated with water and the cell cavities are free from water. It is usually taken as approximately 30% moisture content, based on ovendry weight.
FIGURE - Inherent markings, designs, or configurations on the surface of the wood produced by the annual growth rings, rays, knots and deviations from regular grain.
FILLER - In woodworking, any substance used to fill the holes and irregularities in planed or sanded surfaces to decrease the porosity of the surface before applying finish coatings. Wood Filler - (for Cracks, Knot Holes, Worm Holes, Etc.) Usually a commercial wood putty, Plastic Wood, or other materials mixed to the consistency of putty. A wood filler may also be mixed on the job using sander dust from the final sanding, or other suitable material, mixed with oil, sealer, or finish.
FILLETS - The small components that comprise finger-block parquet. Also called fingers or slats. Fillet may also refer to the top layer of some engineered wood flooring.
FINGERS - See Fillets
FINGER BLOCK - Parquet made from small strips of wood assembled together. See Fillets.
FIRE RESISTANCE - the property of a material or assembly to withstand fire or given protection from it. Certain species naturally provide greater fire resistance than others. Classes are I-II-III or A-BC with Class I or A being the most fire resistant.
FIRE RETARDANT - A chemical or preparation of chemicals used to reduce flammability or to retard spread of a fire over the surface.
FLAG - A heavy dark mineral streak shaped like a banner.
FLAG WORM HOLE - One or more worm holes surrounded by a mineral streak.
FLAME SPREAD - The propagation of a flame away from the source of ignition across the surface of a liquid or solid, or through the volume of a gaseous mixture. NOTE: Most wood species are Class C Flame Spread unless the wood floor has been treated and marked as to flame spread.
FLECKS - The wide irregular conspicuous figure in Quartersawn oak flooring. (Also, See Rays, Wood)
FLOATING FLOOR - A floor that does not need to be nailed or glued to the sub floor. Typically, the flooring panels are connected together by adhesive or mechanical connectors.
FLOORING NAILS - Sometimes referred to as "cleats," these are special nails used in a flooring nailer. They are either "L" or "T" shaped.
FLOW - The characteristic of a coating that allows it to level or spread into a smooth film of uniform thickness before hardening.
GRADE - Wood flooring is sold in specific grades. Select is the best, with no knots and a very uniform color. Number One Grade has some small knots, dark streaks, and imperfections. Rustic — or Tavern Grade as it is sometimes called — has lots of knots, worm holes, and many color variations. There are also smaller classifications among these grades.
GRAIN RAISE - the lifting of wood surface fibers due to moisture in the application of finish.
GRAININESS - The objectionable appearance of small, grain-like particles in a finishing material or inthe dried film thereof.
HARDNESS - That property of the wood species or dried film of finishing material that causes it to withstand denting or being marked when pressure is exerted on its surface by an outside object or force
HARDWOOD - Generally, one of the botanical groups of deciduous trees that have broad leaves in contrast to the conifers or softwoods. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.
HEARTWOOD - Wood from the interior portion of a tree. Generally darker in appearance and harder than sapwood.
HEAVY STREAKS - Spots and streaks of sufficient size and density to severely mar the appearance of the wood.
HONEY COMBING - Checks often not visible at the surface, that occur in the interior of a piece of wood, usually along the wood rays.
HUMIDITY - The amount of water vapor in the air. See Relative Humidity.
HYGROMETER - An instrument for measuring the degree of humidity or relative humidity of the atmosphere.
HYGROSCOPIC - A substance that can absorb and retain moisture, or lose or throw off moisture. Wood and Wood Products are hygroscopic. They expand with absorption of moisture, and dimensions become smaller when moisture is lost or thrown off.
JANKA HARDNESS - The hardness of wood is measured with the Janka Hardness test. The Janka Hardness test measures the force needed to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter in a piece of wood. The higher the number the harder the wood. Although this is one of the best methods to measure the ability of wood species to withstand indentations, it should be used only as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring. The construction and finish also play an important role in the durability of any wood floor.
JOINT STAGGERING - This term is self-explanatory. It is an important part of professional floor laying, and results in a very appealing-looking floor.
JOINTED FLOORING - Strip flooring, generally Birch, Beech & Hard Maple or Pecan, manufactured with Square Edges and no tongue or groove, usually end-matched. Used principally for factory floors where the square edges make replacement of strips easier.
