Woodworking Terms: Beginners Guide
BY: Chelsea Rodgers
You just started woodworking, and you’re enjoying it, but you find yourself confused, maybe even a little frustrated, after you leave woodworking stores. As much as you hate to admit it, you’re nodding while the woodworker is giving you tips and “how-to’s” but really you’re brain is screaming “WHAT?!??” Don’t Worry, woodworking is a learning trade, and we’re here to help. We put together some of the basic woodworking terminology that woodworkers use to help you feel less intimidated and ready to woodwork.
1 x Material (1x3, 1x4, 1x6, etc.)
One by material like a 1x4 (spoken as one by four) is a piece of wood that you will often use in DIY furniture. Let’s take it one step further. Say your project needs a 1x4x8. The first number refers to the thickness. The thickness of a 1x4x8 is ¾ inches. The second number refers to the width. The width of a 1x4x8 is 3-½ inches. The third number refers to the length. The length of a 1x4x8 is 8 feet.
2. 2x (2x2,2x4, etc)
Two by material like a 2×4 (spoken as two by four) is a piece of wood often used to build DIY furniture.
Let’s look a little closer at a 2x4x8. The first number refers to the thickness. The thickness of a 2x4x8 is 1-1/2 inches. The second number refers to the width. The width of a 2x4x8 is 3-½ inches. The third number refers to the length. The length of a 2x4x8 is 8 feet. The edges of two by material is round or curved. Many times a table saw is used to rip or remove the round corners before using it to build projects.
3. 5/4 Lumber
5/4 lumber (spoken as five-quarter) is a piece of wood that is sometimes used to build DIY furniture.
Let’s look a little closer at a 5/4x4x8. The first number refers to the thickness. The thickness of a 5/4x4x8 can range from about 1 inch to 1-¼ inches thick. The second number refers to the width. The width of a 5/4x4x8 is 3-½ inches. The third number refers to the length. The length of a 5/4x4x8 is 8 feet.
4. Bar Clamp
A bar clamp has a metal bar with a fixed jaw on one end. There is an adjustable jaw on the other end. A handle on the adjustable end tightens the clamp.
"Versatile" Bar Clamp (MLCS item #9921, 9923)
5. Bevel Cut
A bevel cut is an angled cut made on the edge of a board. A bevel cut changes the profile of the wood
6. Biscuit Joiner
A biscuit joiner or plate joiner has a small horizontally mounted saw blade. When the biscuit joiner is pushed into a workpiece the blade cuts a half-moon shaped slot. Then the biscuit joiner is positioned on the corresponding workpiece and the blade is pushed into the workpiece which cuts the second half of the slot.
Glue is applied to a thin football-shaped wafer called a biscuit. The biscuit is placed into the slots and the joint is clamped until the glue dries.
A biscuit joiner can cut three sizes of slots. The smallest biscuit is “0”, the medium size biscuit is “10” and “20” is the largest biscuit. The “0” and “10” biscuits might be used for smaller joints like joining a rail to a stile. A “20” biscuit might be used for edge joints to join boards to form a tabletop.
7. Butt Joint
A butt joint joins the end of one workpiece to
the edge of another workpiece. Common uses for butt joints are frames and doors.
A caul or clamping caul has two functions. First, it helps provide equal clamping pressure to the parts that are being clamped. Second, it protects the wood of our projects from being dented while the parts are being clamped. Cauls are often pieces of scrap wood inserted between the clamp and our project..
9. Circular Saw
A circular saw is a hand-held tool with a rotating blade used for cutting wood.
To hold workpieces in place while glue is drying or fasteners like nails or screws are driven. The Merle Band Calmp (MLCS item #9012) is good to have because it’s extremely versatile.
Merle Band Clamp (MLCS item# 9012)
A countersink drill bit has two functions. First, it drills a pilot hole into the workpiece. A pilot hole is a small hole drilled into a workpiece that creates a space for a fastener like a screw. Drilling a pilot hole helps to prevent cracking or splitting the workpiece.
Second, a countersink drill bit creates a “V” or countersink
in the face of a workpiece. This “V” or recessed area allows a screw with a countersunk head to be driven flush with the face of the workpiece.
Tapered Drill Bit HSS
(MLCS item #9195H)
A crosscut or simply a cut is made at a 90-degree angle across the grain of the wood or across the width of a board.
Multiform Crosscut Sled (MLCS item #9789)
A dado is a groove cut across the grain of a workpiece. A groove is cut with the grain of a workpiece.
A dado can be cut with a dado blade and a table saw or a straight bit installed in a router.
Wikipedia defines a drill as “a tool primarily used for making round holes or driving fasteners. It is fitted with a bit, either a drill or driver, depending on application, secured by a chuck.”
15. Edge Joint
An edge joint joins the edges of two boards. Common uses for edge joints are panels and tabletops.
16. End Grain
End grain is the growth ring pattern of wood that can be seen on the end of a board.
17. Forstner Bit
A Forstner bit drills holes with smooth, clean sides and flat bottoms. The 16 piece Forstner Bit
Set is a great set that includes multiple sizes.
16 Piece Forstner Bit Set (MLCS item #9146H
18. Miter Cut
A miter cut is made at an angle across the grain of the wood or across the width of a board.
. 19. Miter Joint
A miter joint joins two workpieces cut at angles.
20. Miter Saw
A miter saw has an overhead mounted saw blade. The wood to be cut, or the workpiece, is placed on the table and against the fence. The saw blade is lowered to make the cut and then released to return to its original position.
Plywood is a wood panel made of layers of thinner wood. The layers are glued together to form a panel. Plywood is sometimes called sheet goods.
22. Pocket Hole
A pocket hole is created by a pocket hole jig or Kreg Jig. It’s an angled hole in a workpiece.
23. .Pocket Screw
A pocket screw is used to join a workpiece with a pocket hole to a second workpiece. Pocket screws have a smooth upper shank and a flat washer head.
The smooth upper shank allows the pocket screw to slide through the pocket hole and join the workpieces tightly together.
The flat washer head design of a pocket screw seats perfectly against the flat bottom of the pocket hole and pulls the two workpieces together.
There are two types of pocket screws. Fine-thread pocket screws are designed to be used with hardwoods like oak, maple, and poplar.
Coarse-thread pocket screws are designed to be used with softwoods like pine, plywood, and MDF
To predrill means to drill a hole in wood before driving a screw or nail. Predrilling helps to prevent cracking the wood.
A rail or rails are the horizontal parts of a door or frame
26. Rip Cut
A rip cut is made with the grain of the wood or along the length of the board.
A router like the Rocky 30 Trim Router (MLCS item #9056) is a handheld power tool used to cut decorative edges on workpieces and to rout grooves or dados in workpieces
Rocky 30 Trim Router
(MLCS item# 9056)
28. .Router Table
A router table, like the Cast-Iron Router Table Top, allows a handheld router to be mounted in a table.
"Cast-Iron" Router Table Top
(MLCS item #9760)
To smooth a piece of wood with sandpaper
either by hand or with a power sander.
A stile or stiles are the vertical
parts of a door or frame
31. .Table Saw
A table saw is essentially a circular saw flipped upside down and mounted to the underside of a table.
32. .Tape Measure
A tape measure or measuring tape is used for making measurements.
33. . Workpiece
A workpiece is a piece of wood that is being worked with a tool like a pocket hole jig.