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Dictionary of Woodworking Terms

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Dictionary Of Woodworking Terms


An axe type tool that has a curved handle that is mounted 90° to the blade. Adzes are used in rough dressing, shipbuilding and wheelwrights' shops.


Twisted boring tool bit used for timbers, used in a brace augers range from 20 - 25" long and 1/2 - 2" in diameter.


Tool used for rough cutting and splitting, wooden handles range from 14 - 36". Most axes have a head that tapers from the heel to the cutting edge.

Back iron

The covering iron that is attached to a plane chisel to minimize tearing out the grain, the closer to the cutting edge it is set the sooner the shaving is broken off which results in a smoother finish.


Name applied to any saw that has reinforcing metal applied to the top of the blade to keep it straight.


A machine that has a continuous blade that has teeth on one edge and travels across two or three wheels most bandsaws have a tilting table for cutting bevels

Bayonet saw

A saber saw with a tapered toward the front blade that can be angled into the work, thus starting its own hole

Bead plane

A molding plane for cutting beading or a decorative edge

Belt sander

A sander that has a revolving continuous sanding belt that is passed over the work, the machine must be kept moving as the belt will remove material quite quickly and if the machine is allowed to remain stationary, too much material will be removed


An edge that is other than 90°

Bevel-edge chisel

A chisel with the blade beveled to help remove waste


Tool with an adjustable blade for marking and checking angles

Biscuit jointer

Power tool that is used to cut slots into which biscuits or plates are placed for strengthening joints

Block plane

A small metal plane most have an adjustment for setting the depth of cut


A frame type saw that has a tensioned metal blade the ends of the blade are secured to the handle on one end and a knob on the other end which allows the blade to be turned for angle-cutting


Used for drilling or boring has a chuck for holding various sizes and shapes of drill bits

Buck saw

A wood frame saw that is used for rough cutting such as logs or timbers

Bull-nose plane

A small metal plane with a short nose which enables it to be worked close to corners some are equipped with noses that are adjustable or detachable which enables the plane to work clear into the corner


A small hook like edge that is formed during sharpening. If on a plane cutter or chisel, it must be removed by stropping. The burr is left on spokeshaves, some turning tools and cabinet scrapers

Cam clamps

Deep-throated clamps that pressure is applied to by rotating and locking a cam

Carver's burrs

Are attached to a motor driven flexible shaft and grind away the wood rather than carve it

Center punch

Tool used to mark the center or spot where a hole is be drilled it helps prevent the drill from moving as it starts to drill


Planing term referring to the digging in action of a plane when the cutter is ground at too low an angle, by it being set at too high a pitch, or by it not being bedded properly to the frog


A device that holds a cutter or bit or in the case of a lathe, the work

Circular saw

Saw that has a spinning blade that is circular

Claw hammer

Hammer that has a hook or claw on one end for pulling nails and prying

Combination stone

Stone that is course on one side and fine on the other

Coping saw

Saw in which the blade is held under tension in a metal frame used for cutting thin wood and coping the backs of joints (removing the back edge at an angle allowing one piece of wood to overlap another)

Corner bracket or brace

Term applied to any bracket or brace that is fitted to a corner for strengthening a joint or to holding the pieces in position


Bit used to drill a recess to allow a screw head to seat flush or below the surface

Cross-cut saw

Saw used for cutting across the grain teeth are 5 - 8 points per inch

Cutting or marking gauge

Tool having a steel cutter and adjustable stop block can be used for marking out or actually cutting this stock


A slot or ledge cut into the stock

Dado head

An attachment used on a table or radial arm saw to cut slots of gooves. There are two styles of dado heads: wobble, which is two blades with an offset cam in their center which causes one blade to wobble and thus make a wide kerf, stacked dados consist of two saw blades with a variable number of cutters of varying thickness between them.


Accepted term for cross-cut, rip and panel saw

Hand screw

Clamp with two handles that can be turned independently to apply pressure to hold parts together

Hollow chisel

The chisel is hollow and an auger bit revolves in its center. As the auger enters the wood, pressure is applied to the chisel and you basically drill a square hole

Hollow chisel morticer

A machine that uses the hollow chisel with its revolving auger bit to cut mortises

Irwin bit

An auger bit that has a single row of spirals

Jack plane

The first plane used in smoothing surfaces and edges. The blade is set deep to quickly remove stock

Jacobs chuck

Used in a lathe or drilling machine to hold the drills. It has three jaws that are self-centering


Any device that that acts as a guide for woodworking it allows the woodworker to do precise operations receptively