JOIST - One of a series of parallel beams used to support floor or ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.
KILN - A chamber having controlled air flow, temperature and relative humidity for drying lumber, veneer and other wood products.
KILN DRIED - Dried in a Kiln with the use of artificial heat.
KNOT - That portion of a branch or limb which has been surrounded by subsequent growth of the stem. The shape of the knot as it appears on a cut surface depends on the angle of the cut relative to the long axis of the knot.
LAMBS WOOL APPLICATOR - Floor finish applicator used on a pole for coating large areas.
LAMINATED WOOD - An assembly made by bonding layers of veneer or lumber with an adhesive. May also refer to edge-glued lumber items such as treads, etc.
LAP MARKS - refers to marks left from a brush or lambs wool applicator when finish is not applied evenly, or sometimes when climate conditions are not ideal.
MANUFACTURING DEFECTS - Includes all defects or blemishes that are produced in manufacturing, such as chipped grain, tom grain, skips in dressing, hit and miss (a series of surfaced areas with skips between them), variation in machining, machine burn, mismatching.
MEDALLION - a decorative design of parquet flooring assembled in the center of a room or in a high-visibility area. Many come factory-made, but they can be custom-made as well.
MEDULLARY RAYS - Strips of cells extending radially within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to four or more inches in oak. The rays serve primarily to store food and transport it horizontally in the tree. On quartersawn oak, the rays form a conspicuous figure, sometimes referred to as Flecks.
MILL MARKS - marks left on the flooring surface from the factory. Some manufacturers are better than others, which require little or sometimes moderate sanding.
MINERAL SPIRITS - A solvent product used as a thinner and/or cleaner.
MINERAL STREAK - Wood containing an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow, causing an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black.
MIXED MEDIA - A wood floor that is predominantly of wood but incorporates other materials such as slate, stone, ceramic, marble, metal and painted finishes (faux).
MOISTURE CONTENT - the amount of moisture in wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of oven-dried wood. National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association hardwood flooring is manufactured at 6 to 9 percent moisture content, with a 5 percent allowance for pieces up to 12 percent moisture content. Five percent of the flooring may be outside of this range.
MOISTURE METER - a meter that is used to check the amount of moisture in wood. This is done to make sure flooring is not too wet or dry, thus preventing excessive expansion or contraction.
NAILING SHOE OR NAILING PLATE - An attachment to a blind-nailing machine that broadens the impact area. Often required for fastening factory-finished flooring.
NOMINAL SIZE - As applied to timber or lumber, the size by which it is known and sold in the market; often differs from the actual size.
NOSING - A hardwood molding used to cover the outside comer of a step, milled to meet the hardwood floor in the horizontal plane, to meet the riser in the vertical plane. (Usually used on landings.)
OSB - Oriented Strand Board commonly used as an underlayment or subfloor material. Strands tend to be oriented with their length aligned with the panel length (typically). OSB is therefore stiffer and stronger when installed with the long axis across supports.
OVERWOOD / UNDERWOOD - A flooring condition in which there is a perceived misalignment of the flooring surface, with some wood pieces raised above adjacent pieces leaving a slightly uneven surface. Also called lippage.
PARQUET - A patterned floor.
PARQUET FLOOR SQUARE - Basically a "tile" composed of individual slats held in place by a mechanical fastening (banding) or other means such as paper backing. A square may or may not possess tongues and grooves to interlock, and is not necessarily regular in dimension.
PARQUET FLOOR UNITS - A unit consists of four (sometimes three) or more squares or "tiles" fastened together.
PARTICLE BOARD - A generic term for a material manufactured from wood particles or other lignocellulosic material and a synthetic resin or other suitable binder. Flakeboard is a particle panel product composed of flakes. Oriented strand board is a type of particle panel product composed of strand-type flakes that are purposely aligned in directions that make a panel stronger, stiffer and with improved dimensional properties in the alignment directions than a panel of random flake orientation. Waferboard is a particle panel product made of wafer-type flakes. It is usually manufactured to possess equal properties in all directions parallel to the plane of the panel.
PEELED VENEER - engineered wood flooring with peeled veneer is generally cheaper than sawn veneer flooring. It is made basically by peeling a log on a large lathe to produce a thin layer of wood for the flooring surface. Underneath that are layers of other woods sandwiched together at different angles to promote stability.
