A Woodworker’s Notebook
Jeff Gorman
Jargon Busting

Also useful, I hope, to readers for whom English might be a second language.


An axle, beam, or spindle on which something revolves


A sharp edge formed where two flat or curved surfaces meet.


Also known as lost motion. A dead zone in an adjustment system.

Barefaced Tenon

A tenon with one cheek flush with the face of the material.


The steeper sloping surface at the cutting end of the blade, formed by a grinder.

Bench Grinder

A motorised unit, usually turning two high speed grinding wheels. Really an engineer's tool.the coarse grinding.


Curvature in the thickness of a board.

Burrs (Rotary kind)

The smaller ones resemble the things that dentists use on your teeth.


A canted saw blade is one where the angle between the plate of the saw and the sawbench is less than a right-angle.

Cap iron

The unit which is clamped to the cutting iron. It deflects the shaving and stops it jamming into the works.


A bevel, usually but not necessarily at 45deg, used to soften an arris.


Usually refers to some vibration in a plane's system. Less common than skitter, see below.


The side of a tenon.

Cheapo tools

Suspiciously cheap, anonymously-made tools normally best avoided!


Using a chisel with a mallet.


A straight line joining two points on the circumference of a circle.

Cleaning up

One of the final stages of cabinet work, usually involving skimming surfaces with a smoothing plane, cabinet scraper or coated abrasives.

Coated abrasives

Examples are glasspaper, garnet paper,silicon carbide paper, emery cloth, etc.


A chuck-type device which grips only very specific diameters of tool shank. Must be treated with respect.


On a circular saw, the two discs that clamp the saw blade.


Adjusting the moisture content, usually to new surroundings.

Coopered Joints

The worker who makes a barrel is called a Cooper, hence a coopered joint is one between strips of wood (staves) whose faces are at an angle to each other.

Crown Guard

An adjustable covering for the teeth of a circular saw. Also called a hood.


Curvature in the width of a board generated by changes in moisture content.

Cutting Angle

The angle between the surface over which the shaving passes and the sole.


The distortion caused by shrinkage, leading to one face of a board being concave.


Often somewhat mis-used to refer to the comfort and efficiency of the interaction of tool and user.


An adjustable guiding device fitted to a machine or hand tool.


To repair, make something ready for use, or improve it.

Fielded panel

Where a panel has a flat raised area formed by shallow rebates around its perimeter, it is known as ‘fielded’.


Strips of wood of small section. A small flat moulding, rectangular in section. The flat surface between two flutes in a column.

Firmer Chisel

A stronger chisel than the slender "Paring Chisels". It is made with a plain rectangular cross section, ie without bevelled sides. The full name for a bevelled edge chisel is actually "Bevelled Edge Firmer Chisel". This is half-way between the two in terms of robustness.

Feeler gauge

A fan-like assembly of strips of steel marked with their thickness, starting at 0.04mm (1-1/2thou). Motor accessory shops usually sell them.


Jointing where the end-grain of dovetails and tenons (for example) is allowed to show.


The moveable unit on a cast-iron plane on which the blade assembly sits. One story revolves around metal planes having a frog in their throats.


The longitudinal arrangement of wood fibres that determines the plane of cleavage.

Gnarly grain

Grain from hell, in other words intertwined wild grain likely to tear out in lumps when planed.


The spaces between the points of the teeth.


A haunched tenon usually fits in the corner of a frame and has the uppermost third removed.

Hanger bar

The adjustable rod which holds the guard, the thrust bearing and the lateral guides of a bandsaw.

Hardpoint saws

Saws with hardened teeth that only an oilstone (or diamond hone) will touch. The teeth cannot be re-set without breaking.

Heel (of a bevel)

The part furthest from the edge.

Heel (of a plane)

The part opposite to the front (or toe).


The sharpening stage when using a fine abrasive, for example, an oilstone, diamond plate or abrasive slurry on a plate.

Honing bevel

The narrower sloping surface formed by honing.


An adjustable covering for the teeth of a circular saw. Also called a crown guard.


A shallow recess also known as a dado.


The quality of a colour that distinguishes it from other colours. The word "colour" actually takes in other technical aspects such as luminosity, saturation, etc.


The side of a triangle facing the right-angle.

Jig Saw

A jig saw is really a narrow blade supported at one end by a mechanism and at the other end by a quick-release attachment to a spring or an arm of some kind, but the use of "Jigsaw" for "Sabre Saw" seems very common. One would not be able to make a tea tray sized jigsaw puzzle with a "jigsaw" of this type, however.


A disturbance or inclusion in the grain of the wood, caused by the growth of a branch.


The channel cut by a saw.

Keyhole Saw (or Pad Saw)

A long, tapered, thin saw blade held in a handle at one end.


An area or space left between adjacent grooves, holes, etc., in a surface, eg the space between the grooves of a gramophone record.


A facing of solid wood either to thicken an edge or conceal the edge of plywood, MDF and the like.


A square fillet in mouldings. It is generally used as a narrow band to separate other mouldings.


Medium Density Fibreboard, a very sound man-made material suitable as a ground for veneer.

Medullary Rays

Tissues radiating from the centre of a tree, forming the "silver grain" or "flower" characteristic of oak.

Micro Bevel

A third, very narrow highly-polished bevel formed on the honing bevel at one or two degrees to this bevel. Without greatly affecting the cutting angle, this technique allows a slow-working abrasive to operate only on a small area of metal.


Distortion of timber due to shrinkage.

