Woodworking Glossary


The arris is the edge of a square.



Any material that has a rough surface that removes material. 



Not the kind you wear but the piece of wood under a table between the table legs.



Archimedes type drilling device 


The baluster supports the handrail of a staircase.


A barrier which protects the user from falling from the 2nd floor.



A band saw is used for cutting timber.  A circular metal band with teeth cut into it and supported by two or three wheels makes a great saw. Narrow the band saw blade sharper the turn you can make.


A barrier which protects the user from falling from a staircase 

Bar Clamp 

A type of sash clamp heads mounted on a steel pipe.


A narrow strip of wood.

Beaded wood

A small round moulding in wood used for trimming furniture. Traditionally beads would be cut using wooden moulding planes 


The part of the marking gauge that the guided slides up and down

Bench Plane

Any hand plane is considered a bench plane.

Bench Plane


If it is not the right angle it is a Bevel. The tool called an adjustable bevel is used to set any angle. 



The biscuit connecting component is used with a biscuit joiner. The biscuit joiner is a fast way to join wooden boards or planks together. 


No10 biscuit for a biscuit joiner


When we match timber colour and grain pattern. Bookmatching is used when veneering cabinet doors or drawers.


The Bole is another term used to describe a tree trunk.

Broad-leaved trees

Deciduous trees have broad leaves. Broad-leaved trees are a form of hardwood. The Oak tree is a great example.


A rustic growth from a tree. The burl has a highly figured grain and is used for woodturning or special veneers. 

Blind Joint

A blind joint is a joint that does not protrude straight through the wood such as a ‘Blind Mortise or Blind Dovetail.


Another variation of Laminboard

Carpal tunnel syndrome 

This condition is caused by the median nerve being restricted by the tendons swelling and causing pressure on the nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome is common with woodworkers because of the repetitive strain put on our hands.

Carpal tunnel syndrome


Is the timber surrounding a door or window, often in the reveal area


Cascamite powdered resin wood glue is mixed with water and provides a very strong waterproof adhesive for wood.  cascamite powdered resin wood glue can also be used as a wood filler if a little sanding dust is added.

Cellular wood panel

This is a lightweight version of blockboard


Is an angular moulding along the length of timber

Chemical fix

This bonding agent is used for 4 bonding bolts or other objects into a wall all floor. It consists of polyester resin and hardener with aggregate in it within a tube.  The tube is like a typical mastic tube and has a special nozzle which can mix the hardener and the polyester resin together. Bolts that are fixed into a wall using this chemical fix can set within a half an hour making for a very strong and permanent fixing. 


A chisel is a hand tool made of metal and a handle. The end of the chisel Corby ground and sharpened to 30 degrees. This tool can be used for making joints in wood such as a mortise and tenon joint.

Compass plane

The compass playing is a hand tool designed to plane either convex or concave surfaces. it does this by having a soleplate that is flexible and the radius can be changed by turning a knurled knob to suit the workpiece.

Compass plane

Composite Wood

“Structural timber composites” has become a popular solution to some difficult problems. Composite wood is often in the form of:

  • glued laminated timber or glulam
  • laminated veneer lumber (LVL)
  • parallel strand lumber (PSL)
  • laminated strand lumber (LSL)


When a tree is felled, the trunk is converted into sections, this is called Conversion.


The counterbore is a flat bottomed drilled recess to house the head of a bolt.


Countersink screws (CSK) require a countersink bit to create the cone-shaped clearance for the head of a screw.


Cup or cupping is the effect of converted timber drying unevenly or it can be down to where it has been milled from the tree.


The dado usually finishes at the top of a panel. If you see a moulded piece of wood fixed to a wall it is not a Dado unless it finishes the wall panel. Not to be mistaken with a chair rail.


A fairly unknown system to many but the densification process requires a chemical or a physical system. Layers that need to be hardened or an increase in mechanical strength go through the Densification process. 


The timber of different types has different densities. Density refers to the mass of a piece of wood. For example a cube of Oak will have a higher density than a cube of Pine. 


Timber can distort during the season. 


A joint in the shape of a dove’s tail. A popular traditional hand-cut joint often used in the construction of drawers.


In woodworking, the domino is the connector in a jointing system. The Festool domino dowel jointing system is innovative.



Dowelling is a method of joining timber. There are other joining systems using wooden joiners such as the ‘Biscuit Joiner’ and the ‘Festool Domino doweller’.

