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Woodworking Terms and Joints

Woodworking Terms and Joints

All furniture and cabinet making requires the use of joints. Basically this is the method used to connect or fasten two or more pieces together. Joints can vary from very simple to quite complex. And as always, there are various way to make each type, and variations on many of them.

Some are designed to be shown, like dovetails, while others are hidden forever.


This is a relatively large topic, so it will be an ongoing endeavour. We will add detailed drawings or photos of each as time permits. This page will provide a basic explanation, while linked pages will go into greater detail.

Arbor - The motor shaft to attach a saw blade or cutter.

Bevel - An angled cut, usually made to the face side of a board.

Biscuit Joint - A method of connecting boards, usually at an angle, using football shaped biscuits. The groove is cut into both pieces using a biscuit joiner.

Blade Insert - The removable piece surrounding the table saw blade.

Board Foot - The measuring standard for wood. Equals = 1" x 12" x 12"

Bowing - A board that has warped, where the ends have lifted.

Box Joint - A series of interlocking fingers, cut into the ends of boards to connect two boards together.

Bullnose - A board with top and botton edges cut into radius.

Butt Joint - A simple joint where two pieces are connected at a 90 degree angle, with either nails or screws.

Carcase - The cabinet box, or a frame of panel construction.

Chamfer - An angle cut on the edges of a boards for decrative purposes.

Cheek - The face sides of a tenon.

Check - A split or splits in the ends of a board.

Chuck - The attachment device for holding a drill bit. Also used to hold turned pieces in a lathe.

Cleat - A board used as a fastening device to attach another board to it.

Cock Bead - A small half round bead, usually used around drawer openings. Typically, only about an 1/8" wide, and half that in height.

Collet - The bit holding device on routers and CNC milling machines.

Compression - The internal pressures within a board.

Cope Joint - A method of cutting curved moldings to allow a butt joint.

Coping saw - A fine bladed saw used for coping moldings.

Cove - A concave cut in the face of a board to form moldings.

Counter Sink - A hole dilled into a board to facilitate recessing the fastener below the surface.

Crook - A type of warp in a board where the edges are crooked.

Cross Cut - A cut in the board across the grain.

Cup - A board that has warped across it's width.

Dado - A groove, cut in a board, which is in the field area of the board. Often used for cross members or shelves.

Dovetail Joint - A fancy joint, often left exposed, consisting of tails and pins, and used to connect two pieces together, usually at a 90 degree angle.

  Half Blind Dovetail - A variation of the dovetail, where the joint doesn't penetrate the face. Typically used on drawer fronts.

  Sliding Dovetail - A variation of the dovetail, commonly used where expansion and contraction must be considered.

  Through Dovetail - A variation of the dovetail, where the joint penetrates the face. Often used for connecting drawer sides to the backs.

Dressed Lumber - Wood that has been surfaced to finished thickness and width.

Fence - The device used to hold the workpiece against.

Fret saw - A larger version of a coping saw, allows for thicker materials. Typicall used for marquetry.

Dry Fit - A method of preassmbeling pieces prior to glueing. A test run.

Feather Board - A safety device, used to hold pieces down or to the fence.

Finger Joint - Used to connect pieces to each other, to form a longer board. Used for boards to be painted.

Grain - The fibers of the wood. To be considered when shaping the wood, as well as the appearence of the wood with a finish on it..

Groove - A channel cut into the board going with the grain.

Half Lap - A joint connecting two pieces together, usually a on an angle, where half the thickness has been removed from both pieces, where they lap.

Heart Wood - Wood cut from the center of the tree.

Jig - A template or device to produce identical parts.

Joiner - A hand held plane, generally between 18" abd 24" long. Also called a jointer plane.Used to straidhten edges of boards. Also referers to a trade under the catagoty of woodworkers, known as jointers. They specializes in architectural millwork and joinery.

Joinery - The method of connecting two boards together.

Jointer - A stationery machine to sraighten and surface lumber.

Kerf - The part of the board, removed by the saw blade.

Kickback - A board which has been thrown back towards the operator, by the machine.

Mill - Either the business cutting the lumber from logs, or the process of machining the board.

Miter Joint - A method of joining two or more boards together, with the pieces cut on an angle. Each piece is cut on half the desired finished angle.

Mortise and Tenon - A mortise is a recess cut into a board and receives a tenon cut into its counterpart.

  Haunched Mortise and Tenon - A variation of the mortise and tenon joint, with a stepped cut on both parts.

  Pegged Mortise and Tenon -A mortise and tenon joint, reinforced with one or more pegs driven through the joint at a right angle.

  Double Mortise and Tenon - A mortise and tenon joint where there are two mortises and tenons in the same joint.

  Through Tenon - a mortise and tenon, where the tenon pierces the boards being connected.

Nail Set - A tool used to recess a finish nail, below the surface of the wood.

Outfeed Table - The device to catch the workpiece, after it's been machined.

Panel Construction - A workpiece, framed with grooved stiles and rails, and a floating panel, that fits in the groove.

Pilot Hole - A small hole dilled into the workpiece to prevent splitting when the fastener is installed.

Pins - The small portion of a dovetail joint.

Pitch - The build up of sap on cutter blades. Or the angle of the grind on saw blade teeth.

Pocket hole - An angled hole used in screwing boards together usually edge to edge in a perpendicular fashion.

Profile - The shape of molded edge, view from the end. (illegal in N.J.)

Push Sticks - A safety device used to push a workpiece past a cutting device. Finger protection.

Rabbet  - A groove cut in a board at the edge. Often used to fasten the backs onto a cabinet.

Rabit - A groove cut in a board at the edge. Often used to fasten the backs onto a cabinet. (often spelled either way).

Racked - A panel or carcase which is out of square.

Racking - The process of a panel or carcase which is being pushed out of square.

Rail - The horizontal members of either frame and panel construction, or face frames.

Resaw - The process of sawing thinner pieces from thick ones. Usually done on edge with a band saw.

Rip - A cut in the board running with the grain.

Round Over - A edge of a board which is radiused, typically with a router.

Sacrificial Fence - A board fastened to a saw fence, usually in the process of cutting rabits. Protects the tool fence from harm.

Sap Wood - The section of wood between the heartwood and the bark.

Scarf Joint - A joint cut on a miter, often a compound miter, used to create an invisible joint when connecting boards end to end.

Scribe - A fine edged marking device which cuts the workpiece, for very precise work.

Shank - The part of a bit or cutter that fits into the chuck or collet.

Shoulder - The stopping point on a tenon. This is what controls the depth of penetration into the mortise.

Snipe - A concave cut in the ends of a board, during the planning or jointing process.

Spline - Any joint with a groove cut into the matching pieces and a spline, or small board inserted into the groove for reinforcement.

Tails - The larger portion of a dovetail joint.

Tenon - The extended portion of a board which has been cut to fit into a mortise joint.

Tongue and Groove - A method of connecting two boards together. One piece gets a dodo or groove, while its mate gets a tongue or two rabits cut into it.

Twist - A board that has warped in several direcions.

Veneer - Thinnly sliced wood, usually only the finest boards are used for this.



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