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Glossary of woodworking terms. Use your browser's search feature (Ctrl-F) to search.

Air Cleaner

A ceiling or wall-mounted vacuum source with filtration that removes airborne dust from a shop; sometimes called an ambient air cleaner or air scrubber

Air Dried

Wood that has been cured by natural air-drying

Aliphatic Resin

The adhesive ingredient in yellow wood glue

Allen Wrench

A six-sided bar, usually L- shaped, used to turn screws with recessed hexagonal heads; sometimes called an Allen key

All-Purpose Blade

Circular saw blade with a tooth configuration designed to perform both crosscutting and ripping operations; also called a combination blade

Alternate Top Bevel (ATB)

Teeth angled in alternated opposite directions on a saw blade

Aluminum Oxide

A type of abrasive material used in sandpaper

Aniline Dye

Water-soluble dye used for coloring wood

Annual Growth Rings

Rings visible in wood end grain separating early wood from latewood; also called growth rings

Anti Kickback Pawl

A table-saw attachment that allows cutting stock to move freely forward but whose teeth dig into the material to prevent it from ejecting backward toward the operator; also called antikickback spur


Rails around the base of a table to which the top and legs are joined


The mounting shaft for a saw blade


A sharp-pointed tool for piercing small holes in wood or other material


Handsaw with a thin rectangular blade that is stiffened with a reinforcing spine along its length on the side opposite the teeth; used primarily for mitering and cutting dovetails

Band Clamp

A flexible strap connected to a ratcheting mechanism used to tighten it around irregularly shaped objects; also called a web clamp

Band Saw

Powered saw that cuts by means of a thin metal blade running in a continuous loop around two or more large drive wheels, used for making tight- radius curved cuts or for resawing wood

Bar Clamp

A clamp composed of a metal bar with a fixed jaw on one end paired to an adjustable jaw, usually tightened with a screw together with a ratchet mechanism

Barrel Hinge

A jointed device used to connect two components such as a box and its lid and consisting of two small cylinders that are recessed into holes drilled into those components in order to make the connection nearly invisible

Base Plate

The flat underside of a portable power tool; sometimes called a sole plate


A thin, flat board or strip of wood often used to cover the joint between two parallel boards or as a caul to apply even clamping pressure

Beading Tool

A hand tool that creates a small, molded detail on the edge of a workpiece; can create single or multiple beads; also called scratch stock


A wheel mounted on a router bit shank that guides a router bit through a cut; sometimes called a rub bearing. A bearing can also be mounted on a fixture or jig to guide a tool or workpiece through a cut.

Belt Sander

Handheld electric sander using an abrasive belt; used for rapid stock removal and for leveling panels

Bench Dog

A round or square peg fitted to matching holes in a workbench surface; used as a stop to hold a workpiece in place

Bench Grinder

A machine consisting of a motor and a shaft with a spinning wheel on one or both ends. Most commonly the wheel is an abrasive disk used to sharpen tools, but it can also be a wire wheel for cleaning or a cloth wheel for buffing.

Bench Knife

A handled cutting and marking tool with a generally short, pointed blade, sharpened only on one side

Bench Plane

Flat-bottomed hand tool consisting of a sharp blade called an iron and a mating cover called a chip breaker, which protrude through a slot in the tool's sole plate, used to smooth and flatten wooden stock. Other common features are a handle at the rear of the tool, a knob for grasping the front of the tool, and a mechanism to adjust the depth and position of the blade


A description applied to a woodworking machine designed without its own stand and intended for use on a table or bench surface; benchtop machines are often considered portable


An angle measurement; can apply to lumber cuts, or to the angle of the cutting edge on chisels and other tools


A type of wood figuring that resembles dots or small eyes; most commonly found in maple


Small, flat, football-shaped pieces of compressed wood glued into slots on opposing workpieces to align and strengthen joints

Biscuit Joiner

Portable power tool used to cut slots for biscuits; sometimes called a plate joiner


Any cutter designed to work while spinning, such as a router bit or drill bit; bits are mounted in a tool's chuck or collet

Blade Guard

A protective shield covering the portion of a table saw blade or other cutter that protrudes through a table top, or a similar shield on a portable power tool

Blade Plate

The flat disk that forms the body of a circular saw blade

Blade Rim

The periphery of a circular saw blade where the teeth are located

Blade Stabilizer

Thin plates that mount on the sides of a saw blade to help minimize vibration


A square or rectangular piece of wood intended for carving or turning

Blast Gate

On a dust collection system, a sliding door mounted in ductwork that allows airflow to be opened or restricted depending on need

Block Plane

A small utility plane usually used one-handed


Milky discoloration of a wood finish caused when moisture is trapped in the curing finish

Board Foot

A measurement of lumber equal to a board 1' long, 1' wide, and 1" thick; usually abbreviated bf when combined with a numeral

Book Match

The pattern created when adjoining pieces of veneer or resawn wood are opened like a book, resulting in grain that is mirror-imaged


The hole in a circular saw blade, sized to fit the saw arbor


Wood defect where a board bends from end to end along its flat axis

Box Joint

A corner joint made of interlocking square cuts on the ends of workpieces

Box Nail

A wire nail with a sharp point and flat head similar to a common nail but with a thinner shaft and a slightly dulled point to prevent splitting thin wood


Sometimes called bit and brace, a manual drilling tool consisting of an articulated crank-style handle and a chuck into which an auger bit is mounted


A nail with a very small head designed to be driven flat with, or slightly below, the surface

Brad Point

A wood boring bit similar to a twist drill but with a sharp spur at its point to lead the shaft into the hole

Bridle Joint

A connection between two woodworking components similar to a tongue-and-groove joint but made on the narrow rather than the wide dimension of the material

British Standard Whitworth (BSW)

Specification for the number and spacing of threads on screws and bolts, devised by 19th-century British engineer Joseph Whitworth


The rounded-over edge of a piece of material used as a finish detail; also, a hand plane or router bit used to create such an edge in wood


A rounded, often gnarled, protrusion on a tree trunk usually the result of disease; the highly figured wood cut from such a growth, often used for veneer


To firmly rub a surface in order to polish it or to adhere a glued surface treatment, often done with a rounded tool. Also, to treat the edge of a cutting tool to slightly roll the edge after sharpening.


