Woodworking and Metalworking Glossary
Need a simple explanation of a key concept? Confused by abbreviations you’ve seen on our site or elsewhere? Browse our lists of frequently-used metal fabrication terms and definitions to get some clarity.
The bend degree or angle of the curved portion of a piece of pipe, tube, or beam.
An angular cut around the outer diameter (OD) or inside diameter (ID) of a tube end. The bevel allows a piece of tube or pipe to fit into and be welded to another piece of metal.
The maximum height or depth of a metal pan.
Center Line Radius or CLR
The distance from the center of a pipe’s curvature to the centerline (axis) of the pipe. The CLR is expressed as a number multiplied by the tube or pipe size. For example, the bend radius of a 5 x D bend for a 2-inch nominal pipe size (NPS) pipe or a 2-inch tube is 10 inches.
Using cold shaping methods to bend a piece of pipe, beam or tube. In other words, in cold bending, only force, not heat, is used to change the shape of the material.
Distance Between Bends or DBB
The minimum length of each straight section between bends.
The angle at which a bend is formed, e.g. 45°.
Degree of Bending (DOB)
The maximum angle of each bend.
Bending of rectangular tube with its short side as the plane of the bend, requiring less force than the long side.
A slightly elongated or egg-shaped radius of material after being bent.
The welded seam on pipe or square tube materials.
Bending of a rectangular tube with its long side as the plane of the bend, requiring more force than the short side.
The start point or the beginning point of reference.
Inside Diameter or ID
The distance across the center of the opening of a tube, pipe, or coil.
The manufacturer’s specification of material for pipe, beam, or tube.
A measurement of distance along the midpoint in the tube wall thickness. It is different from the circumference, because it is not measured around the outside of the tube but around the tube from a point in the very middle of the tube wall thickness.
Outer Diameter or OD
The measurement across the center of a tube, pipe, or coil, from one outer edge to the other. In other words, the outside diameter of a tube or pipe.
Round material measured by its inside diameter (in contrast to tube, which is measured by its outside diameter). Pipe wall thickness needs to be added to obtain outside dimension.
Square cuts made to a tube, pipe or beam prior to bending.
Plane of Bend or POB
The orientation of a bend in relation to the axis of the straight section preceding it. Used specifically for changes of plane in successive bends. A bend in relation to the axis of the straight section preceding it.
Out of Plane
When the horizontal plane of a single bend deviates between its tangent points, based on the theoretical centerline of the bend.
The distortion of tube or pipe from its circular shape, caused by bending.
The vertical motion of the back gauges.
The degree or fraction of a degree that beam, tube, or pipe is bent beyond a specified point.
Pipe, beam, or tube end cuts that are not required to be straight.
End cuts to a tube, beam or pipe that are square to the centerline of a bend after the bending process.
A straight portion of material on either end of the arc of a bend.
A point where the bend of a pipe, beam, or tube begins or ends.
A milling or grinding out of the inside diameter of the end of a bend to create a tapered tube or pipe diameter.
The amount of force or pressure being produced or the ability of a machine to regulate that force or pressure. Modern hydraulic brakes can control their tonnage very accurately.
The original shape retained by material after being bent.
Round material measured by its outside dimensions.
Ribbed or wavy indentations in the inner bend angle of a bend in a piece of tube, pipe, or beam.
Wall Thickness or WT
The width of the material wall of tube or pipe.
The axis or plane of front-to-back motion.
The axis or plane of vertical (up-and-down) motion.
The axis or plane of left-to-right motion.
We gratefully acknowledge Kevin S. Brady for allowing us to reproduce his glossary.
Raw lumber that has been allowed to dry at normal temperatures, without the use of a kiln.
Alternate Top Bevel with Raker
Circular saw blade comprising 4 alternately beveled teeth, followed by a raker tooth to remove debris from the cut.
A frame around the base of a table, supporting the top, to which legs are attached.
A sharp-pointed instrument, used for scribing lines. Often called a scratch awl.
A saw with a rectangular blade with a reinforced rib on its back for stability.