Draw Knife

A great tool for the process of stripping bark or organically working wood. The tool has a blade supported by two handles.

Draw Knife

Drip groove

The drip groove is used to prevent water ingress by interrupting the flow. It can be a groove or channel cut into the bottom of a window or door sill.


Just like the name suggests Earlywood is the wood produced at an early stage of growth


Roofs with an overhang will have Eaves. The Eaves are the underside of the overhang. On the average house, the Eaves can be cladded to form a soffit but can be exposed to show the rafters.

End grain

Wood has grain  and if you cut through the wood you will expose the ‘End Grain’

End grain


Many wooden products from handrails to panel products are end jointed. End jointing is often made using the finger jointing method. This method gives you more glue surfaces that are very strong.

Engineered wood

The term engineered wood has nothing to do with mechanical engineering. Engineered wood is formed by compressing layers of timber sometimes with glue. Engineered wood is used in many wooden products including doors.

Extruded particleboard

Particleboard produced using extrusion. Unlike a compressed particle board, an extruded particleboard is lighter because it can have holes running through it.

Face edge

When we plane the leading or exposed edge is known as the face edge.

Face side

This is the face which woodworkers take their measurements

Fascia board

The facia board is trimmed to the end of the rafters usually made with wood or these days it is often made using PVCU. The house gutters are fixed to the Fascia.

Fascia board


The metal ring that prevents the handle from splitting from the chisel tang.


Was once a very popular material but today ‘medium density fibreboard’ is more popular. When organic material is compressed a natural chemical called Lignin bonds the fibres together.


Finger jointed board as the name suggests is the jointing method which looks like fingers that are interlocking. 

Furring battens

Furring battens are used to provide a method of fixing boards or panels. Furring pieces are used to flatten uneven surfaces.


Structural timbers used in many grand designs by material restrictions dictate the utilisation of laminated beams otherwise known as Glulam. Glulam beams can span larger distances than standard structural timber.


A woodworker who works wood with hand tools like a neanderthal


A tool with a half tubular blade with the cutting edge on the inside or outside. Used for carving or woodturning although a woodturning gouge and a carving gouge are different tools


When designing a staircase you will need to know the Going. The going is the distance travelled, in other words, if your staircase was a right angle triangle the going would be the length of the bottom.


The grain of the wood is admired by many for its natural beauty. Woodgrain is unique even if the wood species are the same. The grain can be influenced by the way it is seasoned or milled changing the characteristics.


A slot or channel


Hardboard is very similar to medium-density fibreboard.  although in my opinion hardboards are not quite as dense as MDF. It is often used in the back of cabinets, especially the kind you find in flat-pack form.


Hardwood timber is recognised as a very versatile material. Practically it is strong and hard-wearing but artistically it adds beauty through its full-grain character. Hardwood timber is processed from deciduous broadleaf trees such as Oak walnut but many other species too.


On the top, any good frame should be ahead! 

Haunched Tenon

Same as a standard tenon but with an extra shoulder.

Head plate

When you doing stud partitions the very top horizontal piece of timber is called the head plate


Every tree you cut through will show the bark all the way down into the pit but in between, you have the sapwood and the main area of timber which is called the  heartwood. 

Heat treat

Tool steel goes through a process of heat treatment.

Hold down

A tool to hold down a piece of wood or your project to the bench.

Hold down


To hone a tool is the same as to sharpen a tool.


Impregnation or injection

This is the process of preserving timber through injection of a preservative. 


Ironwood is a very hard and dense hardwood. Wood species such as greenheart or purple heart are ironwood. Because ironwoods are very resilient to rot and have high density these Woods are often used in lock sills.


The Jam is  where a door shuts into a door frame.


A saw blade has a Kerf which is the thickness of the blade.  If the blade has a curve of 3 mm then there will be 3 mm of wood removed with every cut. When measuring and transferring to the table saw you must allow for the Kerf of your saw



We all know what knotty pine is and that every knot represents the position of a branch. This knot is also an area which resin from the tree can weep like an old wound. You can prevent the resin weeping or sap by using a knotting solution such as shellac.


the knot in Oak


A saw blade has a Kerf which is the thickness of the blade.  if saw blade has a curve of 3 mm then there will be 3 mm of wood removed with every cut.  when measuring and transferring to the table saw you must allow for the Kerf of your saw 

Kiln Dried

Greenwood is rapidly dried in a kiln.

