a cut or incision made by a saw or the like in a piece of wood.
Mining. a deep cut a few inches high, used to undermine a portion of a coal or mineral seam.
the act of cutting or carving.

verb (used with object)

to make a kerf or kerfs in (a piece of wood, a coal seam, etc.).

Origin of kerf

before 1000; Middle English kerf, kirf, Old English cyrf a cutting (cognate with Old Frisian kerf); akin to carve Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for kerf

Historical Examples of kerf

  • When the kerf is well started, the whole weight of the saw may be applied.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • The cut is made on the pulling stroke, and hence the kerf can be very narrow.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • Make the notch, or kerf, large enough to avoid pinching your axe in it.

  • The teeth should cut a kerf just wide enough to clear the blade.

    Farm Mechanics

    Herbert A. Shearer

  • The first chips that flew were ten inches long, but they quickly dwindled as the kerf sank in.

    Two Little Savages

    Ernest Thompson Seton

British Dictionary definitions for kerf



the cut made by a saw, an axe, etc

Word Origin for kerf

Old English cyrf a cutting; related to Old English ceorfan to carve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012