In woodturning, small metal tubes used as guides to turn pen parts to the correct diameter for a finished pen

Butt Hinge

Hinge consisting of two rectangular plates connected by a pin used to attach a door to a fixed component

Butt Joint

Joint formed by placing two flat mating surfaces squarely against each other

Butt Matched

The pattern created when two resawn pieces of wood are arranged end to end, resulting in grain that is mirror-imaged along the shorter dimension

Butterfly Hinge

Type of butt hinge with its plates cut in a decorative winglike pattern

Cabinet Saw

Heavy-duty professional table saw, generally equipped with a large cast-iron top, accurate fence, and powerful motor and blade mounted on a trunnion assembly attached directly to the cabinet, not the visible-m-inlineop, facilitating precision adjustment

Cabinet Scraper

A flat piece of metal used to smooth a wood surface


Compasslike hand tool for measuring inside and outside diameters

Cap Iron

The metal structure on a plane that holds the cutting iron in place; its curved edge creates the curled shaving common to hand planing


An extremely hard alloy used to create extra sharp and durable cutting surfaces on blades, bits, and other tools


The basic structure of a cabinet or other generally rectangular construct; sometimes spelled carcase

Carving in the Round

A fully three- dimensional style of carving, as in sculpture

Case-Hardened Lumber

Wood that has been improperly kiln dried such that the outer portion is dry but the inner portion retains moisture, resulting in internal stresses that cause the material to deform in an undesirable way


Cabinets or other generally rectangular constructs


Wooden trim around wall openings


A piece of material, often scrap wood, placed between clamp and workpiece to provide even clamping pressure and prevent marring of the surface


A clamp in a shape resembling the letter C and with a screw mechanism to tighten onto the workpiece


Cubic feet per minute, generally used to measure airflow


A 45° bevel cut to ease the sharp edge of a workpiece


Cracks in a piece of lumber cheek The wide face of a tenon

Chip Carving

Style of carving in which numerous small pyramid-shaped bits of wood are removed from a workpiece by means of a series of shallow knife cuts


A cylindrical metal apparatus on a drill or other tool that can be tightened to hold a bit


Description for a piece of lumber that is free of defects


A strip of wood or other material used to support or reinforce the surface to which it is attached

Closed Coat

Type of sandpaper in which the abrasive grains are tightly distributed, used when clogging of the paper is not an issue


Any wood with narrow, inconspicuous growth rings, small pores, and a smooth surface texture, such as maple, cherry, and poplar


Apparatus on an electric drill that can control the amount of torque applied to a bit


Any wood with wide, conspicuous growth rings, large pores, and a grainy surface texture, such as oak, ash, and walnut; also called open-grained

Coated Abrasives

Products such as sandpaper in which gritty material is adhered to a flexible backing


The mounting collar of a router or rotary tool that holds a bit

Color Rendering Index

A measure of how well a fluorescent light accurately renders true color, an important factor when gauging finishing and wood color; often abbreviated CRI on packaging

Combination Blade

A circular saw blade with a tooth configuration designed to perform both crosscutting and ripping operations; sometimes called an all- purpose blade

Combination Machine

A stationary woodworking machine, usually European-made, that combines a table saw, jointer, planer, and/or other machines into a single unit; sometimes called simply combo machine


The lowest grade of lumber, further broken down into #1, #2, and #3

Common Nail

A fastener made from steel wire with a sharpened point on one end and a flat head on the other, generally available untreated (bright) or coated with zinc for rust resistance (galvanized)

Compound Miter

An angled cut to both the edge and face of a board

Compression Wood

A condition of lumber in which the tree was subject to mechanical stress, most often occurring below the stress point

Contractor's Saw

A sturdy but somewhat portable table saw, often equipped with a cast-iron top and extension wings, an accurate fence, and a fairly powerful motor that can operate on standard house current, enabling it to be transported to a job site


To cut a piece of wood so that it exactly matches the profile of another workpiece


Joinery where complementary profiles, sometimes very intricate in shape, are glued together

Corner Clamp

Clamp designed to hold corner joinery at 90°


A cylindrical depression drilled into the surface of a workpiece in order to recess a screw or bolt head or nut


A conical depression drilled into the surface of a workpiece in order to recess a screw head


A concave edge profile crook Wood defect where a board bends from side to side along its flat axis


A wooden caul, occasionally convex shaped, used to apply even clamping pressure to a glued-up assembly; sometimes called a batten


To cut wood across the grain

Crosscut Blade

Table-saw or handsaw blade designed for cutting across the grain

Crotch Lumber

Wood obtained from the intersection of two major limbs of a tree, often yielding a desirable grain pattern


A deformed condition in lumber in which the edges bend away from the center, resulting in a convex shape


A deformed condition in lumber in which the edges bend away from the center, resulting in a concave shape


A desirable rippled grain pattern in certain woods; often referred to as tiger, and sometimes called fiddleback


The waste resulting from cutting a piece of lumber; sometimes call an offcut

Cutoff Blade

For wood, a circular saw blade designed especially for crosscutting; for metal, a circular saw blade with an abrasive surface in place of cutting teeth

Cutoff Saw

A powered crosscutting or miter saw, with models available for wood and for metal; sometimes called a chop saw


The sharpened component of a tool that makes contact with and slices, surfaces, trims, or otherwise shapes the workpiece


The spinning drum in which the knives (blades) of a powered wood surfacing tool such as a jointer or planer are mounted


A fast-bonding glue; sometimes called "super" glue, or simply CA glue


A type of dust collector that directs airflow in a circular motion to separate dust particles by size


The abbreviation used to indicate the nail specification "pennyweight" (see penny); for example, 10d finish nails


A rectangular groove cut across the grain

Dado Head (or Cutter)