Kiln Dried

Kick Back

When using a machine it is possible for that machine to shoot your workpiece back towards you and this is called kickback.

Laminated wood

Laminated wood is timber which has been manufactured by glueing many laminates together. In the boat-building industry, laminated wood is quite common for the purpose of creating curves. For instance, my father would build a tiller with laminates to create a beautifully curved tiller arm.


Cross-laminated strips of wood create a thick board known as lamin board.


Of wood or resembling wood, woody. Examples of ligneous materials other than wood are bagasse, bamboo, cereal straw, and flax or hemp shives.


The natural component within the wound that holds its cellulose structure together is lignum. Lignum not only provides the binder but also provides the opacity. It is possible to make wood transparent if you remove the lignum.

Lignum Vitae

Ironwood is often used in the manufacture of woodworking mallets.


That is often found in French and English furniture behold the beauty of marquetry.  Marquetry is the inlay of veneers creating a pattern or picture of different varieties of wood or metal.  Even ivory, although illegal today, was used in marquetry.


Some paints are designed to be microporous. The concept of a microporous paint allows moisture from the wood itself to leave via the paint fruit tiny pours yet preventing external moisture entering the wood through the paint.


A mitre is a joint in wood that is commonly used for making a frame.  When making a frame with Mitre joints you would have four pieces of wood each with a 45-degree angle which when joined together they make four 90-degree angles.


A mortise is often described as one half of a mortise and tenon joint but a mortise is also used for other things.  For instance, you can have a mortice lock. The mortise being the whole which the lock sits in. A Mortise requires the use of a woodworking mortise chisel but there are also machines that can produce a mortise.

Moulded wood

Decorative wood trimming known as Mouldings is often made by the woodwork using wooden moulding planes. Today there are many proprietary patterns which you can use instead of making your own Mouldings.


Wood is a natural material and as such, it is not unusual for it to relieve itself from moisture but equally absorb moisture.  This absorption and evaporation is the natural breathing of the seasoned timber. This process either increases or decreases the volume of the timber across its width.


You will find a mullion dividing a window.


The Munson Can be found centrally within a panel door or window


That is often found in French and English furniture behold the beauty of marquetry.  marquetry is the inlay of veneers creating a pattern or picture of different varieties of wood or metal.  Even ivory although illegal today was used in marquetry.


Some paints are designed to be microporous.  the concept of a microporous paint allows moisture from the wood itself to leave via the paint fruit tiny pours yet preventing external moisture entering the wood through the paint.


A mitre is a joint in wood that is utilised commonly for making a frame.  When making a frame with Mitre joints you would have four pieces of wood each with a 45-degree angle which when joined together they make four 90-degree angles.


A mortise is often described as one half of a mortise and tenon joint but a mortise is also used for other things.  For instance, you can have a mortice lock. The mortise being the whole which the lock sits in. A Mortise requires the use of a woodworking mortise chisel but there are also machines that can produce a mortise.


The Newel post is the chunky wooden post you will see at the top and the bottom of a staircase supporting the handrail. 


When studying for an internal wall, short horizontal studs that are between the vertical studs stiffen the structure and are called noggins.


A nosing is the front edge of any step or stair tread.

No nails

‘No nails’ is the proprietary brand of a grab adhesive that comes in a mastic type tube.


The Jam is where a door shuts into a  door frame.

Oriented strand board (OSB)

OSB has been used for decades for flat roofing. OSB is made from flaked logs which are orientated and bonded using heat triggered glues.

Parallel strand lumber

A parallel strand board. Made by parallel orientated strands bonded together.


Probably the world’s most overused wooden product. Almost every kitchen or bedroom suite is made with a particle board AKA Chipboard.



This is the rate which timber or other materials absorb moisture


Smoothed timber using a hand plane or by machine.



A plank of wood is a simple square-edged board that can be used for siding or flooring


Plywood is made by first removing the bark from the log. The Barclays log is supported along its length and rotated on special rollers. What is the log that is being rotated along very sharp blade peels over there off the log? The veneers are bonded together in an orientated fashion. plywood comes in many forms from the very cheap shuttering plywood used in concrete construction or roofing. To the higher grade plywoods such as the birch 9 ply.