PHOTO SENSITIVE - The property of some wood species which causes them to lighten or darken when exposed to light. See color change.
PIN WORM HOLE - In hardwood flooring - a small round hole not over 1/16" in diameter, made by a small wood-boring insect.
PITH - The small, soft core occurring near the center of a tree trunk, branch, twig, or log. First growth
PLAIN SAWN - The annual growth rings make an angle of less than 45 Degrees with the surface of the piece. This exposes the pores of the springwood and dense summerwood of the annual growth ring in ring porous woods to produce a pleasing grain pattern.
PLANER BITE - A groove cut in the surface of the piece deeper than intended by the planer knives.
PLANK - Solid boards, usually 3/4" thick and 3" to 8" wide designed to be installed in parallel rows. Edges may be beveled to simulate the appearance of Colonial American plank floors.
PLUGS - Dowels that simulate the Colonial American plugged, or pegged plank look. Sometimes used to cover countersunk screws when installing plank.
PLYWOOD - Board or panel made of cross-directional veneers and/or layers of wood for dimensional stability.
PRE-FINISHED - A complete factory finished flooring that requires installation only.
QUARTERSAWN - A log that is cut into four pie-like sections. Sections are then sawn perpendicular to the growth rings. This results in vertical grain which is more stable and beautiful than plain sawn wood flooring. In some species like oak, medullary rays are clearly visible.
RADIANT HEAT - A heat source that is installed under finished flooring. Flexible tubing is installed in concrete or under the sub floor. Heated water is fed through the tubing, thus warming the flooring surface. This type of heating is relatively new to many contractors and builders. Great attention should be paid to wood flooring choice and installation procedures if radiant heat is desired.
RAISED GRAIN - A roughened or fuzzy condition on the face of the flooring in which the dense summer- wood in raised above the softer springwood, but not torn or separated.
RANDOM WIDTH - wood flooring that is laid in a pattern of different widths.
RAYS, WOOD - Strips of cells extending radially within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to 4 inches or more in oak. The rays serve primarily to store food and transport it horizontally in the tree. On Quartersawn oak flooring, the rays form a conspicuous figure, sometimes referred to as Flecks.
REDUCER STRIP - A teardrop shaped molding accessory for hardwood flooring, normally used at doorways, but sometimes at fireplaces and as a room divider. It is grooved on one edge and tapered, or feathered, on the other edge. Various lengths are available.
RELATIVE HUMIDITY - Ratio of the amount of water vapor present in the air to that which the air would hold at saturation at the same temperature. It is usually considered on the basis of the weight of the vapor but, for accuracy, should be considered on the basis of vapor pressures.
RIFT SAWN - Lumber (primarily hardwoods) in which the annual rings make angles of 30 Degrees to 60 Degrees with the surface of the piece. (Also known as Bastard Sawn)
RING POROUS - A group of hardwoods in which the pores are comparatively large at the beginning of each annual growth ring and decrease in size, more or less abruptly, toward the outer portion of the annual growth ring. The large pores are springwood and the smaller pores are summerwood.
ROSIN PAPER - pink paper that is laid down on top of the sub flooring before installation of the wood floor itself to prevent squeaks.
SANDSCREENS - Carbon-tipped mesh used on a buffer as a finish sanding to even out the smoothness of a floor. Also used between coats to smooth grain raise and to promote adhesion of coats.
SAPWOOD - wood that is new growth on a tree. Normally it is softer than heartwood.
SAWN - See Plainsawn, Quartersawn, Bastardsawn
SAWN VENEER - refers to engineered wood flooring. It means that the top layer of wood is actually sawn. This is better than peeled veneer. It looks better, is more stable, and generally can be sanded, depending on the manufacturer.
SCREEDS - Usually a 2" X 4" laid flat side down and attached to a concrete sub floor to provide a nailing surface for tongued and grooved strip flooring or a wood sub floor
SLEEPER - Another name for screeds.
SHAKE - A separation along the grain, the greater part of which occurs between the annual growth rings.