Band Saw or Bandsaw
A saw that uses a looped cutting blade that passes around 2 or 3 wheels. The bandsaw is commonly used for cutting curves, ripping, and resawing.
A cut made at an angle in respect to the face of a board.
A valve for controlling the flow of air in a dust collection vent. Opening the blast gate allows air movement from a machine to the dust collector. Blast gates allow several machines to be connected to a dust collection system simultaneously; gates are closed on machines not currently in use.
A tenon that does not pass completely through a mortise, making the joinery hidden from view.
A small plane designed for cutting across end grain.
A volumetric unit of measuring wood. A board foot is equivalent to 144 cubic inches. For example, a board measuring 6” x 24” x 1” thick has a volume of 1 board foot.
Wood that is resawn, with the resulting thin pieces placed side-by-side to create a sort of "mirror image" of one another. A piece of wood can be resawn into several thin veneers and bookmatched in a series.
A corner joint utilizing a series of alternating, interlocking rectangular tabs.
A small finishing nail, typically less than 1” in length.
A variant of the twist drill bit, having a flat end with a center point.
A joint where a tenon is cut on the end of one piece and a mortise is cut into the other to accept it. The tenon and the mortise are cut to the full width of the tenon member. Often used as a corner joint, typically in applications such as table legs and panel frames.
A woodworking joint where the edges of 2 boards are placed against each other. Generally not a very strong joint unless reinforced.
Computer-aided drafting. A computer-based method of rendering of technical drawings in 2 or 3 dimensions.
An instrument with sliding jaws, used to measure the outside (and sometimes inside) dimensions of an object.
Generally refers to tungsten carbide, a very hard substance that is fabricated into cutting tips. The cutting tips are most often found brazed onto steel tools, such as saw blades and router bits. Tungsten carbide is much harder than high-speed or carbon steel, but it is also more brittle.
The body or framework of a piece of furniture or cabinet, having a box-like shape. Often misspelled as "carcass."
A bevel on the edge of a board. Most typically at a 45° angle, but can be of any angle.
A lumber defect, usually a narrow crack across the growth rings, caused by uneven shrinking of the wood during drying.
A device for grasping a tool or workpiece on a machine, such as on a lathe or drill.
A grading term describing a piece of lumber that is free of defects.
Sandpaper wherein the abrasive grit covers 100% of the backing paper.
A sleeve that grips the shank of a bit in a router or other tool. An example is a collet that grasps a .25” or .5” diameter shanked router bit.
A saw blade designed for both crosscutting and ripping. Generally a compromise between the two, as blades designed specifically for each of the cutting operations will usually perform better in their intended functions.
A square designed to measure both 90° and 45° angles.
A grading term describing a piece of lumber that contains defects, such as knots.
A cut having an angle to both the edge and the face, thus having a miter and a bevel, respectively.
A boring having bevelled sides (conical), to accept the angled head of a flat-head screw. Generally to provide for a flush or below-flush position of the screw's head.
A boring having straight sides (cylindrical), often used for flush-mounting a bolt head or nut.
A lumber defect characterized by an edgewise warp effecting the straightness of the board. Extreme cases of this are sometimes referred to as "hockey sticks."
A cut made perpendicular to the wood's grain.
A lap joint where a first member is joined to a second member somewhere in the middle of the second member. The members are perpendicular to one another, and one may terminate at the joint, or it may continue beyond the joint—hence the name.
A warp defect in a board, causing it to take on a concave shape.
A particular grain pattern in certain woods. Characterized by a wavy or curly appearance.
A method of joining wood at corners by using a series of interlocking, angled pins and tails.
A tee-shaped joint similar to the cross lap, but using an angled lap which resists the joint being pulled apart.
A cylindrical piece of wood or other material. Often used in joinery as a cross-member to hold two pieces together, or to reinforce other types of joints. Some types of dowels are made from a compressed wood or composite material, designed to expand once they are inserted in a hole, thus providing some additional strength to the joint.
The actual dimensions of lumber, after it has been dried and planed.