The quality of the veneers and the amount of them dictates the quality of the plywood. Plywood is a very versatile product used in modern construction. Plywood is very stable but can still rot. The resistance to moisture is very dependent on the glues that have been used in the plywood. Exterior grade plywood or even better marine grade plywood uses much better water-resistant glues. Today higher grade plywoods such as birch ply are used in furniture construction. These plywoods, when finished with the edges exposed, can look very modern.


Point side

The point side and head side of a piece of timber refer to the mechanical fixing of a screw or nail. The point side is the piece of wood that receives the nail or screw. The head side is the piece of timber which the nail or screw passes through before it enters the point side. 

Preservative treatment

The treatment of timber with chemicals to improve its resistance to attack by biological organisms, such as fungi, insects and marine borers. Woodwork treatments can be applied via a brush or spray but also so via a pressure treatment system. 


Like preservative treatment, pressure-treated wood is often done in a special high-pressure vessel. Tanalised treated timber is done in this way. Tanalised timber used to contain arsenic but it was removed due to toxic levels. Obviously it is good for our health to have the arsenic removed but modern tanalised timber is not as effective treatment as the older methods of tanalisation. 


A purlin is a roof component. The purlin runs from one end of the roof to the other supporting either roofing sheets or rafters.


Rafters slipped down from the ridge of a roof to the wall plate.  Rafters support the batons and Are supported intermediately by the purlins.


A tree has rays travelling across the grain which transport nutrients.


The rebate can be a part of a joint or a recess for a window or door to close into. 


The reveal is the inside of a wall all around a window or door.


A riser is the back vertical part of a step or a staircase. Sometimes people refer to this vertical part of a staircase as the ‘backs’

Rotary cut

The rotary cut method is used for slicing veneers off a log. These veneers can either be thin for use in marquetry or lamination. But also the thicker slices can be used in plywood construction.

Rounded wood

Rounded wood or sometimes called  a dowel is a piece of timber that is  circular in section


A sanded surface should be smooth or it could be slightly textured depending on the sandpaper you are using. Finer the sandpaper smoother finish.


The Sap travels through the sapwood to supply the Tree of its nutrients. A tree that has been seasoned can still bleed the SAP in warm weather. The most commonplace for the sap to weep is in areas of high resin such as a knot.


The Sapwood is just under the Cambium layer which is below the bark. The sapwood is the growing part of a tree and as such contains living cells. Insects are more likely to burrow into the sapwood Laying their larvae.


A sash window for me is a  vertically sliding window. These are very common in the United States but also in the United Kingdom. The sashes would travel up and down to open and close the sash window.


And shake is called by a bacteria of the clostridium genus and it does smell.  It was once thought that shape was caused through some kind of stress put on the timber but that is later to be found incorrect. The bacteria infect the tree through the root system and not for a cut stem.


Woodworkers have tools that have a Sharp Edge. The Sharp Edge from time to time you will need to be sharpened.



A shingle in woodworking terms is a form of wooden roof tile.  A wooden shingle would be split from a log so they would be thinner at one end than the other. These days cedar shingles will be cut on a machine.

Short grain

Short grain can occur naturally in a piece of timber but also is influenced by the way it has been milled.  Some timbers have a naturally short-grain such as beech.


Shutters are used on windows and doors for added security and thermal value. In France, shutters are called Volets. 


Window Sill is the lowest part of a window frame. The Door  Sill Is the lowest part of a door frame. A door sill or a window sill is used to deflect the water that may hit a window or door away from the window or door. The outside bottom edge of a window sill or a door sill should have a water drip groove. A window or door can be made from wood or stone or even constructed from concrete.  There are many other modern materials used for making a window or door sill. 

The sill is also the lowest timber stud which is also sometimes called a floor plate.

Skirting or skirting board

A skirting board or as it may be called a washboard is used to finish the bottom of a wall where it meets the floor..


The soffit is the part between the roofline and the wall.  Not all buildings have a soffit. A soffit is constructed like a box which can include the fascia board. The bottom of the soffit should rest on top of the wall.


Softwood is the common name used for all delicious timber species such as Pine, Fir Spruce and Larch. House building in the UK and Abroad is very dependent upon the importation of softwoods. Thankfully while we are still members of the European Union, the United Kingdom has favourable terms for the importation and allocation of softwoods. Sadly in 2019 after the 2016 Brexit referendum vote this preferential treatment will end.