SHEATHING - The structural covering, usually boards or plywood, placed over exterior studding or rafters of a structure
SIDE MATCHED - In tongue-and-groove strip and plank flooring, the individual pieces have a tongue milled on one side and a groove milled on the opposite side, so that when the individual strips or planks are placed side by side, the tongue of one piece fits into the groove of the next piece. See End-Matched and Tongue-and Groove.
SLATS - The small solid hardwood pieces which form Mosaic Parquet Squares.
SLEEPER - Another name for screeds.
SLIP-TONGUE / SPLINE - A spline or small strip of wood or metal used to reverse or change direction in installing standard tongue and groove strip flooring. Sometimes used in laying 3/4" solid tongue and groove parquet.
SOFTWOOD - General term used to describe lumber produced from needle and/or cone bearing trees (Conifers).
SOLID - wood flooring that is not engineered. Comes in varying widths and thickness’
SPECIES - refers to the type of tree from which wood flooring is made.
SPLIT - Separations of wood fiber running parallel to the grain.
SQUARE EDGE - A flooring that is NOT Tongue & Grooved. Square edged strip flooring is face nailed when installed. (Also See Jointed Flooring.)
SQUARE END - refers to how flooring is made and sold. Some flooring comes with the ends of the boards already squared. Others (mainly unfinished flooring) have to be cut by the installer. Prefinished flooring normally comes either square end or square-micro beveled end.
SQUARE JOINT - Tongue & Grooved strip or plank flooring with edges that are not eased or beveled.
SQUARING UP - term for starting the first row of flooring parallel and perpendicular to walls in order to have the floor run in a straight line to the opposite wall.
STAIN - A discoloration occurring in or on flooring of any color other than the natural color of the species. For instance, blue stain, brown stain.
STAINING - to apply a wood stain to alter a wood floor's appearance and color.
STOP MARK - a gouge that is left when the operator stops moving as a drum or belt sander is running. Normally caused by amateurs, rarely seen when professionals do the work.
STREAKS - See Mineral Streaks
STRIP FLOORING - Solid boards to be installed in parallel rows now produced in these thickness’ 1/2", 3/4", 33/32" and these widths 1 1/2", 2", 2 1/4", and occasionally 3 1/4". The strips are tongue and grooved and end matched. They are for nail down installation directly to wood or plywood sub floors; or over wood screeds on concrete slab construction
SUB FLOOR - underneath floor upon which finished flooring is laid. We recommend 3/4-inch CDX plywood for nail-down applications.
TONGUE & GROOVE (T&G) - In strip, plank, and parquet flooring made from strip, and some mosaic parquet; a tongue is milled one edge and a groove on the opposite edge. As the flooring is installed the tongue of each strip, slat, or unit, is engaged with the groove of the adjacent strip or unit.
TRIM - The finish materials in a building, such as moldings, applied around openings (window trim, door trim) or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, shoe mold, cornice, and other moldings)
TROWEL FILL - Method to fill an entire floor or large area
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V-JOINT - A term used in plank flooring to indicate that edges are eased or beveled to simulate cracks in floors of early Colonial American homes.
VAPOR BARRIER - A material with a high resistance to vapor movement, such as foil, plastic film, or specially coated paper, that is used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.
VAPOR IMPERMEABLE MEMBRANE - A material or covering having a permeance rating of .15 perms or less when tested in accordance with the desiccant method, Procedure A of ASTM E-96. A vapor impermeable membrane limits the passage of moisture to near 0, or almost none.
VAPOR PERMEABLE MEMBRANE - A material or covering having a permeance rating of 5 perms or greater when tested in accordance with the desiccant method, Procedure A of ASTM E-96. A vapor permeable membrane permits the passage of moisture.
VAPOR RETARDER - A vapor-resistant material, membrane or covering such as foil, plastic sheeting or covering having a permeance rating of 1 perm or less, when tested in accordance with the desiccant method, Procedure A of ASTM E-96. Vapor retarders limit the amount of moisture vapor that passes through a material, or floor, wall or ceiling assembly.
WARPING - Any distortion of a piece of flooring from its true plane that may occur in seasoning.
WIRE BRUSHING - A method for imparting an artificial texture or distressed appearance to the surface of hardwood flooring.
WORKING PRESSURE - The pneumatic pressure range specified in pounds per square inch (PSI) to optimally run an air tool. (See tool manufacturer’s guidelines.) Note that these air pressures should be metered at the tool