Morse Taper

A standard taper much used in engineering. Lathe centres and drill chucks fit very accurately into tapered holes formed in the driving shaft (or the tailstock). The fit is so good that friction alone transmits the power. It can be dangerous to mill with a tool held in a chuck fitted with a morst taper without a draw bar.


A flat-faced piece of wood holding a scribing point. For its useMarking Gauge Tips.


The entire aperture in the sole which enables the blade to touch the wood.

Out of Wind

The edges of a pair of parallel battens laid along the panel will be parallel, in other words, the surface is not twisted.


Using the chisel with hand pressure only.

Perpendicular Bisector

A line at right angles to another line, passing through the mid-point of that line.

Plan view

The view from directly above something.

Planer ripple

Machine planers consist of rapidly rotating knives making glancing cuts across the surface of the wood. These show as a series of transverse shallow waves.

Pot life

In this context, the length of time taken for a glue mixture to solidify through chemical action.

Rack and Pinion

A circular gear called the pinion, engages with a series of teeth formed in a straight line.


The plate of a saw is the material supporting the teeth.


A horizontal member of an upright framework.


An engineer's tool for improving holes. It has accurately ground longitudinal teeth.

Refractive index

A measure of the amount by which a transparent medium (including air) bends a light beam.


To carry a surface or feature in a changed direction, especially at right angles.

Reverse face

The face opposite to the face side.

Reverse edge

The face or edge opposite to the datum surfaces (ie, face side or face edge).

Rip sawing

Sawing down the grain of the wood.

Riving knife

A thin plate mounted behind the saw. Its thickness should be greater than the plate of the saw but less than the kerf. Also called a spreader.

Sawing Horses

A strong pair of trestles with splayed legs and a strong narrow top.


Refers to features formed by a scraping tool mounded in a fenced block known as a scratchstock.

Set (on a plane)

The amount by which the cutter projects beyond the sole.

Set (on a saw)

The upper parts of saw teeth are bent alternately sideways so that the cut is about one-and-a-half times wider than the saw blade.

Shaving aperture

The gap between the front lip of the mouth and the cutting edge.


Shim metal consists of thin sheets of metal of known thickness.

Short grain

Areas whose fibres are so short that the workpiece is weakened


Similar relation to the cheek as for a human being.

Show faces

The faces of the job what will be seen by the users.

Side guides

Metal, wood or composition blocks offering sideways support to the blade if something happens such as a knot, to try to deflect it.


Thinned down glue used to seal a surface.


This occurs usually when the cutter meets the edge of the workpiece. bounces, lands, bounces and so on. It leaves widely spaced marks on the surface. Some woodturners have tools designed to create this effect for decorative purposes.


The part of a plane that glides over the wood.


A thin plate mounted behind the saw. Its thickness should be greater than the plate of the saw but less than the kerf. Also called a riving knife.


Curvature across the width of a board.


In this context, a number multiplied by itself.


A vertical member of an upright framework. A stile runs the full length of the framework, so for a frame which lies horizontally, eg a table top, the parts running the full length are called the stiles.


Wood being prepared for a job.


A cabinetmaker's term for an assembly of slats glued to a cloth backing, used for various kinds of shutter.

Tangent (Tan)

A trigonometrical ratio which is constant for any angle. It is the ratio of the length of the side of a right-angled triangle opposite the angle to the length of the "adjacent" side, ie the side adjacent to the hypotenuse.


A line that just touches the circumference of a circle.


A tool used to cut a screw thread.


Occurs when some feature (a knot, end-grain of a joint) imparts a ripple to the surface of a veneer laid over it. It might take some time to appear. You don't usually see this until the job has been polished.


A heat treatment given to some steels to balance brittleness/hardness against bendability/softness.


A thousandth of an inch. A millimeter is about 40thou.

Through Jointing

Also known as ‘Frank’ jointing where the end-grain of dovetails and tenons (for example) is allowed to show.

Thrust bearing

Usually a hardened wheel which supports a bandsaw blade just above and below the cut.

Ward file

A thin bladed file, likely to break if pressed too hard.

Welding jig

A device to hold together and align the two ends of the band while they are welded together, usually by means of a very heavy electrical current which heats the metal.


Wind=twist. An item which is 'out of wind' should be able to sit on a perfectly flat surface without rocking.


Shaky, loose, unstable, unsteady; faulty, unreliable; crooked.

Winding Rods

A pair of parallel strips of wood which are placed at each end of a surface. Sighting across the tops of the rods will reveal whether the surface is twisted or not.

Ultra-Violet (UV) light

Visible light is part of a long spectrum of radiation, ranging from radio waves to cosmic rays. Sunlight can be split into a spectrum of differing wavelengths, ranging through the bands of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, that we see in rainbows, sparkling jewellery, colours on oil films and so on. Just beyond the red end are the invisible infra-red rays which can be felt as heat, and at the other end, ultra-violet rays whose effects can be experienced as sunburn and by their photo-chemical and germicidal effects. A sun-lamp which of course emulates sunlight, gives off an intense white light rich in ultra-violet light, but with a greater effect.

Veneering hammer

A device for squeezing hot glue from between the veneer and the ground.

Vessels (Pores)

These are wood cells, interspersed within the fibres, but proportionally of larger diameter. They can often be seen on the surface. The patterns they make can contribute to the visual appeal of the wood.

12 Point

On a 12 point saw, there are eleven teeth per inch, but twelve points.

© Copyright 2019 - 2023 The Estate of Jeffrey M Gorman All Rights Reserved.
Website by Hillwalk Ltd
Site Version: 1.0.2