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Woodworking Jargon Explained


For those of you that are new to woodworking, and fall short in understanding half of what is being said with regards to the jargon, I have here an explanation of much of it.. Those that have had woodworking in their life for a good while usually will know the jargon, but just in case here we go.

Lumber that is air-dried is just how it sounds. It is wood that is dried using ventilation that is natural. Most of the time wood that is air dried is done by stacking them between sticks, or slats. This way the air can run through all of the lumber evenly.

An arbor is an axle or a spindle that turns a machine’s blade. An example of this is on some table saws, if it isn’t belt driven, it could have a direct drive arbor. This spins and the blade is bolted to it, making the same RPM’S as the arbor itself.

Ever have an interest in carving on a large scale? An arbortech is a disk with teeth that remove chips of wood rather quickly. It is normally put on an angle grinder. An arris is a corner that is long and sharp, and it is the corner where the board’s face will meet the edge.

There is a hand plane called a “bailey.” It is the most common type of hand plane that has a depth adjustor under the blade’s back. A bedrock is similar to a Bailey, but it has improved frog fixings.

Many woodworkers use joints that are pulled together with biscuits. A biscuit is a smaller piece of thin wood, roughly 1/8 inch thick. It is shaped similar to a football, and it is used as a joint. The reason these are so popular is because a joint can be made with them rather quickly and easily using a tool called a biscuit joiner.

When you have a blast gate on a machine, it will control the flow of air from the machine to a point of extraction using an air valve. Block planes are used for trimming. It is small and without frog.

Many of us have come across the problem of bowed boards. The bowed board happens most of the time because there is a good bit of tension in that particular tree. A bowed board is curved from one end to the other.

The bow can be taken out sometimes if you are able to place your screws or nails that go into another piece of wood close to each other. Sometimes you will come across a woodworker talking about a bridle joint.

This is a joint that is open sided. It is a mortise and tenon joint, or a slot joint. When you have a hand planer, and the the blade is close to the front end, you have a bull nose. But a bull nose is also an edge placed on the outside edges of shelves, tables, etc.., and it has an edge that is half round.

Whenever you have to flatten out scraper edges, you use a burnisher. It is simply a steel rod used for this purpose. Wood that is knotty and is caused by twig growth that is excessive is called a burr. It is very popular to use in furniture for a rustic look.

If the lumber isn’t dried correctly, you will sometimes put a void in it called case hardening. It will be a honeycomb like shape when cut, most of the time making the board rather useless. A caul is a mold that is used in pressing veneer.

Caul is somewhere in between rigid and not so rigid. It is about midway on the scale. When your lumber has a check in it, that means it has visible cracks on the outside or end of the board. This usually occurs when the wood isn’t dried correctly.

There are cabinet saws and then there are contractor saws. The contractor saws are smaller than a table saw. It’s usually used in the field because of its portability. It may not have the power of a table saw, but it is better than trying to lug around a giant table saw to the job site.

Those little guides on your bandsaw that are used to make sure the blade stays steady and in the middle are labeled as cool blocks. Most of us know what clamps are, but just in case it is screwed jaws that are used to press wood pieces together, or hold them still. They are normally portable.

If you cut a board or sheet good across the lumber’s fibers, this is a crosscut. Cross sawn though, is when the board is sawed at the edge of a log, and its converted by flitch sawing. Whenever you purchase wood, a common measurement is cubic foot.

One cubic foot is 35.3 cubic feet in size. A board that is cupped is curved on the sides. It occurs most of the time from shrinkage that is uneven. On your planer or jointer you have a cutter block. This is the part that rotates and holds your planer knives on the machine.

A dimension saw or panel saw is a saw that is used to cut sheet material. It normally will sit upright so the panel can be cut easily. Dovetail joints are finger joints. The teeth are tapered and are used mainly in drawers and boxes due to the beauty and firm hold.

Dowels are cylinder shaped wood that are used in woodworking to make a joint quickly. The wooden dowel just fits into a hole, making a joint that is strong. It is pretty easy to craft these joints.

When your saw blade moves unintentionally off of the line, this is called a drift. We all hate drifts. The feeding filter that is above the collection bag of a vacuum is named as the dust and chipping extractor.

Here are a few more:

Feed Rate – speed of wood fed into blades on a machine

Ferrule – metal ring often used to stop wood splitting

Flitch Cut  – board sawn from one side of trunk to the other

Frog – movable iron wedge on a hand plane that the blade is fixed to

Glue Line – visible line after wood pieces are glued together

Gullet – gap between saw teeth

Haunch – extra part on tenon shoulder to prevent twisting

Heartwood – older growth towards middle of tree trunk, usually harder than sapwood

HE PA – High Efficiency Particulate in Air filter, removes very fine dust

Honing – flattening the edge of a blade with fine abrasive

HSS – High Speed Steel used for machine cutting tools that may run hot

Inch Thick  – (four quarter or 4/4) 25.40mm thick, common thickness for converted timber

Kerf – slot left by a sawblade

Kickback – wood thrown from machine when it catches on a blade

Kiln-dried – converted by removing water in a controlled warm enclosure

Amina – thin slice or laminate used to form lamination when several are glued together

Lapped – dovetail (half-blind) recessed dovetail used for drawer fronts


DO YOU HAVE a woodworking project or tip that you would like to submit to WooDesigner and get it added to our site? Then go to the contact tab below OR at the top of this page and let me know. Just make sure you are able to give us step by step instructions on it, as well as images as you see here, and we will put it on this site just like you have read on this page! As long as it is clear and concise like you just saw, it will go up. Your name will be credited to the project, as where you live. (Please include that.) Also include the type of lumber you use for the design. We look forward to hearing from you! (Take note that the tip and images and instructions have to become ours. I do hate that so much but in today’s society so many will sue, and yes, you can sue for a lot of money over images.) The tips will need to include YOUR IMAGES that you take. They can’t be images from somewhere online. Remember, we have to go through these images and if they aren’t your own, we will not be able to use them. This is illegal and it won’t be tolerated and you will be banned from this community by being blocked. We can get sued for this, and just one bad apple can ruin our community.

Ted Leger –


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Updated: December 11, 2014 — 10:44 pm
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