System of individual saw blades that are stacked to create dadoes of specific sizes; used in a table saw or radial arm saw

Danish Oil

A type of penetrating wood finish, generally either clear or with a darker tint

Dead-Blow Mallet

Striking tool with loose lead shot contained within its head to concentrate all its energy into a single, nonbouncing blow, and a soft face to prevent marring the workpiece

Deck Screw

A coarse-threaded wood fastener, similar to a drywall screw but with a thicker, less brittle shaft

Denatured Alcohol

Clear, colorless liquid used as a cleaner and solvent, as well as a fast-drying vehicle for finishes such as shellac


A preset adjustment on a tool, usually set for common angles such as 45° or 90°; also called a positive stop

Dewaxed Shellac

A natural wood finish derived from excretions of the lac beetle and further processed to separate out its naturally occurring wax component in order to prevent the cured finish from interfering with the bonding ability of subsequent finish coats


Part of a tool, shaped like the capital letter D, that allows the user to firmly grasp it

Dial Indicator

An instrument for measuring short distances to very precise tolerances; sometimes called a dial gauge

Diamond Dresser

A rough scraping tool used to clean debris from the surface of a grinding wheel

Dimensional Lumber

Wood building material cut to standard sizes, both in width and thickness, such as a 2 x 4, and sold in various lengths

Direct Drive

A motor shaft attached directly to a cutter or blade; sometimes called in-line

Disk Sander

A powered surfacing tool, either handheld or stationary, that operates by spinning a circular abrasive disk

Double-Stick Tape

Tape with adhesive on both sides, often used to temporarily attach components and jigs; sometimes called carpet tape


Attractive and very strong joint formed by mating one or more angled, fan-shaped "pins" to correspondingly sized and shaped notches, called "tails." The joinery can be visible from both sides (through), from only one side (half blind), or invisible (blind).


A cylindrical length of wood, often used as a pin to reinforce a joint

Dowel Center

A metal disk that slips into a dowel hole to mark drilling position on a mating workpiece

Downdraft Table

A flat, perforated surface attached to a vacuum source used to remove dust during sanding


Thin-bladed Japanese saw that cuts on the pull stroke

Drawer Slide

A system of tracks and rollers that attaches to the outsides of a drawer box and the insides of the drawer opening enabling the drawer to be opened and closed and maintain its alignment within the carcass; also called a drawer glide


A chairmaking tool with a straight blade with perpendicular wooden handles

Driver Bit

A screwdriver tip that is installed in a drill in place of a drill bit to facilitate powered screw driving

Drum Sander

Surfacing machine consisting of a spinning cylinder wrapped with a flexible abrasive sheet. Machines with smaller vertical cylinders are used for sanding curved surfaces and contours; machines with larger horizontal cylinders, sometimes called wide-belt sanders, are generally equipped with a conveyor belt and are often used to size pieces and panels to precise thickness.

Dry Fit

To test-fit components without glue or fasteners

Drying Oil

When used on wood, any oil- based finish that penetrates the surface and hardens when exposed to air; linseed and tung oil are drying oils

Drywall Screw

Coarse-threaded wood fastener commonly used as an all-purpose wood screw, similar to a deck screw but with a thinner, more brittle shaft

Dual Bevel

Describes a miter saw that can cut both left and right bevels

Dust Collector

A system of ducts and hoses connected to a vacuum device for the removal of sawdust, wood chips, and other debris generated during woodworking operations

Dust Nibs

Tiny specks of airborne particles that settle on a workpiece before the finish has dried, leaving a rough texture on the surface that must be sanded away before the next coat is applied

Dust Port

An accessory attached to a power tool to connect it to a dust collection system


Young, flexible timber that forms early in the spring and lies directly beneath the bark; also called springwood

Edge Band

To apply a decorative veneer or other treatment to the exposed edges of plywood or other undesirable wood surface

Edge Grain

Boards cut from the tree such that the growth rings run perpendicular to the face and parallel to the edges; also called vertical grain. Quartersawn wood displays edge grain.

Edge-Banding Tape

Narrow, thin material, generally either wood veneer or plastic laminate, sold in rolls and used to conceal the exposed edges of plywood or other unattractive surfaces. Often supplied with pressure-sensitive or heat-activated adhesive applied to the back.

Edge-Belt Sander

Surfacing machine consisting of an abrasive belt that both oscillates vertically and revolves and is mounted perpendicular to a horizontal table to achieve precise 90° edges; often combined in a single machine with a spindle sander


In a dust collection system, an angled connector joining two air ducts

End Grain

Growth-ring pattern of wood as seen in cross section relative to the tree


An adhesive capable of joining dissimilar materials and sometimes of filling voids, usually consisting of two parts, a resin and a hardener, which must be mixed together to activate

Equilibrium Moisture Content

When a board's moisture content equals that of the surrounding air

Extension Table

An accessory, often constructed of cast iron or pressed steel, designed to increase the effective width of a table saw or other power tool; sometimes called a wing


The outward (visible) surface of a cabinet or other piece of furniture or of a piece of wood

Face Frame

The front of a cabinet consisting of vertical stiles and horizontal rails, to which the doors and drawers are attached


A metal disk used to attach wood blanks to a lathe for turning bowls or similar projects that cannot be secured simultaneously by the headstock and tailstock

Feather Board

Comblike accessory with flexible teeth that is attached to a cutting tool in order to hold the workpiece tight to the bit or blade and allowing it to move only in the direction of the cut, thus preventing kickback

Feed Rate

The speed at which material is fed into a woodworking machine

Feeler Gauge

Measuring tool consisting of several precisely sized strips of steel designed to achieve an accurate measurement of small gaps. Although commonly an automotive tool, it finds many applications in the wood shop.


