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If never heard that expression.

I've heard 29" "fat" meaning leave the mark/line and 29" "skinny" meaning remove the line.

Much of our terminology is regional.

Now you've got me curious.

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As Jharris2 mentioned, this may be a regional term.

My off-the-cuff thought is that it may mean I have 29 good inches available.

Often a board will have cracks at one or both ends or some defect at an end.
 

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The New Guy
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I think David got it right. Typically, your net income is gross income minus overhead. It's what you actually end up with at the end of the day. A board with 29" net length is probably a board with some checks or cracks that will have to be cut off so that you'll net 29" from it. Probably started out around 32 and had a few inches cut off.
Next time someone says that to you, ask them what they mean by net to be sure.
 

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I've never heard if used for the length but I've heard Net for the width. It's like a 2x4 is 1 1/2"x 3 1/2" net. It's the actual size.
 

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Old School
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When someone says a length of wood is 29 inches "net", what are they saying? What does "net" mean?
Some in the trade use that term regarding length as the final/absolute length. Its Etymology is unknown, but likely derived from a worker using an explicit form of a measurement description..






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There is nothing that I admire more than adding an extra layer of confusion to the process.
What unequivocal and positive contribution do we get?

I had a piece of Thuja plicata, 3" x 12" x 144". I cut two pieces of clear, straight-grained wood from it, one was 28" long and the other 30" long. Nets are for fish.
 
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