A wood's ability to resist decay.
Gluing narrow boards edge-to-edge to create a wider panel (a glue-up).
A device with thin, flexible “fingers” that provide pressure to hold a board against a fence of a table saw or router.
A straight surface used to position a board at a uniform distance from a blade or other cutter while the board is being fed through a machine.
A substance used to fill pores and other small voids in wood before finishing.
See Box Joint.
A board that shows part of the round of the trunk.
When two or more adjacent surfaces are on the same plane (i.e. level) with one another. If two surfaces are not flush, the higher one is said to be “proud,” and the lower one is “shy.”
A specialty woodcutting bit designed to make a clean, flat-bottomed hole. Can be used at extreme angles. Intended to be used in a drill press.
A fine-toothed saw, used for making delicate cuts in thin material.
Two or more pieces glued together. Often a series of boards, glued edge-to-edge, to create a wider panel. A verb, describing two or more pieces fastened together with glue.
The longitudinal fibers in wood.
A relative measure of the size of abrasive particles used in the manufacture of sandpaper. The lower the grit number, the larger the particles.
A type of lap joinery, sometimes known as end lap, in which each member has one shoulder and one cheek. The resulting joint is formed by overlapping the two lapped ends.
Wood produced by deciduous trees. The wood is not always hard (e.g. Balsa), but most species are harder than the softwoods.
The dead inner core of a tree. This part of the wood is usually harder and darker than the sapwood.
High Speed Steel or HSS
A hard steel alloy commonly used for cutting tools. It is superior to carbon steel in its ability to retain hardness at high temperatures, making it very suitable for tools that must endure friction-based heating.
Making a concave bevel on a cutting tool, such as a chisel or plane iron.
The direction a workpiece is fed into a machine. See also Outfeed.
A wood with multiple grain directions in different layers. Machining such wood is difficult, as tearout often occurs.
A device used to make special cuts, guide a tool, or aid in woodworking operations.
The process of joining two or more pieces of wood, using certain cuts or shapes, and/or fasteners.
A machine with a set of rotating knives or blades, used to smooth and square the edge of a board. The machine operates by removing a thin layer of the wood as the wood is passed across the rotating knives.
The amount of material removed (width of cut) by a saw blade. The kerf width is equal to the set of the blade teeth.
A small hand saw, with a thin, tapered blade, used to cut curves into wood. Often used for cutting apertures into sheet goods to accommodate plumbing, vents, electrical fixtures, etc.
A potentially hazardous condition when a power tool abruptly thrusts a workpiece in the opposite direction of feed.
A thin material used to cover wood. Examples are Formica and plastic artificial veneers.
A type of joinery that involves overlapping of the members being joined. Common lap joints include half lap, cross lap, mitered half lap, and dovetail lap.
Plywood comprised of thin outer veneers laminated over a single core of wood. Unlike regular plywood which has a core of multiple, alternating grained layers of wood.
Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF
A composite board made from compressed wood fibers held together with a binding agent. MDF has a hard, smooth surface, though not as hard as the surface of hardboard. Usually sold in sheets.
A unit of metric (SI) linear measurement, 1/1000th of a millimeter (.00003937”) in length. Often used in the woodworking industry to refer to the diameter of dust particles. A dust collector filter bag may be rated by the smallest dust particles it will trap, as expressed in microns.
Miter or Mitre
A cut made at an angle in respect to the edge of a board.
A device used to guide a hand saw in making crosscuts at a particular angle.
A sliding device that is used to guide a workpiece into a power tool, such as a table saw, router table, or band saw. A miter gauge can be adjusted to user-defined angles.
Joining the ends or edges of two members at a particular angle by cutting each member to half the desired angle. For example, joining members of a picture frame at 90°, by cutting each end 45°. A relatively weak joint that can be reinforced with splines or dowels.
Mitered Half Lap
A variation of the half lap joint, which shows a miter on the exposed face of the work. Generally weaker than other types of lap joints, due to the reduced gluing surface.