Fixture attached to a stationary machine or tool that guides the workpiece in a straight line against the tool, or guides a portable tool in a straight line against a workpiece


An attractive rippled grain pattern in wood often seen on the backs of violins; also referred to as curly or tiger


A desirable pattern that sometimes occurs in a wood grain


Material used to pack, stuff, or shim generally unseen voids or gaps

Film Finish

Transparent outer protective surface of a piece of furniture or cabinetry that has been treated with a product such as lacquer or varnish

Finger Joint

A method of connecting pieces of wood, either perpendicularly or end to end, by means of interlocking parallel cuts; sometimes used to describe a box joint


Decorative cap most often placed atop a thin vertical object such as a newel post, flagpole, weathervane, or hinge pin

Firsts and Seconds (FAS)

A designation for the two highest grades of hardwood lumber, followed by "selects" and "no. 1 common"


A type of chisel used in wood carving, named for the shape if its blade


A type of router in which the bit must be set at a single depth that is not adjustable during the cutting process


An auxiliary device secured to a tool to guide workpieces through the tool in a consistent and repeatable fashion

Flat Sawn

Lumber cut in parallel slices from a log so that the grain pattern is partially or entirely parallel to the face of the board; also called plain sawn

Flattening Agent

A chemical compound added to wood finish to reduce gloss; sometimes called flatting agent

Flat-Top Tooth

Circular-saw tooth with 0° of bevel ground in the top, most often used for ripping wood; also called flat- top grind


A low-grade abrasive used in inexpensive sandpaper


A thin slice of wood shaved or peeled from a log, most often made into veneer

Flush-Trim Bit

Straight-sided cutter for use in a router, normally with an integral guide bearing that follows the shape of a pattern or workpiece, resulting in a cut that exactly conforms to that shape

Forstner Bit

A drill bit used for making flat-bottomed holes, often in larger diameters than standard twist drills make

Frameless Cabinet

Cabinet in which the top, bottom, sides, and sometimes fixed shelves form the structure without the need for a face frame; if doors are present they are attached directly to the sides by means of special hinges

Framing Lumber

Lumber used primarily in the building trades, usually a nominal 2" thick (2x4, 2x6, etc.)

Framing Nail

A large common nail or spike most often used in building construction

Framing Nailer

A portable tool, most often powered by compressed air, used to drive large nails in building construction

Fret Saw

A thin-bladed cutting tool similar to a coping saw but with a deeper frame; used to make the same types of cuts as a powered scroll saw


Intricate decorative patterns cut from flat stock with a fret saw or scroll saw; often called gingerbread

Friction Polish

Any finish that is cured by heat generated through friction; commonly used in woodturning applications


Angled section of a hand plane body that supports the blade

Full-Extension Slide

Type of drawer glide designed to bear the weight of a drawer box pulled all the way out of its opening


A medium-grade abrasive (a step above flint) used as the grit in sandpaper

Gib Screws

Screws used to hold blades in place in a cutterhead


Intricate decorative patterns cut from flat stock with a fret saw or scroll saw; often called fretwork

Glue Line

A smooth, flat surface on the edge of a board, suitable for joining to a similarly prepared board with no gaps; the appearance created by such a joint


A chisel having a curved cutting edge


The pattern in wood resulting from the arrangement of the tree's growth rings

Grain Reversal

In staining, when pigment adheres more thickly to the lighter areas of wood and not to denser dark areas, resulting in the reversal of light and dark grain areas


Freshly cut timber that has not yet been dried

Green Woodturning

The practice of using uncured wood for turning blanks


The abrasive material adhered to a backing to produce sandpaper and similar abrasive products


Rectangular channel cut in the direction of the grain, usually along the long dimension of a board; similar to a dado, which is cut across the grain

Growth Ring

A pattern of alternating light and dark wood created by seasonal changes during a single year of a tree's life cycle


Any device designed to prevent hands from coming into contact with a cutting edge

Guide Blocks

On a band saw, small metal, ceramic or phenolic blocks that mount on each side of the blade to keep it from twisting and flexing from side-to-side during cuts

Guide Collar

A metal bushing attached to the base plate of a router through which the bit protrudes and which follows a pattern to produce a precisely shaped cut


The deep spaces between teeth on a saw blade

Half-Blind Dovetail

Dovetails that are visible only on one side

Hand Screw

A type of clamp with jaws that are tightened by twisting opposing threaded shafts


An adjustment wheel on a piece of woodworking machinery


A thin, hard-surfaced building material made from compressed wood fibers; often referred to as Masonite, a well-known brand name of hardboard


Any lumber from a deciduous tree

Haunched Mortise-and-Tenon

Like a standard mortise-and-tenon joint except the tenon has an additional stub or shoulder on the top that fits into a matching recess in the mortise


Lumber taken from the center, dead portion of a tree

Hide Glue

Adhesive made from collagen extracted from the skins of animals

High-Speed Steel (HSS)

Heat-resistant metal alloy used to make cutting tools

Hinge Mortise

A small recess cut in a door or frame to facilitate the flush mounting of a hinge

Hole Saw

A circular cutting tool mounted in a drill with a pilot bit in the center and teeth around the perimeter, designed to create larger-diameter holes than are generally practical with standard drill bits

Hollow Grind

A concave appearance of a bevel formed on a grinding wheel

Hollow Vessel

A generally vase-shaped woodturning, often with an opening that is smaller than the diameter of the turning

Hollowing Tool

A small-ended scraper, sometimes with a curved shaft, designed for making hollow vessels on a lathe


A small stone used to give a fine edge to cutting tools

Honing Guide

A jig designed to hold a chisel or plane iron at the correct angle for sharpening


The amount of forward (positive) or backward (negative) lean of a tooth on a circular saw blade relative to the blade's circumference

Hot-Melt Glue

A cylindrical plastic adhesive that is heated to melting temperature in a special glue gun/ applicator and bonds nearly instantly upon cooling to room temperature

Hybrid Table Saw

A power tool that is similar in power and cost to a contractor's saw but sharing many design features of a cabinet saw, such as motor and blade mounting configuration

Impact Driver

Power tool similar to an electric drill that combines rotary drilling motion with a back-and-forth tapping motion to secure screws, nuts, and bolts more efficiently

Induction Motor

A heavy-duty electrical motor of the type found on most stationary woodworking machinery