Jig saw

Bench or hand-held reciprocating saw for cutting intricate shapes


Surface planer or edger wood is passed over revolving cutters to straighten and smooth the edges of boards prior to jointing


The cut made by a saw

Keyhole saw

Bayonet saw with a spring straight tapered toward the front blade that is used for making keyholes and cutting sheetrock

Lever cap

Attached to a metal plane to hold the cutter

Low-angle plane

A plane with no back iron and the cutter is set to 12° used mainly for trimming end grain

Miter gauge

Devise used in slot of table saw, bandsaw, shaper, etc. it has an adjustable fence to hold the stock at a precise angle in relationship to the cutter

Molding planes

A plane with a fence which rides the edge of a board different shaped cutters will cut a decorative edge into a board

Nail set

Small punch that is used to seat a nail the last 1/8" or so to keep the hammer head from striking and marring the surface of the wood it can also be used to drive the head of the nail below the surface of the wood for filling

Orbital sander

A hand-held power sander that moves the grit in a small orbit as the machine is moved over the surface of the work. This type sander leaves less scratches that a reciprocating sander

Paring chisel

Light duty chisel used for fine cutting work, not for striking with a mallet.

Parting tool

V-shaped tool used by carvers and turners come in various widths and angles of about 60, 90, and 110°

Rip saw

Hand or circular saw having chisel tooth teeth used for ripping boards with the grain

Router bits

Used in routers they are made in a wide variety of shapes and styles to cut the edge or surface of stock. Ones that are carbide tipped will stay sharp longer and produce a smoother cut


Used for smoothing wood can be as simple as a block of wood to as complex and an industrial belt or drum sander that will sand the width of a sheet of plywood in one pass

Scrapers cabinet

Thin sheets of steel that come in various shapes that are hand held and used for scraping and smoothing the surface of wood

Scrapers handled

Scraper blade that is secured in a handled cast-iron body the blade is given a slight bend by a thumbscrew the slight bow in the blade keeps its corners from digging into the wood

Screw carver's

Small device used by carvers to hold their work onto the bench one end has a wood screw that is fastened into the wood, the other end is passed through a hole in the bench

Smoothing planes

Bench plane that is used mainly for cleaning up after the jack plane has been used


Hand held device in which the adjustable cutter is held in place by screw fittings there is a screw that is turned to adjust the depth of cut spokeshaves were originally used by wheelwrights and barrellmakers


Tool used to check the squareness of boards and carcasses the combination square has a sliding head that is 90° on one side and 45° on the other


Strip of wood or metal that is dead straight it is used to check the straightness of surfaces and also can be clamped to a surface or board and used as a cutting guide

Table vise

Small metal engineer's vise that is intended to be fitted to the edge of a table

Tack rag

A piece of lint-free rag that has been coated with a solution that will remove sanding dust and other debree from a surface prior to or between coats during finishing

Tail stock

The stock of a lathe that can be moved along the length of the bed to accept different lengths of stock

Tail vise

A vise that is fixed at the end of a bench. It has a stop in its housing and stop holes at intervals along the bench. Wood can be gripped in any convenient location for working

Taper jig

A devise used on a saw for cutting tapers. It can be adjustable so that after one taper has been cut, it can be readjusted to cut another taper on the same piece of stock

Tee-bar clamp

A clamp that has a bar or T-section


The projecting end of a member that fits into a corresponding recess or mortise

Through dovetail

A joint in which both dovetails and pins go through the entire thickness of the stock and, therefore, the joint is exposed on both sides of the corner


A protruding member of the edge of the stock that fits into an adjoining groove that has been cut into another piece of stock

Tool post

A casting that is fitted to the lathe bed to which the tool rest is anchored


Adjusting the top wheel on a bandsaw to keep the blade running centrally on the wheel and referring to the same operatin on a belt sander to keep the sanding belt runnning straight on the drums

Try square

A tool used for marking and testing wood for squareness

Urea-formaldehyde resins

Thermal-setting synthetic resins which are made by condensing urea with formaldehyde. It can be cured quickly by applying heat and pressure

V block

A block having a v-shaped groove cut into its top edge to hold cylindrical work while it is being drilled or machined


Covering a cheap, sound wood or built-up panel with a thin sheet of choice wood

Vix bit

A self-centering bit that is used to drill screw holes

Washita oilstone

A natural oilstone that is quarried in the United States that cuts at a medium rate and produces a fine edge

Wet-and-dry paper

Silicon carbide waterproof sandpaper commonly used for fine sanding between coats of finish

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