Glossary of Terms

The Basics of Hand-tool Woodworking (a work in progress; feedback is appreciated):

Joinery – the way two or more boards are attached to each other (aka, a Joint).

  • Bridle Joint – a Mortise and Tenon Joint (see below) in which the tenon and the mortise are both cut to the full width of the tenon board
  • Butt Joint – a non-mechanical joint in which two boards are merely placed adjacent to each other, such as for a tabletop.  Requires reinforcing with glue or fasteners (either metal fasteners or loose tenons).
  • Chamfer – when the transitional edge of a board where two faces meet (the “arris”) is eased into a crisp angle.  Mostly decorative but prevents chipping or breaking of the arris through use.
  • Dado Joint – a joint in which one board fits into a step-down cut in another board perpendicular to the direction of the grain.  Depending on how tight it fits and the purpose of the joint, the dado joint may need reinforcing with glue or metal fasteners.
  • Drawbore – a method by which a mortise and tenon joint is reinforced by driving a wooden dowel through slightly offset holes to cinch the joint shut
  • Dovetail Joint – a joint in which one board is cut with trapezoidal-shaped “tails” that interlock into trapezoidal “pins” on another board
  • Groove Joint – a joint in which one board fits into a step-down cut in another board parallel to the direction of the grain, such as for a drawer bottom
  • Housing Joint – an English term for a Dado Joint
  • Lap Joint – a joint in which one board overlaps the other board by means of a recess cut in one or both boards.  Can also be mitered or dovetailed.
  • Miter Joint – a non-mechanical joint in which two boards with “beveled” (i.e., angled) ends meet to form an angle.  Requires reinforcing with glue or fasteners (such as a spline).
  • Mortise and Tenon Joint – a joint in which the end of one board (the “tenon”) fits into a hole cut in another board (the “mortise”), usually creating a perpendicular angle.  The “shoulder” of a tenon is the stepdown from the face or side of the tenon board to the tenon itself.  The “cheek” of the tenon is the face or side of the tenon itself.
  • Rabbet Joint – a non-mechanical joint in which a board fits into a step-down cut on the outside edge of a board.  Usually requires reinforcing with glue or metal fasteners.
  • Reveal – a step-down or offset between one board in a joint and other board such that the boards are not co-planar, usually for aesthetic purposes.
  • Roundover – when the transitional edge of a board where two faces meet (the “arris”) is eased into a rounded edge.  Mostly decorative, but prevents chipping or breaking of the arris through use.
  • Rub Joint – a Butt Joint in which two boards are glued together tightly using only atmospheric pressure and gravity as clamping force.
  • Ship-lap Joint – when two boards have overlapping Rabbet Joints to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction of the boards, often used in trunk floorboards or bookcase backboards
  • Tongue-and-groove Joint – another joint used to plan for seasonal expansion and contraction of two boards, where the tongue on the edge of one board is fitted into a groove on the edge of another board.  Used for the same applications as the ship-lap joint.

Hand Tools – implements used for shaping wood or other related applications without the use of electricity