The side of a stationary tool from which the workpiece is fed into a cutter


A removable, often replaceable, part of a tool such as the throat plate on a table saw

Insert Cutter

An accessory for a saw, router, shaper, molding machine, or other cutting tool, consisting of a heavy circular base into which two or more matching knives can be installed to create detailed profiles in wood. Knives with different patterns can be installed in the same base, helping to control tooling costs


The cutting blade of a hand plane


An auxiliary device most often secured to a workpiece to guide it through a tool (or a tool through the workpiece), or to make multiple measurements in a consistent and repeatable fashion


A machine that mills a straight, flat surface on lumber


The thickness of a saw blade; also the cut made by that blade


A highly dangerous situation in which a spinning blade snags a workpiece and hurls it back at the operator at high velocity


A heated container or small building used to dry lumber


The replaceable cutting edge in a woodworking tool; also called a cutter or a blade

Knife Hinge

A door-mounting device that opens and closes by means of a stack of interlocking flat metal bars, rather than a pin as in a standard hinge


Defect in lumber created where a branch was attached to the tree

Lac Bug

Insect (Laccifera lacca) whose secreted resinous shell is used for the creation of shellac finish


A clear, fast-drying, solvent-based wood finish

Lag Screw

A large, heavy-duty fastener most often used to anchor heavy components directly into a structure's wood framing; also called a lag bolt

Laminate (noun)

A thin plastic layer attached to sheet material to create a smooth, colorful, and durable surface

Laminate (verb)

(1) to attach laminate to sheet material; (2) the process of gluing up a larger workpiece from several smaller pieces

Laminate Trimmer

A small router used primarily to trim the overhanging edge of applied laminate

Lap Joint

A method of connecting two pieces of wood of equal thickness by removing half the material from the top surface of one piece and half from the bottom surface of the other and securing the two mating surfaces with glue or fasteners

Lapping Plate

A smooth, perfectly flat plate of any hard material used for sharpening


Harder wood that is produced during the latter part of the growing season; also called summerwood

Leg Set

An optional stand that converts a bench-based tool into a floor-standing machine

Linseed Oil

A substance extracted from the seeds of the flax plant and used as a wood finish; available both boiled (referred to as BLO) and raw

Live Center

One of two mounting points on a lathe for spindle turning, it spins on its own bearings and is installed at the nondriven, tailstock end

Loose Knot

A knot that is detached from the surrounding wood, but frequently held in place within a board by its shape

Loose Side

The rough side of a piece of veneer


Woodworker who specializes in making stringed instruments

Machine Screw

Threaded fastener similar to a small bolt but with a slotted or Phillips head like a screw, used with a nut or in a tapped hole; sometimes called a stove bolt


A generally wooden, large-headed striking tool


A mounting rod used to turn hollow cylindrical blanks on a lathe, as for pen parts

Marking Gauge

A device that uses a knife or other sharp point to transfer measured lines to a workpiece


Technique using veneer of contrasting woods cut into pieces and arranged to form a pattern

Mechanical Compressor

Device that creates and stores compressed air to power pneumatic tools

Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)

An engineered wood product made from compressed wood fibers, sawdust, resins, and waxes and generally available in 4'x 8' sheets

Milk Paint

A milk-based (casein) furniture paint

Mineral Spirits

A standard solvent for oil-based paint and varnishes; also called paint thinner


Furniture style with predominantly straight lines and minimal ornamentation

Miter Box

A tool used for cutting moldings and other narrow stock at precise angles, particularly 45° to achieve mitered corners; can be manual, used in conjunction with a backsaw, or powered with its own circular saw blade

Miter Gauge

An accessory with an adjustable fence enabling angled cuts; has a rectangular runner on the underside that allows it to be used on any woodworking machine equipped with a miter slot

Miter Joint

A joint created by joining two pieces of wood cut at complementary angles

Miter Slot

A shallow slot on a woodworking machine that guides a miter gauge or other device equipped with a runner sized to fit to the slot

Miter Square

A square used to measure or mark angles

Moisture Content

The amount of water contained in a piece of lumber


A length of wood into which a decorative profile has been milled, often used as transition between two walls or surfaces

Morse Taper (MT)

A standard for mounting shafts used on drill presses, chuck components, and lathe centers manufactured with a slightly conical shape to facilitate quick bit changes and accurate centering


A generally rectangular cavity cut into a framing member to accept a mating tenon or a piece of hardware, such as a hinge


A strong form of joinery in which a generally rectangular stub (tenon) cut on one piece of stock is inserted into a matching cavity (mortise) cut into another and secured with glue or pegs


A machine similar to a drill press but with a hollow, square chisel surrounding the drill bit, used to cut square or rectangular cavities, known as mortises, in wood


A thin divider strip used to separate panes of glass or mirror within a multiple arrangement; sometimes called a muntin

Nail Set

A metal tool similar to a punch used to recess the heads of finishing nails below the surface

Natural-Edge Turning

A woodturning, usually a bowl or goblet, which features remnants of bark along the rim


The upright post at the top or bottom of a staircase into which the banister assembly is mounted


A non-grain-raising wood finish

Nondrying Oil

When used on wood, any oil-based finish that penetrates the surface but does not harden when exposed to air; mineral oil and most vegetable oils are nondrying


An S-shaped decorative molding or edge profile consisting of a concave arc flowing into a convex arc; sometimes called a Roman ogee

One-By (1-by)

Dimensional lumber nominally 1" thick


A one-of-a-kind project, usually a piece of furniture made to a customer's specifications

Open Coat

Type of sandpaper that has abrasive grains spaced to cover only 50–70% of its surface in order to prevent clogging

Open Time

The amount of time that glue can be exposed to the air and still be workable; also called working life or pot life


Any wood with wide, conspicuous growth ring, large pores, and a grainy surface texture, such as oak, ash, and walnut; also called coarse-grained


An eccentric, somewhat circular motion used by some powered cutting and sanding tools