A standardized taper on the shank of a drill chuck or lathe center, pressed into the machine by a friction fit.
In joinery, a rectangular hole machined into a workpiece to accept the tenon of another workpiece.
The rough-sawn dimension of a piece of lumber. Planed lumber is customarily sold by its nominal, rough-sawn size. For example a 1” (4/4) hardwood board is the nominal size for a board with an actual thickness of about 3/4” to 7/8”.
A router bit that does not have a guide bearing.
The direction of a workpiece as it exits a machine. See also Infeed.
A composite board, usually sold in sheets, comprised of recycled wood dust held together with a binding agent. Generally much coarser than MDF or hardboard.
A router bit fitted with a bearing above the cutter which rides on the edge of a board or template to maintain a fixed distance between the bit and the edge.
A nail gun designed to drive very small, narrow-gauge nails. Typically used to tack wood components into place during gluing, leaving very small and unnoticeable nail holes.
The number of teeth per inch (TPI) on a saw blade.
A pocket of resin or sap within a board. Most commonly found in wood from conifers (softwood), pitch pockets can also be found in some kinds of hardwood, such as cherry.
The soft core found at or near the center of a log. The consistency of pith is sometimes referred to as being “punky.”
Lumber sawn tangential to the growth rings.
A machine comprising a number of rotating knives or blades, used to cut a smooth surface into a board. Often referred to as a “thickness planer,” as it is commonly used to reduce the thickness of a board by cutting a thin layer from the surface.
A base or pedestal upon which a cabinet stands.
Being vertical, defined as being parallel to a line directed toward the earth's center of gravity.
A router mounted on a spring-loaded base. The router can be turned on and plunged down into the workpiece.
A wood laminate comprised of thin layers of wood in alternating grain orientations.
A shallow-angled counterbored hole, used in joining boards end-to-edge. Special pan-head screws are then driven into the pocket holes to affix the boards to one another. Often used in constructing face frames for cabinetry, where the pocket holes will remain out of sight on the backside of the frame.
A polymer-based finish used in top-coat varnishes and adhesives. Often used to finish wood floors, due to its hardness and abrasion resistance.
The premium-quality wood used for the visible components of a cabinet or other structure. See also Secondary Wood.
Push Stick or Push Block
A handheld device used to safely push a workpiece into or through a power tool.
A unit of measure for the nominal thickness of hardwood, expressed in quarters of an inch. Generally expressed as a proper or improper fraction, such as 4/4 or 6/4. For example 4/4 (stated "four quarters") lumber has a nominal thickness of one inch, though the final measured thickness is usually somewhat less after the lumber has been dried and planed. Similarly, 8/4 lumber is nominally 2 inches thick, and so on.
Lumber cut radially to the growth rings, resulting in the rings being relatively perpendicular to the face of the board. Quarter-sawn lumber tends to be more dimensionally stable than other forms of lumber, such as plain-sawn, but is usually more costly.
A channel cut part way through the edge of a board.
Radial Arm Saw
A power saw designed to move across a beam or track, used for crosscutting lumber. Unlike lumber cut with a table saw, lumber cut with a radial arm saw remains stationary. Some radial arm saws can be adapted for ripping, by turning the blade head 90° and feeding the lumber into the blade.
A horizontal member that runs along the underside of a table. Also used to refer to the horizontal component of a raised panel assembly.
A member that forms the center of a frame and panel assembly. The member usually has a shallow bevel or sculpted cut along its edges, resulting in its center having a raised appearance when mounted into the frame.
The angle of saw blade teeth.
A coarse file with raised teeth, used for shaping wood.
Cuts made perpendicular to the layout of an intended curved cut, which allows sharp turns to be cut in the wood. The relief cuts allow the waste to drop away in smaller sections, providing more clearance for the sharply-turned cutting to continue.
Ripping lumber into thinner pieces. Usually performed on a band saw.
A cut made parallel to the wood's grain.
Lumber that has been sawn, but not planed or otherwise surfaced.
The amount of out-of-center movement or wobble in a rotational tool, such as a router, lathe, or drill.