  • Back Saw – a rectangular (or slightly tapered) hand-held saw with a rigid spine along the top to stiffen the saw plate.
  • Bench Dog – a round or square peg that fits into a corresponding “dog hole” in a workbench which forms a rigid surface against which a piece of wood can be braced
  • Bench Hook – a jig, often shop-made, that permits a board to be held firmly with one hand and sawn with the other hand, without the use of clamps or a vise.
  • Chisel – a bladed tool with one flat side and one beveled side used in a stabbing motion for many purposes (including cutting or cleaning up joints).
  • Combination Square – a measuring tool with a blade at 90 degrees to a handle which is used (together with a Marking Knife or writing implement) for laying out lines at 90 degrees or 45 degrees to a reference surface.
  • File – a tool with one or more coarse faces that is used for removing or wearing down material.  File shape and size depends on the use (e.g., triangular for saw sharpening; flat or rounded for general purpose).
  • Fillister Plane – a specialty plane that is used to create rabbets on the edges of a board (basically a rebate plane or shoulder plane with a fence)
  • Float – a single-cut file used for removing material by abrasion (typically inside a joint or recess as used commonly in planemaking); unlike a file or a rasp, the parallel teeth (either on the flat or the edge of the float) can be resharpened with saw files
  • Hand Saw – a triangular hand-held saw that does not have a spine along the top of the plate.  Shorter versions can also be known as a panel saw.
  • Jig – a shop-made appliance that serves a specific woodworking purpose, such as guiding a cut or holding a workpiece.
  • Mallet – a type of hammer that is used for striking the handle of a chisel and many other woodworking applications.
  • Marking Gauge – a marking tool used to scribe a line parallel to a reference surface.
  • Marking Knife – a bladed tool that is used to scribe lines on a piece of wood.  Functions like a pencil or pen.
  • Miter Box – a guide used to make precise cuts at different angles with a Back Saw.
  • Moulding Plane – a specialty plane in which the cutter and the sole are shaped to produce a profile.  Multiple moulding planes are often used in conjunction on a single board to produce moulding for use in trim boards.
  • Open/Set Time – The open time is how long (usually in minutes) before a glue which applied to one substrate but sitting in the open air will no longer bond.  The set time is how long before the the glue forms an acceptable bond between two substrates for the application.
  • Plane – a cutting tool with a blade housed in a body which is used to shave layers of wood off a board.  Can be used to flatten the board, reduce its thickness or smooth or shape the surface of the board with a pushing or pulling motion.
  • Plane Iron – the cutting blade in a Plane
  • Rasp – a File-like tool used for rapidly removing material to form or refine curved surfaces
  • Router Plane – a specialty plane with an L-shaped iron suspended from a flat body, used for flattening the bottoms of dadoes and rabbets and making the faces of tenons parallel to the reference surface
  • Saw – a cutting tool with a toothed edge on the metal “plate” which is used to sever the wood fibers of a board through a back-and-forth motion
  • Saw File – a special, triangular file used to resharpen saw teeth on the push stroke
  • Saw Plate – the metal part of a saw with the teeth filed into it
  • Shooting Board – a bench-hook-like jig, often shop-made, that enables a hand plane to be run along a straight track and trim the end of a board to a specific angle (often 90°) relative to a reference surface
  • Spokeshave – a specialty plane that consists of a short, wide blade in a body with two handles, used for creating round shapes (the tool’s name comes from its colloquial use to create the spokes of cart wheels from square blanks)

Other Terms – miscellaneous

  • S4S – to “surface four sides” of a piece of wood by making all four sides straight and square/parallel to each other, as applicable (see also: S2S, to make one face of the board and an adjacent side of the board straight and square to each other; and S3S, to make one face of the board straight and two sides straight and parallel to each other and square to the face)
  • Plunge Router – a powertool that spins a cutting bit at a high speed with high torque and permits the cutting bit to be lowered into the piece of wood along a spring-loaded track.  One of, if not the, most versatile power tools:  used for everything from cutting mortise and tenon joints and rabbets/dadoes/housing joints to shaping entire pieces of wood through use of patterns.
  • Thickness Planer – a power tool in which a piece of wood is passed against an adjustable-height rotating cutter head that shaves down the thickness of a piece of wood parallel to a reference surface.  Also known as a Thicknesser.  Essential for hobbyist handtool woodworking, in my opinion, as it allows S2S wood to quickly become S3S (or even S4S on narrower stock).
  • Trim Router – a smaller, less powerful power router with a fixed base that can be safely wielded in one hand.  Often sold in a combo pack that also includes a plunge base.  Sometimes called a “laminate trimmer” or “compact router”.


  1. Looks good to me! I’d recommend making each of the defined words bold or something so that they stand out a bit from the definitions, but other than that I think it’s great.


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