Oriented Strand Board

Type of building panel similar to plywood, made up of small, flat wood chips glued together to form large sheets; often abbreviated OSB

Oscillating Drum Sander

A powered surfacing tool in which an abrasive cylinder simultaneously rotates and moves up and down for sanding complex shapes

Outboard Turning

To pivot a lathe's headstock away from the lathe bed, increasing the machine's capacity for turning large bowls


The side of a cutting tool where the processed material exits

Overlay Door

A cabinet door that completely covers the front face of the box

Paint Thinner

A standard solvent for oil-based paint and varnishes; also called mineral spirits

Painter's Tape

Adhesive paper tape (usually blue) used to mask areas adjacent to surfaces being painted and then be easily removed without leaving any residue

Palm Sander

A small, handheld power tool used to smooth wooden surfaces


A flat rectangle of wood often constructed by gluing several boards together side by side

Panel Saw

A woodworking machine used for cutting large sheets of material to a more manageable size


A building or substrate material made by compressing tiny wood chips with adhesive and forming them into sheets

Parting Tool

A chisel with a V-shaped cutting edge; also called a V-tool


The toothed component in a ratchet or a table saw's antikickback device


A sheet of hardboard perforated with evenly spaced holes, most often used as a mounting surface for specialized brackets and hangers

Pen Lathe

A very small lathe, usually weighing less than 12 pounds, used for small turnings such as pens and jewelry


The specification designating sizes of nails; also called pennyweight. Abbreviated with the letter d; for example, 10d finish nails.


A type of screw invented by Henry Phillips in the 1930s, with a cross- shaped indentation in the head; also the cross-shaped screwdriver head used to turn it

Piano Hinge

A long, narrow hinge with attachment points at short-spaced intervals and a connecting pin running its entire length


The component in paint, stain, or other finish that provides the color

Pigtail Scratches

The curlicue scratches sometimes caused by handheld electric sanders; sometimes called swirling


A flat, pillar-shaped detail added to the upper portion of furniture for decoration

Pilot Bearing

A bearing mounted on a bit that guides the bit during a cut


In a dovetail joint, that portion of the wood that fits between the tails

Pin Nailer

A powered tool that drives tiny, sharp, nearly invisible pins into small moldings and other thin furniture components to provide mechanical fastening to supplement gluing

Pin Router

A power tool with a router bit protruding from a horizontal surface similar to a router table but with an overhead locating pin that follows a pattern to guide the material over the bit in order to create multiple identical pieces

Pipe Clamp

A clamp made by attaching a fixed jaw on one end of a length of steel pipe and an adjustable jaw at the other end


In saw blades, refers to the number of teeth per inch


For lumber, refers to thick sap or resin deposits in the wood


The central core of a log or tree branch

Pivot Block

A guide used for resawing that allows the workpiece to be pivoted to follow a cut line; sometimes called a point fence

Pivot Hinge

A type of hinge that enables a door or window to swing open around a single point

Plain Sawn

The most common type of cut lumber; shows pronounced growth rings running almost parallel to the board's face


A flat plate or caul often part of an assembly used to adhere veneer to a substrate


A round piece of wood glued in place over a countersunk screw to hide the screw head

Plunge Router

A router with the motor mounted on spring-loaded columns


Wood sheet made of individual layers of thinner wood, glued together with the grain of each layer running 90° to the adjoining layers


Air-powered; used to describe air-driven tools

Pocket Hole

An elliptical slot bored at an angle in the face of a board, through which a screw is driven to secure that board to an adjacent piece of wood; sometimes called screw pocket


A type of flexible plastic used in sheeting, expanding foam insulation, and glues; often called simply poly

Polyvinyl Acetate

The adhesive ingredient in white glue; often called PVA glue

Positive Stop

A preset adjustment on a tool, usually set for common angles such as 45° or 90°; also called a detent

Pot Life

The amount of time that glue can be exposed to the air and still be workable; also called working life or open time

Primary Wood

The main wood used in project construction that is generally seen, such as tops, sides, doors, and drawer fronts


Protruding slightly above the wood's surface


Pressure sensitive adhesive; a peel-off backing on some sanding disks


Pounds per square inch


A porous volcanic stone formed from cooled lava used to make a mild abrasive

Push Stick

An accessory used to push a workpiece through a cutting edge, keeping hands a safe distance away


Polyvinyl acetate; adhesive ingredient in white glue


Lumber cut with growth rings almost parallel to the board's edges

Queen Anne

English furniture design based on the Baroque style developed during the reign of Queen Anne, 1702–1714


A shelflike joint sized to match the workpiece that fits into it; European form is "rebate"


A twisting action of a frame that can loosen joints


The horizontal component of a frame

Raised Grain

A lifting of grain on the surface of a board usually caused by the application of water or a water-based finish

Raised Panel

A construction in which the thinned edges of a wooden panel are inserted into a channel formed on the inside edges of the stiles and rails; the panel used in such construction


The angle of a cutting surface relative to the center line of the tool


The flat-topped tooth in an alternate top bevel (ATB) circular saw blade that cleans out the material at the bottom of the cut to flatten it

Random Orbit

The eccentric, swirling motion of a tool such as a disk sander designed to minimize the visible pattern of sanding scratches

Ray Flecking

A desirable pattern on the surface of quartersawn lumber

Reaction Wood

A condition of lumber in which the tree was subject to mechanical stress during its growth; see "compression wood" and "tension wood"


A back-and-forth motion as with the blade of a reciprocating saw

Relief Carving

Carving style that is partially three-dimensional as seen from the front

Relief Cut

A kerf cut on the hidden side of a board used to relieve internal stress on the visible side to prevent splitting or cracking


To cut wood into thinner multiple, often matching, pieces


Thick sap or pitch deposits sometimes found in lumber

Rift Sawn

A variation of quartersawn lumber sawn at 30° to 60° to the board's surface, producing vertical grain but no ray flecking

Right Side

The side of a board that will be visible in the finished piece; the smooth side of a sheet of veneer


