bench stop

Glossary of woodworking terms

This page is a glossary of woodworking terms.


  • Applied carving - background which is worked separately and then applied, rather than being worked in place.


  • Bead - a semicircular piece of moulding.
  • Bench dog or Bench stop - a peg standing proud of the bench surface.
  • Bolster - shoulder.
  • Blind - a term used to describe joinery whose mating surfaces do not protrude through the face or end grain of the pieces being joined. Example - blind mortise and tenon joint
  • Burl - a knotty growth from a tree with a convoluted, complex grain.


  • Cannel, channel - the concavity of a gouge blade.
  • Card scraper - a flat blade with a burred edge used for smoothing.
  • Chatoyance - the effect seen in dramatic wood grain direction changes as seen in flame figured maple.
  • Chip carving - incised surface decoration, usually geometric.
  • Chops - a type of vise.
  • Close grain - woods with very fine fibers of cells that are not visibly porous.
  • Conversion - reduction of a whole log into pieces suitable for working.
  • Crook - longitudinal bending to one side, caused by uneven seasoning or grain.
  • Crotch - the section of a tree where a branch divides from the trunk, or the trunk divides in two; typically an area of convoluted grain.
  • Crossgrain - working perpendicular to the grain.
  • Crosscut - a cut made perpendicular to the grain.
  • Crown of thorns - a system of self-supporting and interlocking pieces.
  • Cup - transverse bending, convex or concave, usually predictable, considering grain orientation.


  • Dado - a slot made across the grain.
  • Drill - (verb) the process of making holes in a material or (noun) a tool for drilling holes.


  • End grain - the grain at the end of a piece of wood which is perpendicular to the surface.


  • Face - when a board has one side that is wider than the other, the wider side is referred to as the face (as opposed to the edge). May also refer to the face that is to be visible in the finished item.
  • Fence - a flat and straight length of some material, usually wood, steel or aluminium, which provides a reference for tools to work against, or which prevents the work from sliding.
  • Fiber/fibre - the fine tube-like structure of wood which is hollow and determines the grain direction.
  • Figure - naturally occurring decorative patterns in wood, caused by either growth increments or tissue orientation.
  • Firmer - a chisel bevelled on both sides instead of only one.
  • Fishtail chisel or gouge - a chisel or gouge with a splayed end.
  • Flat gouge - a gouge with minimal curvature, used for finishing and smoothing.
  • Flitch - a board in which the round of the trunk is still visible, a rough-cut board.
  • Flute - a deep channel cut in wood* occasionally denotes the cannel of a gouge.
  • Foxing - a yellow-brown discoloration of wood due to fungal infection.
  • Fret saw - a saw with a very fine toothed blade used for delicate cuts in thin material.
  • Frosting - regular indented patterns created with a special-purpose punch called a froster.


  • Grain - the longitudinal fibers in wood.
  • Gouge - a chisel like tool with a curved cutting edge.
  • Green wood - unseasoned wood.
  • Grit - The grade of particles in sandpaper or sharpening stones which determines the aggressiveness of the cut.


  • Hand plane - see Plane.
  • Hardwood - wood from an angiosperm tree, i.e. a tree in the division Magnoliophyta. Despite the name, not necessarily very hard or dense wood (e.g. balsa is a hardwood), although generally softer than softwoods.
  • Heart shake - a shake radiating out from the heartwood.
  • Heel - the corner of a chisel, knife, or gouge bevel which meets the back of the blade and polishes the cut.
  • Hold down or hold fast - a hold-down iron, fitting into a hole in a bench, tightened or loosened by hammer taps.
  • Hollow grinding - a concave bevel on a chisel, gouge, or knife.


  • Incannel - the concave surface of a gouge; a gouge sharpened on the concave surface.
  • Interlocked grain - grain which has multiple longitudinal directions in alternating layers, typical of many tropical hardwoods, and very difficult to work and to produce smooth surfaces.


  • Jig saw - a power tool that can form circular cuts by moving the work piece past a blade rapidly moving up and down.


  • Kerf - the gap left when material is removed by a saw. The width of the kerf is equal to the set of the saw.
  • Knots - Caused by a dead branch that was not fully integrated into the tree before it was cut down. A loose knot is one that cannot be relied upon to remain in place in the piece. A tight knot, on the other hand, is fixed by growth or position in the wood structure so that it firmly retains its place in the surrounding wood.


