Do you know the difference between sapwood, greenwood and softwood? Know what a finial is and where you might find one? Think you can rip, turn and crosscut wood with the best of them? Take our quiz to see how many of these carpentry-related terms you can recognize?
Like any of the building trades, carpentry has its very own lingo, perfected and shaped over the years by homebuilders, handymen, woodworkers and master craftsmen. This language includes units of measurement, like pitch or board feet, terms of technique, phrases related to materials and methods, and of course, the names of all the various tools and equipment needed to get the job done.
While you might be good with your hands or proud of your ability to build fine furniture, fix a stuck door or whittle eye-catching figures, even the most talented carpenters might not recognize every term used in this field. It takes not only hands-on experience and skills, but also time spent on jobsites, workshops and woodshops, building everything from a chair or table to an entire house from start to finish.
Think you've got a way with the words of the carpentry profession? Take our quiz to prove it!
Miter cuts are cuts made on an angle to fit two pieces of wood together in what is known as a miter joint. This is similar to but different from a bevel, which is simply an angled cut along the edge or end of a piece of wood.
When it comes to hardwoods and softwoods, forget about how hard or soft the wood actually is. In the carpentry world, hardwoods are simply woods -- like walnut or oak -- that come from broadleaf trees. Softwoods are those that come from evergreens, like pine, fir, cedar or spruce.
A biscuit is a small, elongated section of wood that is slid into an opening between two pieces of wood to join them together. To cut these openings -- or slots -- you need a biscuit joiner.
Ripping wood means to cut it parallel to the wood grain. The opposite is crosscutting, which involves cutting the wood against, or perpendicular to the grain.
Headers are beams installed above windows, doors or similar openings. Placed perpendicular to the studs, they serve as part of a building's structural system.
Mullions are any vertical framing pieces that divide a window into panes. This term is also used to describe similar vertical sections that divide the panels on cabinet fronts or doors.
Subfloor, or decking, is sheet lumber used to form the structural surface of the floor. It's fastened to the floor joists, and hardwood, carpet or other floor coverings are placed over top.
Countersinking results in a screw whose head sits flush with the surrounding wood. This can be achieved by creating a conical hole in the wood that matches the shape of the head of a flathead screw.
Carpenters use dovetails to join two pieces of wood at a right angle. This type of joint requires a special jig and router to create interlocking fingers in the wood.
Joists are horizontal framing members that form part of the structure of a home or building. Installed parallel to one another, they carry the load of the ceiling and floor.
Veneers are very thin layers of wood used in carpentry. They can be adhered to sheet wood to create more affordable furniture, cabinets and wood flooring.
Wood floor planks typically have a wooden tongue protruding from one side, which is designed to fit into a recessed groove cut into the adjacent plank. These tongue and groove joints help to create a stable and secure installation.
A dado is a rectangular groove or slot cut along the entire width of a piece of lumber. It can be used in joining one piece of wood to another, or may simply be used as a decorative feature.
The texture of sandpaper is measured by grit. Lower grits mean rougher textures, while higher grits mean finer textures, and are generally used for finish work.
Lumber is sold by the board foot. One board foot is equal to a unit of lumber measuring 1 inch by 12 inches by 12 inches.
A planer is a must-have tool for any carpenter. By feeding a sheet of wood into the planer, you can modify its thickness or smooth out the surface.
A lathe is a carpentry tool used to turn wood as it is shaped or carved. It's the perfect tool for making chair or table legs, or even something small like a fine wooden pen.
Soffits and fascias form the eaves of a home, below the roof line. They are an ideal spot for installing gutters and some types of attic vents.
Carpenters learn how to make all kinds of fancy joints to join two pieces of wood, but sometimes the simplest option in the best option. For example, a fishplate is a piece of metal layered over a butt joint to easily fasten two pieces of lumber together.
A paddle bit is a specialty bit that can be used to drill holes in a piece of wood. Generally these bits are used for smaller holes, while a hole saw is used to cut larger circles.
The walls inside of the typical home are framing using studs. Typically built from 2x4 or 2x6 sections of lumber, they can also be made from light-gauge steel.
A finial is the carved element that sits atop the newel post on a staircase. If you've ever seen "It's a Wonderful Life," the finial is the loose wooden ball that James Stewart's character accidentally pulled loose each time he headed up the stairs.
Most roofs are angled in some way to allow for proper drainage. The exact angle, known as pitch, is simply a function of rise over run, measured in inches per foot.
Wainscot is a decorative element used in many high-end homes. These wooden panels are typically installed on the lower half of a wall, and are topped by chair rail or another form of trim to serve as a transition.
Carpenters know that items installed properly will look better and last longer than sloppier installations. While items parallel to the floor are seen as level, something perpendicular to the floor must be plumb.
There's a reason many DIY's turn to laminate flooring. Because it uses a floating installation -- that means it isn't typically glued or nailed to the subfloor, it takes less skill than many other floor finishes.
From baseboard to crown, molding comes in countless varieties to add visual interest and flair to a room. Quarter round is one such variety, and is so named because it resembles a quarter of a circle when viewed in profile.
Most carpentry plans include the abbreviation O.C., when showing measurements. This means measurements should be taken from the center of one structure to the center of the adjacent one, rather than from the face of either.
Old-school carpenters used a hand chisel to carve out pockets, known as mortises, for hinges and other door hardware. The term is also used for cavities used to join wood in a mortise and tenon technique.
When installing a door or window, carpenters start by framing a rough opening. Generally a few inches larger than the door or window itself, the rough opening still requires careful preparation and measuring,
Exterior walls are formed by nailing sheets of plywood or other sheet wood over studs and other framing members. These sheets of wood are known as sheathing, and serve as part of the building's structural support.
Many old-school shutters are built in a board and batten style, with the thinner strips of wood serving as the battens. This term also describes any thin strips of wood used to strength a joint.
Carpenters know that the color, texture and workability of wood changes depending on where on the tree it comes from. The wood near the core of the log is heartwood, and is darker and harder than the outer layers, which are known as sapwood.
In the old days, nails were priced per hundred units. Today, they are sold in many different sizes and quantities, but carpenters know that the term penny represents the length of the nail.
Green wood is wood that has not been properly dried. It has more moisture than most lumber, but some carpenters like it because it's easier to shape than seasoned lumber.