To cut wood with the grain

Rip Blade

Table saw or handsaw blade designed for cutting with the grain

Riving Knife

A thin piece of metal behind a saw blade that prevents wood from touching the rear of the blade and possibly causing a kickback; unlike a splitter, which is fixed, a riving knife moves to always keep the same orientation with the saw blade

Robertson Head

A type of square-drive screw

Rotary Cut

Veneer cut by "peeling" thin layers off a turning log

Rotary Tool

Small handheld electric tool that spins a variety of cutting, grinding, sanding, polishing, and other specialty tips; often used for hobby crafts


An extremely fine, gritty abrasive used for polishing

Rough Sawn

Unsurfaced cut lumber

Rough Turn

To bring a rough blank into a balanced, round shape on the lathe

Roughing Gouge

A large gouge used to remove a lot of material quickly


A convex edge profile


Power tool used primarily for cutting edge profiles and mortises

Rubbing Compound

Mild abrasive used to remove oxidization from the topmost layers of finish, thereby restoring its shine

Rubbing Out a Finish

The process of using ultrafine abrasives to produce a highly polished surface


The degree to which a rotating tool wobbles as it spins; an undesirable characteristic


Lumber that has been surfaced on two sides


Lumber that has been surfaced on all four sides

Sacrificial Fence

A temporary fence attached to a main fence that is often damaged during the cutting process, then discarded

Sanding Drum

A spinning cylinder wrapped with a flexible abrasive sheet


Lumber taken from the outer, living portion of a tree


A person who operates a saw; commonly used to describe someone who works in a sawmill

Scarf Joint

An angled joint used to join wood end to end


Drawknife with a curved blade used for hollowing bowls and chair seats


A lathe chisel having a flat but rounded cutting edge


One who uses a scroll saw

Scuff Sand

Light sanding given to wood finishes between multiple coats to improve adhesion of successive coats

Sealer Coat

The first application of finish, designed to seal wood pores and fibers

Secondary Bevel

An additional sharpening step performed on the cutting edge of a blade, chisel, or plane iron that creates a bevel a few degrees off from the primary bevel

Secondary Wood

Wood used in project construction that is generally not seen, such as drawer boxes and interior cabinet shelves


The second-highest grade of hardwood lumber, which is at least 83% clear on one face


Cutter knives in a woodworking machine that are notched or otherwise indexed so that they automatically seat in the correct position

Self-Sealing Finishes

Any wood finish that seals the wood on the first coat


To drive a fastener, usually a nail, slightly below the wood surface

Set Screw

A small screw commonly used to adjust a machine component, such as the level of the throat plate on a table saw, or the guide blocks on a band saw


The portion of a bit or other cutter that mounts into a machine


A heavy-duty woodworking machine similar to a router designed to mill profiles on workpiece edges

Shaving Horse

A combination bench and seat for carving; a movable end piece is held with the foot to clamp a workpiece in place, freeing both hands


Description of the amount of gloss in a wood finish.

Sheet Goods

Plywood, MDF, or other materials usually sold in sheets, with 4' x 8' being the most common size

Sheet-Metal Screw

A sharp-pointed, self-tapping threaded fastener most often used to attach pieces of thin metal to each other or some other material


A clear wood finish made from alcohol and the shell of the lac beetle


Thin piece of wood or metal slipped into a gap to tighten it


The act of putting a straight edge on a workpiece

Shooting Board

A perfectly straight piece of wood used as a guide for planing or cutting


On a saw blade, a raised portion of metal behind each tooth that adds strength to the blade and helps prevent kickback


On a wooden workpiece, the area that surrounds or abuts a projection; for example, the end of a board from which a tenon projects.

Silicon Carbide

A very hard, uniform, fast- cutting abrasive material used in high- quality sandpapers and on the cutting edges of tools


A straight chisel with an angled cutting edge


To run a rough-sawn board through a planer just enough to reveal the wood's characteristics

Skip Tooth

A saw blade with regularly spaced gaps between teeth


Device to guide a workpiece squarely and safely through the cutting edge of a woodworking machine, usually a table saw

Sliding Bevel

An adjustable square used to measure or mark angles; sometimes called a bevel gauge

Sliding Dovetail

A form of joinery similar to a dado but with angled rather than vertical sides and a mating piece with grooves cut along its width at a corresponding angle

Sliding Table

On a table saw, a movable portion of the table used to feed a workpiece squarely through the blade

Slip Match

A veneer pattern created by aligning successive pieces side by side vertically but offsetting them horizontally

Slip Stone

A generally handheld stone used to hone the inside curve of a gouge's cutting edge

Slot Mortiser

A horizontal boring machine that cuts elongated slots


Pastelike mix of sawdust, abrasive, and liquid as the result of wet sanding


A slight concave that can occur on the ends of boards during milling

Soft Start

An electronic control for an electric motor that eases the motor up to full speed when turned on


Any lumber from a conifer


The bottom of a woodworking tool; often called the base

Solid Surface

A very hard plastic material used for countertops

Soss Hinge

A fully concealed knife-style hinge in which one side is mortised into the door and the other side is mortised into the door frame

Spade Bit

Drill bit with a wide, spade- shaped cutting edge used to drill large-diameter holes


Lumber where natural decay has caused unique and attractive grain patterns

Specific Gravity

A measurement of the density of wood


In machinery, the mounting post of a power tool


In woodturning, a cylindrical turning on the lathe

Spindle Sander

Machine with a round, oscillating sanding drum that protrudes at 90° through a metal work table


A thin strip of wood set into opposing slots of wood being joined; when used on the outside corner of a miter joint, it is called a miter key

Split Point

Type of drill bit with pilot point at the tip for accurate hole location


A thin piece of metal or plastic behind a saw blade that prevents wood from touching the rear of the blade and possibly causing a kickback


An area on wood surface where stain has been absorbed unevenly; also called blotching


A hand tool with a thin blade used to create rounded workpieces

Tack Cloth

A sticky cloth used to remove dust from freshly sanded wood before staining or finishing