The living tissue of a tree, lying between the heartwood and the bark. Sapwood is generally lighter in color than heartwood.
A means of joining two members end to end, where the joint is angled, not perpendicular like a butt joint. The advantage of this joint over a butt joint, is that the gap between members is less noticeable, particularly when the members contract away from one another. A very weak joint, typically used for decorative trim work.
A hand tool, comprised of a small sheet of metal with a burred edge, which is drawn across the surface of a workpiece to smooth the surface. Often used in place of sandpaper, a scraper, when used skillfully, can create a finer surface without sand scratches. Sometimes referred to as a card scraper or cabinet scraper.
Lower-quality wood used as a cost-saving measure for non-visible portions of a cabinet or other structure. See also Primary Wood.
In softwood, lumber which has been graded strictly for its appearance. In hardwood, lumber that is one grade below first and second, but above common grade.
The side offset of teeth on each side of a saw blade, designed to provide clearance for the body of the blade as it passes through the workpiece.
Term used to describe a broad range of thin wood and laminate products that are typically sold in sheet form. Includes plywood, MDF, waferboard, etc.
A finishing substance comprised of a resin in solution with denatured alcohol.
Shallow gouges cut into a board by a planer or jointer, caused by the end of the board shifting slightly toward the rotating cutterhead as the board's end passes the feed rollers and is no longer supported by them. Considered a minor defect and often unavoidable.
Generally lumber from a conifer, such as pine or cedar. The name softwood does not necessarily reflect the hardness of the wood. Some hardwoods, such as Balsa, are actually softer than many softwoods.
A spade-shaped bit generally used for drilling large-diameter flat-bottomed holes in wood. An inexpensive substitute for Forstner bits.
A change in pattern and/or texture of a wood, due to an infestation of fungus.
The ratio of the weight of a substance, such as wood, to an equal volume of pure water. The higher the specific gravity, the heavier the wood. Wood (with no voids) with a specific gravity greater than 1.0 will sink in water.
A long, narrow workpiece, such as a table leg or baseball bat, shaped on a lathe. The workpiece is typically supported at both ends on the lathe during the turning process (or with one end in a chuck).
In joinery, a thin piece of wood that fits in the opposing grooves cut into two pieces of wood.
A curved cutting edge, held between two handles, used to handshape curved surfaces.
noun: A tool used to layout or confirm 90° angles.
verb: To make something square (90° angle).
adjective: At a 90° angle.
Beads or drops of excess glue forced out of a joint when pressure is applied, by clamping, for instance.
A dye or pigment used to color wood.
The vertical component of a raised panel assembly. Stiles can be joined perpendicularly with rails to produce frames.
Wood that has been planed smooth on one or more surfaces. For example, “S2S” means lumber that has been surfaced on two sides.
The maximum diameter object that can be turned on a particular lathe.
A circular saw mounted beneath a flat surface, with height and angle adjustability. The saw remains in a stationary position, with the workpiece being fed into the saw. Generally used for ripping, though crosscuts can be made by using a miter gauge or a sliding “sled” device.
A type of lap joint where the cheeks of the two members are interlocking, providing the joint with much higher tensile strength.
A cut where the width of the workpiece decreases along its length. Often performed on a table saw or band saw.
The tendency for a blade or other cutting tool to shear out part of the wood at the exit point during crosscutting.
A pattern for cutting or routing wood. Often made of hardboard and used with a pilot bit to route a shape in a board.
A milled, rectangular end of board designed to fit snugly into a matching mortise to form a joint.
Tongue and Groove
A joinery method where one board is cut with a protruding ridge designed to fit into a matching piece with a corresponding cut along its edge. Often used for flooring, paneling, and siding.
Teeth per inch. The pitch of a saw blade.
A finish applied to a surface which seals the surface and provides a protective and/or ornamental top coat.
A thin sheet of wood cut from a log, designed to be laminated atop a substrate of wood or composite.
An edge of a sawn board where bark or surface of the tree trunk remains.
A distortion in lumber, such as a twist or bow.