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Glossary of terms
Carpentry Terminology

Architrave
A moulding used to surround a door, window, arch or wooden panelling, or the lowest horizontal moulding of a classical entablature.
Bay window
A window that extends out from the wall of a room, often to floor level giving additional internal floor area.
Beading
A narrow strip of wood with a half round profile used as an ornamental edging.
Bolster chisel
A broad-bladed chisel, normally completely made of steel) used mainly for masonry work but useful for lifting floorboards etc. .
Brace
A diagonal member used to prevent part of a structure from sagging - can either be temporary or permanent.
Cantilever
A projecting beam (or other part of a structure) that is secured at one end only.
Casement window
A window that has vertically and/or horizontally hinged openings and may include non-opening sections of glazing.
Caulking
Sealing joints by applying a flexible compound or sealant.
Chair rail
Another term for dado rail.
Chalk line
A length of string, coated in chalk dust, which is used to produce accurate straight lines for many decorating tasks. The line is held at both ends and 'twanged' against a surface thus transferring chalk dust to it.
Chipboard
A manufactured building board made from compressed and glued wooden particles.
Counter-bore
To insert a suitable screw into a surface so that its head does not protrude above that surface. This is achieved by using screws in a hole 'counterbored' with a flat bottomed cutter. If the counterbore is deep enough, it may be plugged with a piece of doweling to fully hide the screw head.
Counter-sink
To insert a suitable screw into a surface so that its head does not protrude above that surface. This is achieved by using counter sink screws in a hole 'countersunk' with a conical-shaped cutter.
Cross grain
Wood grain that is not inline with the main axis of a length of timber.
Dado
Decorative and/or protective panelling on the lower part of an interior wall. AKA Wainscot.
Dado rail
A moulding attached along a wall, about 1 metre (3ft 4in) from the floor, separating the upper and lower areas of the wall. Originally intended to protect the wall from damage by chair backs. AKA Chair Rail.
Dormer window
The window in the vertical end of a dormer.
Dovetail nailing
Nails driven through one piece of wood at opposing angles into another piece thus making it difficult for the timbers to be pulled apart.
Dowel
A short length of wood, round in section, used for a variety of purposes such as joining timbers, plugging fixing holes etc.
Drip groove
A groove cut in the underside of a projection (such as a window sash or sill) to cause rainwater to drip to the ground rather than running under the projection onto the main structure.
End grain
The surface of wood exposed after cutting across the fibres.
Escutcheon
In door furniture, the ornamental and protective plate around the keyhole.
Fanlight
The glazed light above a door, often fan-shaped and ornamented - however the term is applied to any shape of light above a door.
Feather-edged boarding
Plain weatherboard tapering in thickness; the thick edge overlaps the thin edge of the adjacent board - the fixing should go in the thick edge missing the edge of the board underneath. When hung horizontally, the thick edge goes downwards, when used vertically for fencing etc, the thick edge should be away from the prevailing winds.
Fibreboard
A lightweight manufactured board material with little strength, can be used in ceilings or as insulation to attics.
Fielded panel
A wall or door panel with a raised centre area which is sloped off, bevelled or 'fielded' towards the edges.
Finial
A turned or carved ornament usually in the shape of an urn, ball, bun, spike or figure, often used to decorate the ends of staircase newel posts.
Firrings
Pieces of tapered timber fixed to the top of joists to adjust their slope. Can be used under rook decking to give a drainage fall or to bring a sloping surface level.
Fish plate
Steel plates used to join two pieces of timber end to end - the plates (one on each side) overlap both pieces and are secured using bolts through.
Flush door
Doors which have plain, smooth sides - either constructed with a solid or honeycombed core, surfaced with plywood or other laminate on each side.
Fluting
Parallel concave channels used to decorate the surfaces of stone, plaster or timber etc.
French windows
A pair of narrow casement windows that extend to floor level forming a doorway to the garden or other outside area. Traditionally they opened inwards (as traditionally do windows in France), but modern ones may vary.
Glazing bars
The framing members in a window sash which divide and contain the individual glass panes.
Halved joint
Many variation exist; but the principle is that half of each piece of timber is cut away and the remaining halves are fitted over each other.
Hardboard
A thin manufactured board made from compressed wooden particles - one side smooth, the other side rough, Used for covering subfloors etc.
I Beams
Manufactured joists comprising a thin vertical of manufactured board with wider timber fixed along the upper and lower edges. Provide increased loads over wider spans than can often be achieved using solid timbers.
Jamb
The vertical side part of a doorway or window frame.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF)
A manufactured building board of compressed wooden fibres and used for a variety of interior joinery and building tasks. The dust is harmful and a mask should be used when cutting or drilling.
Mitre
A joint where the two parts are each cut at 45 degrees so that the make a neat rightangle.
Parquet flooring
A flooring traditionally made up of small wooden blocks arranged in a herring-bone or other geometrical pattern. Modern alternatives consist of thinner wooden panels which give the same effect.
Picture rail
A moulding positioned along a wall a short distance down from the ceiling, special hooks are then used to hook onto the rail to support pictures and other wall decorations. The wallpaper would often stop at the underside of the rail and area above would be painted. Were fashionable years ago, not so much now except in rooms with very high ceilings.
Picture window
A window comprising of a large, single pane or double/triple glazed unit.
Plywood
A manufactured building board consisting of a number of layers of wood veneer stuck together in such a way that the grain of one layer is at right angles to that of the previous layer. Various qualities of face veneer, thicknesses, number of layers etc are available to suit numerous applications.
Rail
A horizontal or vertical strut used to make up a panelled door or window frame.
Rebate
An area of a window glazing bar recessed to take a pane of glass.
Sash window
A window consisting of two main frames that slide vertically past each other - each sash being counter balanced by a sash weight on a sash cord.
Spirit Level
A tool used to establish true vertical and horizontal lines by looking at a bubble in spirit filled vials.
Stile
The vertical member on each side of a framed door or window sash.
Straight grain
Grain (wood fibres) that aligns with the main axis of a length of timber.
Straightedge
A length of timber or metal with at least one edge truly straight for marking out, checking levels etc.
Stud wall
An internal, non-load bearing wall faced with lath and plaster or plasterboard. Often timber framed although metal frames are being introduced into domestic building - they have been used for many years in industrial ones.
Studs
The vertical wooden posts within a timber-frame wall.
Subfloor
The surface beneath a floor covering, usually of concrete or timber, and sometimes covered with hard board.
Suspended timber floors
The joists supporting the floor boards or chipboard are themselves supported by small "sleeper" walls at ground floor level or wall hangers at other floors. Older properties may have the joists built into the masonry walls which can lead to the ends of the joists rotting.
Timber frame
A method of building construction where the internal walls, floors, roof etc are manufactured in sections using timber off site and are erected onto a completed base built up from the foundations. In modern timber framed buildings, the inner timber construction is often covered by using an outer skin of brick or similar materials to give a traditional appearance.
Timber framed wall
A wall composed of structural wooden omponents, sheathed on both sides or infilled with masonry or wattle and daub.
Tongue and groove
A system of interlocking planks along the sides to produce a panelled surface.
Wainscot
Wood panelling or boarding on the lower part of an internal wall. AKA Dado.
Wood-block flooring
A type of wooden sheet flooring consisting of small blocks such as Parquet.