Tack Time

The time it takes glue to begin to hold


The cutout portion of a dovetail joint, designed to accept a matching pin


The apparatus on the unpowered side of a lathe that holds a workpiece for spindle turning


Any cut that gradually decreases a workpiece's dimension toward its end


Bolt with a T-shaped head, designed to slide into a slot before being tightened; often used for temporary tightening or attachment of jigs, fixtures, and fences


Splintering caused on the underside or end of a workpiece when a saw blade, router bit, or other cutter exits the wood


Totally enclosed fan-cooled; describes a sealed motor with an internal impeller designed to lower the operating temperature


Process of using heat to harden a blade or knife to better accept a sharpened edge


A pattern used to guide a router or other cutting tool


The stub cut on the end of a workpiece intended to be inserted and secured into a matching cavity, or mortise, cut into another workpiece

Tension Wood

A condition of lumber in which the tree was subject to mechanical stress, most often occurring in deciduous trees above the stress point


Describes the amount of tautness applied to a band saw blade by adjusting the upper support wheel

Threaded Insert

A small metal cylinder threaded both inside and out, designed to be screwed into a workpiece and left there as an anchoring point for a bolt or other fastener


Any cut that goes completely through a workpiece, such as a through mortise

Thrust Bearings

Metals wheels mounted behind a band saw blade that support the blade during cuts to prevent flexing

Tiger Figuring

A type of wood figuring that resembles a tiger's stripes

Tipping Off

The practice of smoothing out a wet finish by holding the brush at 45° to the surface as it is swept the length of a workpiece


T-shaped mounting hardware driven into a workpiece and left there as an anchoring point for a bolt or other fastener


To drive nails at an angle to the workpiece

Toggle Clamp

A clamp with set open and closed positions, usually adjustable to a specific dimension


A variation on a mortise-and-tenon joint, formed by mating a groove cut along the length of a board's edge with a tenon formed along the mating piece

Tool Rest

A horizontal metal bar on a lathe that holds a chisel steady while cutting


A measure of the amount of force used to rotate a shaft

Torx Head

Type of screw head that resembles a star pattern


Teeth per inch


Carved woodenware, such as eating or cooking utensils

Triple Chip

Flat-top teeth on a saw blade that have been chamfered 45° on the corners of the cutting edge


Metal mounting brackets that hold a motor

Try Square

A hand tool used to measure, confirm, and mark right angles


A slot of metal or wood in an inverted T shape, used as a guide for accessories

Tung Oil

An oil finish made from tung nuts; the term is often used generically to describe any penetrating oil finish

Tungsten Carbide

An allow of tungsten and carbon used to harden edges

Turn Between Centers

Spindle turning on the lathe with the workpiece held between the headstock and tailstock


Lumber defect where the board is twisted along its length

Twist Bit

Drill bit featuring a recessed spiral cut along the length of the bit

Two-By (2-By)

Dimensional lumber nominally 2" thick


Ultrahigh molecular weight plastic; commonly used to create sliding jigs

Universal Motor

A small electrical motor with a high power-to-weight ratio, used primarily on portable woodworking tools


A plastic binder used in a coating that cures very hard, imparting high durability to finished wood

Vacuum Press

A plastic bag that holds a glued-up veneered workpiece and that, once air has been evacuated, presses the veneer in place until dry

Vapor Respirator

A facemask used to protect against dust inhalation


Any of a number of hard-curing film finishes used on wood


A small gouge used to carve thin grooves or lines


An extremely thin sheet of wood, generally adhered to a thicker piece of secondary wood called a substrate

Veneer Press

Method of clamping an entire sheet of veneer to a substrate. Small veneer presses may have a handwheel and screw that tightens as a single unit on a workpiece; large presses consist of multiple clamps that spread pressure through a system of cauls and platens

Veneer Roller

A roller used to smooth freshly glued veneer to its substrate

Veneer Tape

Thin, removable paper tape applied to the face side of veneer to join separate pieces together while they are being glued to a substrate; it is removed after the glue has dried

Veneer-Core Plywood

Plywood made by gluing multiple sheets of veneer with grain alternating at 90° in each layer


A chisel with a V-shaped cutting edge; also called a parting tool


A natural edge on lumber, often with bark still attached


Any defect in lumber that deforms a board's shape

Wash Coat

A very thin coat of finish, often used as a seal coat


Describes the ridges formed when veneer is improperly glued to its substrate

Water Stone

A flat abrasive stone used for sharpening cutting edges; lubricated with water in use


The bed rails on a lathe

Web Clamp

A flexible strap connected to a ratcheting mechanism used to tighten it around irregularly shaped objects; also called a band clamp

White Glue

Wood glue based on polyvinyl acetate with woodworking properties similar to yellow glue but offering a longer working time; sometimes called PVA glue

Wide-Belt Sander

A stationary sanding machine that uses a sanding belt larger than 12" in width

Winding Sticks

Perfectly straight pieces of wood set on a board in pairs to determine the amount of twist by sighting along the board's length and noting the difference in orientation between the two sticks

Wire Edge

The thin burr that forms on a cutting edge during sharpening

Witness Lines

A shape or series of lines drawn over multiple workpieces to indicate assembly orientation; sometimes called witness marks

Wobble Dado

A dado cutter composed of a single blade that is angled to widen the cut made as the blade spins

Wood Conditioner

Solution applied to wood prior to staining to prevent uneven stain absorption; sometimes called stain controller


A type of relief carving where an image is created by removing waste below the surface of the wood

Working Life

The amount of time that glue can be exposed to the air and still be workable; also called open time or pot life

Worm Drive

A driveshaft with a spiral groove that transfers rotation at a 90° angle to the motor; used most commonly in circular saws


Wood with channels and tunnels caused by insect damage; often an attractive and desirable trait


Signifies "by" when used to connect two dimensions, such as 8" x 10"

Yellow Glue

Common woodworking glue based on aliphatic resin

Zero-Clearance Insert

A plate mounted into a saw table that surrounds the blade such that there is virtually no clearance at the sides of the blade, used to minimize tear-out

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