I myself builds staircases and when I why make the outside string the lowest part of the staircase string where it meets the newel post has a small triangular infill. This infernal is called the spandrel. 


The species of a piece of timber is the breed of the timber. An oak tree is a different species to a chestnut tree. When we look at the names for a tree or wood sometimes we are presented with a long foreign name. The name of a species can be in the form of a common name or a Latin name. Sometimes the use of the Latin name is criticised but we have to remember that Latin is a universal worldwide language in botany. 

Spirit level

A spirit level is used to find the level or Plumb of an object. It works by the theory that water always finds its own level.  The spirit level has a glass Vial which contains a fluid with a bubble. The bubble can move from side to side depending on the horizontal level.  

Spindle moulder

A spindle moulder is a machine which carries a cutter block. The cutter block which can be either a 30mm or a 50mm bore holds special cutters and followers. These cutters can either be straight or shaped to produce mouldings or window and door sections. 

Staff bead

Sash windows are made of many different components. The staff bead is the dividing head and the innermost. If the sash window has two sashes which can slide up or down on the sash weights the bead in between those two sashes is the staff bead. 


All traditional wooden barrels I made with tapered Narrows pieces of wood. These narrow pieces of wood would have slight angles that facilitate a curve. The stave is also used in the construction of wooden tanks, vats, tubs and old wooden pipelines.


The style is the vertical component of any door or window frame 


This is the common name used for a wood filler that should match your timber colour. I make my own wood filler or stopper these days using cascamite powdered resin wood glue and the matching sanding dust from the wood itself.  A proprietary brand of stopper that I have used on many occasions especially on the mahogany is Brummer. Brummer is a very easy to use wood stopper that comes in a variety of colours that seem to match very well.

Strength grade

Constructional timber is strength graded.  This grading is a little inconclusive because it is a generic term given to a type of timber. Specific strength grading is given to more critical applications such as beams spanning long distances. Strength grading is especially useful to structural engineers when they calculate the loading and the span.


The boards on either side of a staircase which runs from one floor level to another are called the string. The string normally houses the treads for which you are walking up to access the next floor.

Stud partition

A stud partition is a wall all built using studding timbers or metal studs dividing two spaces.  


Every stud wall has studs.  The stud is a vertical piece of timber or metal within a plasterboard wall.


The woodworkers Square is set to 90 degrees and we use it too to check our projects for Square all Mark a board ready for cutting.  


A tenon is the male component of a mortise and tenon joint;

Tongued and grooved

Tongue and groove machining is often used in the manufacture of floorboards.  The tongue of one board fits snugly into the groove of another. This holds the floorboards together in alignment.


A window has a horizontal dividing component and it is called a Transom.


Every staircase requires you to be able to step onto a tread.


The large chunky part of a tree is called the trunk.  All the branches grow from the trunk.

V- jointed

Similar to a tongue and groove floorboard through the v jointing makes alignment easier.


Rotary-cutting, peeling or slicing Is used to produce veneers.  These thin sheets of timber are used in the production of laminated boards such as plywood but also used in furniture making for marquetry.


Volets are the same as shutters and I used to secure windows and doors and provide some thermal insulation.



The wall plate is a horizontal timber that the Rafters or joists sit on top of a wall.


Every tree has an undulating surface around the trunk this is known as the wane. 

Waney edge

When we cut through a log to create planks the wavy edge is known as waney edge. It doesn’t matter if the waney Edge has bark or not it is still called the same.



Humidity or just bought bad storage can cause a board to warp or Twist.

Wet processing

Processed boards such as hardboard are produced by suspending wood fibres within the water.  The fibre solution is then laid out onto a special drying mat. Generally, no bonding agent or glue is used in the production of hardboard but the natural resins coming out of the fibres Bond the wood together.


Woodblock flooring is a common flooring material used in the early 20th century.  Woodblock flooring is still used today but sometimes it is pre-manufactured into panels.  Windsor block flooring is very similar to woodblock flooring and also can be in a herringbone or basket weave pattern. 

Wood planks

Wood planks or planks of wood are usually wooden boards of 4-in or wider that are 100mm in metric.

Wood planks

Special Glossary:

Metal Table Legs : support your custom table or bench. Being power-coated and made of steel and metal, the legs are built with sturdiness in mind. Great workmanship and designs can easily be observed from these legs.

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