  • Lead - the tendency for wood that is being cut to direct the saw parallel to its grain.
  • LathArt - refers to a type of Folk Art that uses Lath from old Plaster and lath walls


  • Mortise or Mortice - a cavity or hole (generally rectangular) in a piece of wood, meant to receive a tenon or a hinge
  • Mitre (UK, Cda) or Miter (US) - a joint made by fastening together pieces with the ends cut at an angle.
  • Mitre box (UK, Cda) or Miter box (US) - a box used for making mitre joints by having slots to guide a saw at the desired angle for the joint.


  • Outcannel - the convex surface of a gouge; a gouge sharpened on the convex surface.


  • Plane - (verb) the process of removing material in thin shavings in order to make it flat, or (noun) a tool for planing.
  • Plane iron - cutting part of a hand plane.
  • Planer - or thicknesser. a machine which reduces the thickness of boards.



  • Rail - Horizontal member of a frame on a door, window or panel.
  • Rasp - a long and flat steel tool with raised teeth for shaping wood.
  • Reed - a series of beads in a row.
  • Relief cut - short straight cuts made at right angles to a curved layout so sharper than normal curves can be cut with a jig saw or band saw.
  • Riffler - a paddle-shaped rasp.
  • Rift sawn - similar to quarter-sawn.
  • Ring shake - a shake occurring between annual rings.
  • Rip - a cut made parallel to the grain.


  • Saw rasp - a rasp with saw teeth.
  • Scorp - a drawknife with a curved, sometimes completely circular blade, often used for hollowing out objects such as bowls.
  • Scratch awl - a sharp-pointed hand tool used to mark wood for cutting, usually used in joinery or when a more percise mark is need beyond that provided by a pencil or other method of marking out the cut.
  • Scroll saw - a motorized fretsaw.
  • Seasoning - reducing the moisture content of wood before working to prevent cracking, splitting, and other damage due to drying.
  • Shake - a crack or split in wood, caused by damage or drying. Can also mean a split (as opposed to sawn) shingle.
  • Shoot - planing an edge straight or square. See Shooting board.
  • Slab-cut - describes a plank with growth rings roughly parallel to the wider face.
  • Slip - a shaped stone used for sharpening non-flat blades such as gouges.
  • Snib - a wooden toggle used to hold the work on a table.
  • Softwood - wood from a gymnosperm tree, i.e. trees in the divisions Pinophyta and Ginkgophyta* Despite the name, not necessarily very soft or light wood (e.g. douglas-fir is a softwood).
  • Spalting - a change in the texture, strength and color of wood caused by colonies of fungus growing within the dead wood. Where colonies of fungus meet, fine black lines - often considered a desirable feature, can be seen.
  • Split - to longitudinally separate wood along grain layers.
  • Sticking - a moulding that is part of a larger piece of wood such as a frame (as opposed to being applied).
  • Stile (or sometimes style) - vertical member of a frame on a door, window or panel.
  • Stringer - in stairs, a is a timber (usually 2"x12") that supports the treads and rises in a staircase.
  • Sweep - the curvature of a gouge, ranging from flat (little curvature, but not actually flat else it would be a chisel) to deep or quick.


  • Tear out - broken or torn fibres resulting from damage as the blade of a tool exits the cut.
  • Tenon - is a projection on the end of a piece of wood for insertion into a mortise.
  • Tread - in stairs the part that is stepped on.
  • Twist - longitudinal twisting of wood due to uneven seasoning or grain.


  • Undercutting - cutting away from an edge to increase the sense of relief or thinness.


  • Veiner - a small deep gouge.
  • Veneer (wood) - very thin slices of wood used for inlay or to cover surfaces.
  • Veneer saw - specialty tool for trimming veneer.


  • Wane - an edge of a sawn board where the bark or surface of the trunk remains.
  • Warp - distorted lumber, such as a twist, cup or a bow.
  • Wasting - quickly removing wood during carving, usually with an adze, knife, or rasp.
  • Waste - wood that will be removed in the finished work, often retained during working as a handle.
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